Machu Picchu Extension: Jul 16—22, 2006

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Departs: Lima, Peru
Tour Limit: 10
Download Itinerary: PDF (156 KB)

Tour Leaders


Steve Hilty

Steve Hilty is the senior author of A Guide to the Birds of Colombia, and author of Birds of...

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Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu — Photo: David Wolf

This optional extension can be either a post-trip to the Galapagos Islands Cruise or a pre-trip to Amazonian Peru. It offers a chance to visit the impressive Inca site of Machu Picchu, to wander amongst the most remarkable stone ruins in the world, and also to bird the Urubamba Valley. At a marsh and lake just outside Cuzco we will see many Andean waterbirds, including Puna Ibis, Yellow-billed Pintail, Speckled Teal, and Many-colored Rush-Tyrant.

Our tour begins with a visit to Lago Huaparcay. Birds are numerous and relatively easy to see at Laguna Huaparcay (elevation of about 10,500 ft.) and in the surrounding arid hills. This is an excellent location to look for the spectacular Bearded Mountaineer, a hummingbird endemic to Peru; Black-tailed and Green-tailed trainbearers are seen here occasionally as well. With a picnic lunch in tow, we will continue down the Urubamba Valley, watching for Red-backed Hawk, Andean Gull (along the river), Andean Swift, and other species. The drive will take us along the rushing Urubamba River (called Vilcanota at its upper reaches), where we could see Torrent Ducks and perhaps the local Spot-winged Pigeon.

Following some early morning birding around Urubamba, we'll catch the late morning train to Machu Picchu. Located on a high ridge, this most famous and spectacular archeological site is surrounded on three sides by sheer cliffs that fall away to the river far below. We will spend the afternoon and time tomorrow, as well, exploring the ruins of Machu Picchu, along with the various birding options nearby.

In the subtropical forests below the ruins, in the area near our charming hotel, we may see Torrent Duck; Andean Guan; Plum-crowned Parrot; Mitred Parakeet; Green and Sparkling violet-ears; Chestnut-breasted Coronet; Green-and-White Hummingbird; Gould's Inca; Speckled Hummingbird; Variable Antshrike; Sclater's, Plumbeous-crowned, and Mottle-cheeked tyrranulets; Russet-crowned Warbler; and numerous tanagers, among them Saffron-crowned, Beryl-spangled, and Silvery-backed. These are but a few of the many fabulous birds we may encounter on this special extension to Machu Picchu.