This is a pre-trip extension To The Manu Biosphere Reserve Tours or Can Be Taken Alone.
Photographer: Steve Gantlett
This is an epic trip in our comfortable bus with lots of space from the Lima coast in the dry Atacama Desert up into the High Andes and the historic Inca Capital of Cusco, just as the Spanish Conquistadores did in 1533. We will be following the route of ancient Inca roads but using a new paved highway acclimating gradually as we head up the Andes. The scenery is spectacular as we cross the arid moonscape of the Atacama Desert and the Paracas Peninsular, take in a half day pelagic boat trip and visit the spectacular Ballestas guano Islands, pass by the Nazca Lines (yes we'll see one!) then ascend the Andes to Cusco, taking in a variety of little known Peruvian endemics and the very special endemic birds of the Apurimac canyon. We will take a detour to a little known site that is a watch point for Andean Condors. OK you may have seen a Condor before but not like this!. We will be onsite at 7:00 am and the show finishes at 9:00 am with a sumptuous picnic breakfast we'll see up to 20 Condors leaving their dormitories and using the warm air updrafts to sewing over our heads (watch your hats!) It's fabulous - join us on this, one of the great Andean experiences. The scenery in the Sondondo Valley has to be seen to be believed, and is home to one of the most unbelievable Andean dances - the "Tijera".
Great Scenery, Great Seabirds, Little Known Endemics, Good Photography, Ancient Civilizations and Archaeological sites and the deep unvisited Andes.
Day 1: Arrive in Lima:Arriving in Lima our staff will transfer to our hotel in the Miraflores district of Lima.
Day 2: Lima to Paracas (Half Day Pelagic): After breakfast we drive to the Port of Callao and set sail at 6:00 am First we'll will circle the San Lorenzo, Fronton and Cavinzas Islands, where we will see birds like the Peruvian Booby, Peruvian Pelican, Guanay Cormorant, Red-legged Cormorant, Inca Tern, Blackish Oystercatcher, Humboldt Penguin and the endemic Surf Cinclodes. Then we head out to deep waters. For birders this trip is a "must-do" with 51 species of marine and shore birds having been registered by us in the area. There are not many pelagic birding trips around the world where you can see up to 5 storm petrel species, up to 3 albatross species, as well as other endemic, threatened or rare coastal marine and pelagic bird species in one single trip. You are not only going to be surprised by the number of species you will see on this trip but also by the unbelievable number of individuals. This trip allows us to see sub-Antarctic seabirds and warm water Petrels depending on the time of year. This 4 hour excursion gives us an opportunity at any of the following depending on the time of year: Waved, Salvin's, Buller's Gray-headed and Black-browed Albatross, Antarctic Giant Petrel, Southern Fulmar, Cape Petrel, White-chinned Petrel, Pink-footed and Sooty Shearwater, Wilson's, White-vented, Wedge-rumped, Band-rumped, Sooty, Markham's and Ringed Storm Petrels, Chilean Skua, Swallow-tailed Gull and Peruvian Diving Petrel. Inshore species include 3 species of Cormorants, Inca and South American Terns, Peruvian and Blue-footed Booby's, Peruvian Pelican and Humboldt Penguin. Chum" is used to attract pelagic birds towards the boat and keep them close by for taking pictures. Regularly people use rotten fish guts for chumming. This attracts birds but also leaves the clients nauseous or worse. We resolved this problem: We use a recipe for chumming recommended by international bird specialists. Our "chum" drives birds crazy and at the same time does not smell strong avoiding any eventual involuntary fish feeding by our clients! We'll have lunch at our favorite seafood restaurant at the yacht club before heading south for Paracas. Looking for Peruvian Thicknee along the way. At the port we board our boat for a morning pelagic. We'll stop at a Puerto Viejo nature reserve. More than 100 bird species have been registered in this wetland. The main attractions of this wetland are a big population of the beautiful Many-colored rush-tyrant, as well as the endemic Coastal Miner. Others include Wren-like Rush-bird, Peruvian Meadowlark, Great Grebe, Pied-billed Grebe, White-cheeked Pintail, Andean Duck, Andean Coot, Puna Ibis, Franklin's Gull, Plumbeous Rail, Gray-hooded Gull, Harris' and Variable Hawk as well as the coastal peruvianus form of Yellowish Pipit. Peruvian Martin is hard to find but possible. We'll continue onto our hotel in Paracas B: L: D
Day 3: Paracas: The Ballestas Islands and the Peninsular and to Nazca.After a leisurely breakfast we leave for Paracas Bay. A 2-hour morning trip to the Ballestas Islands will produce immense nesting colonies of nesting Guanay and Red-legged Cormorants as well as Peruvian Boobies. This is a stunning sight, not to mention the colonies of South-American Sea-lions. Our targets here are the lovely Inca Tern, which is common, Blackish Oystercatcher, Peruvian Pelican, Red-legged Cormorant, Gray Gull, Peruvian Seaside Cinclodes and Humboldt Penguin. We'll explore the Peninsular and see a variety of shorebirds, Chilean Flamingo, Elegant Tern and look for the endangered Peruvian Tern. After lunch we will head for Nazca. In the late afternoon we reach the Lumana Plateau famous for the Nazca lines. The Nazca lines were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The high, arid Pampas de Jumana plateau stretches more than 80 kilometers between the towns of Nazca and Palpa. Although some local geoglyphs resemble Paracas motifs, scholars believe the Nazca Lines were created by the Nazca culture between 400 and 650 AD. The hundreds of individual figures range in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fish, sharks, orcas, and lizards. We'll stop and climb a tower and look at one before pulling into the dusty town of Nazca and our comfortable hotel for the night. Our host Olivia will feast us on organic vegetables home cooked chicken and grapes from her own vineyard B: L: D
