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Southern Peru Birding Tour: Abra Malaga and Cusco - 5 Days

Southern Peru Birding Tour: Abra Malaga and Cusco

Southern Peru Birdwatching and Culture Tour: Abra Malaga and Cusco

This 5-day southern Peru birding tour combines nature watching, culture and gastronomy and is available on request. The pace of the tour is challenging but rewarding, taking in Cusco City, Abra Malaga, the Huacarpay wetlands, Balcón del Diablo, Ensifera Camp hummingbird garden and the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. Expect to see over 200 bird species including ten endemics, four near-endemics, other Polylepis and Chusquea Bambu specialist birds.

The southern part of Peru, especially the Cusco region, is one of the richest and most naturally diverse destinations in the country for birding. The geographical characteristics of the area are unique and due to this, there is a high number of endemic and near-endemic species - a situation it shares only with Bolivia.

Specialist birds abound in the Chusquea Bamboo of the cloud forest, the thorny clumping Guadua Bamboo found in the lowlands and the Polylepis scrub woodlands at 4,200m above sea level in this southern Peru birding paradise.

This enjoyable birding tour of southern Peru also adds in visits to the fascinating city of Cusco, the Sacred Valley of the Incas and the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. You will explore two of the most important areas for birdwatchers around Cusco - Abra Malaga and Machu Picchu - and look for 13 different Peruvian endemics. There are also some near-endemics to be found during this southern Peru birdwatching experience.

Abra Malaga is located at 4,200m above sea level and its eastern and western slopes are completely different. On the west side we will look for Andean high mountain birds and specialists of the Polylepis woodlands, while on the east side we will look for cloud forest birds and specialists of bamboo patches.

Many people visit Machu Picchu just for the archaeological site and don't realise how rich this area of southern Peru is in natural wonders and how good it is for birding. This Cusco birdwatching tour will open your eyes to the delights to be enjoyed. Contact us to arrange this tour on a date to suit your itinerary, subject to availability.

Southern Peru Birding Tour Highlights

  • The two sides of the Abra Malaga heights
  • Waders and migratory species at the Huacarpay wetlands
  • The Inca remains at the citadel of Machu Picchu
  • The many endemic birds of the highlands and cloud forest
Alternative Tour Name: Abra Malaga & Cusco Birdwatching Tour
Day 1
Day 1 - Huacarpay Wetland, Culinary Experience and Humminbirds garden of the sacred valley.

We will start our Cusco Birdwatching tour at 05:30 hrs picking you up from your hotel in the city of Cusco and we will go 30 km south of the city to Huacarpay Wetlands. Upon our arrival to Huacarpay Wetlands we will go to the different strategic points during the next three hours to spot as many Cusco birds and Cusco endemic birds as possible. We may see Rusty-Fronted Canastero (Asthenes ottonis) and Bearded Mountaineer (Oreonimpha nobilis) Ending our Cusco Birdwatching tour, we will start the return from Huacarpay Wetlands to the city of Cusco. Approximate arrival time to Cusco: 10:00 am

At noon we will enjoy our lunch as a new Culinary Experience in one of the best Cusco restaurants. Here we will enjoy a tasting of the different dishes of the restaurant with one of the Chefs that will explain the concepts and the ingredients of each dish. A fun educational and unique culinary experience.

At 1:30 pm approximately, we will go to the Sacred Valley in order to visit Ensifera Camp, a garden with feeders that give us the chance to see more than 10 different species of hummingbirds. Our lunch it will be an andean barbecue in Ensifera Camp.

