Long weekend trip around Lima in February 2021 (2 Viewers)

lgonz1008

Active member
Due to Covid being very kind to all of us in 2020, I had to change a lot of my birding plans for this year and the upcoming one.

However, I haven't given up and next year I plan to do a short trip with Kolibri Expeditions around Lima with around 10 targets in mind and I was wondering if anybody wanted to join me?

The dates are from February 12-17 (with a night arrival on the 12th and early morning departure on the 17th), which would leave me with only 4 days for real birding, but you're welcome to make more days of birding with Kolibri Expeditions.

The itinerary I have is as follows (bolded birds are my main targets):
February 12: Flight day (Miami to Lima)
February 13: Palomino Islets and Pantanos de Villa (Humboldt Penguin, Inca Tern, Peruvian Pelican, Peruvian Booby, Red-legged and Guanay Cormorant, Peruvian Thick-knee, Great Grebe and many others)
February 14 & 15: Santa Eulalia Valley and Marcopomacocha (Torrent Duck, Black-breasted Hillstar, Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, Diameded Sandpiper-Plover, Andean Condor, Peruvian Pygmy-Owl, Stripe-headed Antpitta, White-capped Dipper, White-bellied Cinclodes, White-cheeked Cotinga, Giant Conebill and many others)
February 16: Lomas de Lachay and Paraiso Lagoon (Chilean Flamingo, Peruvian Tern, Least Seedsnipe, Cactus Canastero and many others)
February 17: Flight day (Lima to Miami)

As mentioned before, this is a quick trip with target birding with clear plans to return to Peru in the future but this is all I can afford for now. If you're interested in joining me, please let me know and we can proceed from there.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Poland
Just a possible warning: have you ever done anything like that regarding to altitude before? If you did and you obviously still live, then ignore me! But seeing the species list, I became suspicious and searched the sites on a map and Marcopomacocha is at 4500 m asl. Just reading about going there in two days from Lima makes me wanna vomit for several days :)
 

Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Scotland
I have done that Santa Eulalia trip and it was okay, although you always need to be careful of course. The first day is lower than the second so you get some acclimatisation. Also, it's pretty easy in terms of walking i.e. most walking was short and on level ground and the climbing was done by vehicle.
 

lgonz1008

Active member
Just a possible warning: have you ever done anything like that regarding to altitude before? If you did and you obviously still live, then ignore me! But seeing the species list, I became suspicious and searched the sites on a map and Marcopomacocha is at 4500 m asl. Just reading about going there in two days from Lima makes me wanna vomit for several days :)

Not to that extent, but when I was doing a trip around Oregon, I went from sea level to 2500m asl in one day with just some brief stops along the way birding, so while not as extreme as 4500m, it was still a spike and felt nothing. Maybe I'm underestimating the altitude but I'd like to try once for these species.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Poland
Not to that extent, but when I was doing a trip around Oregon, I went from sea level to 2500m asl in one day with just some brief stops along the way birding, so while not as extreme as 4500m, it was still a spike and felt nothing. Maybe I'm underestimating the altitude but I'd like to try once for these species.

I am not trying to dissuade you, just a friendly warning :) I am also particularly sensitive to altitude and my wife would do this with no problems. Just note that 0-2500 usually is not a problem to most people, while 2500-4500 in the same time frame is a very different story. Most people don't feel any effects below 2500-3000 meters.

It's clear that if you have limited time, these are super attractive species (I really like them personally, DSPs are truly fantastic) and it probably won't harm you :) The main thing I would avoid is being there as a lone driver.
 

lgonz1008

Active member
I am not trying to dissuade you, just a friendly warning :) I am also particularly sensitive to altitude and my wife would do this with no problems. Just note that 0-2500 usually is not a problem to most people, while 2500-4500 in the same time frame is a very different story. Most people don't feel any effects below 2500-3000 meters.

It's clear that if you have limited time, these are super attractive species (I really like them personally, DSPs are truly fantastic) and it probably won't harm you :) The main thing I would avoid is being there as a lone driver.

Thank you for the warning, I planned to have a driver for all 4 days but in particular the two days on the Andes would be with a guide/driver so he would know the environment and altitude better than most.
 

Andy Adcock

Fractious Member of ill repute
England
Not to that extent, but when I was doing a trip around Oregon, I went from sea level to 2500m asl in one day with just some brief stops along the way birding, so while not as extreme as 4500m, it was still a spike and felt nothing. Maybe I'm underestimating the altitude but I'd like to try once for these species.

As Jan stated, 2500m is too low for altitude sickness so any experience below 3000m is irrelevant.

I think that going up to 4500m with little acclimatisation, is inherantly dangerous, regardless of being in a car and most people who die of ams, die on the way down with the damage already done!

Age and physical condition are not always a guarantee that you won't get sick. In Nepal, I was 50 when we went over Thorong La at 5400m and people half my age were becoming ill and failed to get over so you really need to think about this.

One, well used maxim is 'bird high, sleep low' and this is good advice if you only have a short time.
 
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Welsh Peregrine

Well-known member
I have done something like this, and it is doable, but you do need to be prepared to abandon the idea if you start having problems. I was fine, but walking over the bog in reduced pressure is genuinely tiring; take care.
 

