Birds, History and Culture of Peru

Inca Archaeological Sites, Andean Culture, Relict
Woodlands, Andean Birds and Machu Picchu

on-rocksPhotographer: Manu Expeditions
This trip is designed for partners and friends who are a mix of birders and non-birders. We know this is often a conflict when one is an ardent birder and the other not because as owners of Manu Expeditions as we are just that! We also know that many people want to see birds but also not ignore the rich Andean culture and historic sights of Peru. 

So, with this in mind we have designed a very good birding itinerary and a dynamite cultural and historical tour. It is cleverly designed so that both bird's history and culture are experienced in one tour. A great option for couples! We exclude most evening meals so that you have the freedom choose your restaurant and will help with recommendations.

Day 1: Arrival in Lima. On arrival in Lima we will greet you and make our transfer to a hotel nearby. The choice of hotel depends on arrival times and upgrades are available if wanted.

Day 2:After a good night's sleep and a relatively late start we drive south of Lima towards Pucusana. A stop at San Pedro and Lurin will give us a chance at many shorebirds, possible Peruvian Tern, Chestnut-collared Swallow, Pacific Bran-colored Flycatcher. A boat trip around Pucusana Bay will produce nesting Guanay and Red-legged Cormorants and Peruvian Boobies - a stunning sight, not to mention the colonies of South-American Sea-lions. Our targets here are the lovely nesting Inca Tern, Blackish Oystercatcher, Peruvian Pelican, Gray Gull, Peruvian Seaside Cinclodes and maybe Humboldt Penguin. A stop in roadside scrub should produce Oasis and Amazilia Hummingbirds and Peruvian Sheartail. After a seafood lunch on the dock, we'll visit the Oracle, Temples, Palaces, Myths and Legends of Pachacamac with a visit to the splendid and vast archaeological citadel of the deity of the same name. Pachacamac was believed to be the creator of the universe, and a divinity adored by old Andean civilizations. A sacred and ceremonial site dating back to the birth of Christ, where thousands of pilgrims converged to pay tribute and consult the Pachacamac oracle, whom they believed could see the past, the future and people's fate. The site comprises pyramidal temples and enclosures built by successive pre-Colombian civilizations and finally the Incas. Highlights include the Temple of Pachacamac, the Sun God shrine, and the Palace of the Chosen Women. At the site museum there is an idol of the deity which was reserved for the high priests who kept, revered and interpreted the divine oracle in ancient times. A sacred site, the temple was considered to be part of the planet's mystical axis. Our last stop will be a small nature reserve on the outskirts of Lima, Villa Marshes. Here we will see Andean Coot, Puna Ibis, Great and White-tufted Grebes, Cinnamon Teal, White-cheeked Pintail, Franklin's Gull, Gray-hooded Gull, Bay-winged and Red-backed Hawk. In the late afternoon we'll return to our Lima hotel. Night in Lima B: L:

Day 3:Early morning flight to Cusco and we head out south of town to Huacarpay lakes. The Lake is surrounded by Inca and pre-Inca ruins. Here we will see a variety of high Andean waterfowl including Puna, Yellow-billed and Cinnamon Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail, Andean Duck and other wetland associated birds. White-tufted Grebe and Andean Coot will be here too. Depending on the time of year migrant North American shorebirds (waders) may be present. We will be specifically on the lookout for Wren-like Rushbird, Many-colored Rush-tyrant, Yellow-winged Blackbird, Puna Ibis and Andean Negrito. Birds of Prey we may see include Aplomado Falcon, Cinereous Harrier, Red-backed Hawk and Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle. In the arid scrub around the lake we'll look for the endemic Rufous-fronted Canastero and also Streak-fronted Thornbird. We should find the pretty, endemic Bearded Mountaineer feeding in the tree tobacco (Nicotania sp.) with Giant Hummingbird and Trainbearers. Peruvian, Ash-breasted and Mourning Sierra-Finches will be here with Greenish Yellow-finch and Blue and Yellow Tanager. We'll drive back to Cusco via the spectacular and birdy Inca site of Tipon – an impressive archaeological site. Night in Cusco. B: L

