Login | Sign Up
Search all web:
Kolibri Expeditions - Peru Birding Tours and Birdwatching Holidays Worldwide
  South Peru  |  Manu Road  |  Central Peru  |  Lima area  |  North Peru  |  Amazon Lowlands  |  Machu Picchu  |  5-day trips  |  World Birding  |  Birdphotography
    South America   |  USA   |  ASIA   |  C. America & Caribbean   |  Europa   |  Africa   |  Australia and Oceania  
 
     
 

Abra Malaga & Machu Picchu

 
 INTRODUCTION:

Birding Machu Picchu and Abra Malaga

Machu Picchu  Szeke (FLickr)

Machu Picchu hardly needs any introduction and for the birders the Polylepis forest at the Abra Malaga pass with many endemics is almost as famous. There are four types of programs available and the numbers of days can be varied:

  • A Program: Arrival from Manu road in the evening of day 1 in the afternoon of the  program below.
  • B Program. Start in Cusco with pick up at the airport in the morning of day 1 on program below.
  • C program. Combining culture and birds. This has a special program below.
  • Program D. Super short. For those with very little time this is an extremely short program of only two days, going directly to Abra Malaga from the airport early in the morning and concentrating the effort at the Polylepis at the pass and naturally makes the obligatory visit at Machu Picchu concentraing the effort here to get Inca Wren.

We can run this tour any day of the year. We recommend to have two nights at Machu Picchu and two full days on the Abra Malaga road (programs A1, B1 and C3). This will make the program less hectic.

The grading of the tour is "moderately difficult", because of the walking one does at altitude at Abra Malaga and the many stairs at Machu Picchu. The birding in contrary is quite easy. 



 DEPARTURES:
  May 20 - 2017
October 1 - 2017


If the departure dates don't fit you, please suggest another date.
 
 GALLERY OF BIRDS ON THE TOUR:


 THE TOUR:

Birding Machu Picchu and Abra Malaga. Programs A and B.

These are programs that combines birding at the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu and the temperate wet and dry Polylepis forests at Abra Malaga. Abra Malaga is the prime site you need to visit near Cusco, since there are a lot of endemic and near endemic birds here, most of which are difficult or non-existant on the Manu road. If you are interested to have a stronger focus on culture and archaeology, check out the C program below.

Day 1.  Birdwatching en Huacarpay Lake. Cusco-Sacsayhuaman-Ollantaytambo-Aguas Calientes. Bearded Mountaineer.

After picking up early arrivers at the Cusco airport we will work our way to Ollantaytambo, via a short visit to the impressive Inca ruins of Sacsayhuaman above town and then passing the Huacarpay Lake for Bearded Mountaineer, Rusty-fronted Canastero and wetland birds on our way.
After a buffet lunch we shall board the train to Aguas Calientes. From the train we shall look out for Torrent Duck and White-capped Dipper in the stream that runs along the railroad track. In the late afternoon we may take a walk up to the hot springs in the gorge above the village. We are not going to go swimming but to look for Swallow-tailed Nightjar that often do displays in this area at dusk. Night in Hotel Inti Wiñay Huayna, Pachacutek or similar.

Day 2. Birding Machu Picchu.

After some early morning birding along the uphill trail to the Machu Picchu ruins, we will visit the famed ruins. In close proximity to the ruins one can find the endemic Inca Wren, Cusco Brush-Finch and Green-and-White Hummingbird. The area below the ruins is rich with birds and many good species can be seen such as Torrent Duck, White-capped Dipper, Mitred Parakeet, Barred Parakeet, Andean Guan, Cock-of-the Rock, Ocellated Piculet, White-eared Solitaire, Highland Motmot, Variable Antshrike, Grey-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Black-streaked Puffbird, White-crowned, Sierran and Highland Elaenias, the endemic Masked Fruiteater, Saffron-crowned, Flame-faced, Rust-and-Yellow and Beryl-spangled Tanagers, Mottled-cheeked and Sclater's Tyrannulet and many more.
At the ruins themselves we may hike up the Huayna Picchu the "sugar-loaf" mountain in the background of all the postcards. On the back side at the moon temple there is good birding. In 2006 a pair of Rufous-breasted Falcons were nesting here. Note that due to increased demand it is now necessary to buy tickets for Huayna Picchu in advance. The cost is US$10. Night in Hotel Inti Wiñay Huayna, Pachacutek or similar.

