Tours: Manu, Machu Picchu
2 weeks birding extraordinaire


Manu Biosphere Reserve has the highest biodiversity of any protected area in the world. The unparalleled beauty of this trip is in the landscape and variety of habitats ranging from orchid-draped cloud forest where Spectacled Bears and Cock-of-the-Rocks still exist unbothered, to pristine Amazon rainforest with 13 primate species and oxbow lakes frequented by Giant Otters. A trip to Manu is a trip to one of the world's great wilderness areas where wildlife is still plentiful and over 1000 species of birds have been recorded. Add to this a breathtaking visit to Machu Picchu and you have a trip of a lifetime.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1. Arrival

Depending on arrival time in Lima we either transfer to our hotel in Lima or connect to Cusco.

Day 2. Cuzco to Huacarpay lakes

Early morning flight to Cusco or direct departure to the field. 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 White-winged Grebe, Puna, Speckled and Cinnamon Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail, Andean Duck, Andean Coot and other wetland birds. We will lookout for Wren-like Rushbird, Many-colored Rush-tyrant, Yellow-winged Blackbird, Puna Ibis and Andean White-winged Negrito. Raptors 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 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 along with Greenish Yellow-finch and Blue-and-yellow Tanager. In the late afternoon we'll drive back to Cusco for a night in the old Inca capital.

Day 3. Cuzco to Manu Wildlife Center

Transfer to the airport for the short flight to Boca Manu. As the day begins to warm, we will head down the Alto Madre de Dios River in a motorized canoe to the Manu River (about 4 hours), and then on for another 2 hours to the very comfortable Manu Wildlife Center. Accommodations are first class in bungalows with private bathroom and hot water. On the river journey, we will have the opportunity to see some riverside species such as Pied Lapwing, Collared Plover, Fasciated Tiger-heron, Orinoco Goose, Large-billed and Yellow-billed Tern. Flyovers will include many species of Macaws and Parrots along with the occasional raptor. The river trip is a pleasure as we leave the foothills and enter the Amazon basin. Our boats are roofed with comfortable padded bucket seats. We arrive at Manu Wildlife Center in the late afternoon. Night Manu Wildlife Center.

Day 4-9. Manu Wildlife Center

Six full days based at the Manu Wildlife Center. We will have one morning visit to the Macaw lick and observe the spectacle of hundreds of Parrots and Macaws at close quarters from the blind. On a good morning we can see Orange-cheeked Parrots, hundreds of Blue-headed Parrots as well as Mealy and Yellow-crowned Parrots. Smaller visitors include White-eyed, Cobalt-winged and Dusky-cheeked Parrotlets. The rest of the time will be spent birding the extensive trail systems which traverse the full spectrum of forest types. The area around this lodge has the highest bird diversity in the Manu area due to the varied forest types including Bamboo, Varzea, Tierra Firme and Mature Transitional Floodplain Forest with all their treasured avian specialists. The lodge area is expected to exceed to hold more species of birds than anywhere else in the world and the birdlist already exceeds 600. We will spend time at a canopy tower watching flocks which include Sclater's Antwren, Chestmut-winged and Lineated Foliage-gleaners, Three-striped Flycatcher, Red-billed Pied Tanager, Yellow-shouldered Grosbeak and a multitude of Tanagers, Dacnises and Honeycreepers. Some of the more interesting and unusual species we will be searching for in the Bamboo include - Rufous-headed Woodpecker, Manu Antbird, Flammulated Bamboo-tyrant, White-cheeked Tody-flycatcher, Brown-rumped Foliage-gleaner, Large-headed and Dusky-tailed Flatbills, Peruvian Recurvebill, Dusky-cheeked and Brown-rumped Foliage-gleaners, Ihring's and Ornate Antwren, White-lined Antbird, Striated Antbird and more. We will look for one of the 5 singing Rufous-fronted Antthrushes we have located on territory here. Some of the scarcer forest species we will be on the lookout for include; Bartlett's Tinamou, Razor-billed Currasow, Pale-winged Trumpeter, Sunbittern, Elusive Antpitta, Pavonine Quetzal, Purus Jacamar, Striolated Puffbird, Gray-cheeked Nunlet, Cream-colored Woodpecker, Ocellated Woodcreeper, Collared Puffbird, Ruddy Spinetail, Plain Softtail, Striped Woodhaunter, Sclater's Antwren, Banded Antbird, Ash-throated Gnateater, White-throated Antbird, Black-spotted Bare-eye, Black-faced Cotinga, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, White-bellied tody-tyrant, Royal Flycatcher, Musician Wren and Pale-eyed Blackbird. We will also visit Oxbow lakes for Hoatzin, Sungrebe, Agami Heron, Greater Large-billed Seed-finch, Silvered and Band-tailed Antbirds, Amazonian Streaked Antwren, Rufous-sided Crake, Gray-breasted Crake and we may be lucky and see one of the two Giant Otter families that live in the area. Night birding may produce Long-tailed, Great and Common Potoos, Amazonian Pygmy-Owl, Spectacled Owl, Ocellated Poorwill and Silky-tailed Nightjar among others. A visit to the large mammal lick in the forest, apart from attracting Tapirs, Peccaries and maybe a Jaguar, also attracts Guans, Currasows, Chachalacas as well as Rose-fronted and Rock Parakeets and Dusky-billed Parrotlet. All nights at the Manu Wildlife Center.

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Day 10. Manu to Cusco

Early start on our comfortable boats and our last look at early morning Parrot flocks. Our journey up the Madre de Dios River takes us through pristine forest to the town of Boca Manu. We'll take a 40 minute flight and transfer to the town of Ollantaytambo for the night on arrival in Cusco birding along the way.

Day 11. Machu Picchu

We leave early in the morning for the 2.5 hour train journey to Machu Picchu. From the train we will 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 12. Urubamba to Ollantaytambo

All morning birding the railway track along the Urubamba River. In the remnant cloud forest we will be looking specifically for Sclaters and Bolivian Tyrranulet, 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 train to the historic town of Ollantaytambo for the night.

Day 13. Ollantaytambo to Sacred Valley of the Incas

Very early start. After a hearty field breakfast we'll have all day to bird the humid temperate forest. Starting at a large patch of Chusquea bamboo we should see the endemics Parodi's Hemispingus and Puna Thistletail. 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, White-rumped Hawk, Sierran Elaenia as well as the endemics; Unstreaked Tit-tyrant, Marcapata Spinetail, Inca Wren. Rufous and Undulated Antpittas are here too. In the afternoon we'll look for Cuzco Brush-Finch. We'll return to the Sacred Valley of the Incas in the evening.

Day 14. Abra Malaga to Sacred Valley

We devote the whole morning to the unique Polylepis woodland at Abra Malaga. Possibilities include Line-fronted Canastero, the endemics Ash -breasted Tit-tyrant and White-browed Tit-spinetail, Tawny Tit-Spinetail, Giant Conebill, Stripe-headed Antpitta, Andean Tapaculo, Tit-like Dacnis, Blue-mantled Thornbill, Andean Condor, Thick-billed Siskin, Junin Canastero and more. Our major target bird here will be the Royal Cinclodes, which was discovered here in the 1980'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 such as Creamy-crested Spinetail, Rusty-fronted Canastero, White-tufted Sunbeam and Chestnut-breasted Mountain-finch. Once again we'll spend the night in the same hotel in the valley.

Day 15. Cuzco to Lima, flight home

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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