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Cusco-Machu Picchu 9D8N (EA 105)

This program Birding Cusco-Machu Picchu for 9 days includes visits to some of the most interesting birding spots near Cusco and Machu Picchu such as: Huacarpay Lakes, Sacred Valley of the Incas, Habra Malaga, Chonta and Valley of the Condors. It is an excellent complement for extensions to the Manu and Tambopata rainforests. See details in Extensions.

Available throughout the year

EXTENSIONS: This Cusco-Machu Picchu program could be extended by 2, 3 or 4 days visits to the Manu cloud forest or lowland rainforest such as Manu National Park and/or the Tambopata National Reserve and macaw clay licks. Also, in Lima to visit some hot spots for birds such as Pucusana and Pantanos de Villa adding one or two more days before or after. Ask for more information about additional costs.


Day1: Cusco, the capital of the Incan Empire
Arriving to Cusco and transport to the Hotel. Due to the elevation it´s wise to take it easy and wait for acclimatization, stay in the hotel or have a brief walk around downtown of the beautiful and historical half Inka-half colonial Cusco. (L)
Day 2: Huacarpay – Cusco City Tour
Cusco-Machu Picchu program starts with an early morning trip to Huacarpay Lakes, a group of ancient wetlands of the Cusco Valley and Ramsar Site. This locations neighbors the Pikillacta Archeological Park and other minor preserved monuments from the pre-Incan Wari Culture. Huacarpay is well known for an interesting variety of habitats including a scrubby intermontane vegetation community with scrubs, four lakes with marshes and rush, and spots of wild tobacco Nicotiana sp. Flowers. There are chances to spot several migratory birds, resident water fowl, and hummingbirds; such as the endemic Bearded Mountaineer (endemic), Black and Green trainbearers and the Giant Hummingbird, and several seedeaters. Some of the most common are the AndeanTinamou, Yellow Billed Pintail, Puna Teal, Andean Lapwing, Plumbeous Rail, Andean Negrito, White-tufted Greebe, Puna Ibis, Rusty fronted Canastero(Endemic), Many-colored Rush-tyrant, Streak-fronted Thronbird, Black-tailed Trainbearer, Andean Lapwing, Andean Flicker, White crested Elaenia,Variable Hawk and many others. Return to Cusco for Lunch. Afternoon Cusco City Tour to learn more about the most important city of the Incan Empire. We will visit Temple of the Sun or Qoricancha and the close Sacsayhuaman Archaeological Park, a unique archeological site showing terraces with impressive megalithic walls. Transfer to the hotel to rest and to prepare for the next (B, Box L)
Day 3: Sacred Valley of the Incas – Aguas Calientes
After breakfast we will drive for 45 minutes to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, descending to the Vilcanota River, an important headwater of the Amazon. The valley shows a stunning landascape and a warmer weather. A visit to the Pisaq Archeological Park offer great views of well-preserved ancient terraces constructed on hillsides. Two endemics such as the Bearded Montaneer and Rusty-Fronted Canastero are not uncommon here. The location is good to see the Mountain Caracara, Black-chested Buzzard-eagle, and the forested and agricultural landscape is good to spot the Black-Backed Grossbeak, Golden-Billed Saltator, or Chestnut-Breasted Mountain-Finch (endemic) as well. A quick stop to visit the famous local market in Pisaq to grab few souvenirs or visit some local artisans. The tour continues along the Vilcanota River that will change its name to Urubamba River where we will have a delicious buffet lunch that includes Alpaca and other specialities of the delicious Peruvian cuisine. We will continue until Ollantaytambo, known to be the only example of a living Inca town left today. Around 4.30 pm we take a 1.5 hr train towards the cloud forest town of Aguas Calientes, the train station for Machu Picchu. Walk to the hotel (B, L)
Day 4: Machu Picchu
Aguas Calientes (below 2,000 m) offers a warmer and more humid climate than Cusco, and has much more diversity of flora and fauna. Right after an early breakfast we leave Aguas Calientes walking and birding along the rail road in search of some specialties such as the Andean Cock-of- the Rock, Torrent Duck, Highland Motmot, White-bellied Hummingbird, Green-and-white Hummingbird (endemic), Black-capped Tyrannulet, Bolivian Tyrannulet, Sclater’s Tyrannulet, Inca Flyactcher (endemic), Ocellated Piculet, Masked Fruiteater (endemic), Inca Wren(endemic), Variable Antshrike, Andean Solitaire, Black-streaked Puffbird and several colorful tanagers. Return to Aguas Calientes for lunch. In the afternoon, we will take a 20-minute bus ride to explore the spectacular and mysterious Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, perched over the Urubamba Canyon dense and steep cloud forests. More than 200 structures constructed covering more than 30 hectares make Machu Picchu one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Overnight in Aguas Calientes. (B, L)
Day 5: Machu Picchu
Another day around Aguas Calientes birding in search for more cloud forest birds. Lunch and by the midafternoon we will take a panoramic train to take us back to Cusco, traveling back along the Urubamba River until Ollantaytambo where we will spend the night. (B)
Day 6: Abra Málaga
This pass was a favorite of Ted Parker, the finest field birder and ornithologist the world had ever this location part of an accessible geographical gradient rich in habitats that climb from 2,800- over 4,500 m where the birds are rare elsewhere. Early morning, after 2 hours of car ride, we will start birding in the opposite side of the mountains covering elfin and cloud forest searching species such as the Taczanowski´s Tinamou, White-Throated Hawk, Amethist-throated Sunangel, Scaled Metaltail, Marcapata Spinetail, Diademed Tapaculo ,Rufous and Red-and-White Antpitta (endemic), Parodi´s Hemispingus (endemic), Unstreaked Tit-tyrant(endemic), Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Inca Wren, Black-capped Hemispingus, Scarlet-Bellied Mountain-Tanager, Plushcap, Yellow-Billed Cacique, among others. Breakfast and lunch will be offered in the field. We will return to Ollantaytambo for the dinner and overnight. (B, Box L)
Day 7: Abra Málaga (Polylepis woodlands)
Another day to explore another sector of the pass, visiting relictual patches of Polylepis trees and other related. We will visit Thastayoq, one of the few villages actively involved in native tree reforestation as part of a local effort in environmental recovery and funded by tourism. The Polylepis forests are now left as an almost rare fragile ecosystem that congregates some of the most restricted bird species in the Andes. After the breakfast, we drive back to the Abra Málaga for about one hour and start a walk to get to access the Polylepis forests and find Andean Goose, Blue-Mantled and Purple-Backed Thornbill, Andean Condor, Junin Canastero(endemic), Tawny Tit-Spinetail, White-Browed Spineatil (endemic), Puna Tapaculo, Stripe-Headed Anpitta, Ash-Breasted Ti-Tyrant(near endemic), Giant Conebill and Royal Cinclodes(endemic), among others. Lunch by noon time and after we will visit the ruins of Peñas looking for the Creamy-Crested Spinetail (endemic), Chestnut-Breasted, Mountain-Finch (endemic), White-Tufted Sunangel (endemic), Great Sapphire-wing, and others. Back to our hotel in Ollantaytambo in the late afternoon. (B, Box L)
Day 8: Chonta, the Valley of Condors
After breakfast and check-out from our hotel, we travel for about 2 hours on the Cusco- Lima highway until the Limatambo Valley. We will have several stops if we see birds on the way. Once in Limatambo, it will take us about one more hour to get to the Community of Chonta where we will have a picnic. Short rest before we walk a trail to the viewpoint to see the iconic Andean Condor, the world biggest flying bird, respected and venerated for millennia by ancient cultures. The surrounding vegetation is also good to find the Creamy-Crested Spinetail (endemic), Rusty-Fronted Canastero (endemic), Taczanowski´s Tinamou, Rufous-breasted Chat-tyrant, and other raptors and hawks, swifts and swallows. After this walking birding excursion we will return to Cusco, back to our hotel. (B, Box L)
Day 9: Leaving Cusco
Depending on the flight time, a walk around the city is highly recommended, one place is the San Pedro Market where you can learn about local foods, many of ancient origin such an incredible variety of potatoes, corn, Incan cereals, beans, local fruits, and also medicinal plants. This experience is very photographic. Transfer to the Airport. End of services (B)


