Day 1. Lima-Cusco-Huacarpay-Wayquecha (Esperanza).
Early AM flight to Cusco and then birding Huacarpay lake for Bearded Mountaineer and Rusty-fronted Canastero. Drive pretty much straight to Wayquecha arriving at nightfall. Look for Creamy-crested Spinetail and Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch on the way. At Acjanaco we will look for Scribble-tailed Canastero. Lower down are Puna Thistletail and Diademed Tapaculo. Sleeping cabins at Wayquecha research station (aka ACCA) near Esperanza.
Day 2. Waiquecha-Pillahuata-Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge
Primary target is the endemic Red-and-White Antpitta in the morning. Many times we also encounter Undulated and Stripe-headed Antpitta. Yungas Pygmy-Owl and species like Marcapata Spinetail, Rufous-capped Thornbill, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Dark-faced Brush-Finch, Grey-breasted Mountain Toucan, Blue-banded Toucanet, Hooded, Grass-Green and Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager can be seen near Pillahuata. At Rocotal Kolibri Expeditions have staked out a day-roosting Andean Potoo, just next to the road, with very high hit-rate during 2007-2008. We shall also look for White-throated Antpitta and Hooded Tinamou. In the late afternoon we shall be arriving to the Cock-of-the-Rock lek just next to the Lodge. Sleep in private cabins at Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge.
Day 3. Cock-of-the Rock Lodge.
The private reserve around here holds a number of good birds such as Lyre-tailed Nightjar, Rufescent Screech-Owl, Long-tailed Antbird, Dusky-Green Oropendula, Yungas Manakin, Black-billed Treehunter, Orange-eared Tanager, Versicolored Barbet and Black-and-Chestnut and Solitary Eagles. The permanent mixed species flock around the camp holds species like Yellow-rumped Antwren and Bolivian Tyrannulet. A nearby trail often treats us with Slaty Gnateater and Rufous-breasted Ant-thrush. Other birds include Lemon-browed Flycatcher, Crested Quetzal, Uniform Antshrike and Golden-collared Tanager. At the lodge clearing there are feeders and blue vervain flowers where hummingbirds like Violet-fronted Brilliant, Many-spotted Hummingbird, Booted Raquet-tail and Wire-crested Thorntail. With lots of luck we may also spot the endemic and rare Peruvian Piedtail and Rufous-webbed Brilliant. Recently the undescribed "San Isidro-Owl" has been seen near the lodge – apparently the same that is known from San Isidro in Ecuador.
Day 4. Cock-of-Rock Lodge-Pilcopata.
Continued birding in the vicinity of Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge in the morning. Specifically, we shall be looking for a new soon to be described tanager that lives in the bamboo. In the afternoon we will continue to Pilcopata at 800m and look for specialties such as Amazonian Umbrellabird, Stripe-chested Antwren, Cerulean-capped Manakin, Black-streaked Puffbird, Russet Antshrike, Lanceolated Monklet and Black-backed Tody-Flycatcher. We continue to travel to Amazonia Lodge this day watching out for overflying parrots such as Military and Blue-headed Macaw and Spangled and Plum-throated Cotingas in the tree-tops along the hilly stretch between Pilcopata and Atalaya.
Day 5. Amazonia Lodge
At Amazonia lodge the specialties include Koepcke’s Hermit, Rufous-vented Ground- Cuckoo, Black-spotted Bare-eye, Long-tailed Potoo, Amazonian and Thrush-like Antpitta, Red-billed Tyrannulet, Fiery-capped Manakin and many more. Special features at Amazonia Lodge include a good canopy tower up the ridge trail and the famous jeep-track, which is very good for crossing Tinamous (including Black-capped Tinamou). Night at Amazonia Lodge.
Day 6. Amazonia Lodge-Shintuya.
Additional birding at Amazonia Lodge. The lodge clearing has big stands of Blue Vervain that brings in hoards of Hummingbirds such as Golden-tailed Sapphire, Gray-breasted Sabrewing and Rufous-crested Coquette.
In mid-morning we shall transfer to the road to Shintuya, where the community has a new basic lodge with many interesting species. On the way there is good bamboo that produced Bamboo Antshrike, Pavonine Cuckoo, Dot-winged Antwren and Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher on our last trip. The bamboo should hold species like Ornate Antwren and, Bamboo Antshrike, Manu Antbird, Yellow-billed Nunbird, Pheasant Cuckoo, Large-headed Flatbill and White-cheeked Tody-Tyrant. Other possible birds in the hills along this stretch include Wattled Guan, Orange-breasted Falcon, Orange-fronted Plushcrown, Black-backed Tody-Tyrant and Fine-barred Piculet. Night at Shintuya Community Lodge. (Should Rio Carbon inhibit road passage due to too high water levels, we’d opt to stay in Pilcopata).