Day 4:To-day we concentrate on archaeology but there are birds around too! Winding out of town we will take in the megalithic fortress of Sacsayhuaman, the strange temple of Kenko and the water fountains of TambomachayFull Day tour of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. This day trip visits the stupendous archeological sites of Pisac and Ollantaytambo. OLLANTAYTAMBO Probably built by the great Inca ruler Pachacutec in the 1460s, it was the site of Hernando Pizzaro's defeat by Manco Inca in 1536. Constructed of finely cut polygonal stones and ryolite blocks, the fortress and nearby town represent the best of Inca architecture and construction. Large worked blocks, some weighing as much as 100 tons were quarried from a site more than a thousand vertical feet above the valley floor using a technique of pecking with hammer stones, then skidded down and across the Urubamba river several kilometers to the temple site. Inclined ramps were built to raise the blocks several hundred feet up hill to the construction area. We have ample time to examine the complex and ponder its many mysteries. PISAC We'll also visit the impressive but little understood temple site of Pisac and its megalithic Inca terraces still used by local peasant farmers. If it's a Tuesday, Thursday or Sunday we'll also spend time at one of the traditional local markets. We return you to our hotel in Ollantaytambo in the late afternoon. B: L

Day 5:We leave early in the morning for the 1.5-hour van ride through the Sacred Valley of the Incas to Ollantaytambo and then the 2-hour train journey to Machu-Picchu. From the train we will certainly see Torrent Ducks and White-capped Dipper on the Urubamba River and get closer looks as we leave the train. Arriving at the ruins, we are taken on a guided tour of this mystical archeological complex. White-tipped Swifts will be flying overhead. MACHU PICCHU - one of the most magical and mysterious places on Earth! Situated on the spine of a jungle cloaked granite peak towering some 2,000 ft. above an entrenched meander of the roaring river below, the site is frequently shrouded in misty clouds pierced by the powerful equatorial sun. Constructed from precisely sculptured granite blocks carefully joined with the projecting exposed stone of the surrounding mountain, the site may well be the finest architectural achievement of the new world, otherwise romantically known to the tourist world as "The lost city of the Incas". After a sumptuous buffet lunch at the Machu Picchu sanctuary Lodge you may explore the ruins at leisure for the rest of the afternoon or bus back down towards Aguas Calientes to look for Inca Wren, which is quite common in the bamboo around the ruins and then descend into the Urubamba gorge for late afternoon birding Dinner follows at the local gourmet French bistro or perhaps simpler beer and pizza at one of the track side cafes. Night at our Hotel at Machu Picchu B: L:

Day 6:All morning birding the railway track along the Urubamba River with you guide or bus back up to the ruins for those who wish for further exploration (this cost extra entrance fees so let us know if you ant to do this). On this early visit to MACHU PICCHU long before the tourist hoards arrive… A moderate hike back along a finely constructed Inca trail takes us to INTIPUNKU at 2950 meters/9000 ft., the impressive Gate of the Sun overlooking Machu Picchu, otherwise romantically known to the tourist world as "The lost city of the Incas". If birding, in the remnant cloud forest we will be looking specifically for Sclater's and Bolivian Tyrranulets, Silver-backed Tanager, Pale-eyed Thrush, Masked Fruiteater (endemic), Black-streaked Puffbird, Oleaginous Hemispingus and Capped Conebill. Mixed flocks contain many species of Tanager and the endemic Green and White Hummingbird is common here. After a late lunch, we return on the tourist train to the historic town of Ollantaytambo for the night at our country hotel. B: L:

Day 7:Those who wish may decide to stay and relax at the hotel and explore Ollantaytambo on foot – a living Inca town. If birding, after a substantial field breakfast we'll have all day to work the humid temperate forest. Starting at a large patch of Chusquea bamboo we should see Parodi's Hemispingus (endemic) and Puna Thistletail (endemic). Other possibilities during the day include: Drab, Three-striped, Black-eared and Black-capped Hemispingus Golden-collared and other Tanagers, White-throated and White-banded Tyrannulets, Andean Ibis, Unstreaked Tit-tyrant (endemic), White-rumped Hawk, Sierran Elaenia, Marcapata Spinetail (endemic), Inca Wren (endemic), plus a lot more. Rufous and Undulated Antpitta's are here too. In the afternoon we'll look for Cuzco Brush Finch (endemic). We'll return to the Sacred Valley of the Incas in the evening. B: L:

