Tours: Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, Abra Malaga
Tours: Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, Abra Malaga
One week high Andes and Incas


This trip is a perfect short trip, that may be after a Manu trip or it can be taken on its own. We not only visit the famous Inca ruins of Machu-Picchu but also some very good subtropical, temperate cloud forest as well as looking for some of the rarest birds on earth in the Polylepis woodlands. We also take in the Apurimac endemics. On this trip we stay at comfortable country inns throughout.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1. Cusco to Huarcapay Lakes

Early morning flight to Cusco and we head out south of town with a picnic lunch to Huacarpay lakes. The lake is surrounded by Inca, and pre-Inca ruins. Here we will see a variety of high Andean waterfowl including Puna, Speckled and Cinnamon Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail, Andean Duck and other wetland associated birds. White-winged Grebe and Andean coot will be here too. Depending on the time of year migrant North American shorebirds (waders) may be present. We will be specifically on the lookout for Wren-like Rushbird, Many-colored Rush-tyrant, Yellow-winged Blackbird, Puna Ibis and Andean White-winged Negrito. Birds of Prey we may see include Aplomado Falcon, Cinereous Harrier, Red-backed Hawk and Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle. In the arid scrub around the lake we'll look for the endemic Rufous-fronted Canastero and also Streak-fronted Thornbird. We should find the pretty, endemic Bearded Mountaineer feeding in the tree tobacco (Nicotania sp.) with Giant Hummingbird and Trainbearers. Peruvian, Ash-breasted and Mourning Sierra-Finches will be here with Greenish Yellow-finch and Blue and Yellow Tanager. We'll also visit the impressive ruins of Sacsayhuaman overlooking Cusco. Our ride leader describes the rituals and ceremonies that would have taken place at the massive walled limestone constructions and sculptured terraces surrounding the immense central plaza. We finish with a summary of the battle here in 1536 which took the life of Juan Pizzaro. We gather for dinner and discussion in the dining room at the centrally located comfortable lodging in Cusco.In the late afternoon we'll drive back to Cusco for a night in the old Inca capital.

Day 2. Sacred Valley of the Incas - Pisac, Ollantaytambo

This day trip visits the spectacular Sacred Valley of the Incas and the stupendous archeological sites. We'll visit the impressive but little understood temple site of Pisac and its megalithic Inca terraces still used by local peasant farmers and Ollantaytambo. Probably built by the great Inca ruler Pachacutec in the 1460s, it was the site of Hernando Pizzaro's defeat by Manco Inca in 1536. Constructed of finely cut polygonal stones and royalties blocks, the fortress and nearby town represent the best of Inca architecture and construction. Large worked blocks, some weighing as much as 100 tons were quarried from a site more than a thousand vertical feet above the valley floor using a technique of pecking with hammer stones, then skidded down and across the Urubamba river several kilometers to the temple site. Inclined ramps were built to raise the blocks several hundred feet up hill to the construction area. We have ample time to examine the complex and ponder its many mysteries. . We overnight in the historic ruins visible from the garden.

Day 3. Temperate forest

Very early start. After a field breakfast we'll have all day to work the humid temperate forest. Starting at a large patch of Chusquea bamboo we should see Parodi's Hemispingus (endemic) and Puna Thistletail (endemic). Other possibilities thruout the day include: Drab, Three-striped, Black-eared and Black-capped Himispingi, Golden-collared and other Tanagers, White-throated and White-banded Tyrannulets, Andean Ibis, Unstreaked Tit-tyrant (endemic), White-rumped Hawk, Sierran Elaenia, Marcapata Spinetail (endemic), Inca Wren ( endemic), plus a lot more. Rufous and Undulated Antpittas are here too. In the afternoon we'll look for Cuzco Brush Finch (endemic). We'll return to the Sacred Valley of the Incas in the evening.

Day 4. Polylepis woodland at Abra Malaga

We'll devote the whole morning to explore this unique habitat. Possibilities include Line-fronted Canastero, Ash-breasted Tit-tyrant (endemic), White-browed Tit-spinetail (endemic), Tawny Tit-Spinetail, Giant Conebill, Stripe-headed Antpitta, Andean Tapaculo, Tit-like Dacnis, Blue-mantled Thornbill, Andean Condor, Thick-billed Siskin, Junin Canastero ( endemic) and more. Our major target bird here will be the Royal Cinclodes, which we discovered here in the 80's. On the valley floor we'll check a variety of Ground-Tyrants and Sierra-Finches. After a picnic lunch we'll concentrate on some local endemics on the west side, including Creamy-crested Spinetail, (endemic) Rusty-fronted Canastero, (endemic) White-tufted Sunbeam (endemic) and Chestnut-breasted Mountain-finch (endemic). Once again we'll spend the night in the same hotel in the valley.

Day 5. Machu-Picchu

We leave early in the morning for the 2.5 hour train journey to Machu-Picchu. From the train we will certainly see Torrent Ducks and White-capped Dipper on the Urubamba River and get closer looks as we leave the train. Arriving at the ruins, birding takes a back seat for once as we are taken on a guided tour of this mystical archeological complex. White-tipped Swifts will be flying overhead. After lunch we will look for Inca Wren, which is quite common in the bamboo around the ruins and then descend into the Urubamba gorge for late afternoon birding. Night at our Hotel in Aguas Calientes.

Day 6. Urubamba to Cusco

All morning birding the railway track along the Urubamba River. In the remnant cloud forest we will be looking specifically for Sclaters and Bolivian Tyrranulets, Silver-backed Tanager, Pale-eyed Thrush, masked Fruiteater (endemic), Black-streaked Puffbird, Oleaginous Hemispingus and Capped Conebill. Mixed flocks contain many species of Tanager and the endemic Green and White Hummingbird is common here. After a late lunch, we return on the tourist train to the historic town of Cusco for the night.

Day 7. Cusco - Lima - International Departure

Morning to explore Cusco and midday flights to Lima for connecting international departures. Day use of a hotel in Lima close to the airport.

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Tour Information

Price per person: Click here for prices
Included: All lodging, meals, expert bilingual birdguide, transportation, internal flights, hotel transfer and entrance fees.
Not included: Last night dinner; drinks; tips.
See our Payment and Cancellation Policy page for important information .


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