Perched imposingly 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 Silvery), and the endemic Masked Fruiteater.

We'll also work both sides of the eastern cordillera, traveling to the high pass at Abra Malaga along the trace that crosses the Andes on its way to the Amazonian lowlands. Buffering the upper limits of these habitats is the starkly beautiful puna grassland dotted with llamas, alpacas, and the very occasional cluster of stone houses, corrals, and fences erected by Quechua-speaking families.

The birding is impressive on both sides of the pass including Peruvian Sierra-Finch, Junin Canastero, Puna Thistletail, and often large mixed-species flocks on the more humid east slope (where we may run into the endemic Parodi's Hemispingus). The last day will find us at the pass, with the lovely Cerro Veronica as backdrop, birding the Polylepis forest in hopes of specialties such as Tawny Tit-Spinetail, Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant, and Giant Conebill. Royal Cinclodes, a Hail Mary longshot, lurks in the area.

Select the KEY INFO tab or click here for our itinerary plus space requests, status, fees, limits, and guides for any departure.

Client comment
"The experience was better than I could ever have imagined! The best features were Machu Picchu, of course, and birding in the mountains--the scenery was spectacular... The group was great--really compatible, and fun to be with. Guide Dan Lane was both knowledgeable and very personable." M.I., MACHU PICCHU & ABRA MALAGA, PERU 2019

Combo Tours
If you would like a longer birding holiday, some departures of this tour may be combined with:
PERU'S MAGNETIC NORTH: Spatuletails, Owlet Lodge & More