This is a classic tour of southern Peru, in which we sample a huge range of different habitats from coastal desert to high altitude desert to Andean cloudforest and steaming Amazonian lowlands – the richest biome on the planet for birds. It is also a tour in which we see, incidentally to the birding, one of the world’s greatest archaeological wonders, Machu Picchu, along with old Spanish architecture.
Itinerary (16 days/15 nights)
Day 1. Arrival in Lima
You will arrive at Jorge Chávez International Airport in Lima and will be transferred to your hotel.
No activities are included on Day 1, since most international flights arrive in Lima late in the evening. If you arrive on an early flight you might be charged an extra accommodation fee for an early check-in at the hotel, or we can organize an optional birding morning near the city.
Overnight: Costa del Sol Airport Hotel, Lima International Airport
Day 2. Flight to Puerto Maldonado and birding the town
After a 2.5-hour flight we will reach the Amazon town of Puerto Maldonado. Once in Puerto Maldonado we will check in at the hotel and after lunch explore the town’s surroundings for our first set of birds.
The birding around Puerto Maldonado is quite good early in the morning and then in the afternoon. The type of habitat is agricultural pastures with tropical secondary growth, which is quite good for finding some specialties like the localized White-throated Jacamar. A population of Brazilian Teal has established itself around town, and we should have close-up views of this bird. Other birds include Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Spotted Tody-Flycatcher, Cobalt-winged Parakeet, Blue-headed Parrot, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, Green Ibis, Roadside Hawk, Red-breasted Blackbird, White-tailed Kite, Chestnut-bellied Seedeater, Purus Jacamar, Great Antshrike, Barred Antshrike, and others.
After dinner we can try for Tropical Screech Owl and Striped Owl around town.
Overnight: Hotel Cabaña Quinta, Puerto Maldonado
Days 3 – 6. Birding the Amazon Rainforest
We will spend the next four days exploring the Refugio Amazonas Lodge located along the Tambopata River, a tributary of the Amazon. This lodge can only be reached by boat from Puerto Maldonado.
Birds on the boat ride include the mystical Hoatzin, Anhinga, Neotropic Cormorant, Sungrebe, Sunbittern, Agami Heron, Ringed, Amazon, Green, Green-and-rufous, and American Pygmy Kingfishers, Rufescent Tiger Heron, Red-bellied Macaw, Blue-and-yellow Macaw, Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlet, and White-throated Toucan, among others.
The lodge forest provides us not only with skulking birds like Ornate Antwren, Ihering’s Antwren, Bamboo Antshrike, Plain-winged Antshrike, Bluish-slate Antshrike, Pygmy Antwren, Amazonian Streaked Antwren, Silvered Antbird, Rufous-capped Antthrush, Black-faced Antthrush, and Thrush-like Antpitta but also with canopy birds like Pavonine Quetzal, Blue-throated Piping Guan, Spix’s Guan, Curl-crested Aracari, Chestnut-eared Aracari, Striolated Puffbird, White-necked Puffbird, Collared Trogon, and Blue-crowned Trogon.
Other birds include Black-capped Tinamou, Great Tinamou, Bluish-fronted Jacamar, Cinnamon-throated Woodcreeper, Buff-throated Woodcreeper, Band-tailed Manakin, Ringed Woodpecker, Chestnut Woodpecker, Lemon-throated Barbet, Pale-winged Trumpeter, and King Vulture, and even the elusive Harpy Eagle has been recorded here. Venezuelan Red Howler Monkeys are common around the lodge.
At night we can try for Tawny-bellied Screech Owl, Spectacled Owl, Amazonian Pygmy Owl, and Common and Great Potoos.
Overnight: Refugio Amazonas Lodge
Day 7. Flight to Cusco, birding Huacarpay Lake, transfer to Ollantaytambo
Today we will fly to the city of Cusco in the Peruvian Andes. The city of Cusco is well known to be the capital of the ancient Inca Empire and one of the most important archeological destinations in the world. Cusco is a busy tourist destination with good facilities. However, we will continue our adventure elsewhere, skipping town on our first time in Cusco.
We will drive about 30 minutes from town to the Huacarpay Lake. Here we will look for several species of Andean waterfowl, like Yellow-billed Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail, Puna Teal, Cinnamon Teal, and Ruddy Duck, and also for Plumbeous Rail, Andean Coot, Yellow-winged Blackbird, Many-colored Rush Tyrant, Streak-fronted Thornbird, Wren-like Rushbird, Andean Gull, Andean Lapwing, Andean Flicker, and Cinereous Harrier, among others. We will also look for Giant Hummingbird, the largest hummer in the world, as well as for two Peruvian endemics, Bearded Mountaineer and Rusty-fronted Canastero.
Later we continue our trip to Ollantaytambo, a small Andean town in the Urubamba Valley, the “sacred valley of the Incas”.
Overnight: Hotel Pakaritampu, Ollantaytambo
Day 8. Birding Machu Picchu
Ollantaytambo is a very busy small tourist town. From here we will take a train for a 1.5-hour journey to the village of Aguas Calientes, the entry point to the famous Machu Picchu ruins. After our arrival we will visit this renowned Inca site to look for the endemic Inca Wren and also Pale-legged Warbler.
