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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Peru: The Cloud Forests of the Rio Mayo and Abra Patricia

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space.    The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING PERU: For United States citizens a passport valid on the day of entry and with one blank page, and return airline ticket are required. Visas are not necessary; tourist permit and customs forms will be handed out by your arriving airline, and your passport will be stamped upon arrival. 

A valid Yellow Fever vaccination is required if you are arriving from a country where the disease is a risk. See for more information.

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information, and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Peru

INTRODUCTORY MEETING: There will be an introductory meeting at 6 p.m. on Day 1 of the tour in Lima. This informal meeting gives the leader the opportunity to introduce everyone to each other and to let you know generally what to expect on the trip—pace of the tour, daily routine, etc. We strongly recommend you arrange your flights to arrive in the late afternoon so that you can be present at the introductory meeting. After the meeting, we will have dinner. 

PACE OF THE TOUR: We will be starting most mornings with breakfast around 5:30 a.m. (a couple days even earlier) in order to begin our daily birding at first light, but since the sun sets by 6:30 p.m., we will end some days having eaten dinner as early as 8 p.m. Most days will include an after-lunch siesta of an hour or so and/or an hour or more off before dinner. During the day, about three quarters of the time spent birding is on roadsides with easy walking, or sitting and watching hummingbird feeders. The remaining time is on forest trails which have many steep stretches that might be a bit slippery after rains; a hiking stick will be very useful and highly recommended on these trails for all but the most fit. The longest trail route is about 2 km (1 1/4 miles) long, but we walk it very slowly and the effective distance will seem much greater.

When on the roads, we’ll not be far from the bus, but one should be prepared for long periods of standing and walking slowly, and a small travel stool is handy for those who find this tiring.

There will be occasional owling excursions, either pre-dawn or before or after dinner, and these will of course be longer days. Morning owling could start as early as 4:00 a.m., followed by a later breakfast, but we’ll also end earlier on such days. Other days might have us owling in the evening followed by a later dinner around 8:30 p.m. or so, or possibly even after dinner for later owling, after which we won’t have an extra-early morning. Trails to look for owls are about 1200 meters (3/4 mile) each way; one at the lodge has a steady 400 meter drop through switchbacks and then a more gradual descent for the remaining 800 meters; another about a 20 minute drive away is a more gradual ascent and return. Both have muddy stretches, sometime slippery steps of boulders or logs, and require a high level of fitness. All owling will of course be optional.

Considering that the forest trails may be muddy (and steep) in spots, and short roadside and trailside vegetation will be wet from dew or rain, waterproof footgear is a necessity – waterproof hiking boots or even rubber boots are best, but if you don’t mind having wet feet, a cheap pair of sneakers also works, as long as you have something dry to change into back at the room. Keep in mind that at the cool, moist environment of the Owlet Lodge, damp shoes and clothing may not dry readily.

HEALTH:The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. 

They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A and Typhoid. 

Malaria: The CDC considers Peru to be of low risk for travelers contracting malaria. The CDC has determined that a traveler who is on an appropriate antimalarial drug has a greatly reduced chance of contracting the disease. 

Yellow Fever: Yellow Fever vaccination is recommended by the CDC. 

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations for Peru can be found on the CDC’s Travel Health website at .

Elevation: We’ll reach close to 8000 feet during our stay at Owlet Lodge, the highest elevation on the tour. 

Insects: Many potential health problems can be prevented by adequate protection against insects. Even when mosquitoes may be sparse, biting gnats and chiggers can still be a nuisance. To be protected, bring plenty of spray repellent and wear long sleeves and pants when in the field. 

Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail. 

Miscellaneous: We do not often encounter snakes and take time to observe them whenever possible; most are not venomous, and venomous ones are not aggressive; in any event, a small flashlight or headlamp is a necessity for navigating the paths between your rooms and dining areas at each lodge in the evenings.

One can never completely escape the risk of parasites or fungal infections. Please consult with your physician. We avoid tap water but filtered and bottled water are readily available. 

CLIMATE:  In Northern Peru, we can expect a variety of climate conditions as we’ll be at a different elevations, though we’ll be on the humid slope for the whole tour. From Tarapoto to Moyobamba (between 1000-3000 feet [300-900 m] elevation), expect warm, tropical, and humid conditions. At the Owlet Lodge at Abra Patricia we’ll be at a much more comfortable maximum of 7,700 feet (2350 m) with low temperatures perhaps dipping down to the low 50°F (10 C) at the coldest and daytime temperatures in the mid- to upper-60s F. This being a very moist climate, mornings at this temperature can feel downright chilly, and some will find long underwear, light gloves, and a light down jacket or fleece necessary, especially considering that rooms in the lodge are not heated. If it is sunny, it can be pleasantly warm, so be prepared to shed layers.

This is near the midpoint of the rainy season, so rain is probable, especially in the afternoons, but weather patterns are so unpredictable, it’s fully possible that we could see some days with no rain at all or rain nearly every day. 

ACCOMMODATIONS: We stay at the best accommodations available and have reserved rooms with private baths at all locations where possible. In Lima we stay in a modern hotel at the international airport, as our flight leaves very early the next morning. If you are planning to come a few days early or stay later and wish to do some exploring, we can recommend hotels in the more upscale neighborhood of Miraflores. 

Our first night’s hotel is a very comfortable modern hotel right across the street from the airport and includes an extensive continental breakfast starting at 4:00 a.m., with an omelet bar opening at 6:00 a.m.

The Owlet lodge has bathrooms shared between two rooms, but all others have private bathrooms. Keep in mind that power outages, while infrequent, do happen from time to time. A headlamp or small flashlight is important to keep handy and may also come in use during our evening checklist sessions where overhead lighting may be suboptimal. 

All of our hotels have hot water (some with an electric, on-demand shower head) and electricity, with at least one outlet in the rooms.

As is typical in the tropics, occasionally, small lizards, amphibians or unusual insects may visit a hotel room, especially in the lower elevations. 

INTERNET AND MOBILE PHONE ACCESS: All of our accommodations have Wifi (at the Owlet Lodge access is only available in the dining area, and it’s very slow, especially when several people are using it at once).

FOOD: The specialties of the Tarapoto region usually include one of the prized species of river fish with various fruit sauces or spice mixtures, though nowhere in Peru is the food hot unless you add the almost always available hot sauce or chopped pepper. At the Owlet Lodge food is much simpler, with most meals starting with a soup, followed by a plate with portion of a meat, vegetable, and a starch. On our final night in Lima we have a farewell dinner at a very upscale restaurant with a wide variety of Peruvian fusion specialties, especially famous for its seafood. Other than three picnic lunches, all meals will be at or near our accommodation. 

Drinks: Bottled water and/or a soft drink or a beer is provided at lunch and dinner, as is coffee or tea. All other drinks or ‘personal’ drinking water for use in your room etc. is the responsibility of the individual; our lodges typically have filtered water available for refilling your own bottles. We also keep bottled water on the bus for ‘emergency’ use during the day. 

Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions. 

TRANSPORTATION: Our land transportation will be in a bus or van supplied by our ground agent depending on group size. We will fly by commercial jet (such as an Airbus 320) on a regularly scheduled flight from Lima to Tarapoto, and back to Lima at the end of the tour. Most our driving is on paved highway, with only a couple days on some bumpy dirt roads, but many sections are quite winding; anyone susceptible to motion sickness should bring an appropriate remedy. Participants should be able to sit in any seat in our vehicles. 

Updated: 14 March 2018