Santa Eulalia valley and Marcopomacocha. (1, 2 or 3 days)
This trip can be run almost anytime on request. (Check with us). Most visitors to Peru will definitely remember this trip as a highlight during their stay in Peru. Not only for being at the highest altitude, but because the contrasting difference to Lima, an 8 million habitants metropolis, just three-four hours away. It is another world.
While it is possible to do it in two days, there are always some targets missed. We recommend allocating three days for this trip. See below:
We will make a 4 AM start straight for Santa Eulalia Valley in order to be in position when the rare Rufous-breasted Warbling-Finch is more active. There are many west slope specialties here, such as Black-necked Flicker, Oasis Hummingbird, Peruvian Sheartail, Bronze-tailed Comet, Great Inca-Finch, Peruvian Pygmy-Owl, Canyon Canastero, Rusty-bellied Brush-Finch, Bright-rumped Yellow-Finch, Thick-billed Miner, Pied-crested Tit-Tyrant, Rusty-crowned Tit-Spinetail, Streaked Tit-Spinetail and many others. We stay in the quite comfortable Huachupampa hotel with private bath and hot water at around 2900m.
In the early morning we will be at the look out to spot Andean Condors flying out from their roosting cliffs. At the Polylepis forest we have been very successful with White-cheeked Cotinga in the past. Also present are Striated Earthcreeper, Stripe-headed Antpitta, Giant Conebill, Tit-like Dacnis, Rufous-webbed Bush-Tyrant , Torrent Duck, White-capped Dipper and maybe we spot White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant found here twice. We will continue over the 4900m pass to the Milloc bog for things like Puna Tinamou (rare), Giant Coot, Gray-breasted and Rufous-bellied Seed-snipes, Puna Snipe, Southern Pochard (twice), Andean Ibis and of course all the targets: Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, White-bellied Cinclodes, Olivaceous Thornbill, Black-breasted Hillstar, Dark-winged Miner, Junin Canastero, Ground-Tyrants and many more. In the afternoon we shall drive back to Lima or will be connecting to Central Peru or Carpish.
3 day version: If you allocate three days to this itinerary it is OK to leave Lima at 5 AM. You will try for the Rufous-breasted Warbling-Finch the following day after staying overnight at Huachupampa. We recommend the three day version, because we almost invariable miss an endemic or two due to the time constraint of the two day program. Within this program it also possible to make a walk (or horseback excursion at extra charge) to the fantastic rock formations at Marcahuasi. Incidentally this area is also one of the best to find Canyon Canastero and Andean Condor. Another option is hiking to the Puya Raimondi stand above Vicas. Here there is also a comfortable good hotel that can be used as base.
Another option is to do two or more day trips from Lima, to sample the best birds. You can stay comfortably in a Lima Hotel (you can choose between different price ranges), and have a wide selection of restaurants availble and internet cafés nearby to keep in contact with your friends. If you only do two day trips you will not reach the Polylepis Woodland where the White-cheeked Cotinga occurs. Adding a third day for the Polylepis, you may either drive via Marcapomacocha or via Santa Eulalia. Estimate 4-5 hours to get to the Polylepis from Lima. You can cut this driving time by either staying in Santa Eulalia (cost for a double around 50 dollars - cutting 1 hour), Huachupampa (25 US$) cutting 2.5 hours or in San Mateo (cost around 15 dollars - cuttng 2.5 hours)