Manu Road: November 26th to 30th
Day 1: Cusco to Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge
A brief stop at Huacarpay Lake, specifically to look for the endemic Bearded Mountaineer. We continue over the highlands, and look for Andean Goose, Andean Lapwing, Mountain Caracara and Andean Flicker.
The Manu Road drops into the Amazon cutting through amazing habitats of cloud forest, ranging in altitude from 3,600m to 600m. In the afternoon we visit a Cock-of-the-Rock lek and spend the night at Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge
Day 2: Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge to the Amazonia Lodge
The morning at the feeders at the Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge until lunch. In the afternoon we travel to Amazonia Lodge.
The veranda at Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge has a number of hummingbird feeders plants that attract hummingbirds, also fruit tables for tanagers. Some of these are Violet-fronted Brilliant, Many-spotted Hummingbirds, Speckled Hummingbird, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Wire- crested Thorntail, Wedge-billed Hummingbird and with some luck, Buff-tipped Sicklebill.
At Amazonia Lodge we also concentrate on the lodge clearing that has an enormous variety of birds including many hummingbirds such as Gould’s Jewelfront, Koepcke’s Hermit, Rufous-crested Coquette, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Gray-breasted Sabrewing and many tanagers such as Magpie Tanager and Masked Crimson-Tanager.
Also it is not unusual to see Brown Capuchin Monkey, Woolly Monkey, Tayra and Brown Agouti at Cock of the Rock Lodge
Day 3: All Day at Amazonia Lodge
Absolutely one of the best birding porches in the world at Amazonia Lodge. It is excellent for bird photography with many species of hummingbirds and tanagers. There is also a good trail by a lake where one can, with patience, get close-up photographs of Hoatzin, Sungrebe and Sunbittern. On the trail we also often see Grey-necked Wood-Rail, Undulated and Black-capped Tinamous, Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo, Amazonian Antpitta and Fiery-capped Manakin. Mammals include Red Howler Monkey, Saddle-backed Tamarins and Squirrel Monkeys and Night Monkey.
Day 4: Amazonia Lodge to Wayquecha
It may be possible to visit a small parrot lek. Afterwards we visit the small oxbow-lake of Machu Wasi to get closer to some water birds. We need to return around mid-morning to go from Cock-of-the- Rock Lodge to the Wayqecha Cloud Forest Biological Station (2,900m) in the temperate cloud forest zone. We are closer to Cusco from here, and it will ensure that we have plenty time to reach Cusco, on the way. Machu Wasi Lake with Horned Screamer, Black-capped Donacobius and Pale-eyed Blackbird, often very close. Capybaras are often be seen in the lake.
The journey between Cock-the-Rock-Lodge and Wayquecha has often rewarded us with sightings of Andean Potoo. At Wayqecha we’ll look for Swallow-tailed Nightjar at dusk.
Day 5: Wayqecha to Cusco
Wayqecha is managed by the conservation NGO ACCA. The cabins are comfortable and spacious. Departure from Wayqecha will be around 9.00 to allow for a few stops en-route. We’ll be at Cusco airport for a flight around 5:00 or 6:00pm. The area near Wayqecha is very good for Red-and-White Antpitta and Rufous-capped Thornbill. There are also often good Tanager flocks, which sometimes pass at close range for good photo opportunities. The flocks include Hooded Mountain-Tanager, Masked Flowerpiercer, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Streaked Tuftedcheek, Pearled Treerunner and many more.
On the way to Cusco, we don’t stop birding and visit a highland lake above San Salvador, where there are Giant Coot and Crested Duck. Lower down, and going into the Sacred Valley, we look for the endemic Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch and Bearded Mountaineer.
Cusco and Machu Picchu
December 1st: Day trip to Chonta and the Apurimac Canyon
A 4 AM start is necessary to make it to the base of the Sorayapampa Road just above the village of Mollepata at dawn. Here one can find the localized Pale-tailed Canastero ssp usheri and Spot-eared Puffbird. Higher up the road we find Apurimac Spinetail and Apurimac Brush-Finch. Other birds here include Creamy-crested Spinetail, Undulated Antpitta and White-winged Black-Tyrant. At the top and the end of road look for Vilcabamba Tapaculo and a number of other highland birds such as Andean Flicker, Andean Lapwing and Mountain Caracara.
After lunch in Limatambo, we continue to the charming village of Chonta on a winding mountain road. Chonta sits on a saddle with the deep Apurimac canyon on one side and the Anta valley on the other with views of the snow-capped peaks of Vilcabamba mountains with Salcantay rising to 6450m above sea level.
Birds that can be seen around Chonta include Cinereous Ground-Tyrant, Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant and Andean Lapwing.
Creamy-crested Spinetail and Rusty-fronted Canastero can be seen on the strenuous 3.5km hike to the lookout point, although one usually tries to get to the condors as fast as possible. The Andean Condor with 3.3m wingfont is incredibly impressive and a must see for any serious birder. Other raptors that sometime soar on the updrafts include Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Puna Hawk, American Kestrel and White-throated Hawk.
December 2nd: Day trip to Machu Picchu
Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu, with Nigel and Gunnar, exploring the ruins and birding in between. Return to Cusco for late flight to Lima.
