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MACHU PICCHU/MANU BIOSPHERE TOUR

Tour Description

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PERU
BIRDING TOUR
ANY TIME*

Duration:20 days, 19 nights
Group Size:2-6
Anytime Price:$5500
Group Price:$5300
Single Suppl:$325
Est #Species:500-550
Pace:Moderate
Difficulty:Moderate
* This tour is available for any dates of your choosing provided guide services and accommodations are available.

DAY 1 - LIMA

Arrive at international airport in Lima where you'll be met and transferred to your hotel. Night at Hostal Torreblanca.

DAY 2 - VILLA MARSHES, PUCUSANA, CUSCO

Morning birding at Villa Marshes located 25 min south of Lima. It's the only preserved natural area around Lima, and the bulrushes and tall grasses are home to some interesting species including Wren-like Rushbird, Many-colored Rush Tyrant, and Yellow-hooded Blackbird. A number of open water species such as White-cheeked Pintail, White-tufted Grebe, and Great Grebe are normally present. Several coastal gulls are also there, notably Brown-hooded Gull, Belcher's Gull (Band-tailed Gull), and Kelp Gull. Also sometimes present, though often hard to find, is the endemic Peruvian Thick-knee. The nearby coastal beaches attract various terns and shorebirds. From there continue south another half hour to the coastal fishing village of Pucusana. Pucusana is a more reliable place for Peruvian Thick-knee and is also a great place to see the sought-after Inca Tern, the endemic Surf Cinclodes found on the rocky shoreline, and various arid scrub species such as Peruvian Sheartail, Long-tailed Mockingbird, Collared Warbling-Finch, Grassland Yellow-Finch, and Parrot-billed Seedeater. Afternoon flight to Cusco. Night at Hostal Qosqo.

DAY 3 - AGUAS CALIENTES

Morning train to Aguas Calientes, arriving mid-day. After lunch, birding along the Urubamba River and a section of the Inca Trail outside town. The birding is along the busy road leading up to the ruins where one can see Torrent Duck and White-capped Dipper on the river. Shrub habitat and trees along the river are good for Inca Flycatcher, Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet, Sclater's Tyrannulet, Bolivian Tyrannulet, and Lemon-browed Flycatcher. Then a flat gravel and dirt side road leading to a section of the Inca Trail along the railroad tracks. The habitat is open secondary forest and thick understory along the embankment. Possible birds along the trail include Golden-headed Quetzal, Black-streaked Puffbird, Ocellated Piculet, Masked Fruiteater, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, and White-eared Solitaire. Mixed tanager flocks that may include Rust-colored Tanager, Blue-and-yellow Tanager, Saffron-crowned Tanager, Blue-necked Tanager, and Silver-beaked Tanager are likely in flowering trees. Also possible is Fine-barred Piculet, which sometimes makes an appearance. The endemic Green-and-white Hummingbird is quite common and easily seen though one has to be careful to separate it from the very similar and also quite common White-bellied Hummingbird. Night at Inti Punku Inn.

DAY 4 - MACHU PICCHU & OLLANTAYTAMBO

Early morning take bus up to Machu Picchu. Explore the ruins and look for a few interesting birds found in the scrub nearby and at the top of the trail leading back down the mountain, especially Inca Wren which is best seen there. Also possible are White-tailed Tyrannulet, Streak-necked Flycatcher, Blue-capped Tanager, Golden-naped Tanager, and Black-backed Grosbeak along with other species. Then bird area outside Aguas Calientes again before lunch. After lunch, transfer by train to the Incan town of Ollantaytambo. Night at Ccpak Inka Ollanta Hotel.

