Peru is literally a birders paradise with an amazing species list of just over 1,800. This tour takes us from the coast, up to the high puna zone and all the way along the fabled Manu Road into the heart of Amazonia on one of the world’s greatest birding journeys. Our extensive coverage includes boat rides below seacliffs teeming with seabirds, hidden coastal valleys full of endemics, high altitude specialities such as Diademed Sandpiper-plover, plus secluded lodges in the heart of the Amazonian rainforest. To walk the numerous trails in the Manu Biosphere Reserve, searching for the various antbirds, antpittas or 1,000 other species recorded here is surely one of the most exciting birding experiences imaginable. We will have several days to explore and marvel at the sheer beauty and feeling of pure wilderness of this most diverse of eco-systems. We can watch in awe at the sight of hundreds of macaws, parrots and parakeets flying in the early morning light to a salt lick on the banks of an isolated river. We can enjoy the spectacle of an Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek, and we can sail across tranquil oxbow lakes and travel to one of the best-known archaeological sites in the world – Machu Picchu. We will see in excess of 600 species and this is without doubt one of the most exciting holidays that ZOOTHERA currently run. Imagine sailing down one of the tributaries of the Amazon as the early morning mist slowly recedes, raucous Blue-and-Yellow Macaws flying overhead and the eerie cry of Howler Monkeys calling from the surrounding jungle. This holiday of a lifetime will see us well looked after by our local guides, as we relax in picturesque lodges in prime birdwatching areas. From the Pacific coast, hidden coastal valleys with numerous endemics, the fabled Diademed Sandpiper-plover, Machu Picchu and the Manu - nobody does it better!
Days 1- 2 UK - Lima - Atacama Desert - Pucusana - Sat 7th July
We will take an overnight flight from London bound for Lima arriving in the early morning of Day 2. On arrival we will begin our extensive coverage of this amazing country by heading south of Lima and visit the marshes and lowland scrub at the northernmost tip of the Atacama Desert, which should provide a gentle introduction to the Peruvian avifauna such as Great and White-tufted Grebes, Andean Coot, White-cheeked Pintail, Plumbeous Rail, Peruvian Thick-knee, West Peruvian Dove, Croaking Ground-dove, Long-tailed Mockingbird, Amazilia Hummingbird, the endemic Coastal Miner, Many-coloured Rush-tyrant, Wren-like Rushbird, Drab and Chestnut-throated Seedeaters, Blue-black Grassquit, Collared Warbling-finch, Hooded Siskin, Cinereous Conebill and Pied-crested Tit-tyrant. Probably the highlight will be our boat ride around the picturesque harbour and nearby sea cliffs of Pucusana in search of the endemic Surf Cinclodes. This is also a great place for close views of the stunning Inca Tern, Humboldt Penguin, Red-legged and Guanay Cormorants, Peruvian Pelican, Peruvian and usually a few Blue-footed Boobies plus a good variety of other seabirds. Gulls are well represented with Kelp, Belcher’s and the beautiful Grey, and other species include American and Blackish Oystercatchers and Snowy Plover. We will spend the next 2 nights at Chosica.
Days 3 – 4 Santa Eulalia Valley - Marcapomacocha This morning we will set off towards the western cordillera and the Santa Eulalia Valley which comprises of varied habitats including montane scrub, riparian thicket, agricultural fields and tumbling streams. This site is seldom visited by other visiting birders but has a reputation for producing some extremely exciting endemics and specialities such as Scarlet-fronted and Mountain Parakeet, Peruvian Sheartail, Oasis Hummingbird, Bronze-tailed Comet, Purple-collared Woodstar, Black-necked Woodpecker, Thick-billed Miner, Canyon Canastero, Rusty-crowned Tit-Spinetail, Great Inca-Finch, Rufous-breasted Warbling-Finch, Rusty-bellied Brush-Finch, Scrub Blackbird and Golden-bellied Grosbeak. Other more widespread species here include Andean Condor, Black-winged and Bare-faced Ground-dove, Andean Swift, Giant Hummingbird, White-browed Chat-tyrant, Yellow-billed Tit-tyrant, Band-tailed and Plain-coloured Seedeaters, Mourning Sierra-finch, Greenish Yellow-finch, Yellow-rumped Siskin and Golden-bellied Grosbeak. On the way back to our hotel this evening we can call into a small park where Scarlet-fronted and Red-masked Parakeets come in to roost in the tall trees.
