Arrival to Lima airport, transport to a nearby hotel.
Night in Lima
Transfer to airport and fly to Cusco; transfer to a hotel close to the colonial main square,
sightseeing walk, introduction of a vivid cultural centre
Night in Cusco
Transfer through the Eastern slopes of the Andes to our cloud forests lodge. The distance is just over 100 miles, but we usually take almost the full day, so we have plenty of time to admire the breathtaking scenery, enjoy excellent birding and look around at Andean towns. We will stop at the best sites for birding on the way, which is excellent for trogons, guans and quetzals, just to mention some of the colourful or large ones.
Our aim is to arrive to the lodge in good time to have our first, late afternoon visit of the World’s best and largest easily accessible Andean Cock of the Rock lek.
We spend the full day with searching birds, mammals, reptiles, butterflies & other wildlife at and around the lodge area.
Without making a full list we would like to mention just a few interesting species around such as Giant Hummingbird, the endemic Creamy-crested Spinetail, Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch and Scribble-tailed Canastero. We also have a chance for Blue-crowned Motmot, Banded-tail & Barred Fruit-eater, Gray-breasted Mountain Toucan and Blue-banded Toucanet. Golden-headed Quetzal is always a beautiful bird to find and we hope to enjoy the funny-looking Amazonian Umbrella Bird as well. There should be a wide range of colourful fruit-eating tanagers & mountain-tanagers around, such as for example Chesnut-bellied Mountain Tanager. A Red-crested Cotinga could be an additional great find. There will be a long list of Flycatchers, Barbets, Euphonias, Woodcreepers & Woodpeckers as well.
Usually Brown Capuchins are easy and with some luck alongside the cloud forest trails Woolly Monkeys are found as well.
Days 5 & 9
After a last morning birding around the lodge’s premises and a breakfast we start our journey from the Cock of the Rock lodge, from the cloud forest area to an Amazonian forest area located in the Manu Biosphere Reserve.
The travel there is a long one, first on road and later on we continue our travel on the river until we reach our next accommodation.
But we will bird along the way and there is a good chance that we will see quite a lot of Parrots, Parakeets & even Macaws already during the travel.
One thing is sure, the wildlife at Manu Biosphere Reserve is surely among the best ones in the World, so during our stay here we should enjoy a wide range of wildlife, including several tropical butterfly species in good numbers, a long list of colourful & unique Amazonian bird species.
We will have 4 full days to enjoy searching & finding Giant River Otters, perhaps Lowland Tapirs & wild cats, different monkeys and wonderful birds & other wildlife. Generally the daily routine is to have breakfast at 6am, so we can leave with small boats at 7am when it is still cooler and wildlife activity is bigger. We usually come back to our base, the lodge latest around noon, have a little siesta and a great lunch (perhaps a bit of siesta after lunch as well J ) and then around 3pm we go out again till dusk. In this way we can maximize the chance to see birds and other wildlife regularly.
During the days these are the main activities we would do with the chance for the following species beside the above mentioned ones:
Visiting an incredible Canopy Tower platform on a giant Ceiba tree:
The trail itself towards the Tower is really good for:
Screaming Piha, Black-fronted Nunbird, Purple-throated Fruit-crow, Undulated Tinamu, Goeld’s Antbird, Pale-winged Trumpeter and many more.