Ending our Cusco birdwatching tour at 5:30 pm approximately, we will bring you to your hotel to pick up your stuff and 30 minutes later we will go to Ollantaytambo town to spend the night (accomodation is not included)

Day 2
Day 2- Abra Malaga west slope and polylepis woodland

We will start our birdwatching at Malaga Pass departing at 5:30 am from your Ollantaytambo hotel to Las Peñas, we will explore the area at 3450 masl for just an hour. Later, we will continue to the Polylepis woodland at almost 4000 masl close to the Malaga Pass. At noon we will have our box lunch and later we will walk uphill to catch the vehicle to continue to the east slope of Malaga Pass looking for more Cusco birds. On the road we will do some stops on different strategic spots according to the altitudes until we arrive to our Lodge in Cusco Cloud Forest.

Check in, dinner and sleep time.

Day 3
Day 3 - Abra Malaga east slope and bamboos patches

At 5:30 am we will start our birdwatching tour exploring the Cusco Cloud Forest looking for different Cusco birds including the colorful Cock-of-the-Rocks. At appropriate time we will have our breakfast at the Lodge. At 10:00 am we will start our return doing some stops on the way looking for the Cusco birds that we couldn´t see the day before.

Around 2:00 pm we will arrive to Ollantaytambo town to have our lunch (lunch is not included).

Later we will catch the train to Aguas Calientes, where we will spend the night.

Day 4
Day 4 - Machu Picchu Birdwatching and Citadel Tour

We will start our Machu Picchu Birdwatching Tour at 5:30 am with a peaceful walk toward the Ruinas bridge. Once we get there, we will explore the area in order to look for Machu Picchu birds like woodpeckers, tanagers, flycatchers, hummingbirds, but especially we will look for the Machu Picchu endemic birds known as Masked Fruiteater, Green-and-White Hummingbird and Inca Flycatcher and other incredible Machu Picchu birds like Andean Motmot, Green Jay and Cook of the Rock. According to the time, we will continue on the way to Mandor cascades. The landscape is flat and it will give us the chance to look for other Machu Picchu birds. At appropriate time we will return to Aguas Calientes town to have our lunch (Lunch is not included)

At 1:30 pm with our guide, we will catch the bus to go uphill to the Machu Picchu citadel to begin the one-hour and half tour of this magical place. In some areas of Machu Picchu citadel (On the bamboo patches) you will have the opportunity to find another Machu Picchu endemic bird known as Inca wren.

At the indicated time (30 minutes before your train schedule) you will board, on your own and with the assistance of the staff of the railway company, the train to go back to the train station of Poroy or Ollantaytambo. Upon arrival our staff will be waiting outside the station with a board with your name to transfer you to your hotel in the city of Cusco.

Day 5
Day 5 - Balcon del diablo, City Walking Tour and Transfer out

At 5:30 am we will go in a private vehicle to “El Bacon del Diablo”. This amazing place, special for watching Cusco birds, is located next to Sacsaywaman archaeological site, like 20 minutes from Cusco City. Upon arrival at Balcon del Diablo, we are going to start the exploring in 2 kilometres around looking for the Cusco birds and especially the Cusco endemic birds.

At 9:00 am our city walking tour will start with the pick-up from your hotel and walking through the city center, where we will visit two important buildings such as the Cathedral of Cusco that contains many paintings of the Cusco school and the imposing Temple of the Sun also known in Quechua as the “Qoricancha” considered in the time of the Incas as the most important sanctuary dedicated to the Sun God.

According to your flight schedule we will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to the airport of Cusco.

End of service.

Some of the wildlife expected to see on this trip are:

Huacarpay Wetlands’s birds:

  • Andean Duck,
  • Puna Teal,
  • White-tufted Grebe,
  • Puna Ibis,
  • Variable Hawk,
  • Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle,
  • Plumbeous Rail,
  • Spotted Sandpiper,
  • Yellow-winged Blackbird,
  • Yellow-billed Tit-tyrant,
  • Rusty-Fronted Canastero (E) ,
  • Bearded Mountaineer (E) ,
  • Black-tailed Trainbearer,
  • Andean Flicker,
  • Many-colored Rush-Tyrant,
  • Andean Negrito,
  • Rusty Flowerpiercer,
  • Golden-billed Saltatoras well as other interesting birds. 