Day 4: Nazca to Sondondo Valley:Our Nazca hotel is a charm and you will be woken to the song of the near endemic Slender-billed Finch. Here too is Yellowish Pipit, the endemic Black-necked Woodpecker, Pied-crested Tit-Tyrant, Short-tailed Field Tyrant and others. Other possibilities include a variety of Seedeaters including Drab (endemic), Parrot-billed and Chestnut-throated as well as Scrub Blackbird, Peruvian Sheartail, Purple-collared Woodstar, Streaked Saltator and Long-tailed Mockingbird. Today is a day not to forget. Depending on how we have done with arid littoral species we may spend the first hour in some nearby scrub before starting our climb with selected stops up the Andes. We'll stop for the endemic Cactus Canastero, look for the hard to see (but let's see it anyway!) endemic Grayish Miner, keep an eye out for the endemic and nomadic endemic Raimondi’s Yellow Finch and look for the endemic Thick-billed Miner. Moving onwards and upwards we'll look for an un-described form of Dark-winged Canastero until we reach one of Peru's oldest reserve - Pampas Galeras. This reserve was set aside for the South American cameloid the Vicuna, which we will see along with large flocks of Alpaca and Llama. Taking a side road we'll pass lakes and Andean bogs and spend time birding and photographing the Andean birdlife, Vischachas and Vicunas. Here too we'll start to see birds typical of the High Andes as we continue on to some high lakes and eventually arrive at the village of Andamarca home of the Tijera dance in the unbelievable Sondondo valley with its megalithic terracing and Inca remains. Night at a simple hotel in Andamarca. B: L: D
Day 5: Sondondo Valley to Chalhuanca:At 7 am we'll be coffee in hand and hand on hats as the Condors fly over and take advantage of the thermals coming out of the incredibly deep canyon amidst some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Photographic opportunities are fantastic. After the show we'll pick our way back through megalithic terracing and head for our very confortable country hotel at Chalhuanca. Near Yauriviri we'll pass lakes with most all Andean waterfowl, Chilean Flamingo, Giant Coot and Andean Condor, Pipits, Sierra-Finches and Canasteros and perhaps Puna Plover and Gray-breasted Seedsnipe. We'll arrive at our comfortable hotel near Chalhaunca. The local hockingi subspecies of Koepcke's Screech Owl is often in the car park. B: L: D
Day 6: Chalhuanca to Limatambo:Dawn will find us on a side road close to the hotel. Here we are looking for the usheri white tailed form of the endemic Pale-tailed Canastero. White-eared Puffbird may be here too and the inter-montane form of Peruvian Pygmy Owl. We'll return to the hotel for breakfast and then, passing through the bustling town of Abancay, onto a patch of humid scrub we should see the endemic "Ampay Tapaculo" and others. Later we'll move onto a side road where we recently discovered the endemic Apurimac Spinetail, which is common here. We'll keep and eye out for the endemic Kalinowski's Tinamou near the high pass above. We can, if the day is clear, also get excellent scope views of the recently excavated major Inca ruins of Choquequirao across the Apurimac Canyon. Here also is the endemic Apurimac Brush Finch (endemic), Chestnut-breasted Mountain Finch (endemic), White-tufted Sunbeam (endemic) Streak-backed and endemic Rusty-fronted Canastero (endemic), Creamy-crested Spinetail (endemic), White-winged Black-Tyrant, Black-winged Ground-Dove, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Shining Sunbeam and more. We'll stop to visit the sculptured Sayhuite Stone. The site is regarded as a center of religious worship focusing on water. An important feature on the site is the Sayhuite monolith, a rock with more than 200 geometric and zoomorphic figures. In the Monuments of the Inca by John Hemming, Hemming points to a colonial narrative that describes the interior of the Sayhuite temple. The temple featured larger columns draped in fabrics with gold bands the "thickness of one's hand. Our lovey hotel retreat has Koepcke’s Screech Owl, Peruvian Pygmy-Owl and sometimes Buff-fronted Owl in the garden. Night in Limatambo B: L: D
Day 7: Mollepata- Salkantay - Cusco:Today we'll head up to a high alpine meadow under the towering peak and glaciers of the Salcantay Massif. If the weather is clear the scenery is astonishing. Our quest today is the endemic Vilcabamba Tapaculo that inhabits nearby shrubbery. Other birds we may see include the d'Orbigny's Chat-Tyrant, a variety of Ground Tyrants, Sierra Finches and Cansteros. We’ll have a second chance at all the endemics mentioned for the previous day. After a morning here and picnic lunch under the glaciers we'll head out to Cusco stopping to admire the astonishing Inca stonework of little known Inca ruins of Tarahuasi, planning to arrive early for some relaxation and dinner (perhaps some Novo Andean Cuisine) near the historic plaza. Night in Cusco B: L: D
Day 8: Cusco - Home (or Manu): Transfer to the airport for flights to Lima and home or join the Manu Biosphere Reserve birding tour or ask us for a visit to Machu Picchu or other cultural activities
End of trip our join the Manu Biosphere Reserve tour or ask about cultural tours in the Cusco area to Machu Picchu and more.