The next day we will visit Marcapomacocha bog situated at just over 4,500m and set amidst some stunning Andean scenery. Here we can find the highly-prized Diademed Sandpiper-plover, as well as a number of endemics such as White-bellied Cinclodes, Black-breasted Hillstar, Dark-winged Miner and Plain-breasted Earthcreeper. Other species here include Puna Snipe, Andean Goose, Crested Duck, Giant Coot, Grey-bellied Seedsnipe, Olivaceous Thornbill, Streak-throated Canastero, Common Miner, Rufous-webbed Bush-tyrant, White-browed, Ochre-naped, White-fronted, Puna and Taczanowski’s Ground-tyrants, Plain-coloured Seedeater, and plenty of others. Night in Lima.
Days 5 – 7 Lima - Cusco - Manu Road - Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge
This morning we will take an early morning flight across the mighty snow-capped peaks of the Andes to Cusco, the 3400m gateway to Amazonia and some of the best birding on the planet. On arrival at Cusco we will continue on to the famous Manu Road, making several stops along the way. This will be our first opportunity to find a couple of endemics with Bearded Mountaineer and the shy Rusty-fronted Canastero first up in the dry inter-montane valleys, and there’s also Brown-bellied Swallow, Andean Flicker, Golden-billed Saltator and Peruvian Sierra-finch as well. Further on we can find a few more new birds for our list amongst the drier areas interspersed with Puna grassland. Searching this seemingly barren area we will look for Andean Tinamou, Mountain Caracara, Variable Hawk, Spot-winged Pigeon, Creamy-crested Spinetail, Hooded Siskin, Cinereous Conebill and the smart endemic Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch. Once over Acjanaco Pass and onto the eastern slope of the Andes we enter elfin forest, humid montane forest and chusquea bamboo where the birdlife inevitably changes and should include White-collared Jay, Grey-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Barred Fruiteater, Sierran Elaenia, Red-crested Cotinga, Moustached Flowerpiercer, Hooded, Scarlet-bellied and Chestnut-bellied Mountain-Tanagers, Golden-collared Tanager and Mountain Cacique. We will inevitably encounter numerous mixed-species feeding flocks throughout our time on the Manu Road, and as we try and keep up with the action and the kaleidoscope of colours and movement we can see Tyrian Metaltail, Amethyst-throated Sunangel, Ochraceous-breasted Flycatcher, White-throated and White-banded Tyrannulets, Pearled Treerunner, Rufous-breasted Chat-tyrant, Drab Hemispingus, and Blue-black, Gold-naped, Blue-capped and Grass-green Tanagers. As the road drops in elevation quickly we will make a special effort to find the beautiful endemic Red-and-White Antpitta. And we need to keep an eye on the roadside trees for Andean Guan, Speckle-faced and Scaly-naped Parrots, Highland Motmot and Golden-headed Quetzal.