From the Canopy Tower platform just in front of your eyes or close above your head you can have such various species as:
Magpie-, Green-and-Gold & Paradise Tanager, Plum-throated and Spangled Cotinga, Tui Parakeet, Green & Blue Macaw, Squirrel Cuckoo, Cobalt-winged Parakeet, Black-tailed Trogon, Blue-crowned Trogon, Pale-vented Pigeon, Eastern Kingbird, Masked Tytira, Rufous-bellied Euphonia, Swallow-tailed Kite and of course many more
Search wildlife at Oxbow Lakes & on the way to them:
White-winged Swallow, Speckled Chachalaca, Blue-throated Piping Guan, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Great Black Hawk, Drab Water Tyrant, Purus Jacamar, Anhinga, Red-capped Cardinal, Striated & Cocoi Heron, Greater Ani, Azure Crake, Hoatzin, Ruddy Dove, Olive & Roseate-backed Oropendula, Leather-tailed Nightjar, Dusky-headed Parakeet, Brown-chested Martin, Green-, Ringed & American Pygmy Kingfisher, Lesser Kiskadee, Giant Cowbird, Horned Screamer, Great Egret, White-throated Toucan, Silver-billed Tanager, Sunbittern, Sungrebe, Grey-necked Woodrail & many more.
We should check the sky for raptors as well, such as Osprey, Plumbeous Kite, Roadside Hawk, Black-collared Hawk or Greater Yellow-headed Vulture and of course we should hear and see several different Parrots & Parakeets here as well.
Oxbow lakes also very good for Giant Otters & of course we should find couple of monkeys around as well, such as Red Howlers, Black-capped Squirrel Monkey or Dusky Titi Monkey.
Wildlife watching at one of the best Parrot & Macaw clay-licks in the World:
We have seen several species of Parrots and Macaws in really huge numbers - usually more than hundred(s) - obviously it is different seasonally and weather permitting as well.
Generally the early morning starts with a few Blue-headed and Yellow-crowned Parrots, sometimes Orange-cheeked Parrots, but all of them later will be seriously outnumbered by Mealy Parrots and finally the Macaws start to come, mainly Red-and-Green, but we had seen to fly over Scarlet, Chestnut-fronted and Blue-and-Yellow Macaws as well. The 5th Macaw species, Red-bellied Macaw is possible during our transfer day as well.
It is almost impossible to describe with words the cacophony of Parrots & Macaws with all the vibrant colours moving excitedly around. One of the most fantastic wildlife experiences you can also witness here: this amount of loud birds obviously attract different carnivores as well, so one day we have witnessed when an Ocelot captured one of the Mealy Parrots, on the next day we had seen a Harpy Eagle landing among the Red-and-Green Macaws causing huge alarm! All these we have witnessed from an armchair comfort of a superb hide.
Other species we can see at or close to the Parrot & Macaw clay-licks:
Black Caracara, Black-billed Thrush, Chestnut-bellied Seed-finch, Pale-tailed Barbthroat, Solitary Black Cacique, Razor-billed Curassow, Swallow-wing, Greater Yellow-headed Vulture, Ladder-tailed Nightjar, Silver-beaked Tanager, Amazon & Ringed Kingfisher, Fork-tailed Palm-Swift, King Vulture, Plumbeous Kite, Muscovy Duck, Grey-necked Wood-rail, Greyish Saltator, Golden-tailed Sapphire, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, Swallow-wing (Puffbird) and of course many more.
Visiting Mammal Clay-lick
It is working seasonally, offering one of the best chances in the World to see Lowland Tapir, but with extreme luck you can witness a predator as well who comes to check out the activity at the place as well!
Today we travel back to Cusco. This journey is again very exciting and we should see again plenty of things during the way.
Days 11 & 12
Morning transfer to Cusco airport, flight to Lima. Depending on your flight schedule you can catch international connection same day from Lima and arrive back home by the next day.
Extension – Sacred Valley (Machu Picchu-Pisac) & Colca Canyon
Day11 Machu Picchu day
We leave our main luggage in our hotel at Cusco. From Cusco we travel early down to Ollantaytambo, from where we travel through the Sacred Valley with a panoramic train. This journey itself is quite amazing alongside the Urubamba River in a beautiful valley with some snow-covered peaks towering above, while we cross forests with lush vegetation and some Inca ruins and terraces. Our journey will be around one and a half hours and we will end up at Aguas Calientes. This will be our base to discover Machu Picchu, what we will reach with a short, but steep and curvy bus ride.
