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Archeology and Birding at Machu Picchu, Cuszco and the Sacred Valley.


Arechology and Birding Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, Abra Malaga and Apurimac Valley.

Machu Picchu  Szeke (FLickr)

Picture this:

Your non-birding spouse wants to go to Peru and see Machu Picchu. You want to see some birds. Offer him/her this program with archeology and birding. The best of both worlds.

Machu Picchu hardly needs any introduction and for the birders the Polylepis forest at the Abra Malaga pass with many endemics is almost as famous. Kolibri Expeditions offers three different birding programs for five days. This one is for people that wants also get the full historical framwork of the Incas in Cusco. We also offer a program for more hard core birders who wants to be birding from before dawn until after sunset and another De Luxe program for bird photographers and those who have high demands on the lodging. These lodges are particularly good for bird photography. 

This program is the best program for any one who wants to see the best of the archeological sites, have some opportunities to shop for handicrafts, but also see most of the special birds of the region, including the temperate wet and dry Polylepis forests at Abra Malaga as well as endemics in the Apurimac drainage, as well as almost secured views of the mighty Condor. We make full day cultural tour in the Sacred Valley and a day trip to Machu Picchu during the first two days. 

The grading of the tour is "moderately difficult", because of the walking one does at altitude at Abra Malaga, the many stairs at Machu Picchu and the hike for condor, but it is possible to pass on the hiking if anyone wants to.
The birding in contrast is quite easy. 

  September 14 - 2024

If the departure dates don't fit you, please suggest another date.

Day 1. City tour of Cusco and in the footsteps of the Incas in the Sacred Valley.

You shall get picked up at the airport at 6 AM or at you Cusco hotel at around 7 am. You will immediately start a short Cuzco City Tour with Hatun Rumi, Plaza de Armas and Sacsayhuaman with the opportunity to see some common birds such as Peruvian Sierra Finch, Mountain Caracara and perhaps the endemics Rusty-fronted Canastero and Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch. Later the tours continues via Kenko and Tambomachay to Pisac to visit the market, have a light lunch and visit the Pisac ruins. One may walk back to Pisac town birding with good chance to see Bearded Mountaineer and Peruvian Pygmy-Owl or take the bus for additional shopping in town. In the late afternoon we drive on to Ollantaytambo.

Backpacker: Los Portales
Pro. Munay Tika or Similar
MST. Pakaritampu

Day 2 Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu

You will start the morning with some birding in the gardens of Ollantaytambo with particular focus on trying to see a Bearded Mountaineer. Then a visit to the impressive Inca fortress of Ollantaytambo that oversees the village. At 10.30 you board the train to Aguas Calientes with a box lunch and to visit Machu Picchu citadel in the afternoon when the light is best for photography and there is less people.
Late train back to Cusco.

Backpacker: Los Portales
Pro. Munay Tika or similar
MST. Pakaritampu

Day 3. Full day birding 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 Diademed Tapaculo, Unstreaked Tit-Tyrant, Golden-collared Tanager, Violet-throated Starfrontlet, Parodi´s Hemispingus, Marcapata Spinetail, Tit-like Dacnis, Cuzco Brushfinch and Rufous-bellied Bush-Tyrant. Rusty-breasted (Leimebamba), Red-and-White, Rufous (occubambae race) 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 call. Returning to the pass around mid morning we will do a short, but quite strenuous walk to the 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 Tapaculo, Stripe-headed Antpitta, Thick-billed Siskin, Tawny Tit-Spinetail, Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant and Puna Thistletail. 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.

Night in Ollantaytambo

Backpacker: Los Portales
Pro. Munay Tika or similar
MST. Pakaritampu.

Day 4. Morning Abra Malaga and afternoon drive to Apurimac Canyon at Chonta.

Near Ollantaytambo there is now a new resource with feeders that attracts a number of good birds including the Sword-billed Hummingbird. You shall make a visit here and continue to Laguna Huaypo for some marshland birding including Many-colored Rush-Tyrant, Puna Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail, Andean Lapwing, Andean Gull, Andean Flicker and Andean Duck. The trip goes on to Chonta with box lunch in the car to maximize our time. A 3km walk takes you to the viewpoint of a spectacular view of the Apurimac Canyon and Andean Condor soaring on the thermals. On the way there one often sees Rusty-fronted Canastero and Puna Hawk. Some of the best views of condors are had fairly late so it will be late when it is time to leave. En route to Mollepata where you shall stay the night, some owling can be done for Koepcke's Screech-Owl. After checking in one may also look for Buff-fronted Owl nearby.

Night in Mollepata.

Backpacker: Casona Mollepata
Pro: Casona Mollepata
MST: Altaruna Lodge.

Day 5. Salcantay road with Apurimac endemics, plus a city tour of Cusco. 

First thing in the morning you will be looking for Pale-tailed Canastero and Spot-eared Puffbird and then spend the rest of the morning birding on Salcantay road. Apurimac Spinetail, Apurimac Brush-Finch, Undulated Antpitta and Vilcabamba Tapaculo can be seen. By 3pm you will be in Cusco by 2-3pm in time to visit the Cathedral and Koricancha (Sun Temple) and still be able to fit in an evening flight to Lima. Or maybe just stay in Cusco and enjoy a relaxing free day the next day.

Hotel and dinner not included.  


Option: Archeology and Birding at Machu Picchu, Cuszco and the Sacred Valley. Days: 5
Price: US$ 1700 (Minimun 5 people).
Less than 5 people: (see pricing)
Single supplement: 75 US$

Price refers to Kolibri Expeditions Pro Service. 
Includes: Transport (bus and train), guiding, 3 meals/day (breakfast and lunch usually in the field and a cooked meal at night) and entrance-fees at Machu Picchu, Sacsayhuaman, Ollantaytambo, Pisac, Qenko, Tambo Machay. Does not include: Hotel and dinner the last night in Cusco.

Not included:

Tips, bottled drinks and other expenses of personal nature
Entrance fees at hummingbird feeding stations at Ensifera Camp and Sacred Garden

The local fee for Abra Malaga reserve.

Salcantay road.
Entrance fees Cathedral and Koricancha.

For Kolibri Expeditions Marvelous Spatuletail DE LUXE Service which includes all entrance fees, premium hotels, and drinks with meals - please send an email to kolibriexp@gmail.com for a quote. 

For Kolibri Expeditions backpacker service subtract $160 from total price. 
Dinners are not included in backpacker service



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Telephone: +51-1- 652 76 89. From the US: 011-51-1- 652 76 89. Cell: 988 555 938 (Gunnar) or 999 007 886 (Elia Gallo) - Email: kolibriexp@gmail.com