Eventually we will arrive at our lodge situated in lower montane evergreen forest beside crystal clear streams. We will have two full days to bird the Manu Road both above and below our lodge and this represents an altitude range of 7,000 ft to 2,000 ft, and the range in bird diversification is even more impressive. There is very good birding right around the lodge itself with banana feeders that attract Highland Motmot, the glorious Versicoloured Barbet, Golden, Saffron-crowned, and Paradise Tanagers, and Orange-bellied Euphonia. The hummer feeders here attract Booted Racket-tail, Violet-fronted Brilliant, and both Many-spotted and Speckled Hummingbirds. Other garden birds include Wedge-billed Hummingbird, Wire-crested Thorntail, Stripe-chested Antwren, Two-banded Warbler, Orange-bellied Euphonia, Beryl-spangled, Blue-necked and Spotted Tanagers and Black-faced Brush-finch, whilst mammals such as Tayra and Agouti are also present. A nearby hide overlooks an Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek where one can sit and watch males of this splendid bird display at very close range. Trails near the lodge can produce such stars as Rufous-breasted Antthrush, Slaty Gnateater, Yungas and Cerulean-capped Manakins and Spotted Nightingale-Thrush. Along the road just above the lodge watch for the charming Crested Quetzal, Bolivian Tyrannulet, Smoke-coloured Pewee, Black-streaked Puffbird, White-crowned Tapaculo, Red-billed Scythebill, Montane Woodcreeper, Grey-mantled Wren, Andean Solitaire, Inca Jay, Golden-eared, Orange-eared and Black-goggled Tanagers, Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Black-eared Hemispingus, Golden-collared Honeycreeper and Dusky-green Oropendola.
One morning we will drive up the road into a different life zone where we will look for stunners like Solitary Eagle, White-throated Hawk, Blue-banded Toucanet, Yungas Pygmy-Owl, Rufous-capped Thornbill, Greater Scythebill, Striped and Black-billed Treehunters, Montane Foliage-gleaner, White-capped Dipper, White-eared Solitaire, Glossy-black Thrush, Band-tailed Fruiteater, Three-striped and Russet-crowned Warblers, Deep-blue Flowerpiercer, White-crowned Tapaculo, tanagers galore, Yellow-throated Bush-tanager, and if we are lucky we may find a superb Chestnut-crested Cotinga, as we did on our last tour. We will also spend time along the road below the lodge. Here we will watch for Sunbittern, Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Wattled Guan, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Bluish-fronted Jacamar, Amazonian Umbrellabird, White-backed Fire-eye, Cabanis’s Spinetail, Chestnut-backed Antshrike, Stripe-chested, Foothill, Warbling and Ornate Antwrens, Mottle-backed Elaenia, and Swallow Tanager to name a few. And we should at least hear Brown Tinamou and Rufous-breasted Wood-quail! On at least one evening we will visit a special site for Lyre-tailed Nightjar, and can also search for Andean Potoo, Rufescent Screech-owl and Rufous-banded Owl, which were all seen on our last tour. All of this takes place in a beautiful setting of forested valleys, rushing rivers, waterfalls, mild temperatures, good food and comfortable lodging. Nights at Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge.
Day 8 Manu Road - Amazonia Lodge
We will take the entire day to travel and bird the Manu Road to Hacienda Amazonia, where we will spend the next 4 nights. Stopping along the way we will look for the mythical Lanceolated Monklet, flowering trees with hummingbirds, Plum-throated Cotinga, Military Macaw, fruiting trees with elaenia and tanager flocks, and Epaulet Oriole just to name a few. Lower down we will make a stop for the rare and local Black-backed and Rusty-fronted Tody-Flycatchers, and will also look for Black Caracara, Golden-tailed Sapphire, Yellow-breasted Antwren, Manu Antbird, Chestnut-breasted Wren, Hazel-fronted Pygmy-tyrant, Slender-footed and Cinnamon-faced Tyrannulets, Bay-headed Tanager, Olive-backed Woodcreeper, Red-eyed Vireo, Golden-bellied (Cusco) Warbler and Tropical Parula, whilst Blue-headed Macaw can sometimes be seen along the road once we are in sight of the river. In the tropical lowlands some wide open fields and cultivated areas are good for Chestnut-bellied Seed-finch, Bran-coloured Flycatcher and both Black-faced and Magpie Tanagers. We eventually come to the river at Atalaya, keeping an eye out for Bat Falcons, and then cross by boat with all of our luggage. This lovely Hacienda is the home of Ramiro Yabar, our local leader whose expertise and intimate knowledge of the area is unsurpassed. Night Amazonia Lodge.