Day 3. Birdwatching at Aguas Calientes. Return to Ollantaytambo

Additional day at Aguas Calientes picking up species we may have missed. We will bird most of the morning around Mandor valley which is the lowest section of the Machu Picchu sanctuary. This is the best place for Pale-legged Warbler signatus ssp. It is also usually possible to see Andean Cock-of-the Rock here. Train in the afternoon back to Ollantaytambo. Night in Ollantaytambo at Hotel Munay Tika.

Day 4. Birding Abra Malaga

We will get up very early for the drive up beyond the Abra Malaga pass at 4200m and continue to the north side of the pass and the wet temperate forest at Canchayoc. Here we may see Diademed Tapaculo, Unstreaked Tit-Tyrant, Golden-collared Tanager, Violet-throated Starfrontlet, Parodi´s Hemispingus, Marcapata Spinetail, Tit-like Dacnis, Slaty (Cusco) Brush-Finch sp. canigenis, Rufous-bellied Bush-Tyrant, Imperial Snipe  and many others. Rusty-breasted (Leimebamba), Red-and-White, Rufous and Undulated Antpitta are often heard and with some luck we may be able to lure some of them into view with play-back of its song. Returning to the pass around midday we will do a short, but quite strenuous walk to the quite disturbed Polylepis woodland on the ridge beside us. This is the most accessible high Polylepis woodland that holds the very rare Royal Cinclodes, Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant and White-browed Tit-Spinetail. Among other specialties are Giant Conebill, Line-fronted and Junin Canstero, Puna (Andean) Tapaculo, Stripe-headed Antpitta, Thick-billed Siskin, Tawny Tit-Spinetail, Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant, Puna Thistletail and various species of Ground-Tyrants. As we come out of the valley, we stand good chance of encountering Andean Parakeet and Tit-like Dacnis. Back on the main road in roadside scrub we often find Junin Canastero, Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch and Golden-billed Saltator. Night in Ollantaytambo at Hotel Munay Tika.

Day 5. Bird watching Abra Malaga. Return to Cuzco.

Additional day on the Abra Malaga road. We will concentrate on birds we may have missed the previous day. Weather conditions - even snow sometimes - may make it impossible to visit the Polylepis forest on one of the days. By having two days at Abra Malaga with two days at Machu Picchu in between the risk of missing species because of bad weather is minimized. Above Ollantaytambo we will search for species like Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch, White-tufted Sunbeam, Creamy-crested Spinetail, Giant Hummingbird, Great Sapphirewing and White-bellied Hummingbird. We aim to be in Cusco around 1 pm, in time for the afternoon flight to Lima or fin time for those staying in Cusco to enjoy some sights of the city while it is still daylight .

C. More culture but still with the best birds.

We include some of the best archeological sites and make sure you get both culture and birding done with either two guides or a bird guide that knows enough about archeology to give a vivid description of the ruins. We can run this trip at any time. The program presented below is the C3 program.

Let us know if you want extra days at Aguas Calientes and/or Abra Malaga and surroundings for more birds. It is possible to add either one day (Machu Picchu day - C2 program) or two days (one more day at Machu Picchu/Aguas Calientes and one more day along the Abra Malaga road - C1 program). The latter option makes it possible to arrive earlier in Cusco on the last night - and considerbly slows down the pace. Thus we recommend the 7 day program for those that want a slower pace.

Day 1. Cuzco. City tour with Sacsayhuaman, Cathedral, Coricancha. Birding at Huacarpay lake.

