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Worldwide Birding Tours - Birding Ecotours

Birding Tour Peru: Cusco and Apurimac Jewels 2017

Our itinerary “Birding Tour Peru: Cusco and Apurímac Jewels” is designed to provide you with one of the best selections of endemic, range-restricted, and classic Andean species in one of the most popular and famous locations in South America and the world, Cusco – and in one week only. Cusco is visited by thousands of tourists every year due to its rich culture and archaeology, but few people know that the Cusco Region also possesses a large number of different ecosystems and holds several endemic birds that are only found here.

We will start our trip in Cusco, visiting the Huacarpay wetlands as an introduction to several Andean species and looking for our first endemic, Rusty-fronted Canastero. Then the trip will take us to the picturesque town of Ollantaytambo to stay at the comfortable Hotel Pakaritampu. The gardens of this beautiful, small hotel hold our second target of the day, the endemic Bearded Mountaineer. We will use the Hotel Pakaritampu as our base for the next three nights in order to explore the famous Abra Malaga Pass mountain area.

The Polylepis temperate forest is one of the most endangered ecosystems in the Andes, with only a few patches of forest remaining. We will spend a full day at the base of the snow-capped Veronica mountain, looking for the endemic and near endemic Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant, White-browed Tit-Spinetail, Tawny Tit-Spinetail, Creamy-crested Spinetail, Junin Canastero, White-tufted Sunbeam, and with luck the Critically Endangered (IUCN) Royal Cinclodes. Below the mountain pass the road descends into the cloudforest, where several flocks of mountain tanagers are often seen, including the endemic Parodi’s Hemispingus, and here we have our first chance for the endemic Inca Wren and Cuzco Brushfinch.

After three nights in Ollantaytambo we will take a train to Aguas Calientes (now officially Machu Picchu Pueblo) and visit Machu Picchu. We shall spend a couple of hours on the site for those who want to briefly visit and take pictures of the site, but, most importantly, we will have another chance for Inca Wren. Birding the lush tropical forest below Machu Picchu will provide also good chances for the endemic Masked Fruiteater and the range-restricted Slaty Tanager.

Finally, the Apurímac valley near Cusco provides excellent chances to add more endemic birds to the trip list, such as Apurimac Spinetail, Apurimac Brushfinch, Chestnut-breasted Mountain Finch, the localized Vilcabamba Tapaculo, and Koepcke’s Screech Owl. In addition to this amazing list of species you will be able to have close-up views of the majestic Andean Condor at the condor viewpoint at Chonta and a good opportunity for the mysterious Buff-fronted Owl.

This itinerary could easily be combined with custom dates for our Central Peru Tour, Northern Peru Tour, and Northern Ecuador Tour with one night in Lima required. Please ask us for details.

Duration: 8 days

Limit (Group Size): 2 - 6

Date Start: December 12, 2017

Date End: December 19, 2017

Tour Start: Lima

Tour End: Lima

Trip Notes

This tour starts early in the morning on Day 1; therefore clients need to arrive in Lima the day before.

We will stay at comfortable and nice accommodations during the trip, but they are not luxurious. We will use the Pakaritampu Hotel for three nights and the Casa Andina chain for two different nights in Cusco and Aguas Calientes. Our small lodge in Limatambo is basic but charming; they serve only vegetarian food there. We will have many breakfasts and lunches in the field while birding, but always a hot dinner at the hotels.

The trip involves early starts every day with not many breaks during the first days. We will walk and hike near the vehicle quite often. We have to walk some steep terrain throughout the trip (even though we will try to do so as little as possible), including a short hike at 4200 – 4400 meters at the Abra Malaga pass. Visiting Machu Picchu also requires dealing with steep terrain and quite a few steps.

Snacks and hot coffee and tea are always available in the car.

Price: US$ 2850 per person sharing (6 participants), US$ 3000 per person sharing (4 – 5 participants), US$ 3730 per person sharing (2 - 3 participants)

Single Supplement: US$ 521

Price includes:

Accommodation in hotels and lodges (except where indicated)

Transfer Lima hotel to airport on Day 1

Domestic flights Lima – Cusco – Lima

Private transport

Private tour leader

Meals (except where indicated)

Bottled water (during activities in the field)

Train tickets Ollantaytambo – Aguas Calientes – Ollantaytambo

Bus ticket Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Aguas Calientes

Admission Fees


Price excludes:

International flights

Accommodation in Lima before the tour starts and on Day 8

Transfer from the airport to the hotel before the tour starts

Any meals before the tour starts and all meals on Day 8 except breakfast

Personal expenses such as drinks, laundry, internet access, phone calls, etc.


Any activities that are not described in the itinerary, such as city tours, visiting museums, markets, etc.

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Limit (Group Size): 2 - 8
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Date End: September 20, 2017
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Birding Tour Peru: Cusco and Apurimac Jewels 2018

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Limit (Group Size): 2 - 6
Date Start: December 12, 2018
Date End: December 19, 2018
Price: US$ 3050 per person sharing (6 participants), US$ 3210 per person sharing (4 – 5 participants), US$ 3991 per person sharing (2 - 3 participants)
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What our clients say

My brother John and I joined Chris on a tour of KwaZulu-Natal. As scientists, we were difficult customers, constantly being distracted by plants and rocks instead of birds. Chris tolerated these diversions with unflappable grace. And when our attentions were finally engaged fully in the bird watching we could not have asked for a better guide who knew the calls, where to look for tricky sightings, and had all the necessary local contacts to help us find the truly strange and wonderful. My favorite example of the “strange and wonderful” category was the African Broadbill which was displaying, but in the midst of impenetrable vegetation. Despite this, Chris and the guide managed to get us amazing views in the spotting scope. It was my most memorable bird of the trip. He accompanied us just across the border into Swaziland, past guards with guns (because we wanted to say we’d been there), and to a truly dodgy neighborhood in Durban to look at a rock outcrop, and never once complained – at least not out loud. We’ve been on several other international birding trips, and Chris is still our standard of comparison to all our other guides. And he’s still number one. We will be doing a pelagic trip off South Africa in the not too distant future, and will plan it so Chris can lead us there.

Wil Taylor (University of Wisconsin), on a South African tour guided by Chris

We can run any of our tours privately any time and we can also arrange custom itineraries - send us your wish-list and we'll put the itinerary together! Please click here.

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