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Pelagics and Whalewatching

Pelagics from Callao, Lima, Peru

Ringed Storm-Petrel (Hornby?s) Oceanodroma hornbyi

Kolibri Expeditions run pelagic birdwatching trips (see below) and whale- and dolphin watching trips since 2000. 
Here follows summaries of our trips at sea.

Speedboat pelagics.

  • limited to 20 birders, but boat has capacity of 40 passengers
  • We reach deeper waters at around 30nmiles.  It is often essential for Markham's and Ringed Storm-Petrels to go this far.
  • More hours at sea and we see more, including cetaceans as the transect is longer. 
  • Chumming: We make a gue of old fish left-overs, oil and pop-corn. Yes, it smells and that is the idea. The tube-noses have acute sense of smell. When chumming the boat gets surrounded by Storm Petrels. It is not unusual to have over 100 Storm-Petrels of 5 species around us at one time. Also the Waved and Salvin's Albatross come in to the chum
  • two brand new 100 hp engines
  • 12-15 knots.
  • 6-7 hours depending on groups size and sea.
  • The price is $220 dollars and includes some snacks aboard. 
  • The larger group of people we get the longer we stay chumming.
  • Possibility to add coastal birding, sit-down lunch exquisite Ceviche restaurant and transfers to and from port for $US50 extra.


  • Risk of getting wet if waves are high and/or there is strong wind. Dress appropriatelly and keep your photographic equipment protected..
  • We do go out with more sea, so it can be quite rocky sometimes. Having said this - the Pacific (in Peru) is less stormy than many other classical pelagic ports. We very rarely get very strong winds, so when we have waves they are most often far between. We very rarely have to cancel a trip due to bad weather or too high waves.
  • We respect the wildlife keeping an appropriate distance and not harrassing. Near the islands we can often not get as close to the rocky shores as we would like. This means for the Penguins and Seaside Cinclodes the views are mostly quite distant
  • No whale or dolphin guarantee, since the main purpose is seeing birds.

Whale and Dolphin Watching:
From November 2006, we have started offering separate whale- and dolphin watching trips to about 20 nautical miles lasting 5h hours, and we pass the sea-lion colony of Palomino and the Penguins of Kawinza on the return.
The results from these trips are very promising and the benefits many:

  • 5 hours is more bearable for people that may suffer from seasickness. 
  • therefore it is also more apt for kids and elderly people
  • And with only 5 hours of sea you shall have half the day free for other activities.
  • No smelly chum -that makes you seasick (see below).
  • Cost is lower: Only 130 US$, while the pelagic costs 220 US$

However, there are a few drawbacks:

  • There is no "chum" used, and this is of course a draw-back for the birders and sea-bird photographers. The birders are best off going on the speed boat pelagic that both carry chum and goes to the deeper waters. Having said this, we do see a lot of pelagic bird species also on these trips.
  • The whalewatching trips shall only be run when there is not too much sea, usually between November and March.

Humpback Whales have been spotted regularly in November, February-March and July.
Sperm Whales in September
Blue Whale in December, February and July.
Bryde's and other whale species such as Sei and Fin may be resident so there is always a chance of seeing whales.

Humpback Whale. Lima Pelagic Nov 10, 2006. Photo: Gunnar Engbl?om
Sequence of Humpback Whale breaching on Pelagic from Callao - November 2006. Photo: Gunnar Engblom

Dolphins can be seen anytime of year and are seen on 80% of the outings. We see Dusky Dolphin, Common Dolphin or Bottle-nosed Dolphin on almost every trip. Recently we have also spotted Burmeister's Porpoise, Risso's Dolphin and Orca (very rare in Peruvian waters). Also once an unidentified beak whale (September 2006).

The combined prospect of success of seeing Cetaceans (whales or dolphins) on these trips, allow us to give a whale or dolphin guarantee.
If you do not see a whale or dolphin on the 5 hour trip, you may join any other pelagic for free until you spot one - or receive a 30 % refund.

More on our 7h Pelagics

- for birdwatchers principally, but also for those that want more possibility of encounter cetaceans. We will stop for whales and dolphins en route - and meanwhile do a bit of chumming to also attract seabirds.

