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Day 1: Sat 12 October 2024 Lima
After relaxing in our complimentary VIP Airport Lounge, we fly from Heathrow to Lima, where we transfer to the hotel for our welcome dinner in Miraflores. We stay at a comfortable hotel to recover from our long flight, and enjoy a buffet breakfast the following morning. Overnight at hotel El Tambo Dos de Mayo for two nights.
Day 2: Sun 13 October Pucosana and Puerto Viejo
This morning we make our way south of Lima for about one and a half hour to Puerto Viejo's marshes. The main attractions are Great Grebe, Peruvian Thick-knee, Many-colored Rush-Tyrant and Grassland Yellow-Finch. On the beach we hope to find Surf Cinclodes flying around the rocky areas. Next we stop at Pucusana, where we take a boat to explore the cliffs, a good place to search for Inca Tern and Humboldt Penguin, two key species of the tour. We make a short stop by Villa Marshes for more waterbirds.
Day 3: Mon 14 October Lima - Cuzco - Urubamba
After breakfast we take the early flight to Cuzco, and on arrival drive directly to our high quality hotel in Urubamba, where we have lunch. It is important that we take our time to help acclimatise to the altitude, and so the remainder of the afternoon is at your leisure. Some birding can be done around the hotel where hummers alone include Giant Hummingbird, Great Sapphirewing and Shining Sunbeam. We enjoy dinner and overnight here at Hotel Lizzy Wasi.
Day 4: Tue 15 October Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu
Today we concentrate on the key cultural highlight of the holiday, our visit to Machu Picchu. Early in the morning we transfer to the railway station in Ollantaytambo, and take the train to Aguas Calientes, a journey of around two hours. On arrival we check-in at our hotel. We leave for Machu Picchu after having lunch at the hotel, taking a shuttle bus to the World Heritage Site. Machu Picchu is located on the peak of a mountain surrounded by the mighty Urubamba River, which runs east through the canyon almost half a mile below the citadel. Our guided visit includes the Temple of the Sun, The Tower, the Priestly Mansion, the Temple of the Three Windows, the Central Temple, the Plaza, and the fountains and channels that forms the “Inca Baths”. We plan to stay inside the Site for around three hours, to maximise your experience here. We will also have the chance to see some special birds including Inca Wren, Parodi's Hemispingus, Cusco Brush-Finch, and Tricolored Brush-Finch. Overnight at Hotel El Mapi.
Day 5: Wed 16 October Machu Picchu - Cuzco.
We spend our final morning here birding the forest along the river just outside the town, looking for birds including Green-and-white Hummingbird, Andean Motmot, Ocellated Piculet, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Masked Fruiteater, and many more. We will take lunch at our hotel before checking out, followed by a train journey back to Cuzco, and a short bus trip to our hotel. Overnight at Hotel San Augustin International for two nights.
Day 6: Thurs 17 October Cuzco
Today will be a combination of key cultural heritage sites, birding, and free time as we pace ourselves at high altitude. We devote our morning to the city of Cuzco. Our first stop is at the Temple of the Sun, known as Qorikancha. This temple, with its once gold-covered walls, was one of the most important buildings in the time of the Inca civilization, built to honor the Sun God, Inti. The we visit the archaeological site of Sacsayhuamán, one of the finest and most amazing architectural constructions of the Inca empire. During this excursion we have the chance to find some birds including Andean Flicker, Spot-winged Pigeon, Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch and more. Back in the city centre we we’ll have lunch at a local restaurant, after which we visit the colonial style Main Plaza and Cuzco Cathedral. One of the most impressive buildings of the city, its frontispiece is in Renaissance style, and contrasts with the baroque and Plateresque of its lavish interiors, where some of the most significant gold and silver works of Peruvian colonial art is preserved, with delicately carved wooden altars and an admirable collection of paintings by renowned local artists. You will have the rest of the afternoon at leisure.
Day 7: Fri 18 October Cuzco - Weyqecha Lodge: the Manu road
Today we have an early morning departure as we travel to montane forests of the Eastern Andes. Not far from Cusco we visit Huacarpay Lake, which holds duck, waterbirds, migrant shorebirds and Andean Gulls. Reedbeds hold Plumbeous Rails, Many-coloured Rush-Tyrants and Yellow-winged Blackbird. Nearby scrub will be carefully birded for specialities such as Speckle-fronted Thornbird and Rusty-fronted Canastero. Other possibilities are Andean Negrito, Rufous-naped Ground-Tyrant and various seedeaters and sierra-finches.
En-route we take a packed lunch before arriving at the Acjanaco pass, at an altitude of c 3000 metres, where we enter the Manu National Park buffer zone. The elfin forest and the bushes here hold many interesting birds such as Puna Thistletail, Scribble-tailed Canastero, Diademed Tapaculo, Masked Flowerpiercer, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, White-browed Conebill, Blue-backed Conebill, Golden-Collared Tanager, Three-striped Hemispingus, Plush-capped Finch, and many more. Beyond the pass, the elfin forests of Wayqecha are good for Andean Guan, Shining Sunbeam, Amethyst-throated Sunangel, Azahara's Spinetail, Sierran Elaenia, Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan, White-collared Jay, Great Thrush, Parodi's Hemispingus, Blue-capped Tanager, Grass-green Tanager, Hooded-mountain Tanager, Scarlet-bellied Tanager, Golden-collared Mountain Tanager, Blue-backed Conebill, Masked Flowerpiercer, Black-faced Brush-Finch, and many others. We arrive at our comfortable accommodation by mid-afternoon, surrounded by a luxuriant stunted cloud forest at an altitude of 2900 metres, and enjoy dinner and at Wayqecha Lodge, where we stay for two nights.
