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The Humboldt Current NEW!



Bird & Wildlife Cruise: birds, whales & dolphins, scenery & photography.

Lima (Peru) – Santiago (Chile)


very warm to cool.


Comfortable hotel & 100+ passenger luxury expedition cruise ship. All cabins with private facilities including open bar and gratuities. Exclusive local boat day trip pelagics also included.  


The Pacific coast of South America is home to at least eleven endemic seabirds, along with many species of cetacean. WildWings offered voyages here 10 years ago and have been waiting for a right-sized ship to go down this coast again, at the right time of year.

The Pacific coast of South America is home to at least eleven endemic seabirds, along with many species of cetacean. WildWings offered voyages here 10 years ago and have been waiting for a right-sized ship to go down this coast again, at the right time of year.

This voyage starts from Peru, sails down the northern Humboldt Current region, and disembarks at Valparaiso (Chile) in search of many of them. For those who have already visited Antarctica from Argentina, new seabirds should include Humboldt Penguin, Buller’s, Salvin’s and Waved Albatrosses, Matsierra (De Filippi’s) , Stejneger’s and possibly Juan Fernandez Petrels, Westland Petrel, Pink-footed Shearwater, Elliot’s (White-vented), Markham’s, Galapagos (Wedge-rumped) and Hornby’s  (Ringed) Storm-Petrels,  Peruvian Diving-Petrel, Peruvian Pelican, Neotropical, Rock, Guanay and Red-legged Cormorants, Peruvian Booby, Grey, Belcher’s and Swallow-tailed Gulls, Black Skimmer plus Peruvian and Inca Terns. As we journey south we will also see a selection of South American landbirds, and offer more land birding on our optional Chilean shore excursion programme too. Some of the expected landbirds for this tour will be added to this text shortly! 10-15+ species of cetacean are also possible. On previous voyages in 2005/6 we have seen Common, Bottlenose ,Southern Rightwhale, Dusky and other dolphins, Pygmy Blue, Fin, Minke and Humpback Whales plus Southern Bottlenose and other beaked-whales. Even more reasons to be out on deck, all day long on the at sea days during daylight.


During our land excursions and the optional extension to Puerto Montt, we plan to explore habitats ranging from high Andean mountains to lowland temperate forests and expect to find a great range of birds.  We intend to make endemics and range-restricted species our priority and the species we hope to see include Chilean Tinamou, Chilean Woodstar, Slender-billed Parakeet, Chilean Flicker, Canyon and Dusky-tailed Canasteros, White-throated Earthcreeper, Moustached Turca, Dusky Tapaculo, White-throated Tapaculo, Chucao Tapaculo, Black-throated Huet-huet, Chilean Elaenia, Chilean Mockingbird, Tamarugo Conebill and Black-hooded Sierra-finch.


Other possibilities include Peruvian Thick-knee, Mountain Parakeet, Magellanic Horned Owl, Austral Pygmy-owl, Giant Hummingbird, Green-backed Firecrown, Peruvian Sheartail, Magellanic Woodpecker, Golden-spotted Ground-dove, West Peruvian Dove, Magellanic Tapaculo, Plain-breasted Earthcreeper, Great Shrike-Tyrant, Fire-eyed Diucon, White-throated Treerunner, Chilean Swallow and Slender-billed Finch.

We will be following in the footsteps of early explorers and naturalists of which Charles Darwin is the most famous. We will sail along the desert coastline of Peru and Chile with the Andes as a distant backdrop on occasion. We also offer the chance to fly south from Santiago (Chile) for a three day extension, whose main target is the recently discovered Pincoya Storm-Petrel. The opportunities for photography are also good, for both wildlife and landscape.


Our vessel for this voyage will be somewhat luxurious Le Boreal, a French operated expedition cruise vessel with 132 cabins. All cabins are outside, with windows and private facilities (shower/washbasin and WC) plus plenty of storage space and a writing desk. All cabins above superior grade also have private balconies. The ship has two restaurants, lounges, bars, a library, internet corner, spa & beauty centre, fitness centre, and laundry services. The cruise element of our tour includes all meals, an open bar and 24 hour room service! Chris Collins, the WildWings leader, also happens to speak fluent French!  


At all ports of call our group will enjoy the included birding excursions in Peru and either our optional land birding excursion package at the Chilean stops or you may take one of the ship’s optional shore excursions or of course, you may just explore each place under your own steam. This voyage is therefore perfect for ‘non-birding partners’.


From a sea-watching point of view, the vessel’s bridge itself is normally open, and also has large open bridge wings. There is also an open balcony in front of the bridge which runs from one side to the other. There is also an open observation area above the bridge with forward views, and a low, open deck area at the stern for birds in the wake. There are also some open areas on the sides of the vessel. We shall take WildWings radios for use onboard, to maximise everyone’s sightings.


We have also greatly enhanced our chances of overall seabird success by including two local boat pelagics in our unique itinerary. 

Day 1: Arrive Lima, transfer to Melia Hotel for two nights.