DMW

Well-known member
I've done this too, and agree with Jan. It's really quite dangerous to ascend from sea level to around 4,800m (if I remember correctly) in just 2 days, as well as being a pretty miserable experience. Looking for DSP in a vast open bog with horizontal rain and a pounding headache + nausea wasn't my fondest birding memory. I know everybody does this, and it's hard to avoid unless you spend more days in the valley, but it's not ideal by any means.
 

lgonz1008

Active member
Thank you to all for the advice, I will keep that in mind, thankfully when it comes to birding I'm very bare bones with only a small point and shoot camera and binoculars on me, so that combined with extra care on my part will be enough to avoid the worst case scenario.

I know the altitude is a big problem overall, but since I'm not huge on trying this down the line with less than ideal health, I want to try it now and write it off as an experience I'm glad I did but likely won't repeat.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Poland
Just to clarify - I never meant to imply that one should not visit high attitudes at all. I have actually been to Peruvian Altiplano (not far from this area) and I loved it - and I have even been at 6370 meters once in Argentina and it was quite fine - it just requires a longer time to be a pleasant experience. My anxiety is strictly related to the idea of "sea level to 4500" in anything less than a week.
 

Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Scotland
I just checked my notes on this trip. The first day was 1500-3000 metres, so not really high altitude. The second day was higher but most of it was birding from the vehicle. The only longer walks were for Diademed Plover and White-bellied Cinclodes and those weren't very long. My notes suggest the weather was more of a problem on that day than the altitude. I may have been lucky but I would say this was probably one of the easiest experiences I've had at 3000 metres plus, mainly because it didn't involve anything very strenuous.
 

Jeff Hopkins

Just another...observer
United States
I did a trip from Lima to Marcopomacocha and back in a single day (with Kolibri). Gunnar made it very clear that we were to be at full altitude for no more than 6 hours and even that would be pushing it. However, I had enough trouble after being there for only an hour or two that we dropped down a few hundred meters even after that short period at 4600m. We got the sandpiper-plover from the vehicle, but had to pass on seedsnipes.

I also did a day trip partway up the Santa Eulalia Valley a few years later. No problem with altitude at all.
 

Andy Adcock

Fractious Member of ill repute
England
I did a trip from Lima to Marcopomacocha and back in a single day (with Kolibri). Gunnar made it very clear that we were to be at full altitude for no more than 6 hours and even that would be pushing it. However, I had enough trouble after being there for only an hour or two that we dropped down a few hundred meters even after that short period at 4600m. We got the sandpiper-plover from the vehicle, but had to pass on seedsnipes.

I also did a day trip partway up the Santa Eulalia Valley a few years later. No problem with altitude at all.

The thing with altitude sickness, is that it is inconsistent and unpredictable. One day, a 50 year old is fine at 5400m and a 25 year old isn't. I know people that have done Thorong La six times, succeeded four times and failed twice due to illness.

Neither age, fitness or experience, are any guarantee that you won't get sick, it's a bit of a lottery but at least, in a car, you can descend quickly if you need to.
 

Jeff Hopkins

Just another...observer
United States
The thing with altitude sickness, is that it is inconsistent and unpredictable. One day, a 50 year old is fine at 5400m and a 25 year old isn't. I know people that have done Thorong La six times, succeeded four times and failed twice due to illness.

Neither age, fitness or experience, are any guarantee that you won't get sick, it's a bit of a lottery but at least, in a car, you can descend quickly if you need to.

That's fair. I've done two trips to the Sierras after driving up from the coast and got nailed by altitude sickness (not severe) both times. But I've also flown into Quito and Bogota and went birding or sightseeing immediately and had no problem.

It's a crapshoot.
 

Birding Peru

Well-known member
Here is how we tackle the altitude on this two day trip.
First of all we carry oxygen in the car. Secondly, we use the mountaineering mantra: work high sleep low. So the first day we slowly bird our way to the Polylepis woodland at 3900m and then descend to 2700m to sleep. This gives a good base and some adaptation. Second day we do the circuit and limiting the time above 4000 m to less than 6 hours and then drive down to sea-level.

Thirdly, I always recommend my clients to stay very hydrated throughout the journey. That includes avoiding drinking alcohol the night before.
The first symptom at altitude - headache - is actually not altitude sickness, but rather dehydration from losing liquid when breading more in dry air, the oedema effect at altitude forcing liquid to the tissues, hence swollen fingers and feet, and the constant urge to pee. By drinking a lot one keeps the headache at bay.

True altitude sickness with nausea sets in after six hours, then we should already be far below 4000m

Four. Avoid eating heavy stuff before ascending high. You don't want your digestive system steal the oxygen destined for your brain.
Drinking sports drinks give liquids, salts and sugar. Bananas are good too.

Five. The walks are very short. It is mostly birding from the car.

Six. One can get acetozolamide (Diamox) over the counter in Lima. Some people like to prepare for the altitude

All in all, it is a great excursion, but one has to be prepared. Kolibri Expeditions has 22 years of experience of taking birders to the Marcapomacocha area.

Gunnar

PS. COVID numbers are still decreasing. No quarantine necessary when flying to Peru. Only a negative PCR test
 

mjh73

Well-known member
Pffft. Don't know what all the stress is. Did Santa Eulalia up and back in one day this March with no problems.....

.....apart from feeling like someone was kicking my brain out of my head, not being able to stand up and projectile vomiting 🤮

Didn't get the plover but wouldn't have been in a fit state to see it if we had.

I blame @Pash44
 

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