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Cusco/Ollantaytambo birding day trip: Abra Malaga


Day trip to Abra Malaga to sample some of the best birds of Peru, such as Royal Cinclodes, Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant and White-browed Tit-Spinetail of the high altitude Polylepis woodland at the pass and Diademed Tapaculo, Unstreaked Tit-Tyrant, Golden-collared Tanager, Violet-throated Starfrontlet, Parodi´s Hemispingus, Marcapata Spinetail and many more at the wet north-eastern slope. The trip starts preferably from Ollantaytambo, but if needed be it can also start from Cuzco. Also the end could be at either Ollantaytambo, Cusco or Limatambo (for Apurimac Endemics).

  July 2 - 2024

If the departure dates don't fit you, please suggest another date.


Up very early to drive up the Abra Malaga pass to 4200m and continue to the north side of the pass and the wet temperate forest at Canchayoc. Here we may see many Peru endemics and other rare birds such as Diademed Tapaculo, Unstreaked Tit-Tyrant, Golden-collared Tanager, Violet-throated Starfrontlet, Parodi's Hemispingus, Marcapata Spinetail, Tit-like Dacnis, Cusco Brush-Finch, Rufous-bellied Bush-Tyrant, Imperial Snipe  and many others. Rusty-breasted (Leimebamba), Red-and-White, Rufous (occabambae race) and Undulated Antpitta are often heard and with some luck we may be able to lure some of them into view with play-back.

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-Tyrantand White-browed Tit-Spinetail. Among other specialties are Giant Conebill, Line-fronted and Junin Canstero, Puna Tapaculo, Stripe-headed Antpitta, Thick-billed Siskin, Tawny Tit-Spinetail, Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant and various species of Ground-Tyrants.

At the bottom of this valley, we have a good chance of seeing Andean Parakeet and Tit-like Dacnis. Back on the main road in the roadside scrub we often find Junin Canastero, Creamy-crested Spinetail, Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch and Golden-billed Saltator.



Price: US$ 260 (Minimum 5 people).
Less than 5 people: (see pricing)

Full day including transport, guiding, pic nic breakfast and lunch. Does not inlcude entrance fees, hotel and dinner.


The trip was great.  All three of the guides--Jean-Paul, Saturnino, and Alejandro--were excellent.  They did a great job finding birds and dealing with logistics so that everything went as smoothly as possible.  It would have been nice to have an extra day on the Machu Picchu-Abra Malaga trip so that I could have gone to Abra Malaga in the morning--we were caught in an afternoon thunderstorm up at the top of the polylepis forest!  The pelagic was great and I was glad to get the opportunity to go down to Pantanos de Villa as well.  
Thank you for your help in arranging everything.  It was a great experience and I hope that I can get back down there again!  
Marianne Batchelder  Abra Malaga, Pelagica and Pantanos de Villa, November 2011

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