The Manu Biosphere Reserve - south-east peru cloud forests, lowland rainforests, macaw lick and machu picchu
Tour 18 Days
The Manu Biosphere Reserve has the highest diversity of life on Earth and is one of the most important conservation units in the world. The beauty of this trip is the variety of habitats visited ranging from orchid laden cloud forest where Spectacled Bears and Cock-of-the-Rocks still live unmolested, to untouched Amazon rainforest where Monkeys abound and Giant Otters still exist in the ox-bow lakes.
A trip to Manu is a trip to one of the worlds great wilderness areas where wildlife is still plenty-full and nearly 1000 species of birds have been recorded. No birding in cut-over forest on this trip!
Arriving in Lima we transfer to our hotel in Lima. If time permits there is an optional excursion to bird the wetlands of Villa marshes or the agricultural areas south of Lima in search of some species typical to the arid littoral. Night in Lima
Early morning flight to Cusco and we head out south of town with a picnic lunch to Huacarpay lakes. Here we will see a variety of high Andean waterfowl and wetland associated birds. We will be specifically on the lookout for Wren-like Rushbird and Many-colored Rush-tyrant, Puna Ibis and Andean White-winged Negrito.
Raptors we may see include Aplomado Falcon, Cinereous Harrier, Red-backed Hawk and Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle. Two birds we will look for in the arid scrub around the lake are the endemic Rufous-fronted Canastero and Streak-fronted Thornbird. We should find the pretty , endemic Bearded Mountaineer feeding in the tree tobacco with Giant Hummingbird. In the late afternoon we'll return to Cusco forther night. B:L
Early start in our expedition bus. We will make a couple of selected stops in the inter-montane valleys , before arriving at the last Andean pass - Ajcanacu. We have had luck with Andean Condors here in the past. In the afternoon we will bird the upper limits of the eastern slopes.
Working our way down the eastern slope of the Andes, the forest becomes more continuous and we will spend the afternoon birding to our safari camp at 2800 meters above sea-level at Pillahuata. Possibilities are many but we hope to encounter mixed species flocks of Tanagers , Flycatchers and Furnarids. Gray-breasted Mountain Toucan, Collared Jay, Mountain Cacique are among some of the many species we may encounter. In the evening we will go to a favorite spot where we have had luck calling in Swallow-tailed Nightjar and Yungas Pygmy-Owl with tapes. Night in safari camp at Pillahuata. B;L;D
At breakfast we will be greeted with a varied dawn chorus and Red and White Antpitta should be calling. We will spend all day birding from our camp at 2800 meters to our next stop at 1600 meters.
This is pristine forest on a little traveled road. Some of the special birds on this stretch which we will look for include : White-rumped Hawk, Golden-plumed Parakeet, Trilling Tapaculo, Black and Chestnut Eagle, Andean Guan, Scaly-naped Parrot, a wide variety of Hummingbirds including Collared Inca, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Violet-throated Startfrontlet and Amethyst-throated Sunangel, Purple-backed Thornbill, Scaled Metaltail, White-bellied Woodstar.
Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Bar-bellied Woodpecker, Marcapata Spinetail, White-throated Antpitta, Barred and Band-tailed Fruiteaters, White-throated Tyrannulet, Ochraceous-breasted Flycatcher, Barred Becard, Pale-footed Swallow, Mountain Wren, Citrine Warbler and many Tanagers . Night at the rustic but comfortable Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge near Union at 1600 meters B:L:D
A full day to bird the forest around Union and San Pedro. One day we'll devote to the 2500 meter altitude zone and one day to the 1500 meter zone. Possibilities include White-throated Hawk, Solitary Eagle, Rufous-capped Thornbill, Crested Quetzal, Golden-headed Quetzal, Masked Trogon, Highland Motmot, Black-streaked Puffbird , Blue-banded Toucanet, Olive-backed Woodcreeper, Montane Woodcreeper, Spotted Barbtail, Montane Foliage-gleaner, Uniform and Variable Antshrikes, Slaty Gnateater, Chestnut-crested Cotinga, Scaled Fruiteater, Bolivian Tyrannulet, Inca Flycatcher (endemic), Yungas and Cerulean-capped Manakin (endemic) , Uniform Antshrike, White-throated Spadebill, Fulvous-breasted Flatbill, Saffron-crowned Tanager, Deep-blue Flowerpiercer and lots more.
