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Classic Peru: Birding, Inca Culture Archaeology, Food and More - 16 Days

Classic Peru: Birding, Inca Culture Archaeology, Food and More
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This slow pace 16-day birding trip offers all that Peru has to offer. Fantastic birds, ancient world heritage sites, culture, and arguably some of the best cuisine in the world. On top, seeing archaeological sites, splendid scenery, plants, wildlife, wine, food, and more, all along the most popular route of Peru.

Day 1
Day 1 - Lima Museums, Pantanos de Villa - Pisco

An introduction to the birds of urban Lima at a MIraflores park before breakfast. After breakfast we'll visit the Archeological Museum where Peruvian treasures of pre-civilizations are displayed. This gives us the necessary framework to put the rest of our journey in Southern Peru. Our first stop is the marshes of Pantanos de Villa This species rich wet-land has been proposed to become a private reserve. We continue to Paracas for an overnight stay.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Kolibri Pro: Hotel Gran Palma.

Marvelous: Hotel Paracas.

Day 2
Day 2 - Paracas Peninsula-Ica-Nazca

In the morning we take a short boat trip to the Ballestas Islands, later exploring the Paracas Peninsula. On the islets we shall encounter Guanay and Red-legged Cormorants, Peruvian Pelican, Peruvian Booby, perhaps a few overwintering Blue-footed Boobies and Humboldt Penguin. We should also spot the small passerine Peruvian Seaside (Surf) Cinclodes and Blackish Oystercatcher. On the southern shores of the peninsula there are pelagic species, as well as South American Fur Seals. The Paracas desert is a play with sunlight on the different colored sand formations. Flocks of Gray Gulls are often seen roosting in the desert.

The north side of the Bay of Paracas attracts hundreds of Chilean Flamingos and Black Skimmers. There is a small museum on the site that we can visit.

On the way to Ica about an hour away, we will visit a vineyard where we learn about the wine and pisco industry, which in many cases are still artisanal. In Ica we visit the small, but excellent municipal museum, which has nice displays of the Paracas, Nazca and Wari cultures that were important civilisations of Ica department. We will be shown the art of trepanation and skull deformation (elongation) practiced by the ancient cultures in this region. There is a small model of the Nazca Lines that gives an idea what the lines will look like from the air.

We continue to Nazca. We stay at a nice hotel where it is possible to relax by the pool in the afternoon or take an excursion to the interesting pre-inca aquaducts outside of town. Always good chance to do some birdwatching. Birds possible include Pacific Parrotlet, Mountain Parakeet, Drab, Chestnut-throated and Parrot-billed Seedeaters. Slender-billed Finch and Peruvian Pygmy-Owls have been seen here.

Meals: Breakfast,lunch and dinner

Kolibri Pro: Hotel Agucho

MST: Hotel Casa Andina

Day 3
Day 3 -Nazca lines - Puerto Lomas

We shall do some bird-watching in the early morning looking for Slender-billed Finch, Collared Warbling Finch and Peruvian Pygmy-Owl. Back to the hotel for breakfast and check-out. You may fly over the Nazca lines (cost not included). While waiting for our turn to fly, we'll visit a nearby pottery, where we are shown how the Nazca ancestors made their polychromatic ceramics. After the morning activities we continue to Puerto Lomas, where we stay at a beautiful hotel overlooking the sea at Puerto Lomas. We can look at shore birds such as: Blackish Oystercatchers and Guanay Cormorants, from the hotel.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Kolibri Pro: Lomas Beach

Marvelous: Hotel Caprichos de Verano

Day 4
Day 4 - Puerto Lomas - Arequipa.

The next stop will be to bird the Lomas de Atequipa an area with lomas vegetation and the possibility to see Least Seedsnipe, Common (lomas form) and Coastal Miner, Raimondi's Yellow-Finch as well as Sechura Fox. It is a long travel day to Arequipa along the wild Peruvian desert coast. But sometimes we make rare encounters. In 2012 we spotted a Marine Otter playing near the coast.