Day 2: Local boat trip pelagic for the more ‘northerly’ species such as Waved Albatross and Swallow-tailed Gulls plus ‘local’ species such as Inca Terns, Peruvian Pelicans, Peruvian Boobies, Band-tailed, Grey-headed and Franklin’s Gulls etc (includes breakfast and lunch). Overnight Melia Hotel.

Day 3: Very early morning start, birding excursion to Lomas de Lachay Reserve (includes breakfast and box lunch). Transfer to Callao from Lima, board Le Boreal and sail approx.1900.

Day 4: Pisco (Peru) 0800 – 1900. We include an exclusive local boat cruise to the ‘seabird’ Islas Ballestras, home of the famous Guanay Cormorants together with Red-legged and Neotropical Cormorants, Peruvian Pelicans whilst Elliot’s (White-vented) Storm-Petrels usually patter over the waves. South American Sea Lions can be found on the rocks. After the included lunch, we will visit the Peninsula Paracas for more birding including Chilean Flamingo and a good variety of shorebirds. Or, optional ship shore excursions including a flight over the world-famous Nazca Lines (not included).

Day 5: At sea. We can expect our first ‘southern’ seabirds today including Northern Giant, Cape and White-chinned Petrels, our previous voyages along this stretch of coast have also yielded Salvin’s, Buller’s and Black-browed Albatross’s, De Filippe’s (Masatierra) Petrel, Pink-footed Shearwater, Chilean and other skuas, Grey and Sabine’s Gulls, terns including Elegant, South American and Peruvian plus four species of Storm-petrel including Hornby’s (Ringed), Markham’s and Wedge-rumped! We have also seen good numbers of wintering Red-necked and Grey Phalaropes and can also hope for whales and dolphins assuming calm sea conditions.  

Day 6: Matarani (Peru) 0600 – 1800. A local boat pelagic for more seabirds, 0715 – 1500.

Day 7: Arica (Chile) 0700 - 1830. Optional land birding excursion:

We will have much of the day ashore and plan to start in the lowland valleys looking for Peruvian Thick-knee, Andean Swift and Greyish Miner before driving up into the Andes Mountains.  Our aim is to reach approximately 3,400 metres where the semi-arid bushy slopes are rich in birds.  Possibilities here include Sparkling Violetear, Andean Hillstar, Creamy-breasted and Canyon Canasteros, Golden-billed Saltator, Blue-and-yellow Tanager and Thick-billed Siskin.  Moving on to an area near the village of Putre we hope to find Aplomado Falcon, Mountain Parakeet, Bare-faced Ground Dove, Spot-winged Pigeon, White-throated and Plain-breasted Earthcreepers, White-winged Cinclodes, Black-throated Flowerpiercer, d’Orbigny’s and White-browed Chat-Tyrants, Band-tailed Seedeater and Black-hooded, Mourning and Ash-breasted Sierra-finches.  If time allows we will conclude our day by visiting some valleys lower down the slope where we hope to find the critically endangered Chilean Woodstar, as well as Peruvian Sheartail, Bran-coloured Flycatcher, Peruvian Meadowlark and Slender-billed Finch.

Day 8: Iquique (Chile) 0700 – 1500. Optional land birding excursion. Late afternoon back at sea.

We plan to head inland to look for a number of desert and pre-puna specialities including Oasis Hummingbird, Croaking Ground-Dove, West Peruvian Dove, Chilean Elaenia, Vermillion Flycatcher, Cinereous and Tamarugo Conebills and Chiguanco Thrush.  If time allows we will then visit a highland area where we could find Golden-spotted Ground-Dove, Straight-billed Earthcreeper, Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail, Streaked Tit-Spinetail and Rufous-naped Ground-Tyrant.

Day 9: At sea. We anticipate another great day on the ocean, having seen many of the species noted in Day 5 again previously along with Westland Petrel, Southern Giant Petrel, Antarctic Fulmar.

Day 10: Coquimbo (Chile) 0800-1500. Optional land birding excursion. Late afternoon at sea.

Today we plan to visit a nearby national park where there is an extraordinary and lush forest surrounded by desert-like scrub.  The potential list includes a number of species we are unlikely to have encountered before and the possibilities include Chilean Tinamou, White-tailed Kite, Harris’s and Variable Hawks, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Picui-Ground-Dove, Magellanic Horned Owl, Burrowing Owl, Band-winged Nightjar, Green-backed Firecrown, Striped Woodpecker, Chimango Caracara, Dusky Tapaculo, Thorn-tailed Rayadito, Great Shrike-Tyrant, Fire-eyed Diucon, Chilean Swallow, Austral Thrush, Mourning Sierra-Finch, Band-tailed Sierra-Finch, Grassland Yellow-Finch, Long-tailed Meadowlark and Black-chinned Siskin.

Day 11: Valparaiso (Chile) Disembark 0800. We will bird the coast and then head inland to La Campana National Park and our main tour finishes at Santiago Airport at around1800 (includes Box Lunch.)

