Pantanos de Villa Wildlife Refuge
Address: Defensores del Morro Avenue and Alameda Las Garzas Reales, Chorrillos. Links to Sernanp, Pro-Villa.
Hours and Fees: Open from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM Monday through Sunday. Entrance Fee due at the Visitior Center.
Photography: Open habitats, large flocks of birds, birds moderately habituated to people.
Policies: It is not recommended to stay in the refuge after 4:30 PM, no dogs allowed.
Bird-Watching Nature Walk Skiff Rides Wildlife Observation
Nature Trails Observation Towers Visitor Center Restroom Facilities Parking Lot
What Can I See?
These are the most characteristic birds at Pantanos de Villa Wildlife Refuge. These are conspicuous and often the more common of a total of approximately 165 species that have been recorded at this site. This collection gives an idea of the birds with the highest chances of being seen, as well as those that are considered a “specialty” at this site.
Photos contain the Species Name, Measurements, Abundance, and Habitat Type most frequently seen.
See the bird list (eBird)
The Wild Guinea Pig is nocturnal and rather difficult to see at Mixed Salt Grass habitats. Dolphins and Sea Lions can be spotted from the beach at the Marvilla Area.
Open Water & Marshes
Marshes are generally found at the edges of lakes, ponds, and similar bodies of water and form a transition between the aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Marshes are wetlands that are dominated by herbaceous plants such as grasses, rushes or reeds rather than woody plant species. Open Water & Marshes are favored by grebes, ducks, coots, rails, and herons, which are adapted to living in the water or flooded and semi-flooded habitats.
Mixed Salt Grass
Mixed Salt Grass is found further from the bodies of water and is not flooded. This habitat is composed of salt grass with reeds, rushes, and shrubs of varying densities. Mixed Salt Grass provides habitat to Peruvian Thick-knees, Peruvian Meadowlark, Yellowish Pipit, Grassland Yellow-finch among other.
Brackish water ponds contain water that is a mix of saltwater and freshwater. It may result from mixing of seawater with fresh water, as in estuaries. Brackish water is commonly found where freshwater meets seawater. In the Pantanos de Villa Wildlife Refuge, a pond of brackish water is found adjacent to the seashore in the Marvilla area. Neotropical Cormorant and grebes forage in the water. Large flocks of gulls and shorebirds congregate on the sandbanks adjacent to this pond.
Sandy shores, or beaches, are coastal shorelines where sand accumulates. Sandy shores are full of life and constitute foraging, resting, and nesting habitats for many residents and migratory (October-March) species of birds. Seabirds likely to be seen from the Marvilla Shore includes Peruvian Booby, Inca Tern, Red-legged Cormorant, and Brown Pelican.
Map of Pantanos de Villa Wildlife Refuge
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Visit Pantanos de Villa Wildlife Refuge
Pantanos de Villa Wildlife Refuge is an oasis of life on the Atacama Desert. It is located within approximately 45 minutes from downtown Lima and features a combination of marshes, open bodies of water, cattail and reed beds, and an ocean shore. The variety of habitats and location attract coastal wetland birds, as well as migratory shorebirds and seabirds. Up to 165 species of resident and migratory birds have been recorded at Pantanos de Villa Wildlife Refuge. A regular day of birding generally yields about 45-60 species of birds. In 1997, Pantanos de Villa or Villa Marshes was designated as a RAMSAR site (Wetland Ecosystem of International Importance).
Plan your Trip
Pantanos de Villa can be explored in approximately three hours. Birdwatchers generally spend more time and stay at this site for the entire morning or afternoon. The same can be said about photographers.
The best time to visit
The early morning hours is the best time as birds and other wildlife are more active, visible, and easier to photograph. The afternoon may be windy and wildlife activity decreases. Pantanos de Villa can be visited any time of the year. The summer months (Southern Hemisphere) of December through April may be warmer with brighter sunlight. The winter month can be cold and drizzly.
How to get there
Pantanos de Villa can be reached via public transportation. Depending on your location, there are multiple bus-route combinations that would get you there. The best way perhaps is taking a taxi back and forth.
Amount of Time
Spend approximately 20 minutes on each tower and if possible repeat a visit to the towers after exploring trails between the towers. We recommend 40 minutes to look for birds at Marvilla, the sandy shores, and surf. This may take longer if you are photographing birds.
Where to look for birds
- Open bodies of Water. Birds more likely to be found in this habitat include White-cheeked Pintail, Cinnamon Teal, Andean Duck, Giant, Thick-billed, and White-tufted Grebes, Andean Coot, and Neotropic Cormorant. The water edges are favored by Great Egret, Striated Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Gray Gull, and Common Gallinule. Stands of Cattail is the preferred habitat for the Wren-like Rush-Bird, Many-colored Rush-tyrant, and Plumbeous Rail. The Yellow-hooded Blackbird also favors stands of cattail but only at the Marvilla Area.
- Stands of Reed and Grasses. This habitat type is found throughout the site and is favored by Burrowing Owl, Peruvian Thick-Knees, Yellowish Pipit, Peruvian Meadowlark, and Grassland Yellow-finch among others.
- Sandy Beach at Marvilla: Here is where a brackish water pond meets the ocean shore. American Oystercatcher, Semipalmated Plovers, Band-tailed, kelp, and Gray Gulls, and a variety of migratory shorebirds congregate here.
Where to look for Mammals
Wild Guinea Pigs are rare and largely nocturnal. They favor the thick stands of reeds on dry ground near water where their tunnel trails can be seen.
The Marvilla area
This area is a must do as it features many species of birds in the water or loafing on the sandy banks. During the summer months, large flocks of migratory birds congregate at Marvilla. The sandy shores and surf are favored by shorebirds, terns, boobies, and cormorants.
What to wear and bring
Comfortable shoes are recommended as trails are mostly dry and well maintained. Sunglasses and sunscreen are recommended during the summer months.
Use caution when exploring Pantanos de Villa as the surrounding areas are heavily populated and hold-ups and muggings have taken place in areas not guarded by the refuge personnel.