Where Can I See Macaws in Peru?

Macaws are one the first birds that come to mind when we dream about a trip to beautiful, tropical locales. However, despite images of these big, beautiful birds gracing the pages and ads of island getaways and tropical resorts, those aren’t the places where they naturally occur. Although they are popular pets, in nature, these big parrots are birds of wild tropical forest habitats, and the heart of their range is situated in the Amazon rainforest.

However, you won’t see macaws with any old visit to the Amazon. These spectacular birds require large, unbroken areas of forest with little human disturbance. The clay licks are the best places to see macaws in Peru and a number of different species can be seen, such as scarlet macaws, blue-and-gold macaws, and red-and-green macaws.

In Peru several clay licks (locally known as “collpas”) are found in Tambopata that attract these and other parrots. In Tambopata, these clay lick sites stand out as some of the best places to watch macaws doing their jungle thing:

Collpa Colorado

One of the largest and best known clay licks in the Amazon. This collpa is located next to the Tambopata Research Center. Year-round, hundreds of birds from the Parrot family — from huge, brilliantly-hued Scarlet Macaws to neon green Mealy Parrots to flocks of pint-sized Parakeets — visit these bluffs on clear mornings. They eat the rich clay to supplement nutrients in their diet. This raucous and vibrant display is a beloved highlight for visitors and researchers at the Macaw Project.

Scarlet Macaws and other birds are present most mornings. Especially during the dry season when dozens of this species, Red-and-Green, and Blue-and -Yellow Macaws can appear along with smaller Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Red-bellied, and Blue-headed Macaws.

Collpa Chuncho

This place is accessible from both Tambopata Research Center and Refugio Amazonas. Collpa Chuncho is another site that provides close looks at macaws and other parrots. Sometimes, Red Howler Monkeys and other animals can also pay a visit.

The Chuncho Macaw Clay Lick is one of the most stunning wildlife spectacles in the world. It is a must-see for travelers and families who love nature. The humid jungle air fills with the macaw’s screeches as they settle into trees above the bluffs, swooping down to feed on the clay. You couldn’t ask for a more fulfilling, unique experience in the Amazon Rainforest.

For one of the best tropical bird experiences in the Amazon, you need to visit the Chuncho Macaw Clay Lick. Due to nutrients, most likely salt, found in the cliff soil, the Clay Lick attracts dozens of species of birds. The macaws are the largest — and loudest — of the bunch, leaving a lasting impression on everyone who sees them.

Colpa Manu

Another great lodge to see macaws in Peru is Manu Wildlife Center.

Located in the Amarakaeri Reserved Zone of the Manu rainforest, the area is known for its incredible diversity of wildlife. Hundreds of brightly coloured macaws visit the clay lick near Manu Wildlife Center and the most often seen species here are the beautiful scarlet macaws.
The main attractions are the oxbow lake with its resident family of giant river otters. The clay lick to see tapir, and also one of the largest and most photogenic macaw clay licks in Peru.

Colpa Gato

Located in the buffer zone of Tambopata National Reserve. Guests of Refugio Amazonas have access to this magnet for large, colourful parrots. You will be greeted after a short walk through the forest from the river to a spectacular experience of sound and colour as the macaws visit the clay to detoxify food they have eaten in the forest. Here you will be climbing a tall canopy tower to gaze over the rainforest where you can spot different toucans and parrots.

Colpa de Loros

One of two clay licks located at Posada Amazonas. This one can be an excellent place for close looks at big Red-and-Greens macaws in Peru along with many other parrots.

At the Posada Amazonas Lodge, enjoy visiting a beautiful oxbow lake with its resident family of giant river otters. Climb a canopy tower to spot different parrots and toucans, and other activities.

Not only containing the most clay licks, the different reserves and national parks in this area of Peru create one of the largest sections of protected tropical forest on Earth.

Visit Tambopata, Peru and you should see these and many other spectacular birds. However, the best views of macaws will be had at places associated with research into these birds and located near clay licks frequented by them. We look forward to sharing the macaw experience with you!

For the best time of year to visit the clay licks, note that as macaw activity is most closely linked to fruit availability in the forest, macaw activity at clay licks drops from April and July coinciding with the arrival of the dry season.