Balcon del Diablo’s birds:

  • Chestnut-breasted Mountain- Finch (E),
  • Creamy-crested Spinetail (E),
  • Bearded Mountaineer (E),
  • Rusty-fronted Canastero (E)
  • white-tufted Sunbeam (E) as well as other interesting birds.

Machu Picchu birds: (Citadel, Mandor waterfalls and Ruinas bridge):

  • Torrent Duck,
  • Lyre-tailed Nightjar,
  • Band-billed Owl,
  • Chestnut-collared Swifts
  • White-tipped Swifts,
  • Green Hermit,
  • Speckled Hummingbird,
  • Long-tailed Sylph,
  • Buff-thighed Puffleg,
  • Collared Inca,
  • Chestnut-breasted Coronet,
  • Booted Racket-tail,
  • White-billed Woodstar,
  • Green-and-White Hummingbird (E),
  • Masked Trogon,
  • Andean Motmot,
  • Black-streaked Puffbird,
  • Versicolored Barbet,
  • Blue-banded Toucanet,
  • Ocellated Piculet,
  • Golden-Olive Wood-pecker,
  • Mitret Parakeet,
  • Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper,
  • White-tailed Tyrannulets
  • White-banded Tyrannulets,
  • Inca Flycatcher (E) ,
  • Smoke-colored Pewee,
  • Black Phoebe,
  • Masked Fruiteater (E),
  • Cock-of-the-Rock,
  • Brown-capped Vireo,
  • Green Jay,
  • White-capped Dipper,
  • Dusky-green Oropendola,
  • Inca Wren (E) and more.

What is included?

  • Transfer from and to Cusco´s Hotel,
  • Culinary Experience
  • Transfer in/out-train Station, Entrance fee for Cusco Cathedral, Temple of the Sun and Machu Picchu.
  • Train and bus tickets for Machu Picchu excursion.
  • Ground transportation
  • English bird guide
  • Accomodation (3 stars hotel) - Ask for another choices of accommodation

What is not included?

  • All international or domestic flights,
  • Travel or medical insurance
  • Airport departure taxes or visa fees
  • Items of personal nature
  • Binoculars and telescopes
  • Optional tour extensions
  • Staff gratuities
  • Anything else not mentioned in “What is included”
  • Extra expenses for cancellations or delays due to weather conditions, strikes or other.

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Why book with Machu Picchu & Cusco Birding?

Machu Picchu & Cusco Birding can offer affordable South Peru birding tours without sacrificing on the quality of service as we are just a small travel operator working from Cusco, a city not as expensive as capital city Lima, with an office located on our own property.  We also have a team of ornithologist experts who are in an extremely professional way and our tours offer matching cultural activities in the afternoon and culinary experiences at night which benefits more Peruvians.

Is airport pick up/drop off included?

This program starts early in the morning of the first day, so it is necessary to spend the night before in Cusco City. At 05:30 am of the first day, we will pick you up from the hotel. The drop off to the airport is included in the rate at the end of the tour. Note: If you will need a pick up from airport you can arrange it with us.

What type of accommodation do you provide?

All accommodation included is 3-star range in double or twin rooms but can be changed to luxury or budget accommodation according to the client's preferences. You can ask about the accommodation options and their respective rate.

You can send your enquiry via the form below.

5 Days

Price & Availability

USD1,100 / per person
Group Discount Available
Group Discount Guide
Refer to Group Discount Terms
This tour is operated by: Machu Picchu Cusco Birding
4.89 based on 9 reviews

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Operator Review Summary

4.89 Based on 9 reviews

Tour Facts

  • Cusco
  • Multi-Day Tour
  • On Request
  • 5D / 4N
  • 2 to 6 passengers
  • Challenging
  • English, Spanish
  • At Cusco's Hotel
  • Alejandro Velasco Astete Airport