We hope to disembark the vessel shortly after breakfast and plan to drive to La Campana National Park, one of Chile’s Biosphere Reserves.  The vegetation is dominated by Acacia trees and many species of shrubs and broad-leaf trees but we should also find the endemic Chilean Palm.  This habitat is very different to anywhere we will have visited previously on the expedition and our priority will be to look for four Chilean endemics: Dusky-tailed Canastero, Moustached Turca, Dusky Tapaculo and White-throated Tapaculo. There are, however, plenty of other exciting species to see and as well as the endemics we hope to find Variable Hawk, Chilean Flicker, Striped Woodpecker, Austral Pygmy Owl, Giant Hummingbird, White-throated Treerunner, Chilean Swallow, Chilean Pigeon, Chilean Mockingbird, Patagonian Sierra-finch and Grassland Yellow-finch.

Optional extension to Southern Chile

Day 11: (Evening flight from Santiago to Puerto Mont.) Transfer to Hotel Club Presidente for two nights on arrival (D).

Day 12: We plan to have a morning boat trip to look for the recently described Pincoya Storm-petrel which was only described in 2013. Following our pelagic, we plan to visit the ancient temperate forests of the Alerce Andino National Park.  Here we will search for Patagonian rainforest specialities including Chilean Hawk, Green-backed Firecrown, Black-throated Huet-huet, Ochre-flanked, Magellanic and Chucao Tapaculos, Des Murs’s Wiretail, White-throated Treerunner, Patagonia Tyrant and Chilean Elaenia. (B,L,D)

Day 13: Assuming our pelagic on day 12 was successful, we plan to have a morning excursion to the Lahuen Nadi Nature Reserve.  This park is home to some of the oldest trees in the world, some of which are believed to be over 1,800 years old.  There are also many interesting birds to look for here and we hope to find the localised endemic, Slender-billed Parakeet.  Other possibilities include Black-faced Ibis, Magellanic Woodpecker, Chucao and Magellanic Tapaculos, Black-throated Huet-huet, Green-backed Firecrown, Thorn-tailed Rayadito and Fire-eyed Diucon. Midday transfer back to airport for flights home (B,L).


Note: The itinerary is a guide only, as weather and local conditions will dictate our exact voyage and landings.

Please note: All itineraries are subject to weather, local conditions and final approval by the relevant authorities.

Tour Leader: Chris Collins and local guides.

Dates: TBA 

Lima – Santiago

Prices per person   

£4245    Twin share Superior                                

£4445    Twin share Deluxe 

£4595     Twin share Prestige (Deck 4)    

               Higher grade Suites on request.               

Single cabins on request (or book a shared cabin)

£175 single room supplement (Lima).

30% Deposit

Based on a minimum of 10 passengers plus leader.



Dates 2nd – 4th November 2016

£795 per person sharing a twin room.

£65 single room supplement

Based on a minimum of 6 persons plus leader.

Main tour


Price includes: Voyage with accommodation as booked, including all meals and drinks aboard ship, shore landings, port taxes, landing fees, onboard gratuities, specified land birding and local boat excursions, sea watching sessions (at sea) and evening log, services of WildWings leader and local guides, pre-tour information pack and day by day bird and mammal checklist. Hotel in Lima pre-cruise (room only) with arrival group flight transfer from Lima airport, other transfer as per itinerary.


Price excludes: Flights (UK – Lima, Santiago – UK from £749 or UK – Lima, Santiago to Puerto Mont, Puerto Mont – UK from £1129), other gratuities, travel insurance, optional birding excursions in Chile (see below), ship’s shore excursions, ‘premium brand’ alcoholic drinks onboard, and items of a personal nature.


Southern Chile Extension


Price includes: Transfers and ground transport in and around Puerto Mont, boat trip/s and birding excursions as described, park entrance fees, meals as described, services of WildWings leader and local guides.

Excludes: Flight Santiago to Puerto Montt and return, drinks, gratuities and other items of a personal nature.

Optional Birding Excursions in Chile (during the voyage)

For the three landings in Chile - Arica, Iquique and Coquimbo we can offer a day’s birding ashore at each, including ground transport, picnic lunch with water and local guides for £365 per person, based on a minimum of 10 participants. If only a minimum of 6 people sign up for these, the price will increase to £539 per person. 

Our 2005 report (a slightly different itinerary) can be found at the trip reports tab above.

More information about the ship can be found at http://en.ponant.com/Ships/Le-Boreal  


    Tour Leader

    Chris has birded in over 80 countries and territories around the world and now spends the quite a lot of his time at sea. Although professionally qualified as a Chartered Accountant, these days Chris concentrates on wildlife-related projects and was very instrumental in setting up the Western Pacific Odyssey and also guides our Russian Far East voyages.

    Learn More

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“Wonderful. Great Trip. Chris is my favourite guide, I always enjoy travelling with him”

Humboldt Current - 2016 - B.G. Nov 2016


“Really impressed with the ship’s Captain who went out of his way to help us”

Humboldt Current 2016 - M.R. Nov 2016


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