Most of today is a travel day. In the afternoon we will arrive to Arequipa. The Santa Catalina cloisters are one of Arequipa's finest tourist attractions. Serenity and calmness reigns here and it makes a fine afternoon stroll with volcano Misti in the background. Often the hummingbird Peruvian Sheertail is seen in the gardens.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Kolibri Pro: Hotel Casa de mi Abuela.

MST: Hotel Casa Andina Private Collection.

Day 5
Day 5 - Full Day to Chiguata and Laguna Salinas or City Tour and Leisure

Above Chiguata there is Polylepis scrub that holds the local White-throated Earthcreeper, Tamarugo Conebill and Dark-winged Canastero. Continuing to the back side of the Misti Vulcano the high plains of the altiplano unfold onto an immense area streching towards Titicaca lake and south through Bolivia. Here we find the Salinas salt lake - a good site for the three species of Flamingos of the Peruvian highlands. Andean Avocet and Puna Plover are other specialties in this area. Flocks of alpacas gives a characteristic touch to the scenery.

Those that want, may choose an easy day in Arequipa visiting the Cathedral and the, Compania church of the Jesuit order. Arequipa gives an excellent opportunity to shop for high quality alpaca goods. At night we pay a visit at Gaston Acurio's renowned restaurant, Chichas. This is Peruvian Cuisine at its best.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Kolibri Pro: Hotel Casa de mi Abuela.

MST: Hotel Casa Andina Private Collection

Day 6
Day 6 - Colca Canyon

Early morning start to Chivay at Colca Canyon. We will pass beautiful scenery with wild vicuñas and plenty of birds.

There are spots where we can search for Flamingos and the enigmatic Diademed Sandpiper-Plover. If time permits we will do a trip to the condor lookout in the afternoon. Since most tour groups come here in the morning to catch the short window when the condors alite from their night roost, we would like to experience the mighty Colca Canyon in complete serenity without crowds. It is quite likely with some perseverance that we will also get fantastic views of Condors. Should we not, then we could always come back the next day.

Night at Hotel Kuntur Wasi in Cabanaconde. This hotel option places us just below 3300m rather than at 3700m of Chivay and is much closer to the Condor lookout point. A 3 star hotel, the service has been excellent in past tours here. Private groups may want to consider an upgrade to Colca Lodge Spa, if it is not a fixed departure tour.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Day 7
Day 7 - Colca - Altiplano - Lake Titicaca

Colca Canyon is not only one of the best places in Peru to observe Condors, but it is also an area of exceptional beauty and an area where the locals have taken pride in conserving their traditional ways. Here terraces are prepared by the whole community and the women dress in traditional clothing. The scenery is awe-inspiring. Birds and Andean plants are plentiful and there is lots to explore.

After an early start with some additional exploring of the Colca region we will set off for LakeTiticaca. We will make many stops en route. It is in part, a rough road, but the scenery is breathtaking. We should see herds of vicuñas and possibly viscachas (rabbit like rodents with long tails) that live in rocky areas. In the early afternoon we will reach the Colla burial site of Sillustani with the tall chullpa burial towers that overlook the bird rich Umayo lagoon. Some interesting plants can also be seen here including the beautifull red Loasa.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Night at at Hotel Tierra Viva, Plaza. For private Marvelous Spatuletail groups we may upgrade to Hotel Libertador, Isla Esteves, Puno

Day 8
Day 8 - Lake Titicaca

We shall explore birdwatch the shore of Titicaca Lake in the early morning before breakfast and after breakfast make a visit to the famous floating islands of the Uros. The star bird to look out for today is the Titicaca Flightless Grebe. There is time to do an additional excursion in the afternoon after lunch.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Night at at Hotel Tierra Viva, Plaza. For private Marvelous Spatuletail groups we may upgrade to Hotel Libertador, Isla Esteves, Puno

Day 9
Day 9 - Puno-Cusco

Despite being a travel day, there are several interesting stops and the route is very scenic. The main attractions are history and cultural and we will stop at Raqchi where there are the remains of a grandiose temple attributed to the creator god Viracocha. In Andahuaylillas there is the small St Peter's church, that has a quite unique interior interior and is often is called "the Sistine chapel of South America". Not far away and just before reaching Cusco there is also good bird-watching to do at the Huacarpay lake. The star bird is the endemic Bearded Mountaineer, but many water birds can also be seen.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Kolibri Pro: Best Western Los Andes de Americas

MST: Casa Andina Private collection.

