This 14-day tour is a longer version of the popular 5-day photography tour. This expedition covers almost all the habitats and best sites from the high Andes to the southern Amazon lowlands. This is must do the tour for anyone who wants to increase their life list and photo library.
Well before dawn, we are on our way to the humid temperate zone. We travel over the Andes where we look for species such as Puna Hawk, Spot-winged Pigeon, Andean Flicker and Andean Lapwing.
Checking out the scrub near Paucartambo, flocks contain endemic Creamy-crested Spinetail as well as Tufted Tit-Tyrant, White-winged Black-Tyrant, Shining Sunbeam and Rust-and-Yellow Tanager. It is photography on the go.
Lower down the cloud forest is more lush with flocks of Yungas Pygmy-Owl, Grey-breasted Mountain Toucan, Yellow-throated and Golden-collared Tanagers, Hooded, Grass-Green and Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanagers and Dark-faced Brush-Finch. With playback and Pygmy-Owl imitation the birds can come quite close.
In the late afternoon we reach Wayqecha research station which has a few hummingbird feeders that attract Rufous-capped Thornbill, Gould’s Inca and Long-tailed Sylph.
Owling can reward us with Swallow-tailed Nightjar as well as Rufous-banded Owl and White-throated Screech-Owl. Night in comfortable cabins at Wayqecha research station.
Primary targets above Pillahuata are the endemic Red-and-White Antpitta, Marcapata Spinetail, Chestnut-breasted Coronet and Ochraceous-breasted Flycatcher.
Below Pillahuata one could see Golden-plumed Parakeet (with lots of luck), Handsome Flycatcher and the super-rare Greater Scythebill (luck and alignment of the stars is needed).
Continue to Rocotal, situated just at the upper limit of the subtropical zone. Birds here include White-throated Antpitta, Crimson-backed Woodpecker, Blue-banded Toucanet, White-eared and Andean Solitaires, Pearled Treerunner, Streaked Tuftedcheek, Golden-plumed Parakeet, Scaly-naped Parrot, Amethyst-throated Sunangel and many more. With some luck we may find the rare Andean Potoo here. It has often been spotted on a day perch.
In the afternoon we shall watch displays of the brilliant, orange colored male Andean Cock of the Rock. At nightfall we will look for Lyre-tailed Nightjar and Rufescent Screech-Owl just above the lodge. Night at Cock of the Rock Lodge.
We’ll continue birding at the Cock of the Rock encountering species such as Long-tailed Antbird, Dusky-Green Oropendula, Yungas Manakin, Black-billed Treehunter, Orange-eared Tanager, Versicolored Barbet and Black-and-Chestnut and Solitary Eagles.
Other species around the lodge include Yellow-rumped Antwren and Bolivian Tyrannulet. On nearby trail often see Slaty Gnat-eater and Rufous-breasted Antthrush. Other birds include Lemon-browed Flycatcher, Golden-headed and Crested Quetzal, Uniform Antshrike and Golden-collared Tanager.
At the lodge clearing there are feeders and flowers where hummingbirds like Violet-fronted Brilliant, Many-spotted Hummingbird, Booted Racket-tail and Wire-crested Thorn-tail are present. Night at Cock of the Rock Lodge.
Birding at Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge in the morning. Specifically, we shall be looking for a new soon to be described tanager that lives in the bamboo. Other birds here include the endemic and recently described Cinnamon-faced Tyrannulet, Chestnut-breasted Wren, Russet Antshrike, Chestnut-backed Antshrike and Rufous-webbed Brilliant.
In the afternoon we will continue to Pilcopata at 1000m and look for specialties such as Amazonian Umbrellabird, Peruvian Piedtail, Cerulean-capped Manakin, Black-streaked Puffbird, Russet Antshrike, Lanceolated Monklet and Black-backed Tody-Flycatcher.
The road between Pilcopata and Atalaya has produced a number of very good species in the past, such as Military Macaw and Blue-headed Macaw, Wattled Guan, Red-billed Tyrannulet, Orange-fronted Plushcrown, Manu Antbird and Pheasant Cuckoo, fontgled Cotinga, Yellow-billed Nunbird and Fine-barred Piculet.
In the afternoon we will start to explore Amazonia Lodge. The clearing, filled with Blue Vervain and hummingbird feeders is a spectacle. Special hummers visiting include Rufous-crested Coquette, Koepcke´s Hermit, Gould’s Jewelfront, Gray-breasted Sabrewing, White-necked Jacobin, Golden-tailed Sapphire and many more. Night at Amazonia Lodge.
At Amazonia Lodge the famous jeep-track has produced many specialties over the years such as Black-capped Tinamou, Rufous-vented Ground- Cuckoo, Black-spotted Bare-eye, Long-tailed Potoo, Amazonian Antpitta and Thrush-like Antpitta, Fiery-capped Manakin and many more.
We leave Amazonia Lodge to go down river via the small Machu Wasi Lake. This is often a good spot for photographing Horned Screamer and Pale-eyed Blackbird.
The afternoon is spent at MLC lodge where they have a good variety of garden flowers attracting the rare Rufous-webbed Brilliant.
In the early morning we shall visit a smaller Macaw lick where we can observe Blue-headed Macaw among other parrots and parakeets. We leave mid-morning with a box-lunch to travel down river to Manu Birding Lodge.
Apart from a great trail system which includes both terra firme and varzea like forest, heliconia thickets, aguajales (palm swamps) and extensive bamboo with all the specialists including Long-crested Pygmy-Tyrant, White-cheeked Tody-Tyrant, Pheasant Cuckoo, Rufous-headed Woodpecker and Rufous-vented Ground Cuckoo. Monkeys are plentiful including Black Spider Monkey, Monk Saki and Emperor Tamarin. Pale-winged Trumpeters and Razor-billed Curassows are often seen.
There are two clay-licks for Tapirs to visit. Sometimes Red-brocket Deer and Ocelots are also seen near the lick and on the way there is is sometimes possible to see the rare Red-billed Pied-Tanager.
We continue to Manu Wildlife Center the next lodge downriver. The Manu Wildlife Centre has a huge clearing with gardens often very good for photographing birds, a good canopy tower and a great trail system which we shall explore for toucans, parrots, raptors, cotingas, woodpeckers, and furnarids and antbirds. There is also a Tapir-lick here.
Full day with trails, clearing and tower.
Early morning visit the famous Macaw lick. One of the true natural wonders where Blue-Headed Parrot, Mealy Parrot and White-eyed Parakeet are seen and later the large, raucous Red-and-Green Macaws.
The rest of the day we will spend time at the tower of Cocha Camungo for canopy species and walk the trails. The trails are good for Banded Antbird, Semi-collared Puffbird, Pale-winged Trumpeter and Rufous-fronted Antthrush.
In the afternoon we will visit Cocha Blanco to see the local Giant Otter colony and additional marsh birds such as Pale-eyed Blackbird, Snail Kite, Horned Screamer, Sungrebe and Limpkin. We stay the night in Blanquillo Lodge.
We shall make the use of canoes on the Blanquillo Cocha for wildlife and bird photography and explore the trails.
Early morning river transport to Colorado to transfer to vehicles to get to Puerto Maldonado. There are direct flights to Lima and Cusco in the afternoon.