DAY 5 - CARRIZALES, ABRA MALAGA, & HUAYPO LAKE

Pick up by our driver and early start for Carrizales and Abra Malaga, a high mountain pass reaching an altitude of over 14,000 ft above the pass. The Carrizales area is beyond the pass and offers good roadside birding just below tree line. Stunted cloud forest offers birds such as Unstreaked Tit-Tyrant, Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant, Red-crested Cotinga, Parodi's Hemispingus, Moustached Flowerpiercer, and Black-throated Flowerpiercer. Then return to the pass itself, where the habitat is open bush and Polylepis forest. An uphill walk of a few hundred meters through scrub and scrabble should produce the endangered Royal Cinclodes, an uncommon species amidst the more common Cream-winged Cinclodes (a recent split from Bar-winged Cinclodes) and the White-winged Cinclodes. Also usually present is Taczanowski's Ground-Tyrant among the rocks below the ridgeline. Continuing a short way farther up and then over the ridgeline leads to a trail into a patch of Polyepsis forest where one can typically find Blue-mantled Thornbill, Tawny Tit-Spinetail, White-browed Tit-Spinetail, Junin Canastero, Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant, and Giant Conebill. Also possible is the secretive Puna Tapaculo. Checking the steep cliffs often reveals both Brown-bellied Swallow and Andean Swallow. And, it's always possible to detect an Andean Condor soaring overhead. Back at the pass other interesting species include Plumbeous Sierra-Finch, Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch, and sometimes Slaty Finch. Rarely, Gray-breasted Seedsnipe can be spotted along the road going back downslope. A short stop near Peñas is the best place to find White-tufted Sunbeam and sometimes also yields Swallow-tailed Hummingbird.

After lunch in Ollantaytambo, transfer to Cusco with a stop at a new site to pick up Chestnut-bellied Mountain-Finch and an additional stop at Huaypo Lake en route. The open water and shoreline including reed beds and open fields at Huaypo Lake offer likely possibilities such as Puna Teal, Speckled Teal, Southern Pochard, Andean Ruddy Duck, White-tufted Grebe, and Spot-winged Pigeon. Night at Hostal Qosqo in Cusco.

DAY 6 - HUACARPAY LAKES, UPPER MANU ROAD

Depart early for Huacarpay Lakes. The lakes are at high elevation and surrounded by arid montane grassland and scrub. The area is heavily disturbed so water birds previously seen there are often absent (hence the visit to Huaypo Lake the previous day). Nevertheless, the area is still worth a visit. Marshy shores are home to Plumbeous Rail, Wren-like Rushbird, Yellow-winged Blackbird and the beautiful but rare Many-colored Rush-Tyrant. Scrub habitat along the road is often good for the endemic Rusty-fronted Canastero, White-browed Chat-Tyrant, Chiguanco Thrush, Blue-and-yellow Tanager, Mourning Sierra-Finch, Band-tailed Sierra-Finch, White-winged Diuca-Finch, and Band-tailed Seedeater. It's also possible to find the spectacular Bearded Mountaineer, which feeds on the tubular yellow flowers of the wild Tree Tobacco growing in the outwash plains nearby. Flocks of Puna Ibis are usually present near the lakes or feeding in wet grassland along the upper Manu Road.

Stop at a restaurant in Paucartambo for lunch. Then continue driving above treeline to Wayqecha Field Station, located at about 10,000 ft in a scrub and alpine woodland zone of the high Andes. En route stop at Ajcanacu Pass, beginning of Manu Biosphere Reserve, to look for Creamy-crested Spinetail and other species. If time permits try for Puna Tapaculo and Diademed Tapaculo in the same area. On clear days Andean Condor may be soaring overhead nearly anywhere above the high mountain valleys. Night at Wayqecha Field Station.

DAY 7 - WAYQECHA FIELD STATION

All day birding around Wayqecha Field Station. Bird up Manu Road from the lodge. In the forested ravine and among stunted trees along the road possible birds include Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan and mixed tanager flocks featuring Hooded Mountain-Tanager, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager, Grass-green Tanager, and Golden-collared Tanager. Possibilities along the road in alpine scrub include Peruvian Piedtail, Rufous-capped Thornbill, Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant, d'Orbigny's Chat-Tyrant, Collared Jay, Blue-capped Tanager, Moustached Flowerpiercer, Deep-blue Flowerpiercer, and Black-faced Brush-Finch. After dark try for Swallow-tailed Nightjar near the lodge (optional). Night at Wayqecha Biological Station.

DAY 8 - WAYQECHA & MANU ROAD

After early breakfast drive downslope along Manu Road, birding en route. Concentrate on mixed species flocks encountered along the way plus other interesting birds spotted along the way. The road passes through pristine forest as it descends to the middle elevation around San Pedro. Among the possibilities are Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Barred Forest-Falcon, Bar-bellied Woodpecker, Marcapata Spinetail, Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet, Bolivian Tyrannulet, Band-tailed Fruiteater, Three-striped Hemispingus, Orange-throated Tanager, Yellow-throated Tanager, Black-capped Tanager, Cuzco Brush-Finch, and Short-billed Chlorospingus. Sometimes seen along this stretch of road is the rare Greater Scythebill and the elusive Yungas Manakin. Sometimes a raucous flock of White-browed Jays makes an appearance. Crested Quetzal and Golden-headed Quetzal are possible as well. It seems every visit produces a surprising rarity. Arrive at the lodge late afternoon. Night at Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge.