Day 10
Day 10 - Cusco City Tour - Ollantaytambo - Machu Picchu.

We will visit the main plaza of Cusco and Sacsayhuaman fortress at Cusco before we leave for Urubamba and the sacred valley. In Urubamba we will enjoy a buffet lunch and in Ollantaytambo we will visit the ruins overhanging the village, before we board the train to Machu Picchu. From the train we will look out for Torrent Duck which can often be seen along the Urubamba River. The comfortable Pueblo Hotel which has a fantastic garden with Hummingbird feeders and a collection of orchids is our home when we arrive. Birdwatching here is very rewarding.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel.

Day 11
Day 11 - Machu Picchu

Birdwatching in the morning and then a visit at the citadel of Machu Picchu. The setting on a saddle between two mountains with the Urubamba river running in a half circle about 500 meters below and with many peaks all around make Machu Picchu a magical place. It is obvious that the site has been carefully selected for ancient astronomical observation and the surrounding mountain peaks that the Incas considered sacred.

The bird-watching can be rewarding with species like Inca Wren (endemic), Masked Fruiteater (endemic), White-eared Solitaire, Black-streaked Puffbird, Highland Motmot, Gould´s Inca and others. In the late afternoon we return to Ollantaytambo for an overnight stay.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Kolibri Pro: Ollantaytambo Village.

MST: Hotel Pakaritampu

Day 12
Day 12 - Abra Malaga

A full day excursion along the road to Quillabamba. We will have breakfast on the moist slope where flocks include Marcapata Spinetail, Diademed Tapaculo and Parodi's Hemispingus. Often the spectacular Sword-billed Hummingbird is seen in this area. Midmorning we move up to the pass where a patch of Polylepis woodland can be visited holding some of the rarest birds of Peru including Royal Cinclodes, White-browed Tit-Spinetail and Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant. We may walk down the valley to be picked up at the other side. The walk is strenuous but it is downhill.

Lots of interesting plants may be seen and the people of the area preserve their ways and traditional customs, cultivating potato and taking care of Alpaca herds.

On the bushy dry slope as we continue back to Ollantaytambo the endemic White-tufted Sunbeam and Creamy-crested Spinetail can often be seen. We will travel back to Cusco to arrive around dusk.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Kolibri Pro: Best Western Los Andes de Americas

MST: Casa Andina Private collection.

Day 13
Day 13 - Birding the Trails at Refugio Amazonas

We fly to Puerto Maldonado in the morning and immediately transfer to Refugio Amazonica. The lodge has proven very good for Harpy Eagle in recent years and makes a good base for exploring some fantastic Peruvian rain-forest and excellent birding.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Refugio Amazonas.

Day 14
Day 14 - Refugio Amazonas

Full day´s birding on the trails of Refugio Amazonas. Don't be surprised if the birdlist creeps up by 150 species in a day.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and dinner.

Refugio Amazonas.

Day 15
Day 15 - Tres Chimbadas Lake

In the morning we travel to Posada Amazonas and visit Tres Chimbadas lake. We shall visit a small parrot clay lick and Cocha Tres Chimbadas oxbow lake and with some luck locate the resident group of Giant Otters. Also at the lake we look out for Sungrebe, Snail Kite and a recent new addition to the Peruvian list - Unicolored Blackbird. The trail to the lake is very good for bamboo specialists. Large-headed Flatbill, Goeldi's Antbird, Black-spotted Bare-eye and many more.

Night at Posada Amazonas.

Day 16
Day 16 - Flight to Lima

Before flying back to Lima, we will do some birding in Savanna like habitat near Puerto Maldonado where we usually can spot Point-tailed Palmcreeper, Red-bellied Macaw and Puru’s Jacamar. Flight to Lima and end of service.

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16 Days

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This tour is operated by: Kolibri Expeditions

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