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A first trip to Peru (1 Viewer)

StevePreddy

Well-known member
Hi

I’m planning a first trip to Peru for next year and looking for thoughts on what to include in my itinerary: a bit of an open question, I know. I’ve only got two weeks to play with, frustratingly, so will have to be brutal about what I include/leave for another visit. Here are some random musings:

- I can’t go to Peru without visiting Machu Picchu so I’ll be including Cusco in the itinerary, and presumably will be flying in to Lima and then getting a connecting flight as I’m not aware of any direct flights to Cusco from anywhere in UK/Europe (correct?). From a birding perspective, its probably worth spending some time in/around Lima first, I guess - how long would you give it and where would you go? Let’s assume I’m using public transport for this.

- The Amazon Basin is also high on the list: any help in narrowing down the long list of lodge options would be useful. Would you go by road from Cusco spending a couple of days at several sites or fly into Puerto Maldonado and spend a longer period visiting just one? I’m keen to see a trumpeter so if there are lodges that are particularly good for these (real ones, not pet ones living around their restaurants), that would be good to know.

- The trip will be in the (northern) spring - i think that’s when the rainy season is coming to an end so I’ll hopefully avoid being rained off too much. Does anyone have any (good or bad) experience of visiting there at that time of year? Lots of tour groups seem to go much later in the year.

Is there anything else that I’d be an idiot to miss out, assuming an itinerary based loosely on the above?

Thanks
 

temmie

Well-known member
If you want to get a grip on birding in S-Peru, I would recommend:
3 days around Cusco (Abra Malaga + some subsites)
2 days upper Manu road (around 2500 MASL)
2-3 days around cock-of-the-rock lodge (1500 MASL)
1 day around 1000 MASL
3 days Amazonia lodge
3 days Pantiacolla
4 days Amazon Manu + clay lick etc.

so that's close to 3 weeks.
If you want to cherry pick sites, you could do with:
3 days around Cuzco (you will need them anyway if you want to visit Machu Picchu, any time left could be spend around Abra Malaga from Ollantaytambo)
A quick tour on the manu road for around 5 days with birding on the way on day 1, a night at Wayquecha, birding on the way down to Cock-of-the-rock (where you stay 2 nights and go up-and-down every day looking for flocks) and a day back to Cuzco.
The rest of the days (around 5-6) could be best spend from Maldonado.

This is the most flexbile choice I feel. If you would go down the Manu road and hit the lodges (Amazonia, Pantiacolla, Amazon Manu,...), you would feel very hurried having to leave each place too quickly with a boat going to the next one.

I would, for a first trip to Peru, not bother too much with birding around Lima, unless it combines well with your in-outgoing flights. Ofcourse a single day around the coast (e.g. Paraiso and Lomas de Lachay) could boost your trip list (waders, gulls, terns, ...), but there aren't too many 'special' range restricted species that you couldn't see elsewhere (ofcourse you have to see them somewhere!). FYI, I only visited Lomas de Lachay during my 3rd visit to Peru.
 

Larry Sweetland

Formerly 'Larry Wheatland'
Not much to add except that you mentioned trumpeters, and I saw a group of them (Plale-winged) a couple of years ago at one of the sites mentioned by Temmie, Amazonia Lodge (which is one of the cheaper lodge options). I found them there without a guide so they can't be that difficult. And I have to say they were even more mindblowingly peculiar than I hoped they'd be, so well worth trying to fit them in somewhere, if not there. :t:.
 
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StevePreddy

Well-known member
Thanks both. I thought two weeks would be tight. And I’m definitely the sort of birder who likes to spend a few days at a new location to really get a feel for its avifauna. I must admit I hadn’t seriously thought about doing only the higher parts of the Manu Road from Cusco then flying to Puerto Maldonado for the lower sites (it has crossed my mind but seemed like a convoluted way of doing things) but maybe I’ll give it some more thought. Alternatively I could just do the Manu Road as far as Pantiacolla and then head back, so at least I’ll have reached the basin - or is the Manu Wildlife Center just too special to miss out (e.g. are the clay licks found there but not upstream)? Are Amazonia and Pantiacolla sufficiently different to justify 3 days at each, or is there a lot of overlap in their birds?
 
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Peter C.

...just zis guy, you know?
I hope people don't mind me hijacking this thread a little (is it possible to slightly hijack something? "Take this plane to Cuba!!! Or, if it's too much trouble, just drop me off in Ft. Lauderdale, that'd be okay, too...").

Anyway, sorry, Steve.

I am planning to go to Peru this December, for a very short time, and wondering about the practicalities of renting a car in Cusco. Ideally, I would like to drive over the Abra de Malaga, and end up in Santa Teresa, just a bit north of Aguas Calientes. It looks to me like that's a longer, but less crowded, way into MP (in contrast to taking the train to AC.) Although, judging by other threads I've been looking at here, there seems to be some pretty good "hotel" birding to be had, even in AC itself!