  • Transfer in/out from airport
  • Accommodation in hotels
  • Entrance tickets for all the excursions mentioned above
  • Private van for the excursions
  • Round trip bus ticket for Machu Picchu
  • Round trip train ticket for Machu Picchu
  • Professional tour leader well versed in birding and local culture
  • Meals described in itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, Box L=Box Lunch and D=dinner)

Not Included

  • Personal expenses
  • Medical insurance
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Sodas
  • Phone calls
  • Tips

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  • A month ago we visited Tambopata, thanks to the recommendation of David, because his experience working for many years in this area, convinced us to know the jungle of Puerto Maldonado and we do not regret it. It was a unique and wonderful experience. The whole organization was perfect for us, we felt very safe with our specialized guide and traveling by boat. Thank you for the incredible moment visiting Tambopata!

    Gunter & Kornelia Billstein (2019) Germany
  • Our trip to the Tambopata Rainforest was a great experience!

    A wonderful place to get away from the outside world and have a moment with the environment and with ourselves. Thanks to David’s experience who recommended us to visit this beautiful place.

    Esther & Marta Pinedo, Martin Bengoa & Imanol Ruiz (2019) Spain
  • Our trip was over the top!! We have had and amazing time in the north of Peru and Cusco, visiting the Lord of Sipan, Chan Chan Archeological Center, Huanchaco beach, Machu Picchu and doing vivencial tourism in the Sacred Valley with the Yachaqs Community. Very impressed with every place we visited.

    Thank you very much for organizing an excellent time in Peru.

    Terry Hesselden, Arlene Westoby & Beverly Barker (2019) Canada
  • Very impressed by the effort, professionalism and responsibility of each one (guides, drivers, etc). We are very satisfied with our trip in Peru. Knowing the Amazon and Machu Picchu were part of my best experiences.

    Debbie Yip and Grace Goh (2019) Singapore
  • We have been travelling very often but honestly speaking the tour in Peru and the services around has been the best so far! … (the) staff very friendly and the guides experienced: Mauricio and David very passionate about their job, excellent knowledge … of Peru like history, geography, politics, religion, etc, and with our drivers felt safe in all our trip… excellent!! Always supportive and very flexible. Keep it up!! Many thanks

    Claudia Signorelli & Norman Memminger (2018) Switzerland and Germany