Machu Picchu is surely a majestic site, hard to describe the towering hills with clouds, the rising mist among the incredible Inca ruins with some Lamas around and a few patches of bushy areas with great birding. This is without doubt one of the number one Nature & Culture sites of the World. It is surely a great place for Raptor watching as well.
We spend a few hours inside, visiting all the best parts of the area. Some of the birds we have a chance to find: Azara’s Spinetail, Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager, Andean Motmot, endemic Masked Fruiteater
Later in the afternoon we go down again with a bus and walk to our hotel. If you still have energy we can bird around the Urubamba River to search for Torrent Duck, Specled-faced/Plum-crowned Parrot, Mitred Parakeets and others.
Night in Aguas Calientes
This morning we will first birding around Aguas Calientes, trying to find some more species such as Black-streaked Puffbird, Dusky-green Oropendulas, Slaty Tanager or perhaps even an Andean Guan. We should hear White-eared Solitaire and the area is really good for Hummingbirds as well, such as Collared/Gould’s Inca, Booted Rocket-tail or the endmic Green & White Hummingbird.
After breakfast we leave the area again with a scenic train ride, arriving to Ollantaytambo. From here we continue by bus through Urubamba to Pisac. Above the little town on a hilly road we can reach the interesting Inca ruins of Pisac.
This site offers not just a panoramic view and an insight of the architecture the Incas used, but also a great place for birding. There is a lovely stream bordered with flowery and fruiting bushes which works like a strong magnet for many species including Green-tailed Trainbearer ssp. nuna, Giant Humminbird, Peruvian Sierra-Finch, Chiguanco Thrush, nicely coloured version of House Wren, Hooded Siskin, Paramo Seed-eater, Eared Dove and many more. But one of the nicest hummingbirds we can find here is the endemic Bearded Mountaineer with its incredible purple stripe on the head.
Finally late afternoon from Pisac we travel back to our hotel in Cusco, again through a breathtaking route with a good chance to see Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle and some other raptors along the way. Hotel in Cusco
Today we have a full day long journey through an amazing part of the Andes crossing beautiful areas, several different high elevation habitats including puna vegetation, rocky slopes, high elevation lagoons & marshes, each offering several different interesting species.
At the grassy puna vegetation and at scrubby areas a bit lower we will look for Andean Negrito, Band-tailed Sierra-Finch, Black Siskin and Cordilleran Canastero. At the marshes and lagoons we should find Andean Geese, Giant Coot, Blue-winged-, Puna & Speckled Teal oxyptera subspecies, Andean Gull, Puna Ibis, Greater Yellowleg, and at least one of the 3 high elevation Flamingo species, perhaps even the rarest, the Andean Flamingo. Andean Flicker ssp. puna should be common, but it is strange to see such a large, strong woodpecker without forest or usually even a tree around.
There will be plenty of possibilities to take photos of Lamas as well alongside the road at a certain elevation. We should also see Mountain Caracara and American Kestrel regularly. Hotel in Chivay
After an early breakfast we drive up to Colca Canyon. It is a short, but steep and curvy drive, but we might stop shortly to look for a few birds such as Mourning Sierra-Finch, White-browed Chat-Tyrant. On our last trip we have found Band-winged Nightjar as well and a meantime Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle was hunting just above our head.
But the main goal of course beside admiring the gorgeous Colca Canyon to witness the majestic flight of an Andean Condor. Since there are several pairs nesting and searching food in the area we have a good chance for it. In 2016 we almost managed to touch an incredible male swooping by seriously close!
If we have a little time we might stop at a little local village enjoy the local folklore and a colonial church.
After lunch at Chivay we travel all the scenic road back to Cusco, this time stopping just if we see something new or otherwise interesting thing.
Night in Cusco
Transfer to airport, flight to Lima and connection flight to home.
Arrival back home