Day 7. Bamboo birding near Shintuya.
There are some excellent bamboo patches near Shintuya. Additional species we shall be looking for here include Peruvian Recurvebill, Rufous-headed Woodpecker, White-cheeked Tody-Flycatcher, Flammulated Bamboo-Tyrant, Large-headed Flatbill and many more. In the afternoon we continue to Pilcopata. (Should Rio Carbon inhibit road passage due to too high water levels, we’d opt to stay in a basic hostel in Salvacion or Atalaya).
Day 8. Pilcopata-Cock-of-the Rock Lodge.
At Patria we shall look for Point-tailed Palmcreeper in a small palm swamp. Additional birding looking for specialties along the way, picking up species we may have missed on the way down.
Day 9 Cock-of-the Rock Lodge-Ollantaytambo
Between 9-10 AM it is good to look for Solitary and Black-and-Chestnut Eagle from the mirador about 40 minutes from Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge.
Later will bird the road upwards to Rocotal, situated just at the upper limit of the subtropical zone. Birds here include Red & White Antpitta, White-throated Antpitta, Crimson-backed Woodpecker, Blue-banded Toucanet, White-eared and Andean Solitaires, Pearled Treerunner, Streaked Tuftedcheek, Golden-plumed Parakeet, Scaly-naped Parrot, Amethyst-throated Sunangel and many more. Recently, the rare Great-billed Scythebill has been seen here.
Arriving in Ollantaytambo around 7.30 PM.
Day 10. Abra Malaga
We will get up very early for the drive up beyond the Abra Malaga pass at 4200m and continue to the north side of the pass and the wet temperate forest at Canchayoc. Here we may see Speckled Hummingbird, Diademed Tapaculo, Unstreaked Tit-Tyrant, Golden-collared Tanager, Violet-throated Starfrontlet, Parodi´s Hemispingus, Marcapata Spinetail, Tit-like Dacnis, Cuzco Brush-Finch and many others. Rusty-breasted (Leimebamba), Red-and-White, Rufous and Undulated Antpitta are often heard and with some luck we may be able to lure some of them into view with play-back of its song. Returning to the pass around midday we will do a short, but quite strenuous walk to the quite disturbed Polylepis woodland on the ridge beside us. This is the most accessible high Polylepis woodland that holds the very rare Royal Cinclodes, Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant and White-browed Tit-Spinetail. Among other specialties are Giant Conebill, Line-fronted and Junin Canstero, Puna (Andean) Tapaculo, Stripe-headed Antpitta, Thick-billed Siskin, Tawny Tit-Spinetail, Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant and various species of Ground-Tyrants. As we come out of the valley, we stand good chance of encountering Andean Parakeet and Tit-like Dacnis. Back on the main road in roadside scrub we often find Junin Canastero, Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch and Golden-billed Saltator. After an early dinner in Ollantaytambo we continue with an evening train 20.00H to Aguas Calientes.
Day 11. Machu Picchu.
After some early morning birding along the uphill trail to the Machu Picchu ruins, we will visit the famed ruins. In close proximity to the ruins one can find the endemic Inca Wren, Cusco Brush-Finch, Masked Fruiteater and Green-and-White Hummingbird. The area below the ruins is rich with birds and many good species can be seen such as Torrent Duck, White-capped Dipper, Mitred Parakeet, Barred Parakeet, Andean Guan, Cock-of-the Rock, Ocellated Piculet, White-eared Solitaire, Highland Motmot, Variable Antshrike, Grey-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Black-streaked Puffbird, White-crowned, Sierran and Highland Elaenias, Saffron-crowned, Flame-faced, Rust-and-Yellow and Beryl-spangled Tanagers, Mottled-cheeked and Sclater´s Tyrannulet and many more.
We shall carry some food and drinks in our day packs so we have time to climb also Wiñay Wayna, the sugarloaf peak in the back-ground of classical view of Machu Picchu. It is less strenuous than it looks and in 2006 we were awarded with a breeding pair of Orange-breasted Falcon. In the afternoon we take train back to Ollantaytambo.
Day 12. Abra Malaga.
Additional day on the Abra Malaga road. We will concentrate on birds we may have missed the previous day. Weather conditions - even snow sometimes - may make it impossible to visit the Polylepis forest on one of the days. By having two days at Abra Malaga with two days at Machu Picchu in between the risk of missing species because of bad weather is minimized. Around midday we travel back to Cusco for the 3.00 PM flight to Lima. If time permits we shall do some birding at the coast in Lima.