Day 8:We’ll head for the Polylepis woodland at Abra Malaga. We'll devote the whole morning to explore this unique habitat. This relict Andean woodland is protected by an NGO working closely with the Quechua farmers of Tastayoc. Possibilities include Line-fronted Canastero, Ash-breasted Tit-tyrant (endemic), White-browed Tit-spinetail (endemic), Tawny Tit-Spinetail, Giant Conebill, Stripe-headed Antpitta, Andean Tapaculo, Tit-like Dacnis, Blue-mantled Thornbill, Andean Condor, Thick-billed Siskin, Junin Canastero (endemic) and more. Our major target bird here will be the Royal Cinclodes, which we discovered here in the 80's. On the valley floor we'll check a variety of Ground-tyrants and Sierra-finches. After a picnic lunch we may visit the local community of Tastayoc whose inhabitants speak mostly only Quechua and live a traditional lifestyle, herding Llamas and Alpacas and growing potatoes. Returning we'll stop at the interesting Inca ruins of Penas and look for some local endemic birds on the west side, including Creamy-crested Spinetail, (endemic), Rusty-fronted Canastero (endemic). White-tufted Sunbeam (endemic) and Chestnut-breasted Mountain-finch (endemic). Once again, we'll spend the night in the same hotel in the valley. B: L:

Day 9:We leave our Hotel in Ollantaytambo 8:00 am down the Sacred Valley of the Incas and on to the traditional village of Chinchero. Crossing the Maras plateau with stunning views of the Vilcanota Mountain chain we’ll stop at the historic Inca town of Chinchero and stopping at Piuray and Huaypo Lakes teeming with waterfowl. Species we should see easily include Cinnamon, Puna and Yellow-billed Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail, Andean Duck, Andean Goose, Silvery & White-tufted Grebes, Andean Gull, Puna and Andean Ibis and Andean Coot. Short-billed pipit and Slender billed Miner is often in the grassy area along with Andean Lapwing and maybe Puna Snipe. Variable Hawk, Cinereous Harrier and Black-chested Buzzard-Eagles are often seen. There is always a chance to see something unusual here - we continue to our country lodge in Limatambo. B:L:D

Day 10:An early start this morning after breakfast we’ll head for Mollepata and onto Soray Pampa situated under the towering glaciers of the Salkantay massif. Here we can search for the very localized and endemic Vilcabamba Tapaculo. Working our way along the track back to Cusco giving priority to Apurimac endemic birds - we’ll see a variety of species – some possibilities include: d’Orbigny’s Chat-Tyrant, Apurimac Brush Finch (endemic), Apurimac Spinetail (endemic) Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch (endemic), Peruvian Sierra-Finch, Cinereous Conebill, Band-tailed Seedeater, Black-backed Grosbeak, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Sparkling Violetear, Giant Hummingbird, Andean Lapwing, Plain-colored Seedeater, Red-crested Cotinga, Tit-like Dacnis, Plumbeous Sierra-Finch, White-tufted Sunbeam (endemic), Creamy-crested Spinetail (endemic), Cream-winged Cinclodes, Tyrian Metaltail, Pale-tailed Canastero and White-eared Puffbird and lots more. We’ll retrace our steps back to Limatambo after a days birding in the most unimaginably amazing scenery. B:L:D

Day 11:This morning after a sumptuous breakfast and garden full of Andean birds we’ll head for Limatambo and stop to look at the impressive stonework and terraces of the little-known ruins impressive Inca Ruins of Tarawasi. Our last stop will be at the little visited Inca site of Quillarumiyoc “the place of the moon stone” in Quechua – was an Inca ceremonial site dedicated to the worship of water and, more importantly, to the moon goddess “Quilla”. The complex comprises a series of water channels following the course of a narrow gully, which descends from the mountain overlooking the site to the valley below. These water channels flow past sacred rocks, including the great stone, carved with a geometric representation of the moon, which has given the site its name. We’ll retrace our steps back to Cusco planning to arrive early and overnight. B:L

Day 12:Free morning to wander around historic Cusco, visit a museum and relax before whichever flight you choose to Lima for international connections B:

Extension: Natural History to the Amazon Rainforest of the Manu National Park staying at comfortable Cock of the Rock and Manu Wildlife Center Lodges are available on request

Customer Testimonials

Gordon Ellis - Chair Neotropical Bird Club UK

Just a few words to say thank you for the fantastic arrangements for our holiday-everything went very well and all the guides were excellent.

Annette Jeffers - USA

Even though it’s been over 4 years since I traveled w/Manu Expeditions, and I have been all over the world with, I still describe the Abra Malaga/Machu Picchu trip as the best ever, and Silverio as the sharpest, most capable and personable guide I have even traveled with.

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Just a few words to say thank you for the fantastic arrangements for our holiday-everything went very well and all the guides were excellent.

Even though it’s been over 4 years since I traveled w/Manu Expeditions, and I have been all over the world with, I still describe the Abra Malaga/Machu Picchu trip as the best ever, and Silverio as the sharpest, most capable and personable guide I have even traveled with.

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