DAY 9 - SAN PEDRO AREA

Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge is one of the original lodges along Manu Road. It's located on the San Pedro River and includes a private forested reserve with an extensive network of trails. All day will be devoted to birding the area. The forest trails are the best place to see Yungas Manakin. The secretive Brown Tinamou is possible as well. Other forest birds of special interest along the trails include Bluish-fronted Jacamar, Versicolored Barbet, Stripe-chested Antwren, Yellow-breasted Antwren, Slaty Gnateater, Cinnamon-faced Tyrannulet, Chestnut-breasted Wren, Black-eared Hemispingus, Plushcap, Rust-and-yellow Tanager, Orange-eared Tanager, and Black-faced Brush-Finch. Andean Cock-of-the-Rock will likely be seen along the trails or road. A nice variety of hummingbirds come to the feeders here and at Manu Paradise Lodge across the river. Some 13 species are possible including Green-fronted Lancebill, Blue-fronted Lancebill, Wire-crested Thorntail, Long-tailed Sylph, Booted Raquet-tail, Violet-fronted Brilliant, and Many-spotted Hummingbird. Optional night birding could produce Rufescent Screech-Owl, Rufous-banded Owl, Lyre-tailed Nightjar, and Andean Potoo. Night at Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge.

DAY 10 - LOWER MANU ROAD & AMAZONIA LODGE

Optional early visit to a lek if Cock-of-the-Rock not seen previous day. Then morning birding a short distance up and down Manu Road from lodge entrance looking for mixed flocks, providing another chance for Plushcap if not seen the previous day. Sometimes appearing is Amazonian Umbrellabird, which nests in the area. After breakfast, depart for the lowlands, birding all morning along the lower Manu Road. The road continues through forest for some distance until reaching some villages and eventually the town of Atalaya Manu on the Madre de Dios River. The zone between 800-1500m is of special interest because a tanager new to science has been seen but remains undescribed. Likely birds along the lower Manu Road include Versicolored Barbet, Lanceolated Monklet, Fulvous-breasted Flatbill, Round-tailed Manakin and Parodi's Hemispingus. Other possibilities include Speckle-faced Parrot, Chestnut-collared Swift, Russet Antshrike, White-browed Antbird, Variegated Bristle-Tyrant, Slender-footed Tyrannulet, Masked Fruiteater, Violaceous Jay, Yellow-throated Tanager, Golden-collared Tanager, Green-and-gold Tanager, Masked Tanager, Purple Honeycreeper, Golden-collared Honeycreeper, Yellow-browed Sparrow, Ashy-throated Chlorospingus, Dusky-green Oropendola, Purple-throated Euphonia, Golden-rumped Euphonia, and Blue-naped Chlorophonia.

Arrive at the river by mid-afternoon. From there take a 15-min boat ride upriver to Amazonia Lodge. Late that afternoon bird some trails through the extensive lowland forest around the lodge. Among the possibilities are Cinnamon-throated Woodcreeper, Short-crested Flycatcher, Purplish Jay, Masked Crimson Tanager, and Orange-backed Troupial, Russet-backed Oropendola. Night at Amazonia Lodge.

