Its extraordinarily varied geography makes Peru one of the world’s top birdwatching destinations
With more than 1800 species – more than are found in Europe and the United States combined - Peru boasts the greatest variety of birds in the world, after Colombia. And with its well-developed ecotourism infrastructure, Peru is certainly the best birding destination in the world today. Peru has at least 120 endemic species, but with more than 50 new species recorded in the last 50 years, there are certainly many more awaiting discovery.
Peru is a birding paradise thanks to its varied geography: 84 of the 117 life zones known to exist on the planet are represented within Peru’s borders, and such geographical diversity translates into biological diversity, particularly in the case of birds.
There are several locations within Peru ideal for birdwatching. Among the most popular and accessible are Manu National Park and Tambopata National Reserve, both of which are reached from Cusco. With its remarkable altitudinal range, from high altitude grasslands to lowland tropical forest, Manu is home to almost 1,000 bird species. That is almost 1 in 9 of all the species found on Earth!
Tambopata National Reserve is also a record-breaker, with more than 500 species inhabiting this lowland Amazon tropical forest habitat. Visitors to Tambopata can visit rainforest clay licks, where parrots and macaws congregate to feed on the mineral-rich clays essential to their diet. The Tambopata forests also offer the spectacle of mixed feeding flocks of up to 70 species, each represented by a single pair and perhaps one or two young, who band together to protect themselves from predatory eagles, falcons or hawks.
The Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary, with an altitudinal range from 1,725 meters to over 6,000 meters, is home not only to famous archaeological remains, but also to over 400 species of birds. Nearer to the city of Cusco, the Malaga Pass and Lake Huacarpay also offer opportunities for interesting short birdwatching excursions.