Manu Biosphere Reserve
This is a huge, unspoilt area, much of which is still unexplored, encompassing virtually the entire watershed of the Manú River, from the sources of its tributaries high in the Andes, to its emptying into the Madre de Dios River. Conserved originally by its inaccessibility, the park was recognised by UNESCO in 1977 as a Biosphere Reserve and in 1987 was pronounced a World Heritage Site. It is the largest National Park in Peru, covering several ecological zones ranging from 150m - 4200m, and enjoying one of highest levels of biodiversity of any park in the world. The reserve is a landmark destination for birdwatchers, with more than 1000 species recorded. Permanent human habitation is restricted to several small communities of the Matsigenga Amazonian tribal nation, largely along the Manú river or one of its main tributaries. Several protected areas adjoining the park allow mixed use including tourism, and on this holiday we visit the Puna grasslands above 3000m and the cloud forests between 1500m and 2900m, both of these places offering a huge variety of Manu bird specialities to see.
Day 8: Sat 19 October Wayqecha Lodge
We spend the day birding around the lodge, mostly along the road. We drive briefly to explore the forested areas bellow and above the lodge looking for birds including White-browed Conebil, Blue-backed Conebil, Golden-Collared Tanager, Three-striped Hemispingus, Plush-capped Finch, and more. Overnight Wayqecha Lodge.
Day 9: Sun 20 October Wayqecha - Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge (COTR)
Early after breakfast we say goodbye to Wayqecha and head to lower altitudes (between 2600 and 1500 metres), where the cloud forests offer a different group of equally spectacular birds including some endemics: Golden-plumed Parakeet, Lyre-tailed Nightjar, Long-tailed Sylph, Masked Trogon, Black-streaked Puffbird, Marcapata Spinetail, Rufous-backed Treehunter, Barred Fruiteater, Band-tailed Fruiteater, Handsome Flycatcher, Inca Flycatcher, Mountain Cacique, Long-tailed Sylph, Masked Trogon, Black-streaked Puffbird, Crested Quetzal, Crimson-Mantled Woodpecker, and, as always, many more! By late morning we arrive at COTR Lodge, where we have lunch. We spend the afternoon at the COTR bird feeders, hoping to see Golden and Silver-beaked Tanagers, Buff-throated Saltator, and hummingbirds including Fork-tailed Hummingbird, Many-spotted Hummingbird, and more. We have our first dinner and overnight stay at this special place, surrounded by luxuriant montane forest at an altitude of 1500m. NB the Lodge does not currently have an independent website.
Days 10 - 12: Mon 21 - Wed 23 October Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge
With three days to explore, this is a key birding highlight of the holiday. We begin by birding the forest around the lodge, where the main attraction is the Andean Cock-of-the Rock lek, the biggest lek of these birds known in Peru, and we hope to see several birds here. During our stay we hope to visit the lek on two of our three mornings, well worth repeating as this is one of the birding world's most memorable experiences! In the gardens of the lodge it's not difficult to find Versicolored Barbet and Rufescent Screech-Owl, whilst the forest roundabouts holds a high diversity of birds including some endemic species: Ash-browed Spinetail, Black-billed Treehunter, Yellow-breasted Antwren, Ornate Antwren, Yungas Manakin, Cerulean-capped Manakin, Hazel-fronted Pygmy-Tyrant, Ornate Flycatcher, Fulvous-breasted Flatbill, and many more: the complete list for this area has about 500 species, and the forests can produce mixed flocks containing a huge diversity of brightly-coloured species. On one day we will drive for about one hour to reach higher altitudes that are good for Golden-plumed Parakeet, Lyre-tailed Nightjar, White-throated Hawk and Black-and-Chestnut Eagle. We also visit a trail into a patch of dense swampy forest just below the lodge, to look for the very elusive Rufus-breasted Antthrush and perhaps Stripe-faced Wood-Quail. During days at the lodge we take a siesta after lunch, returning to the forest later in the afternoon to continue our birding exploration.
Day 13: Thurs 24 October Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge - Wayqecha Lodge
This morning we take the road back to Wayqecha Lodge, birding for species we could have missed in the cloud and elfin forests. After lunch at the Lodge, we drive to the highest parts of the area, again looking for high altitude birds like Puna Thisteltail, Scribble-tailed Canastero, Diademed Tapaculo, Masked Flowerpiercer, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, White-browed Conebill, and others. Overnight at Wayqecha Lodge.
Day 14: Fri 25 October Wayqecha - Cusco
We drive back to the city of Cusco, with a few stops for birding in the cloud and elfin forests. If we have enough time we could spend one or two hours at Huacarpay lake again. Arriving in time for lunch, our afternoon is at leisure, and we stay overnight at Hotel San Agustin international once more.
Day 15: Sat 26 October Cuzco - Lima
After breakfast we have some free time for shopping, souvenirs and walk around the city centre at your leisure, followed by our farewell lunch at a local restaurant. We then transfer to the airport for the flight to Lima, arriving in good time for our international connection back home, arriving Heathrow on Sun 27 October 2024.