DAY 11 - AMAZONIA LODGE

Over 600 species have been recorded around Amazonia Lodge. Such high species diversity is a reflection of the many micro-habitats present within the rainforest around the lodge. Flocks of Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Military Macaw, Scarlet Macaw, and perhaps the rare Blue-headed Macaw are regularly seen overhead. Other parrots around the property include White-eyed Parakeet, Dusky-headed Parrot, and Blue-headed Parrot. An oxbow lake cut off from the river is home to bizarrely primitive Hoatzin's that may demonstrate their impressive displays. Extensive stands of bamboo within the forest are home to Bamboo Antshrike. Many species of antbirds are present, often in mixed species flocks following army ant swarms. The typical flock leader is Bluish-slate Antshrike, which is quite common. Species likely to be seen include Great Antshrike, Chestnut-backed Antshrike, Plain-winged Antshrike, White-shouldered Antshrike, White-eyed Antwren, Gray Antwren, Blackish Antbird, Black Antbird, White-browed Antbird, Silvered Antbird, Chestnut-tailed Antbird, Goeldi's Antbird, and quite possibly the strikingly colored Black-spotted Bare-eye. Along forest trails typical species include Blue-crowned Trogon, Amazonian Motmot, Black-fronted Nunbird, Bluish-fronted Jacamar, Gilded Barbet, Lemon-throated Barbet, Plain Softtail, Chestnut-crowned Foliage-gleaner, Plain Tyrannulet, Pink-throated Becard, Fiery-capped Manakin, Golden-bellied Warbler, Turquoise Tanager, and Black-faced Dacnis. Rarities such as Black-capped Tinamou (heard much more often than seen), Buckley's Forest-Falcon, Red-billed Scythebill, Amazonian Antpitta, and Johannes's Tody-Tyrant are always possible. With special effort one can ferret out Rusty-belted Tapaculo, a secretive bird often seen if everyone is very quiet. Mid-day is a good time for watching hummingbirds at the feeders. Most notable is Rufous-crested Coquette, which usually has a territory behind the lodge and feeds among the butterfly bushes in the gardens. Other hummingbirds include Pale-tailed Barbthroat, Koepcke's Hermit, Needle-billed Hermit, Gould's Jewelfront, Gray-breasted Sabrewing, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Sapphire-spangled Emerald, Golden-tailed Sapphire, and White-chinned Sapphire. Optional birding after dark could produce Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl, Mottled Owl, Black-banded Owl, Great Potoo, and Long-tailed Potoo. Night at Amazonia Lodge.

DAY 12 - AMAZONIA LODGE & PANTIACOLLA LODGE

Morning birding around Amazonia Lodge, looking for species missed the previous day. Mid morning depart by motorized boat down the Alto Madre de Dios River to Pantiacolla Lodge, a less well known lodge situated about 2 hours downstream from Amazonia Lodge. The journey makes a person feel like they've reached a truly remote place despite the occasional homestead along the river. During the boat transfer typical riverside species such as Horned Screamer, Pied Lapwing, Collared Plover, Large-billed Tern, and Swallow-winged Puffbird are normally seen. It's a good time to look for raptors such as Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle as well as Sand-colored Nighthawk roosting on sandbars. The boat should arrive by early afternoon, allowing time for some birding before dark. Night at Pantiacolla Lodge.

DAYS 13-14 - PANTIACOLLA LODGE

Pantiacolla is considered by those in the know to be the best birding lodge in the Peruvian Amazon, partly because it's extensive bamboo stands are the best place to see bamboo specialists and partly because bird activity usually remains high all day, unlike other sites in the Amazon. Excellent birding habitat including extensive bamboo, varzea and terra firme forest, river islands, and river edge are within an easy 5-minute walk from the lodge. An extensive trail system provides access to those habitats and also low-lying cloud forest on a higher ridgeline where the rare Black-capped Tinamou is found. Nearly 600 bird species as well as 8 monkey species including the rare Monk Saki Monkey have been recorded on the 900ha lodge grounds.

Two full days of birding offer numerous opportunities to find less common species such as Bartlett's Tinamou, Razor-billed Curassow, Pale-winged Trumpeter, Pavonine Quetzal, Collared Puffbird, Striolated Puffbird, Gray-cheeked Nunlet, Purus Jacamar, Cream-colored Woodpecker, Ruddy Spinetail, Eastern Woodhaunter, Tschudi's Woodcreeper, Sclater's Antwren, Banded Antbird, White-throated Antbird, Elusive Antpitta, Ash-throated Gnateater, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, White-bellied Tody-Tyrant, Amazonian Royal-Flycatcher, Musician Wren, Yellow-shouldered Grosbeak, and Pale-eyed Blackbird. Notable bamboo specialists include Rufous-headed Woodpecker, Peruvian Recurvebill, Dusky-cheeked Foliage-gleaner, Brown-rumped Foliage-gleaner, Ornate Antwren, Striated Antbird, Manu Antbird, White-lined Antbird, Flammulated Pygmy-Tyrant, White-cheeked Tody-Flycatcher, Large-headed Flatbill, and Dusky-tailed Flatbill. Mixed species tanager flocks feeding in trees around the lodge itself are a special attraction, better than anywhere else in the Peruvian Amazon headwaters. Nights at Pantiacolla Lodge.

