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Peru: Machu Picchu Birding and Ruins


Looking over Machu Picchu

Perched impossibly atop a high ridge surrounded by rugged, forested mountains, the ruins at Machu Picchu tower above the rushing waters of the Rio Urubamba snaking its way fifteen-hundred feet below. By staying two nights (at 6500 feet, on the outskirts of Aguas Calientes), we will be able to experience the site both culturally and for its great birding. And though the ruins alone are worth the visit, the subtropical slopes and the narrow gorge below are surprisingly good for birds. We regularly see such knockouts as Andean Cock-of-the-rock, Highland Motmot, Lyre-tailed Nightjar, White-eared Solitaire, Inga trees full of hummingbirds (including the endemic Green-and-white), numerous vivid tanagers (including the scarce Silver-backed), and the endemic Masked Fruiteater.

The eastern slope of southern Peru’s Andes offers some of the best temperate birding. Several endemics and beautiful scenery are key features to this wonderful trip.

Balanced high atop a ridge surrounded by towering, forested hillsides, the ruins of Machu Picchu are a man-made marvel. Overlooking the scenic Urubamba River valley, the ruins are reason enough to visit this stunning location. However, along with the cultural opportunities, the birding is also fantastic!

Enjoy Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, White-eared Solitaire, Highland Motmot, Mitred Parakeets and many tanagers adorning the Inga trees alongside many species of hummingbirds. Endemics include Green-and-white Hummingbird, Masked Fruiteater and Inca Wren.

Don’t miss this incredible experience that includes a scenic train ride along the river to Aguas Calientes, the entry city for Machu Picchu.

Join our Amazon Adventure with New Jersey Audubon, February 16 – 24, 2019!

  • Tour Cost
  • 2019 Cost

    $3700 from Lima, Peru

    (Includes ALL internal flights, scenic train tickets & transfers)

    Prices per person, double occupancy.


    Full payment required 120 days prior to departure date.


    Price based on double occupancy. If a single room is preferred, a single supplement fee of $590 will be assessed.


    Included in the Tour Cost

    All ground transportation from Lima, Peru, local flights Lima/Cusco and r/t train tickets. All accommodations. All meals from breakfast on first full day through breakfast on departure day. All entrance fees and guide fees. Tips for meal service.


    Not Included in the Tour Cost

    International air travel, passport fees, luggage fees, trip insurance, alcoholic beverages, departure taxes, phone calls, laundry, or other items of a personal nature.

  • Itinerary
  • Day 1 - Arrival / Lima

    Arriving in Lima we transfer to our hotel in Lima


    Day 2 - Ollantaytambo
    Early morning flight to Cusco, then drive through the Scared Valley of the Incas to the historic town of Ollantaytambo. We’ll visit the Inca fortress. Probably built by the great Inca ruler Pachacutec in the 1460s, it was the site of Hernando Pizzaro's defeat by Manco Inca in 1536. Constructed of finely cut polygonal stones and royalties blocks, the fortress and nearby town represent the best of Inca architecture and construction. Large worked blocks, some weighing as much as 100 tons were quarried from a site more than a thousand vertical feet above the valley floor using a technique of pecking with hammer stones, then skidded down and across the Urubamba river several kilometers to the temple site. Inclined ramps were built to raise the blocks several hundred feet up hill to the construction area. We have ample time to examine the complex and ponder its many mysteries. Night in Ollaataytambo


    Day 3 - Aguas Calientes

    We will visit Abra Malaga Pass in the morning for some fantastic roadise birding looking for White-tufted Sunbeam, Creamy-crested Spinetail, Rusty fronted Canastero, Chestnut-breasted Mountain Finch and so much more. We will enjoy lunch  back in Ollamtaytambo.
    Early afternoon we will take the train for the 2.5 hour journey to Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu. From the train we will certainly see Torrent Ducks and White-capped Dipper on the Urubamba River and get closer looks as we leave the train. Night in Aguas Calientes.


    Day 4 - Machu Picchu

    Today we will take the bus up the mountain to Machu Picchu, spending the whole day exploring these magical ruins. (Don't worry, there are facilities and a restaurant at the entrance to the site.)


    Arriving at the ruins, birding takes a back seat as we are taken on a guided tour of this mystical archeological complex. White-tipped Swifts will be flying overhead along with Kestrels and other raptors. After lunch we will look for Inca Wren, which is quite common in the bamboo around the ruins, and Green-and-white Hummingbird... a Peruvian endemic best found around the ruins.


    Late afternoon we will descend to the valley and bird along the river where past Wildside tours have even seen Spectacled Bear! Night in Aguas Calientes


    Day 5 - Cusco
    Morning birding along the Urubamba River. In the remnant cloud forest we will be looking specifically for Sclaters and Bolivian Tyrranulets, Silver-backed Tanager, Pale-eyed Thrush, Masked Fruiteater (endemic), Black-streaked Puffbird, Oleaginous Hemispingus and Capped Conebill. Mixed flocks contain many species of Tanager and the endemic Green and White Hummingbird is common here. We have even seen Spectacled Bear in this area!After a late lunch, we return on the tourist train to the historic town of Cusco for the night.


    Day 6 - Return to Lima
    After some morning exploration around Cusco we will return to Lime mid-day. Afternoon in Lima to explore to do some beach birding to seek Belcher's Gull, Peruvian Pelican and the beautiful Inca Tern before dinner.


    Day 7 - Lomos de Lachay - Return Home
    A couple hours north of Lima lies the foothills full of endemics. A green oasis in the dry western slope, we will explore the misty region in search of Cactus Canastero, Thick-billed Miner, Raimondi's Yellow-finch. Some of the endemics we'll seek are Oasis Hummingbird, Least Seedsnipe, Coastal Miner, Collared Warbling-finch and more!


    After dinner we will finish our trip at the airport, around 8:00pm, for our late-night flights home.


  • Accommodations
  • In Lima, Cusco, Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu we will use good quality hotels.

  • Trip Reports
  • These trip reports were done on our blog, Notes from the Wildside...


    Peru 2009 Blog Report


    Peru 2010 Blog Report


    Peru 2011 Blog Report