Days 9 – 11 Amazonia Lodge
This is a birder's paradise with a variety of habitats within a short walking distance of the lodge, including the gardens, an oxbow lake, nearby secondary growth and clearings, bamboo forest, the hill behind the lodge, and the primary forest. Here some very local species are seemingly easy to find and this is the best location anywhere for the endemic Koepcke’s Hermit, White-cheeked Tody-Tyrant and Blue-headed Macaw. Flowering bushes and feeders around the lodge bring in hummingbirds such as Grey-breasted Sabrewing, Blue-tailed and Sapphire-spangled Emeralds, White-necked Jacobin, the local Rufous-crested Coquette, Golden-tailed Sapphire, Gould’s Jewelfront, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Violet-headed Hummingbird, White-bearded, Rufous-breasted and Long-tailed Hermits, the tiny Amethyst Woodstar, and sometimes Long-billed Starthroat or Blue-fronted Lancebill. This place really is that good! Banana feeders attract Black-billed and Creamy-bellied Thrushes, Red-capped Cardinal, Masked Crimson and Silver-beaked Tanagers, or you can watch the Russet-backed Oropendolas display near their nests in the garden. Other frequent visitors to the garden include Speckled and Plain-crowned Spinetails, Slender-billed Xenops, Plain Softail, Black-and-white Seedeater and Pale-legged Hornero amongst many others. Indeed the garden is surrounded by superb forest and is a great place to set up your scope and scan the surrounding treetops and hillside where there is always something new to find, maybe Greater Yellow-headed Vulture, several species of raptor including White Hawk and Double-toothed Kite, Spix’s Guan, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Blue-headed Parrot, Dusky-headed Parakeet, Chestnut-eared Aracari, Yellow-tufted Woodpecker, Plum-throated Cotinga, Long-tailed Tyrant, Swallow-wing, Turquoise Tanager, and both Golden-bellied and Rufous-bellied Euphonia.
Around the oxbow lake, the bizarre Hoatzin is common, whilst it is also a very good place for Sunbittern, the occasional Agami Heron or Sungrebe, up to 4 species of trogon, Black-fronted Nunbird, Red-billed Scythebill, Silvered and Band-tailed Antbirds, Amazonian Streaked Antwren, Thrush-like Wren, Little and Dark-billed Cuckoos, Cinnamon-throated Woodcreeper, Green-backed Becard, Black-capped Donacobius and Hauxwell’s Thrush. The famous jeep track offers more open birding in the canopy as well as possibilities of undergrowth skulkers. Species to look for here are Cinereous, Undulated, Black-capped and Little Tinamous, Collared and barred Forest-falcons, Spix’s Guan, Blue-throated Piping-Guan, Grey-necked Wood-Rail, Chestnut-eared Aracari, the rare Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo, Lemon-throated Barbet, Blue-crowned and Black-tailed Trogons, Johanne’s Tody-tyrant, Yellow-browed Tody-flycatcher, the stunning Black-spotted Bare-eye, Warbling, Spot-backed and Chestnut-tailed Antbirds, Bluish-slate Antshrike, Amazonian Antpitta, Fiery-capped and Band-tailed Manakins, Ringed Antpipit, Long-tailed Woodcreeper, Pink-throated Becard, Grey-capped Flycatcher, Purplish and Violaceous Jays, Yellow-crested Tanager, and many, many more.