Early flight to Cuzco. City tour. Sacsayhuaman, Cathedral, Coricancha in this order. Lunch. Departure to Pisac. Visit Huacarpay on the way for lake birds and the endemic hummingbird Bearded Mountaineer. Other birds include the endemic Rusty-fronted Canastero, Many-colored Rush-Tyrant, Wren-like Rushbird, Plumbeous Rail, Yellow-hooded Blackbird and many others. Overnight in Pisac. Charming town and charming small Hotel Muñay Tika.
 

Day 2. Pisac and Ollantaytambo ruins.

Early visit to Pisac ruins. Usually also some birding possible, especially if you decide to do the walk back down to Pisac town. Visit the Pisac market. Continue to Ollantaytambo via the salt-mines near Urubamba. Visit the archeological site of Ollantaytambo in the PM. Night in Ollantaytambo at Munay Tika. Birds during the day include Giant Hummingbird, Golden-billed Saltator, Black-backed Grosbeak and White-bellied Hummingbird.

Day 3 Birding  at Abra Malaga 

Full day to Abra Malaga. Temperate forest. Polylepis birds. Fantastic views of the Veronica massive. The Quechuas living in the area are dressed with their traditional cloths. We shall see plenty of alpaca herds as well.
We will get up very early for the drive up beyond the Abra Malaga pass at 4200m and continue to the north side of the pass and the wet temperate forest at Canchayoc. Here we may see Diademed Tapaculo, Unstreaked Tit-Tyrant, Golden-collared Tanager, Violet-throated Starfrontlet, Parodi´s Hemispingus, Marcapata Spinetail, Tit-like Dacnis, Slaty (Cusco) Brush-Finch sp. canigenisRufous-bellied Bush-Tyrant, Imperial Snipe  and many others. Rusty-breasted (Leimebamba), Red-and-White, Rufous and Undulated Antpitta are often heard and with some luck we may be able to lure some of them into view with play-back of its song. Returning to the pass around midday we will do a short, but quite strenuous walk to the quite disturbed Polylepis woodland on the ridge beside us. This is the most accessible high Polylepis woodland that holds the very rare Royal CinclodesAsh-breasted Tit-Tyrant and White-browed Tit-Spinetail. Among other specialties are Giant Conebill, Line-fronted and Junin Canstero, Puna (Andean) Tapaculo, Stripe-headed Antpitta, Thick-billed Siskin, Tawny Tit-Spinetail, Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant, Puna Thistletail and various species of Ground-Tyrants. As we come out of the valley, we stand good chance of encountering Andean Parakeet and Tit-like Dacnis. Back on the main road in roadside scrub we often find Junin Canastero, Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch and Golden-billed Saltator. We should have time to do a fast visit to the Ollantaytambo ruins in the late afternoon. Dinner and night in Machu Picchu.
 

Day 4. Day visit to Machu Picchu. 

We board the first train in the morning heading down the Urumbamba valley to Aguas Calientes. We visit the Machu PIcchu ruins in the morning before the large crowds arrive.  A fast lunch at the ruins allow us to bird the early afternoon  near the  Puente Ruinas bridge. Mitred Parakeet, Barred Parakeet, Andean Guan, Cock-of-the Rock, Ocellated Piculet, White-eared Solitaire, Highland Motmot, Variable Antshrike, Grey-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Black-streaked Puffbird, White-crowned, Sierran and Highland Elaenias, the endemic Masked Fruiteater, Saffron-crowned, Flame-faced, Rust-and-Yellow and Beryl-spangled Tanagers, Mottled-cheeked and Sclater's Tyrannulet and many more can be seen. At the bridge itself and the one mile walk back to Aguas Calientes we should see White-capped Dipper and Torrent Duck
In the late afternoon we shall return by train to Ollantaymbo from where we bus to Cusco. Night at Hotel Antares.