We will visit one of the two nearby Cock-of-the-Rock leks to watch the strange mating dance of these spectacular birds. Up to 20 males congregate at this spot to display. We will also do some night birding here and we have been lucky previously with White-throated and Rufescent Screech Owl, Rufous-banded Owl, Lyre-tailed Nightjar and Andean Potoo. Nights at Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge or Manu Cloud Forest Lodge as required. B:L:D
After a dawn breakfast accompanied by the singing of Andean and White-eared Solitaires and Paradise Tanagers from the breakfast table, we leave San Pedro at 1600 meters and spend the day birding slowly down to the comfortable Amazonia Lodge at 500 meters. We will pay particular attention to the stretch between 1500 meters and 800 meters. This upper tropical zone forest has disappeared on much of the Andean slopes in South America because of it's suitability for cash crops such as tea, coffee and coca, but in this part of Peru the forest remains untouched.
Birds we have seen well on this stretch of road include : Rufous-breasted Wood-Quail, Plum-crowned Parrot, Chestnut-collared Swift, Peruvian Piedtail, Long-tailed Sylph, Lanceolated Monklet, Versicolored Barbet, Russet Antshrike, Slaty Antwren, Cerulean-capped Manakin, Rufous-lored Tyrranulet, Marble-faced Bristle-tyrant, Fulvous-breasted Flatbill, Olive-tufted Flycatcher, Golden-crowned Flycatcher, Chestnut-breasted Wren, Dusky-green Oropendola, Golden-collared Honeycreeeper, White-winged Tanager, Yellow-throated Bush-Tanager and much more. We plan to reach Amazonia Lodge before dusk. Night at Amazonia Lodge. B:L:D
Day 7 -8
Two full days at the comfortable Amazonia Lodge. This family run converted tea hacienda has a bird list of over 530 and species are continually being added to the list. The lodge is situated in the transitional zone at 500 meters, where the last low foothills of the Andes begin to flatten out into the lowland Amazon Basin proper. We will be birding a variety of habitats over the next three days including floodplain and hill forest. One day we will pack a picnic lunch and bird the road from Atalaya to Pilcopata.
The possibilities here are enormous but some species we will be on the lookout for include : Black-capped Tinamou, Blackish Rail, the strange Hoatzin, Buckley's Forest Falcon, Wattled Guan, Military Macaw, Blue-headed Macaw, Pheasant Cuckoo, Koepcke's Hermit, Rufous-webbed Brilliant, Rufous-crested Coquette , Golden-tailed Sapphire, Bluish fronted Jacamar, Chestnut-capped Puffbird, Fine-barred Piculet, Red-billed Scythbill, Dark-breasted Spinetail, Dusky-cheeked Foliage-gleaner, Bamboo Antshrike, Chestnut-backed Antshrike, Amazonian Antpitta, Rusty-belted Tapaculo, Mottle-backed Elaenia, Red-billed Tyrranulet, Johannis' Tody-tyrant, Yellow-browed Tody-flycatcher, Black-backed Tody -flycatcher , Ornate Flycatcher, White-thighed Swallow, Golden-bellied(Cuzco) Warbler, Black-faced Dacnis - the list goes on....!
We will have the possibility of night birding here and in the past we have seen : Mottled Owl, Black-banded Owl, Tawny-bellied Screech-owl, Great , Long-tailed and Common Potoo. We will be reluctant to leave this very birdy place, but yet more awaits us in the Amazon lowlands. All nights at Amazonia Lodge. B:L:D
Early morning birding near Amazonia Lodge in search of species we have missed. As the day begins to warm, we will head down the Alto Madre de Dios river in our motorized canoes to its confluence with the Manu River ( about 4 hours ) and then on for another two hours to the comfortable Manu Wildlife Center, jointly owned by Manu Expeditions and the Selva Sur conservation group.