Has anybody done this route?

Peter C.
 

amears

Well-known member
I’m lucky enough to have joined up for Steve’s planned trip in May. We’ve booked the majority of accom and travel for the itinerary pasted below (shows daily plan -- and accom), but we’re still in the process of reading up via relevant trip reports. While we do that, any help with the following questions would be appreciated:

Does anyone have a list of splits and lumps that updates the 2nd edition of the field guide? We’re discovering them piecemeal as we research but a comprehensive list would be useful.

#We’re keen to hear of any recent developments for good species on this itinerary, e.g. new stake outs, new discoveries, new trails, anything like that.
#Do we have a realistic chance of Zig-zag Heron, and if so, where/how?
#Any recent gen on seeing a ground-cuckoo?
#Any feeding stations or habituated individual birds of which we should be aware?
#Seeing Tapir or Giant Otter would be great, any ideas on these?

We could look for DSPlover over our last 2 days. I appreciate there is 2019 BF info to read, but we’d still be interested in thoughts on this. Might we find it frustrating to head inland for such a short time for example…? And is there a good place to stay between Lima and Anta Q'asa? Our alternative is to bird the coast of course, which I’m sure would be great.

We appreciate that the itinerary would ideally have a few more days covering some of the areas we’ll visit. We felt this was a decent compromise however with the time we have, and it should let us see a fantastic range of Andean and Amazonian birds.

Thanks in advance for any info,
Andy

7th MAY, morning flight to Cusco, drive to Ollantaytambo -- Ollantaytambo
Birding Ensifera camp, night train to Machu Picchu -- Aguas Calientes
Machu Picchu and back to Cusco -- Cusco
Birding Huacarpay Lakes and back to Cusco -- Cusco
Manu Road, birding beyond Cusco -- Wayqecha Biological Station
Manu Road -- Cock of the Rock Lodge
Cock of the Rock Lodge area -- Cock of the Rock Lodge
Cock of the Rock Lodge area -- Cock of the Rock Lodge
Manu Road, boat to Amazonia lodge -- Amazonia Lodge
Amazonia Lodge area -- Amazonia Lodge
Amazonia Lodge area -- Amazonia Lodge
Boat to Manu Wildlife Center -- Manu Wildlife Center
Manu Wildlife Center and surrounds -- Manu Wildlife Center
Manu Wildlife Center and surrounds -- Manu Wildlife Center
Manu Wildlife Center and surrounds -- Manu Wildlife Center
Travel to Puerto Maldonado, evening flight to Lima -- Lima
Birding the coast around Lima or head inland -- Lima…? Or elsewhere?
Birding around ?Lima? and evening flight home -- Flight departs 2035hrs
 

temmie

Well-known member
#We’re keen to hear of any recent developments for good species on this itinerary, e.g. new stake outs, new discoveries, new trails, anything like that.
#Do we have a realistic chance of Zig-zag Heron, and if so, where/how?
#Any recent gen on seeing a ground-cuckoo?
#Any feeding stations or habituated individual birds of which we should be aware?
#Seeing Tapir or Giant Otter would be great, any ideas on these?
I'll reply here to keep you busy scrolling between different sections of this forum ;)

In terms of stake outs, discoverise, trails...: nothing really new. Try to find the stake out for Andean Potoo and the right area for Lyre-tailed nightjar (I missed both there and still need to see the Potoo). The best bird I saw on the Manu road was Greater Scythebill. Keep an eye out on large flocks around Rocotal.

We could look for DSPlover over our last 2 days. I appreciate there is 2019 BF info to read, but we’d still be interested in thoughts on this. Might we find it frustrating to head inland for such a short time for example…? And is there a good place to stay between Lima and Anta Q'asa? Our alternative is to bird the coast of course, which I’m sure would be great.
If you are willing to push it a bit and you don't arrive too late in Lima, I would do the following:
1. arrive at night and pick up a rental car or have a driver arranged. Drive a bit on the main highway (carretera central) and find a hotel. Ideally, you would drive to e.g. San Bartolome, but that is two hours from the airport.
2. Get up early (but no need to force it and arrive at daylight), and drive the rest of the Carretera central to Marcopomacochas. That's another 2.5-3 hrs drive. So let's say you start at 7, you will be there around 10. You bird your way back slowly (DSP, Thornbill, Miner at the bog, Junin Canastero and some other birds on the way back down) , and can even combine Ticlio for W-Bellied Cinclodes (if you move on a bit and don't linger around).
You can theoretically get down the whole Carretera the same day and bird any given site around Lima the next day, or Bosque de Zarate (excellent habitat for White-cheeked Cotinga and Rufous-breasted Warbling-finch).

