This short itinerary is perfect for birders who wish to combine a birding trip to Manu with a visit to Machu Picchu and the upper cloud forest of Abra Malaga. This itinerary works well as an extension or as a stand alone itinerary that offers a perfect alternative to standard Machu Picchu visits for the avid bird lover.
We travel by train to Aqua Calientes, the village beneath Machu Picchu. As soon as we arrive we go up to Machu Picchu by bus, where we have a guided visit of the ruins. In the afternoon we can do some birdwatching in the vicinity. The night is spent in a hotel in Aguas Calientes.(L)
We bird along the railroad track and the area near the river in the hope of seeing some nice tanagers, Torrent Duck and White-capped Dipper. In the afternoon we go back by train to Ollantaytambo, situated halfway between Machu Picchu and Cusco, where we spend the night at a hotel.(B, D)
We'll start early from Ollantaytambo and head for the Polylepis forest at Abra Malaga with its special inhabitants like the Royal Cinclodes, Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant and White-browed Tit-Spinetail. While these, (especially the highly sought-after cinclodes), are sometime elusive, there are many other birds to see as well, including Tawny Tit-Spinetail, Puna Tapaculo, Blue-mantled Thornbill and Giant Conebill. In the afternoon we'll return to our hotel in Ollantaytambo. On the way up (or when we return) we visit a place called "Peña Ruins". This is the stake-out for the endemic White-tufted Sumbeam. Also Creamy-crested Spinetail, Rusty-fronted Canastero, Black-backed Grosbeak and, with luck, Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch are possible here. (B, BL, D)
Today we drive over the pass, and witness a complete change of habitat: we enter the upper cloud forest. Here we hope to encounter some good mixed flocks, which could contain Parodi's Hemispingus, Unstreaked Tit-Tyrant, White-browed Conebill, Tawny-rumped Tyrannulet, Tit-like Dacnis and many others. Undulated Antpittas are frequently heard calling, but are very hard to see, as are Diademed Tapaculos. Hummingbirds to look for include Coppery-naped Puffleg, Scaled Metaltail, Rufous-capped Thornbill and Sword-billed Hummingbird. Our journey ends in Cusco in the afternoon. (B, BL)
All ground transfers and excursions, Vista Dome train service Cusco - Machu Picchu - Ollantaytambo, 4 nights lodging, meals as indicated in itinerary, lunch buffet at Machu Picchu (Sanctuary Lodge), specialized bird guide, entrance to Machu Picchu ruins
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