The bamboo forest is home to some very local species including Scarlet-hooded Barbet, Rufous-headed Woodpecker, Rufous-capped Nunlet, Crested (Dusky-cheeked) Foliage-Gleaner, Bamboo Antshrike, Large-headed Flatbill, White-cheeked Tody-Tyrant and Flammulated Bamboo-Tyrant. The primary forest is home to such prizes as Bartlett’s, Cinereous and Grey Tinamous, Great Razor-billed Curassow, Red-throated Caracara, Cobalt-winged Parakeet, White-throated Toucan, Striolated and Chestnut-capped Puffbirds, Rusty-belted Tapaculo, Black-tailed Leaftosser, Ornate and Ochre-bellied Flycatchers, Fiery-capped Manakin, Pygmy Antwren, Goeldi’s, White-lined, Black, White-browed and Black-throated Antbirds, Bamboo and Plain-winged Antshrikes, Thrush-like and Amazonian Antpittas, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, Round-tailed Manakin, Yellow-bellied Dacnis, and both Olive and Casqued Oropendolas to name just a few.
One of the many highlights of a visit here is a session viewing from the canopy tower located on the hillside above the lodge. The walk up is relatively steep but passes through yet more excellent forest and we usually encounter lots of feeding flocks on the walk. We regularly see Black-eared Fairy, Bar-breasted Piculet, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, White-winged Shrike-tanager, Rufous-tailed Foliage-gleaner, Striped Woodhaunter, Green and Purple Honeycreepers, Half-collared Gnatwren, Sooty Antbird, Rufous-tailed Antwren, Dusky-capped and Tawny-crowned Greenlets, and both Carmiol’s and Yellow-crested Tanagers. The view below us and across the valley into Amazonia is breath-taking and we have never failed to produce a whole string of excellent sightings on our previous visits. Over our 3 previous tours we have had many excellent sightings including Lettered Aracari, Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlet, Yellow-browed Tody-flycatcher, Lanceolated Monklet, and both Opal-crowned and Opal-rumped Tanagers amongst a vast assortment of furnariids, antbirds and tanagers. After the session has quietened down we’ll walk a trail back to the lodge taking in a lek of Round-tailed Manikin along the way, and we could also see Grey Tinamou if we are very lucky, or Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner, Plain Xenops, Grey Antwren, Plain Antvireo, the awesome Hairy-crested and Sooty Antbird, Black-faced Antthrush, Black-banded Woodcreeper, Sepia-capped Flycatcher and Pectoral Sparrow.
Nocturnal species to listen and look for are Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl, Black-banded Owl, Great and Grey Potoos, and the rare and local Long-tailed Potoo. Hacienda Amazonia is possibly the best location to actually see the latter. Primates here include Wedge-faced Capuchin, Common Woolly Monkey, Dusky Titi Monkey and Red Howler Monkey. As the temperatures here will be a little warmer than the previous lodge with bird activity highest in the morning and late afternoon we will usually split the day's birding into two sessions with a leisurely lunch and plenty of time taken to enjoy the garden birds over refreshing cold drinks. You definitely need at least a couple of days here! Nights at Amazonia Lodge.
Day 12 Boat ride into Manu Biosphere Reserve
Today we will leave early for the long but exciting boat ride down the Alto Madre de Dios River to the Manu - possibly one of the remotest locations you will ever visit on a birding tour! Expect a lot of birds along the journey such as Fasciated Tiger-Heron, the gorgeous Capped and Cocoi Herons, Slate-coloured Hawk, Bat Falcon, Collared Plover, the boldly patterned Pied Lapwing, Horned Screamer, Large-billed and Yellow-billed Terns, Blue-and-yellow, Scarlet, Red-and-green, Chestnut-fronted and Red-bellied Macaws, Blue-throated Piping-Guan, the tern-like Sand-coloured Nighthawk, Ladder-tailed Nightjar, Ringed and Amazon Kingfishers, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, Drab Water-Tyrant, White-banded Swallow and Red-capped Cardinal. As we get further into Amazonia more and more macaws and parrots will appear and there is nothing as exhilarating as sailing along the river with flocks of Blue-and-yellow Macaws screeching overhead. This being our introduction into Manu will surely be a memorable day for us all! We shall spend the next 4 nights at a lodge in the Manu.
