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Machu Picchu and Abra Malaga overland


Since a couple of years there is a back-way to Machu Picchu avoiding the rather expensive train-ride from Ollantaytambo or Cuzco. It runs over the Abra Malaga pass to the little jungle town of Santa Teresa, where there is a bridge over the river and a narrow track to Hidroelectrica (the hydro-electric plant). From here there is a short (cheaper) train service to Aguas Calientes and the base for Machu Picchu. This route is often used by backpackers. 
Santa Teresa have some nice simple hotels. Below Aguas Calientes and below the road to Machu Picchu along the railroad track, there is an area called Mandor, which is famed among birders for its Cock of the Rock lek.  There is a small charming guesthouse here where we shall stay. 

This itinerary is shorter and birdier than our standard Abra Malaga/Machu Picchu tour - and it is cheaper.  Furthermore, by staying at Mandor an additional night, this tour makes a good substitute for Manu road when combined with a two day trip overland trip to Puerto Maldonado, birding around Puerto Maldando and a rain forest trip to Saona Lodge, Explorer's Inn, Tambopata, Heath River Lodge or Piedras RIver.  This comes out far cheaper than Manu, probably more bird species in the end and the tour can be run all year around. 

No Departures for this Tour

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

Day 1. Cusco-Ollantaytambo-Santa Teresa.

After picking up early arrivers at the Cusco airport we will bird the Huaypo lake for wetland birds such as Many-colored Rush-Tyrant, Wren-like Rushbird, Plumbeous Rail, Yellow-hooded Blackbird and many others. Later we shall work our way to Ollantaytambo.
Near Ollantaytambo we shall find bird such as Bearded Mountaineer, Giant Hummingbird, Golden-billed Saltator, Black-backed Grosbeak and White-bellied Hummingbird. Continuing up the dry slope of the road to Abra Malaga we search for species like Andean Parakeet, Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch, White-tufted Sunbeam and Creamy-crested Spinetail. We shall not bird the pass at 4250m this time but continue down the wetter side to bird around Carrizales for temperate and subtropical cloud forest 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 and Rufous-bellied Bush-Tyrant 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. .

We need to be very selective about our stops as we have to catch a train at 5 PM passed the town of Santa Teresa on the Urubamba river.  We shall get more chance to bird the cloud forest on the way back to Ollantaytambo on Day 3 as well as some time in the morning of Day 4. 

The section between Santa Teresa and Hidroelectrica Train Station is very good birding. It is possible to find the localized Swallow-tailed Hummingbird, and an array of beautiful tanagers such as Golden and Paradise Tanagers. In the late afternoon we arrive in Mandor where we stay at a basic hostel. At night we shall search for the amazing Lyre-tailed Nightjar.

Day 2. Machu Picchu.

We shall bird our way to Machu Picchu ruins. Some of the birds we seek include 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.

Night Mandor.

Day 3. Mandor to Hidroelectrica and on towards Abra Malaga.
We will bird in 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. - possibly a future split.
We then shall bird on foot to Hidro-electrica (7KM) where the car awaits us to take us up on the road towards Ollantaytambo, picking up species we may have missed on the way down.

Night in Ollantaytambo. 

Day 4. Abra Malaga
A full morning at the Polylepis woodland at Abra Malaga can award us with species such as Royal Cinclodes, Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant, Tawny Tit-Spinetail, White-browed Tit-Spinetail, Stripe-headed Antpitta, Puna Tapaculo, Line-fronted Canastero and Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant. It is possible to hike out to the main road walking downhill for 8K and get picked up by the vehicle. On the hike we often see many species of Ground-Tyrants. In the afternoon we continue to Cuzco. 




Option: Machu Picchu and Abra Malaga overland Days: 4
Price: US$ 1200 (Minimum 5 people).
Less than 5 people: (see pricing)
Single supplement: 30 US$
Includes transport, guiding, food, entrance fee at Machu Picchu, train and bus fares. Does not include bottle drinks, alcohol or personal expenses such as tips.


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Telephone: +51-1- 652 76 89. From the US: 011-51-1- 652 76 89. Cell: 988 555 938 (Gunnar) or 999 007 886 (Elia Gallo) - Email: kolibriexp@gmail.com