Acclimatization and Birding Before the Inca Trail
Day 1. Travel to Ollantaytambo, and Low Altitude Night:
After meeting you at the Cusco airport we will do a short city tour and work our way to Ollantaytambo. Stopping at the Huacarpay Lake for Bearded Mountaineer and wetland birds. Above Ollantaytambo we will search for species like Rusty-fronted Canastero, Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch, White-tufted Sunbeam, Creamy-crested Spinetail, Giant Hummingbird, Great Sapphirewing and White-bellied Hummingbird. Night in Ollantaytambo. (2900m).
Day 2. High Altitude Birding Abra Malaga:
Up very early for the drive up the Abra Malaga pass (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 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 the calls. Returning to the pass around midday we will do a short, but quite strenuous walk to the impacted 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 and various species of Ground-Tyrants. As we come out of the valley, we stand good chance of seeing the 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.
Altitude ranges up to 4200m. Night in Ollantaytambo (2900m).
Day 3. You are Acclimatized:
Additional day on the Abra Malaga road. We will concentrate on birds we may have missed the previous day. Return and night in Cusco (3400m). Before starting the trip. You are now well prepared to start the hike to Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail. Happy trails.
Weather conditions including snow - may make it impossible to visit the Polylepis forest on one of the days.