The deep sea Pelagics can be run any time of year. Different seasons give different birds. We found July particularly good when over 100 albatrosses were seen in 2001 of at least five species (with White-capped Albatross being a new species for Peru).  Northern Giant Petrel was recorded with photographs for the first time in Peru in 2002 and have proved not to be uncommon in season. Other great birds we see frequently include Sooty Shearwater, Cape Petrel, Markham´s, Hornby´s, White-vented, Wilson´s and 

Humboldt Penguin and Inca Tern

Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrels, Swallow-tailed and Sabine´s Gulls, Waved, Gray-headed, Black-browed and Salvin´s Albatrosse, Peruvian Diving-Petrel, Chilean and South Polar Skuas, Southern Fulmar (September and November 2002) and White-chinned, Cook´s (Nov 2002, May 2010), Westland Petrel (several sight records and photographed February 2003), Buller''s Shearwater (Dec 2005, Feb, March April and June 2005) and Buller''s Albatross (Nov 2005, Sep and Nov 2006). In 2012 we had the first Peruvian record of Gray-backed Storm-Petrel. 

If we don´t fill the boat, there will be room for Peruvian residents to join, who will mainly enjoy the possibility of catching glimpses of marine mammals, but pay a lower price. This allows us to cover operational costs in case the birders are too few to carry the full expense of the boat. We guarantee a trip with minimum of 4 birders since we often can find locals to join, but have occasionally run the trip with less paying birders than that. Especially, if the people who have signed up for a pelagic are doing other trips with us - we will move mountains to organize a pelagic for our own clients. Be prepared that there may be a surcharge involved if we do not get locals to fill up the boat.
The surcharge is $180 for two people, $100 for three people and $40 for four people. 

Whale watching

November is peak season for the migration of Humpback Whales off Lima. But it is also the month when we have seen a possibly undescribed form of Pygmy Blue Whale. We saw this form in November 2007 and it is known from Peruvian waters previously. See this article on Ocean Wanderers by Hadoram Shirihai. Mike Danzenbaker photographed this individual on our pelagic on Nov 17, 2007

Pygmy Bluie Whale. Nov 17, 2007 off Lima. Photo: MIke Danzenbaker

In Peruvian waters there is also a pygmy form of Finwhale, which Gunnar Engblom documented in his Spanish blog LimaSafaris in 2007. Together with Dr Koen van Waerebeck, there is a paper in press regarding this finding.

Price for whalewatching is 130 US$ and the price for the full day pelagic is 220 US$. To find out whether a trip is a full pelagic or Whale-watching, take a look in the calendar.

We need minimum 5 fully paying people to run the trip at these price.  We can still run the trip with less people, but be prepared to pay surcharges if we don't get enough people for the minimum. If you only have one date available for your pelagic, we suggest that we list this date in the calendar and this way try to get others to join.

Contact us
 for prices for kids or residents in Peru.

 South American Sea Lion. Photo: Gunnar Engblom.


We can arrange transfer to the port from Barranco, Miraflores, San Isidro or any spot in between the port in Callao and these Lima districts. We can also take you from the port to the airport.  The cost for the two way transfer is $30.

Additional birding and gourmet lunch. 

After the pelagic most of us are ready for a more substantial meal, and fortunately there is an excellent restaurant at the yacht club where we leave from.  After the lunch we shall spend the rest of the afternoon birding nearby coastal marshes to make the day a full day experience. 

Cost for lunch and additional birding is $50.

Date Space Booked Route Tot Spaces Sign
 January 16 1 Pelagic from Callao 20
 March 15 0 Pelagic from Callao 20
 July 26 13 Pelagic from Callao 20
 September 9 0 Pelagic from Callao 12
 September 9 6 Pelagic from Callao 20
 October 14 3 Pelagic from Callao 20
 October 19 0 Isla Palomino 20
 October 19 0 Pelagic from Callao, Lima 20
 November 23 5 Pelagic from Callao 20
 March 27 1 Pelagic from Lima 12
 June 16 0 Pelagic from Callao. Prebooked group of 10 people 12
 July 24 0 Pelagic from Callao. Prebooked group of 8 people 12
 August 13 16 Pelagic from El Callao, Lima 20
 September 8 0 Pelagic from Callao 20
 September 9 0 Pelagic from Callao. Prebooked group of 6 people 12
 November 5 4 Pelagic from Callao, Lima 20
 November 12 8 Pelagic from Callao, Lima 20
 November 26 0 Pelagic from Callao, Lima 20
 December 18 0 Pelagic from Callao 20
 February 6 0 Pelagic from Callao, Lima 20


Many birders also watch mammals, but few tours are centered around mammal watching in South America.  We can customize trips to increase the chances of seeing Peruvian primates, Andean Bear, Tapir, Giant Otter and Jaguar. Let us know your preferences for a mammal watching tour.  Kolibriexp@gmail.com 

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