Day 5. Free day in Cusco before flight to Lima

You shall have most of the day free in Cusco. You can explore this beautiful town on your own as you please. There are several opportunities for shopping. We'll have lunch at world famous chef Gaston Acurio's Restaurant Chicha. 
It is possible to fly back to Lima on this day. Depending on airline, but usually around 3 to 4 pm. 

 


 TRIP SUMMARY:
DAY 1 Birdwatching en Huacarpay Lake. Cusco-Sacsayhuaman-Ollantaytambo-Aguas Calientes. Bearded Mountaineer.
DAY 2 Birding Machu Picchu.
DAY 3 Birdwatching at Aguas Calientes. Return to Ollantaytambo
DAY 4 Birding Abra Malaga
DAY 5 Bird watching Abra Malaga. Return to Cuzco.
 
 PRICE :


Option: B1. Start in Cusco with pick up at the airport. 5 days program. Days: 5
Price: US$ 1270 (Minimun 5 people).
 
Less than 5 people: (see pricing)
 
Single supplement: 75 US$
 

1 day Huacarpay and dry slope of the Abra Malaga road, 1 day Abra Malaga, 2 days Machu Picchu, 1 day Abra Malaga

Includes: Transport (bus and train), guiding, 3 meals/day (breakfast and lunch usually in the field and a cooked meal at night), entrance-fees at Machu Picchu.
Does not include: Hotel and dinner the last night in Cusco. Tips, bottled drinks and other expenses of personal nature are not included.

 


***************



Option: C3. Culture and birding. 5 days program with more archeological sites. Days: 5
Price: US$ 1290 (Minimun 5 people).
 
Less than 5 people: (see pricing)
 
Single supplement: 80 US$
 
This program is for those that principally come to Cusco to go to Machu Picchu and see the Incan culture, but also wants to get as many birds as possible within the ideal cultural circuit. It is perfect if you go with a non birding spouse or a spouse with minimum interest in birds. Should the spouse want to we will arrange alternative programs at no extra cost on days with intense birding (such as Abra Malaga). It is possible to fly back to Lima on Day 5 after midday.

1 day Cusco town city tour and on Huacarpay with night in Pisac. 1 day Pisac-Ollantaytambo , 1 day Abra Malaga, 1 day Machu Picchu and a last half day free in Cusco.

Includes midrange clean and safe hostels with plenty of hot water. cultural and bird guiding, all meals (except lunch on day 5), entrance fees, transport, etc. The last hotel night in Cusco (day 4) is included. Ask us about top end options (i.e. Machu Pueblo Hotel) if you want to upgrade.

Does not include bottled drinks or personal tips. Flights to and from Lima are not included. .
 


***************

Option: Air ticket to Cusco OW
Price: US$ 145


Option: Taxi to Cusco from Ollantaytambo or reversed
Price: US$ 100
For those that want to do the A1-A3 programs, but are not arriving with us from Manu.


Option: Hotel in Cusco on last day
Price: US$ 30
price for a double is 60 dollars


 CLIENT'S COMMENTS:

Posted on BirdForum

Just returned from a great trip to Peru. Didn't do the east slope (with megadiversity) but did do Amazonas at Los Amigos biological station, Abra Malaga, Tumbes, Chaparri Lodge, Santa Eulalia, Cusco to Machu Picchu and Agua Calientes.

540+ species including 34 +/- antbirds. Had Point-tailed Palmcreeper at Los Amigos, fleeting look at Royal Cinclodes (will not count in my book but glad they are still at Abra Malaga (also had an adult Andean Condor there too).

Despite rumors of their demise we had 20+ Humboldt Penguins at Pucusana just an hour south of Lima as well as Seaside Cinclodes, Peruvian Thick-knee, and Slender-billed Finch at Canaette.

Kolibri was an excellent company with great guides in each location that really knew their birds and the best places to find them.

Brian Allen

 


Copyright © 2012 Kolibri Expeditions. All rights reserved.