Peru: Manu Biosphere Reserve: Sep 19—Oct 04, 2018

Cloud Forest, Foothills and Lowland Rainforest

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Price: $6,895
Departs: Lima
Tour Limit: 10
Operations Manager: Greg Lopez
Download Itinerary: PDF (494.4 KB)

Route Map


Tour Leaders


David Ascanio

David Ascanio, a Venezuelan birder and naturalist, has spent 30+ years guiding birding tours...

Local Leader

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Register for this Tour

Register for this tour by phone (800/328-VENT or 512/328-5221), or by downloading a tour registration form. Signed and completed forms can be faxed, mailed, or scanned and emailed to the VENT office.

Andean Cock-of-the-rock

Andean Cock-of-the-rock— Photo: Robert (Spike) Baker

Widely acknowledged as one of the premier birding and natural history sites in the world. Includes high montane forest, cloud forest, foothills, and lowland rainforest. Spectacular tropical birding in a pristine, super-rich avifauna.

This epic journey starts in Cuzco where we set out across the Peruvian highlands, passing a quiltwork of often colorful fields and villages and ever-changing panoramas before descending the verdant, eastern wall of the Andes, first through elfin forest, then cloud forest, wet foothill forest, and finally the lowland rainforest. Our first destination is a lodge at about 9,750 feet elevation in cloud forest on the eastern slope of the Andes where we will focus on high-elevation species such as mountain-toucans and mountain-tanagers. Then we will descend to the Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge, at about 4,500 feet elevation. Here we have access to displaying Andean Cocks-of-the rock, and feeders that attract hummingbirds, barbets, and tanagers. We also may see Torrent Ducks, motmots, and quetzals, but, for some, the high energy bird flocks dominated by unbelievably colorful tanagers—which are so characteristic of the Andes—will surely be a highlight.

Next we will descend into the Andean foothills to the lovely Pantiacolla Lodge. Situated amidst a spectacular array of foothills habitats and with an excellent trail system, this superb lodge is a great place to relax and transition into foothill rainforest. You are sure to notice dramatic changes in the avifauna here, as tanager-dominated mixed species flocks of the highlands give way to a more diverse array of antbirds, furnariids, flycatchers, manakins, and such exotic species as Hoatzins and macaws. Several species here are unique to these wet foothills, among them the Blue-headed Macaw, Chestnut-backed Antshrike, and Black-backed Tody-Tyrant, as well as many species that are specialists of bamboo forest. There is also likely to be an interesting array of new hummingbirds here, and with a bird list well in excess of 500 species we are sure to be busy.

For the last leg of our journey we will embark on an exciting day-long journey down the fast-flowing Alto Madre de Dios River and more serpentine Madre de Dios River to the Manu Wildlife Center. This lodge is situated outside of the enormous Manu Biosphere Reserve, but encompasses the same wild and pristine rainforest, and is a place where all the top predators from Jaguars and Harpy Eagles to the smallest prey species are present.

More than 500 species of birds occur in the vicinity of the Manu Wildlife Center, including such exciting species as Orinoco Goose, Agami Heron, Pale-winged Trumpeter, Blue-and-yellow Macaw, Chestnut-capped Puffbird, Curl-crested Aracari, Manu Antbird, Spangled Cotinga, Band-tailed Manakin, and the rare Yellow-shouldered Grosbeak. Visitors may see up to eight or more kinds of monkeys, among them Saddle-backed Tamarin and occasionally Emperor Tamarin. There is a good chance we will see Giant Otters, and we have seen Jaguars on a few trips. We will spend one early morning in a large hide opposite a riverbank where hundreds of parrots and macaws gather to eat clay, two mornings atop forest canopy observation platforms, and one morning on a lovely oxbow lake. And, of course, there are miles of beautiful forest trails to explore. This trip is a wilderness adventure of the first order—one that incorporates all the magic of unspoiled nature in a birding and wildlife experience unsurpassed in South America.

Good lodge accommodations (somewhat rustic at Wayqecha Lodge) and good food; two to four nights at each site; roadside birding in highlands; easy walking trails; travel by bus, boat, and commercial plane; some long travel days; moderate pace with frequent midday breaks; cool in mountains, warm and humid in lowlands.