DAY 15 - PANTIACOLLA & TAMBO BLANQUILLO

Transfer by boat from Pantiacolla Lodge to Tambo Blanquillo Lodge, taking about 6 hours. The lodge is situated in the buffer zone adjacent to Manu National Park. The habitat is pristine rainforest. Tambo Blanquillo is located very near the better known Manu Wildlife Center but actually owns the property where the oxbow lakes, parrot clay lick, and observation tower are located. Visitors to MWC must pay $200 each to access these sites, while guests of Tambo Blanquillo pay no extra for this access. Birding is otherwise similar at both sites. En route look for birds such as Orinoco Goose, Capped Heron, Sunbittern, Large-billed Tern, Sand-colored Nighthawk, Drab Water Tyrant, and White-banded Swallow along the river. After arrival, take an introductory walk through bamboo forest and near a small oxbow lake for rest of afternoon. Possibilities include Green-and-rufous Kingfisher, Bamboo Antshrike, White-flanked Antwren, Bamboo Antwren, Striated Antbird, Flammulated Pygmy-Tyrant, and Scaly-breasted Wren. Night at Tambo Blanquillo Lodge.

DAYS 16-17 - TAMBO BLANQUILLO

Two full days birding at this magical place deep in the headwaters of the Peruvian Amazon. One full morning will be spent at the parrot/macaw clay lick where the birds come in every day for needed minerals found in the clay. Visitors sit in a blind just 50m away so photo opportunities are fabulous. Species usually present are Red-and-green Macaws, possibly Scarlet Macaws, Orange-cheeked Parrot, Blue-headed Parrot, Yellow-crowned Parrot, and Mealy Parrot. At the oxbow lakes look for Blue-throated Piping-Guan, Agami Heron, Rufous-sided Crake, Gray-breasted Crake, Sungrebe, Hoatzin, Amazonian Streaked-Antwren, Band-tailed Antbird, Silvered Antbird, and Large-billed Seed-Finch. The observation tower on top of a huge Kapok tree affords an opportunity to see otherwise difficult to spot canopy birds. Activity varies every day so it's often worth climbing the tower more than once when time permits. Possibilities include Lineated Foliage-gleaner, Chestnut-winged Foliage-gleaner, Sclater's Antwren, Three-striped Flycatcher, Band-tailed Manakin, Red-billed Pied Tanager, Flame-crested Tanager, Turquoise Tanager, Paradise Tanager, Green-and-gold Tanager, Yellow-bellied Tanager, Opal-rumped Tanager, Opal-crowned Tanager, Blue Dacnis, and Yellow-shouldered Grosbeak. The remainder of the time we'll bird various trails and waterways through varzea and terra firme forest on lodge property. Nights at Tambo Blanquillo Lodge.

DAY 18 - TRANSFER TO PUERTO MALDONADO

After early breakfast depart by boat heading downriver to Boca Colorado and thence to the frontier town of Puerto Maldonado. Bird en route looking for riverside species, particularly Orinoco Goose, which avoids disturbed areas and is easier to find along this stretch of the Madre de Dios River. After disembarking, we'll transfer by bus to Puerto Maldonado. Arrive for lunch at a restaurant in town and later some afternoon birding. Night at Cabana Quinta Hotel in Puerto Maldonado.

DAY 19 - PUERTO MALDONADO & FLIGHT TO LIMA

Early birding outside town. Open habitats are likely to produce Grassland Sparrow and Red-breasted Blackbird and perhaps some raptors. Palm stands near town are a good place to look for Point-tailed Palmcreeper, which is quite common. Other possibilities are Brazilian Teal, Purus Jacamar, White-throated Jacamar, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Dark-breasted Spinetail, and Hooded Tanager.

After lunch fly from Puerto Maldonado to Lima, where the tour ends. Overnight international flights depart the same night.

DAY 20 - ARRIVAL

Overnight flights reach North America and connecting flights early this morning (not included in tour price).

 

TOUR NOTES

Hotel upgrades available in Lima, Cusco, and Aguas Calientes for additional charge. Air fare within Peru not included (about $400 RT).

 

ADDITIONAL INFO
(Not on Menu Above)

BIRDING LOCALES

 

Peruvian Thick-knee - © Laura L Fellows and Exotic Birding Tours White-browed Tit-Spinetail - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Puna Ibis - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Golden-collared Tanager - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Barred Forest-Falcon - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Bluish-fronted Jacamar - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Versicolored Barbet - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours White-browed Antbird - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Masked Tanager - © Laura L Fellows and Exotic Birding Tours Chestnut-fronted Macaw - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Goeldi's Antibird - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Large-billed Tern - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Cream-colored Woodpecker - © Laura L Fellows and Exotic Birding Tours Orinoco Goose - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Rufous-sided Crake - © Laura L Fellows and Exotic Birding Tours Green-and-gold Tanager - © Laura L Fellows and Exotic Birding Tours Hooded Tanager - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding tours