After lunch we will walk along the river, looking for Andean Motmot, Collared Inca, Slate-throated Whitestart, Green Hermit, Plum-crowned Parrot, Torrent Duck, Torrent Tyrannulet, Black Phoebe, Silver-backed Tanager, and Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet.
Overnight: Hotel Presidente, Aguas Calientes
Day 9. Birding the Urubamba River, return to Cusco
We will spend a full morning along the Urubamba River, looking for two endemics, Masked Fruiteater and Green-and-white Hummingbird. We hope to find Sclater’s Tyrannulet, Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet, Ashy-headed Tyrannulet, Blue-necked Tanager, Saffron-crowned Tanager, Ocellated Piculet, Slaty Tanager, Fawn-breasted Tanager, Barred Becard, Azara’s Spinetail, Chestnut-capped Brushfinch, Capped Conebill, Mitred Parakeet, Grey-breasted Wood Wren, and more.
After lunch we will take the train back to Ollantaytambo and then drive back to Cusco.
Overnight: Hotel Munay Wasi, Cusco
Day 10. Birding the Manu Road
Today we will explore the famous road that connects the Andes of Cusco with the Amazon rainforest, the Manu Road. The Manu Road passes through different types of habitat like dry high Andean mountains, elfin forest, cloudforest, and upper tropical-humid hill forest.
We will drive up the mountains to 12,500 feet (3,800 meters), where we will have a chance to see Slender-billed Miner, Mountain Caracara, Andean Flicker, Brown-bellied Swallow, Puna Thistletail, Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant, the Peruvian endemics Creamy-crested Spinetail and Chestnut-breasted Mountain Finch, D’Orbigny’s Chat-Tyrant, White-throated Tyrannulet, Violet-throated Starfrontlet, Amethyst-throated Sunangel, White-banded Tyrannulet, and much more.
Overnight: Wayqecha Biological Station near Manu National Park
Day 11. Birding the Manu Cloudforest
We will explore the area around our base and will then slowly drive through the magical cloudforest to our next destination, the Cock of the Rock Lodge.
We are looking for the Peruvian endemics Red-and-white Antpitta and Marcapata Spinetail, and other birds include Grey-breasted Mountain Toucan, Masked Trogon, Golden-collared Tanager, Grass-green Tanager, Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager, Blue-and-black Tanager, Southern Mountain Cacique, Red-crested Cotinga, Black-throated Tody-Tyrant, Trilling Tapaculo, Barred Fruiteater, Chestnut-bellied Mountain Tanager, Moustached Flowerpiercer, Masked Flowerpiercer, White-collared Jay, Hooded Mountain Tanager, Montane Woodcreeper, Yungas Pygmy Owl, and, if we are lucky Swallow-tailed Nightjar and Lyre-tailed Nightjar at dusk.
Overnight: Cock of the Rock Lodge, Manu Cloudforest
Days 12 – 14. Birding around Cock of the Rock Lodge
We have three full days to explore the area around Cock of the Rock Lodge, looking for an amazing flock of tanagers such as Bay-headed Tanager, Golden Tanager, Blue-necked Tanager, Orange-eared Tanager, Spotted Tanager, Paradise Tanager, Straw-backed Tanager, Green-and-gold Tanager, Golden-eared Tanager, Beryl-spangled Tanager, and also many other birds like Blue Dacnis, Black-faced Dacnis, Versicolored Barbet, Montane Foliage-gleaner, Peruvian Warbling Antbird, Stripe-chested Antwren, Chestnut-backed Antshrike, White-backed Fire-eye, Yungas Manakin, Olive-backed Woodcreeper, Plumbeous Pigeon, Lemon-bellied Flyrobin, Slaty-capped Flycatcher, Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher, Magpie Tanager, Long-tailed Tyrant, Blue-banded Toucanet, White-eared Solitaire, Andean Cock-of-the-rock, and much more.
At night we may find Rufescent Screech Owl, Black-banded Owl, and Band-bellied Owl.
Then we have another day to explore the lowest parts of the road, where we can find Bamboo Antshrike, Red-billed Scythebill, Dot-winged Antwren, White-lined Antbird, Ornate Antwren, Scaly-naped Amazon, Buff-rumped Warbler, White-winged Tanager, the Peruvian endemic Black-backed Tody-Flycatcher, and many more. Hummingbird feeders provide great views of Violet-fronted Brilliant, Wire-crested Thorntail, Rufous-booted Racket-tail, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Speckled Hummingbird, Sparkling Violetear, and Many-spotted Hummingbird.
Overnight: Cock of the Rock Lodge, Manu Cloudforest
Day 15. Transfer to Cusco
On our final day on the Manu Road we will drive from Cock of the Rock Lodge back to Cusco, making selective stops along the road while looking for species we may have missed on previous days.
Overnight: Hotel Munay Wasi, Cusco
Days 16. Flight to Lima and departure
You will fly to Lima city and connect to your international flights.
Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors. In addition, we sometimes have to use a different international guide from the one advertised due to tour scheduling.