Days 13 - 15 Manu Biosphere Reserve With over 500 species having been recorded around the lodge and surrounding area we will have much to keep us busy. We will bird varzea forest (seasonally flooded), terra firma forest (non-flooded), old oxbow lakes known locally as cochas and even get a different vantage point from a canopy tower high in the forest. Highlights on previous tours include Pale-winged Trumpeter, Orinoco Goose, Crested Eagle, Crested Owl, White-chinned Sapphire, Channel-billed Toucan, Golden-collared Toucanet, Curl-crested Aracari, White-bellied Parrot, Tui Parakeet, Pavonine Cuckoo, Gilded Barbet, Pavonine Quetzal, Great and Paradise Jacamars, Striolated and Semicollared Puffbirds, Rufous-breasted Piculet, Long-billed Woodcreeper, Screaming Piha, Yellow-billed Nunbird, Wing-barred Piprites, Crowned Slaty-flycatcher, Olive Oropendola and Pale-eyed Blackbird. An extensive trail system enables us to cover a lot of ground and species to lookout for include Little Tinamou, Starred Wood-quail, Barred Forest-falcon, Crimson-crested, Red-necked and Chestnut Woodpeckers, Lemon-throated Barbet, Collared Trogon, Black-tailed Leaftosser, Chestnut-winged Hookbill, Broad-billed Motmot, Cinereous Mourner, Dwarf Tyrant-manakin, White-bellied Tody-tyrant, Flammulated Pygmy-tyrant, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Elegant, Long-tailed, Wedge-billed and Buff-throated Woodcreepers, Rufous-tailed Flatbill, Blue-backed and Blue-crowned Manakins, White-crested Spadebill, Rufous-capped Antthrush, Striated Antbird, Dusky-throated Antshrike, Sclater’s and White-flanked Antwrens and Black-and-White Becard,
We will also visit a salt lick on the riverbank one early morning where thousands of macaws, parrots, and parakeets come to scrape the mineral rich clay deposit to help in their digestion. This is truly a spectacle and one of the highlights of any Peru tour, and the views from the floating hide are simply superb of the multitude of brightly-coloured birds that include Red-and-Green Macaws, Yellow-crowned, Orange-cheeked, Mealy and Blue-headed Parrots, Cobalt-winged and White-eyed Parakeets. Our trip to the salt-lick inevitably turns up yet more new species and in the past we have seen Sunbittern, Green Ibis, King Vulture, Ferruginous Pygmy-owl, Spot-breasted and Little Woodpeckers, Fork-tailed Palm-swift, Little Ground-tyrant, Spotted Tody-flycatcher, Goeldi’s Antbird, Great Antshrike and Black-billed Seed-finch.
We also have a couple of rides on tranquil oxbow lakes, one of which is good for Giant Otters. But there will be many birds such as Least Grebe, Boat-billed Heron, Rufescent Tiger-heron, Limpkin, Wattled Jacana, Rufous-sided Crake, Black-collared Hawk, Grey-headed Kite, Chestnut-bellied Macaw, Ruddy Pigeon, Greater Ani, Purus Jacamar, Pale-rumped Swift, Brown-chested Martin, Buff-throated Woodcreeper, Dark-breasted Spinetail, Lesser Kiskadee, Short-crested Flycatcher, White-lored and Yellow-crowned Tyrannulets, Moustached Wren, Black-capped Donacobius, Green-and-Gold Tanager and Troupial. Nearby, dense stands of bamboo have a network of trails that allow us to fully explore this habitat and give us an opportunity to see some of the rare bamboo specialists like Rufous-headed Woodpecker, Peruvian Recurvebill, Rufous-fronted Antthrush, Ihering’s Antwren, Striated Antbird and Flammulated Bamboo-Tyrant. Mammals are well represented here with ten species of monkey including Saddle-backed Tamarin and Black Spider-Monkey. Other possible mammalian highlights may include Capybara, which is the largest rodent in the world, the huge Brazilian Tapir, and the elusive Jaguar. As there are no roads in this pristine wilderness, we will be travelling by boat to and from trails and cochas along the river.
