Machu Picchu & Paracas Extension to Amazon River Cruise: Jan 28—Feb 04, 2007

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Please contact us if you would like more information on upcoming departures for this tour.

Departs: TBA
Tour Limit: 12
Download Itinerary: PDF (195.4 KB)

Tour Leaders

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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 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.

An early morning departure for a high mountain pass will take us past snow-capped mountains, enormous glacier-filled valleys, golden panoramas of puna grassland, and Inca ruins. At high elevations we may be able to find three Peruvian endemics: White-tufted Sunbeam, Creamy-breasted Spinetail, and Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch. As we walk along the road, searching for the many wonderful species to be found here, we should see views of snow-capped ridges and a splendid panorama of mountain scenery. With luck we could even see an Andean Condor.

The fourth day, we will make a short visit to the ruins at Ollantaytambo, then board a train for our Machu Picchu destination, arriving there in time for mid-morning birding. 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. After the train leaves at 3:00 p.m. we will have the site almost to ourselves and enjoy the magic of seeing Machu Picchu in that special late evening light.

In the morning we will bird the subtropical forests below, where 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, Mottle-cheeked, and Ashy-headed tyrranulets; Russet-crowned Warbler; and numerous tanagers, among them Saffron-crowned, Blue-necked, and Silvery. These are but a few of the many fabulous birds we may encounter on this special extension to Machu Picchu.