This lodge facility is designed to take visitors, but there are always biologists here conducting scientific research, often ornithologists. On the river journey , we will have the opportunity to see some of the typical riverside species such as Pied Lapwing, Collared Plover , Fasciated Tiger-heron, Orinoco Goose, Large-billed and Yellow-billed Tern. Fly-overs will include many species of Macaws and Parrots, and this is our opportunity for some Bird of Prey observations. We plan to arrive at the Manu Wildlife Center in the late afternoon. Night Manu Wildlife Centre. B:L:D
Four full days based at the Manu Wildlife Center , situated just upriver from the Blanquillo Macaw Lick. There will be the opportunity on one morning to visit the Macaw lick and observe the spectacle of hundreds of Parrots and Macaws at close quarters from our floating blinds. Here we will see the beautiful Orange-cheeked Parrrot , and sometimes the newly described Amazonian Parrotlet participates at the lick.
The rest of the time will be spent birding the extensive trail systems which have been designed to visit different forest types. The area around this lodge has the most forest types of anywhere in the Manu area , and thus the highest bio-diversity - which means the most species of birds. Large stands of Bamboo hold many local and much sought after species, and coupled with the extensive Varzea, Tierra Firme and Mature Transitional Floodplain Forest this means a mind-boggling variety of bird-life. Although investigation on birds is in it's early stages we expect this lodge area to hold more species of birds than anywhere else in the world and the bird list is already 550. We will spend time at a canopy observation tower accessed by a spiral metal stairway watching canopy flocks.
Parrots Peru. Plans for a canopy walkway are in the pipeline here as well. Some of the more interesting and unusual species we will be searching for in the Bamboo include - Rufous-headed Woodpecker, Manu Antbird ( common here), Flammulated Bamboo-tyrant, White-cheeked Tody-flycatcher, Brown-rumped Foliage-gleaner, Large-headed and Dusky-tailed Flatbills, Peruvian Recurvebill, Dusky-cheeked and Brown-rumped Foliage-gleaners, Ihring's and Ornate Antwren, White-lined Antbird, Striated Antbird and more. We will certainly look for one of the 5 singing Rufous-fronted Antthrushes we have located on territory here. Some of the scarcer forest species we will be on the lookout for that we have seen here previously include :
Bartlett's Tinamou, Razor-billed Currasow, Pale-winged Trumpeter, Sunbittern, Pavonine Quetzal, Purus Jacamar, Striolated Puffbird, Gray-cheeked Nunlet, Cream-colored Woodpecker, Ocellated Woodcreeper, Colared Puffbird, Ruddy Spinetail, Plain Softail, Striped Woodhaunter, Sclater's Antwren, Banded Antbird, Ash-throated Gnateater, White-throated Antbird, Black-spotted Bare-eye, Black-faced Cotinga, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, White-bellied tody-tyrant, Royal Flycatcher, Musician Wren, Pale-eyed Blackbird, Yellow-shouldered Grosbeak to name but a few. We will also visit Ox-bow lakes in the area where we will see lakeside birds including Hoatzin, Sungrebe, Agami Heron, Greater Large-billed Seed-finch, Silverd Antbird, Rufous-sided Crake, Gray-breasted Crake and we may be lucky and see one of the two Giant Otter families that live in the area. Night birding may produce Long-tailed, Great and Gray Potoos, Amazonian Pygmy Owl, Spectacled Owl, Ocellated Poorwill, amongst others. A visit to the large mammal lick here , apart from attracting Tapirs, Peccaries and maybe a Jaguar, also attracts Guans and Currasows. All nights at the Manu Wildlife Center. B:L:D
Early start for the airstrip at Boca Manu (2.5 hours upriver), and our last look at early morning Parrot flocks and riverside birds. Our spectacular light aircraft flight over the Andes takes about 45 minutes and we should be in Cusco by midday. The afternoon is free for sight-seeeing, shopping or just relaxing in this beautiful city. Night in Cusco, B:
We leave Cusco early in the morning for the 4.5 hour train journey 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.
Arriving at the ruins , birding takes a back seat for once as we are taken on a guided tour of this mystical archeological complex. White-tipped Swifts will be flying overhead. After lunch we will look for Inca Wren which is quite common in the bamboo around the ruins and then descend into the Urubamba gorge for late afternoon birding. Night in Aguas Calientes. B:L:
All morning birding the railway track 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, Oleaginous Hemispingus and Capped Conebill. Mixed flocks contain many species of Tanager and the endemic Green and White Hummingbird is common here. After a late lunch, we return on the tourist train to the Cusco for the night. Bl
M orning flight to Lima and connecting international flights. day rooms at our hotel in Miraflores if required. Additional birding excursions near Lima can be arranged for those who wish if international flights are not until the evening.