Muyuna Lodge, dpto. Loreto, Peru: Wattled Curassow and more…

Published by Guy Kirwan (GMKirwan AT

Participants: Guy Kirwan, David Beadle & Hadoram Shirihai


As part of Hadoram’s Shirihai’s photographic work for his birds of the world book with Hans Jornvall (see more about the project at, between 26 September and 1 October 2008 we visited this comfortable lodge on the Río Yanacayu, approximately three hours by boat south of the department capital Iquitos. (Transfer times vary, depending on the state of the river.) The Río Yanacayu is a south-bank tributary of the Amazon. We set up the visit through Ultimate Voyages, as part of a much longer trip throughout northern Peru, but it would be possible to book the lodge direct. Especially if you elect to make the booking yourself, it would be important to state that you are there to bird and nothing else, and to explicitly request the services of local guide Moises, who knows exactly where to find the Wattled Curassow, as well as some of the other specialties of the area. (Few birders seem to visit as yet, unlike the better known, for birds, north-bank lodges, such as ExplorNapo.) Timing can be important. Our visit coincided with the relative height of the dry season; December to April is the wet season, when it would be impossible to visit the curassow’s habitat except by boat.

As already intimated, the main target of a birding trip to Muyuna is Wattled Curassow. The only other accessible sites in the world are in Bolivia and Brazil, and that in the former country involves a long journey to reach, whilst at Mamirauã, in Amazonas, Brazil, the birds can be difficult to see. On our first morning Moises took us on a hour or so-long hike along a mosquito-infested creek to an area where we encountered up to about ten of the curassows feeding in the trees.

Most of the easily accessible forest at Muyuna is várzea, and there are at least a couple of long trails through such habitat within easy distance of the lodge. The other key species to search for in this habitat is the beautiful Black-tailed Antbird, practically a northern Peru endemic (until its recent discovery on the Brazilian side of the Rio Javari, at Palmarí Lodge), but other ‘goodies’ include Várzea Schiffornis (rather common by voice), Rufous-capped Nunlet, and Grey-chested Greenlet. Mixed flocks include Scaled Spinetail, Orange-fronted Plushcrown and many others. Boat trips along the river, either to and from the trails and the lodge, or dedicated afternoon trips, yielded typical species of the relevant habitats and region, such as Slate-coloured Hawk (common), Sungrebe, Short-tailed and Festive Parrots, and Red-and-white Spinetail. Much more surprising was a flock of c. 20 White-chested Swifts that we saw one morning whilst on the river; this species is still regarded as hypothetical in Peru.

There is also a reasonably extensive network of trails through palm-dominated terra firme immediately behind the lodge. We didn’t cover this particularly well, but one morning in this habitat produced Rufous-necked and Chestnut-capped Puffbirds (Moises informed us that Collared is actually the common puffbird there), Spot-throated Woodcreeper, Point-tailed Palmcreeper, and a reasonable array of antbirds. We invested very little effort in night birding, although evening excursions along the river are a regular feature of lodge activities, but Long-tailed Potoo is possible and we recorded Spectacled Owl and Boat-billed and Zigzag Herons.

The lodge itself is comfortable without being luxurious (rooms have their own private bathrooms, unlike at ExplorNapo) and early breakfasts can be made. There is no tower, but the specialties of this lodge do not really demand one. Anyone planning a trip to the Iquitos area would be well advised to consider Muyuna in their plans, as its south-bank location and extensive access to várzea forest provide an excellent complement to the north-bank situation, terra firme and river islands available at ExplorNapo.
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