Day 16 Manu - Cusco - Urubamba
After an early morning start we will travel upriver to the airstrip at Boca Manu. From here a 45 minute flight will take us over the Andes back to Cusco where we will be met at the airport and driven down the Sacred Valley of Urubamba to our lovely Inca styled hotel. Birding in the late afternoon on the grounds can produce White-bellied Hummingbird, Green-tailed Trainbearer, White-browed Chat-Tyrant and Black-backed Grosbeak. We shall spend the next 2 nights at a hotel in Urubamba.
Day 17 Abra Malaga As dawn breaks across a landscape of rugged snow capped peaks we will find ourselves on the way to Abra Malaga this morning. After crossing the 4,230 m pass our descent will take quite a while and the lower we go the more the vegetation increases and we find ourselves in a world of lichen-covered elfin forest. A profusion of birds awaits in this beautiful temperate forest where we will look for the local White-rumped Hawk, Mitred Parakeet, the extraordinary Sword-billed Hummingbird, Coppery-naped Puffleg, Marcapata Spinetail, Pale-footed Swallow, Inca and Mountain Wrens, Barred Fruiteater, Unstreaked Tit-Tyrant, Three-striped, the local Parodi’s, Oleaginous, Black-capped and Superciliared Hemispinguses, Golden-collared Tanager, several species of mountain-tanagers, White-browed Conebill, Cusco Brush-finch and Plush-capped Finch! Moving higher up we will search for Andean Condors, Rufous Antpitta which skulks in the shadows, Violet-throated Starfrontlet, Rufous-breasted Chat-tyrant, Red-crested Cotinga, Puna Thistletail, Trilling Tapaculo, Tit-like Dacnis, White-browed Conebill and Rusty Flowerpiercer. Higher up still we will reach the puna zone with its grassland and small lakes where we may see Andean Goose, Andean Ibis, Andean Condor, Mountain Caracara, Aplomado Falcon, Grey-breasted Seed-Snipe, Andean Hillstar, Blue-mantled Thornbill, Puna and Ochre-naped Ground-Tyrants, the very local Line-fronted Canastero, Paramo Pipit, White-winged Diuca-Finch and Bright-rumped Yellow-Finch. Weather permitting we will search in the Polylepis forest for three highly prized species: Royal Cinclodes, White-browed Tit-Spinetail and Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant. Other possibilities in this forest include Tawny Tit-Spinetail, Puna Tapaculo, Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant and D’Orbigny’s Chat-tyrant. Late in the afternoon we will make one final stop to find the endemic White-tufted Sunbeam, and as always there will be other birds to see such as Shining Sunbeam, Giant Hummingbird, Andean Flicker, Creamy-crested Spinetail, Stripe-headed Antpitta, Tufted Tit-Tyrant and Plain-capped Ground-Tyrant among many others. Our comfortable hotel will be a welcome sight after a long but rewarding day of birding in the High Andes of Peru. Night in Urubamba.