Fly to Tarapoto
North Peru: December 3rd-7th
Day 1: Tarapoto-Rioja. Yurimaguas Road, Morro Calzada. Dotted Tanager, Oilbird
Travel to the tunnel area on the Yurimaguas road. Here we find a number of special upper tropical species such as Koepcke’s Hermit, Blackish Pewee, Dotted Tanager and with luck the localized Plumbeous Euphonia. We also often see Cock of the Rock, Swallow-tailed Kite and Paradise Tanagers.
Around noon we continue towards Moyobamba. On the way we shall stop to look at Oilbirds at the Quiscarumi gorge. We finish the afternoon at Morro de Calzada, a strange rock formation on the Moyobamba-Rioja plateau. This area is good for Mishana Tyrannulet, Cinereous-breasted Spinetail and sometimes Spot-fronted Swift and White-chested Swifts which come to roost. It is also a good spot for nightjars at dusk with Spot-tailed, Rufous, Blackish and Little Nightjar, as well as Common Potoo often calling, as well as Stygian Owl. We drive for an hour to our hotel in Nueva Cajamarca.
Day 2: Yacumama-Abra Patricia-Pomacochas. Ash-throated Antwren, Speckle-chested Piculet
We start the morning in the new birding resource at Aguas Verdes called Arena Blanca. Here the is a fantastic feeding station for Rufous-breasted Wood-Quail and Little and Cinereous Tinamou. Also Yellow-billed Sparrow comes to the grains provided from the feeding station. There is also an area set up for hummingbirds. The speciality here are Green-fronted and Blue-fronted Lancebill, as well as Wire-crested Thorntail, but there are loads of other hummers too.
The white-sand forest is very interesting with Northern Chestnut-tailed (Zimmer's) Antbird and Mishana Tyrannulet.
Midmorning we transfer to the birdy Afluentes area. The flocks in the subtropical roadside forest can be very impressive. Vermilion Tanager, Speckle-chested Piculet, Montane Woodcreeper, Montane Foliage-gleaner, Streaked Xenops, Parasdise, Golden, Blue-necked and Bay-headed Tanagers and the endemic Ash-throated Antwren and many other birds. Sometimes we have seen Black-billed Toucan, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Umbrellabird and Andean Cock of the Rock in this area.
In the afternoon we shall continue to Pomacochas via some birding at the Abra Patricia pass for Royal Sunangel, Bar-winged Wood-Wren and Cinnamon-breasted Tody-Tyrant. We finish the day at the wonderful gardens of Puerto Puerto Pumas hotel where several species of Hummingbirds can be seen, including Black-tailed Trainbearer. Night at Hotel Brisas.
Day 3: Hummingbirds at Huembo and Pomacochas. Marvelous Spatuletail
We shall be visiting a lek site for Marvelous Spatuletail in the morning. Later we spend some time practicing bird photography at the Hummingbird feeders at Huembo with close-up views of the Spatuletail and other hummers such as Collared Inca, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Sparkling Violet-ear, Long-tailed Sylph, White-bellied Woodstar, White-bellied Hummingbird and Bronzy Inca. A rare visitor is Little Woodstar.
Those who are fit enough may want to try for Pale-billed Antpitta up the track to San Lorenzo. Also you can take the vehicle all the way to San Lorenzo, other birds that may be encountered, are Chestnut-crowned Cotinga, White-capped Tanager, Rusty-tinged Antpitta, schulenbergi race of Plain-tailed Wren and Russet-mantled Softtail.
In the afternoon we drive back to the Abra Patricia area. At dusk we shall make the first try to try to see the mythical Long-whiskered Owlet. Night: Fundo Alto Nieva
Day 4: Long-whiskered Owlet Lodge. Ochre-fronted Antpitta, Lulu’s Pygmy-Tyrant
We shall mainly bird the trails at the Fundo Alto Nieva and check out the feeders. The trails are good for Ochre-fronted Antpitta, Rusty-tinged Antpitta, Chestnut Antpitta, Barred Antthrush, Wattled Guan, White-faced Nunbird, etc. The feeding flocks contain Hooded Mountain-Tanager, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Blue-backed Conebill, Spectacled Whitestart, Pearled Treerunner, White-throated Tyrannulet, Blue-and-Black Tanager and Metallic-green Tanager.
The feeders have Emerald-bellied Puffleg, Bronzy Inca, Violet-fronted Brilliant and Collared Inca. From the lookout one may often see White-capped Tanager.
If necessary, we make a second attempt for Long-whiskered Owlet at night or try for Cinnamon Screch-Owl. Night at Fundo Alto Nieva
Day 5: Abra Patricia-Afluentes-Wakanki. Royal Sunangel, Rufous-crested Coquette
After additional search for Antpittas and a stop at the site for Royal Sunangel, if we shall still need, it we shall be birding at Afluentes once more. Later we descend to Moyobamba to have lunch at Wakanki while we are watching the hummingbird feeders here. It is possible to count around 17 species in an hour or so. One of the best is the Rufous-crested Coquette. We shall arrive to Tarapoto to bird the dry scrub around Juan Guerra for Huallaga Slaty Antshrike and Ashy-headed Greenlet until dusk. Evening flight to Lima.
Extension: A way to extend this trip if you have time, is to stay the night of Day 5 at Wakanqi in Moyobamba. There is a very interesting forest behind Wakanqi at Quebrada Mishquiyacu and Wakanqi is one of the best sites in all of Peru for various owls and nightjars.
One may also add extensions for Scarlet-banded Barbet and White-masked Antbird from Tarapoto.