When I was there, I started the day at 5AM in Oxapampa, did a quick twitch of Black-billed Seed-finch along the Uyacali river, arrived around midday at Marcopomacochas, saw DSP, drove until San Bartolome, scouted the road up at Bosque Zarate... Next day we walked to Bosque Zarate, arrived back at the car and decided (at 2PM) to try and clean up Lomas de Lachay... We only had around 1.5 hrs at Lachay due to heavy traffic and saw everything except Thick-billed Miner (for which we should have gone in the reserve, and it was closing by the time we arrived).

I wouldn't fear altitude sickness too much if you spent some time around Cuzco 10 days before. You will already have build up some shape through all the bird walks I guess!

7th MAY, morning flight to Cusco, drive to Ollantaytambo -- Ollantaytambo
Birding Ensifera camp, night train to Machu Picchu -- Aguas Calientes
Machu Picchu and back to Cusco -- Cusco
Birding Huacarpay Lakes and back to Cusco -- Cusco
Manu Road, birding beyond Cusco -- Wayqecha Biological Station
Manu Road -- Cock of the Rock Lodge
Cock of the Rock Lodge area -- Cock of the Rock Lodge
Cock of the Rock Lodge area -- Cock of the Rock Lodge
Manu Road, boat to Amazonia lodge -- Amazonia Lodge
Amazonia Lodge area -- Amazonia Lodge
Amazonia Lodge area -- Amazonia Lodge
Boat to Manu Wildlife Center -- Manu Wildlife Center
Manu Wildlife Center and surrounds -- Manu Wildlife Center
Manu Wildlife Center and surrounds -- Manu Wildlife Center
Manu Wildlife Center and surrounds -- Manu Wildlife Center
Travel to Puerto Maldonado, evening flight to Lima -- Lima
Birding the coast around Lima or head inland -- Lima…? Or elsewhere?
Birding around ?Lima? and evening flight home -- Flight departs 2035hrs

regarding your schedule: If you see the Mountaineer at Ensifera, the excursion to Huacarpay is not strictly necessary. You could see all target birds closer to Ollantaytambo. I would spend that extra day out of Ollantaytambo chartering a car to bring you to Abra Malaga and have a full day birding. An absolutely essential, breathtaking (literally) site full of target birds. So I would do the following:

7th MAY, morning flight to Cusco, drive to Ollantaytambo -- Ollantaytambo
--> try to see the mountaineer on this day?
Birding Ensifera camp, night train to Machu Picchu -- Aguas Calientes
--> change this into Abra Malaga full day
Machu Picchu and back to Cusco -- Cusco
--> don't go back to Cusco, but either visit Ensifera, + some other sites for Streak-fronted thornbird and Rusty-fronted Canastero like Pisac ruins or even closer to Ollantaytambo.
Birding Huacarpay Lakes and back to Cusco -- Cusco

some random notes about other days:
1. The day you go from Cuzco to Waychequa is a loooong day with two good birds on the way before you are at the top of the Manu road: Creamy-crested Spinetail and Chestnut-breasted Mountain-finch. You can see both around here: https://peru.observation.org/waarneming/view/133452625 Technically, you could see them on your days in the surroundings of Ollantaytambo, but they are easier here. You end up on top of the Manu road after noon. You would have to look for Scribble-tailed Canastero here. In the afternoon, it can get quite misty around the pass and in Wayquecha. So (like any other day ;) ) this will be a day to focus as time is short and the road is long!

2. The day you take the boat to Amazonia lodge, I guess you are birding from Cock-of-the-rock lodge to the boat? If so, don't miss the chance to connect with Black-backed Tody-flycatcher and your first chance for Peruvian Recurvebill, in the big patch of bamboo where the road turns left and leaves the river around 1000 MASL: https://peru.observation.org/waarneming/view/133452426
+ there is good forest just before you arrive at the river at Atalaya for some specialty birds... The boat trip is only 5 minutes so don't arrive too early and use all of your time on the area around the Bamboo + the area just before Atalaya.

3. There is a cocha pretty near MWC where Giant otters are more or less reliable. I didn't have cash to pay for the boat (and missed Purus Jacamar), but they didn't see otters from what I heard, so it is semi-reliable. Just in front of that cocha is a wide bend of the river where I had fresh Jaguar footprints, Rufous-fronted Antthrush + Peruvian Recurvebill: https://peru.observation.org/waarneming/view/133452379
Blanquillo clay lick is also within touching distance and offers the well-known clay lick spectacle with great macaws... Ofcourse I was more interested in seeing Southern Chestnut-backed Antbird ;)
https://peru.observation.org/waarneming/view/133452331

last but not least, this is my report:
https://www.cloudbirders.com/be/download?filename=DETEMMERMAN_Peru_0708_2012.pdf
 

amears

Well-known member
Temmie, thanks again. So much useful info. We’ll read it all carefully and report back...

Andy
 

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