Day 18 Machu Picchu - Cusco
We begin this morning with a short transfer by bus to the delightful town of Ollantaytambo from where we board the train for the downriver journey to Aguas Calientes at the base of the famed ruins of Machu Picchu. The tracks follow alongside the Urubamba River, so watch for the splendid Torrent Duck and White-capped Dipper en-route. Once at Aguas Calientes we will board a comfortable bus for the twenty-minute ride up hairpin switchbacks to Machu Picchu, where we will have ample time to learn about this “Lost City of the Incas”, admiring its unique architecture and the dramatic scenery. And of course there are numerous photographic opportunities! Not only is Machu Picchu a must-visit site at least once in your life it is also a fantastic place to see a good variety of interesting and specialized birds. While at the ruins keep an eye out for the endemic Inca Wren as well as White-winged Black-Tyrant, which likes to hunt along the forest edge, and the local White-throated Hawk can sometimes be seen soaring overhead. We even saw the might Andean Condor here on our last visit. Below the ruins lies good forest where we will look for Mitred Parakeet, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, White-bellied Woodstar, the endemic Green-and-white Hummingbird, Ocellated Piculet, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Sclater’s Tyrannulet, the local Pale-legged and Russet-crowned Warblers, a host of tanagers including Rust-and-yellow and Silver-backed, Chestnut-capped Brush-finch and Dusky-green Oropendola to name a few. We then backtrack by train upriver this time to Ollantaytambo, before transferring by bus to Cusco and our lovely hotel this evening. Overnight in Cusco.
Day 19Huacarpay Lake - Lima - UK We can spend the morning in relaxing style around the bird-rich Huacarpay Lake just outside of town. This is an amazing place to bird, where the lake is home to many high Andean water birds including Puna Ibis, Plumbeous Rail, Andean Lapwing, White-backed Stilt, Speckled and Puna Teal, Andean Duck, Yellow-billed Pintail and Andean Gull. Amongst a variety of hummingbirds present, we will search out the rare and local Bearded Mountaineer which is only found in a few arid valleys. We will watch for the local Bare-faced and Black-winged Ground-Doves along the cactus hillsides and other specialities include Streak-fronted Thornbird, Rusty-fronted Canastero, Wren-like Rushbird, Andean Negrito, Spot-billed and Rufous-naped Ground-Tyrants, Many-coloured Rush-Tyrant, Sparkling Violetear, Green-tailed Trainbearer, Giant Hummingbird, Blue-and-yellow Tanager, Greenish Yellow-Finch, Band-tailed Seedeater, Ash-breasted, Mourning, and Peruvian Sierra-Finches and Yellow-winged Blackbird. After a final meal together at lunchtime we will take the return flight to Lima in plenty of time to connect with our international flight back to the UK.
Day 20End of Tour - Thursday 26th July
Morning arrival in the UK and the end of our extensive tour to amazing Peru.
Group size: Minimum for tour to go ahead 6 and maximum 10 with 2 leaders.
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin rooms en-suite, all meals including picnic lunches where necessary, domestic flights, bottled water, all entrance fees, transport throughout, coastal boat excursion at Pucusana and services of local guides and leaders.
Not included: International airfare, insurance, departure tax, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature.
Accommodation: The hotels used during this tour range from good to standard, all with en-suite facilities except at Amazonia Lodge where there are separate shower/toilet blocks. We will stay in the best available lodges/hotels which are as close to the birding sites as possible in order for us to maximise our time in the field.
Tour Code: This is a relatively adventurous tour as we make early starts and have long days in the field, although in the Manu we usually take a couple of hours off to relax over the midday period. There is some high-altitude biding on this tour and you need to be of a reasonable fitness to walk at these elevations. Some long drives are necessary but the roads are mainly paved now and our minibus/coach is comfortable and well maintained. The weather is variable at this time of year, but expect it to be hot and humid in the Manu, ranging to cold with possible snow showers in higher areas. Some rain is to be expected in the Amazon and cloud forest.
Please note that this tour provides extensive coverage of this bird-rich country. So when considering a birding tour to Peru just remember we visit many areas not found on other tour itineraries such as the coastal sites around Pucusana (and a boat ride), Santa Eulalia Valley, Marcapomacocha, as well as Polylepsis specialties at Abra Malaga. All this means more endemics and a wider variety of species. We also DON'T camp in the cloud forest, spend a proper amount of time at Amazonia Lodge and include Machu Picchu in the tour and not as an extension.