ITINERARY & DAILY ACCOUNTS
Friday 12 October: Arrival in Lima at 17:45. Transfer to Hotel Mami Panchita in Lima.
Saturday 13 October: Flight Lima to Arequipa. Culture day in Arequipa. Overnight in Arequipa.
Sunday 14 October: Drive to Chivay birding en route. Overnight in Chivay
Monday 15 October: Colca canyon birding en route. Drive back to Arequipa. Overnight in Arequipa.
Tuesday 16 October: Flight Arequipa to Cusco. Culture day in Cusco. Overnight in Cusco.
Wednesday 17 October: Culture day visiting the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Overnight in Ollantaytambo.
Thursday 18 October: Train to Aguas Calientes. Afternoon birding. Overnight in Aguas Calientes.
Friday 19 October: Visit to Machu Picchu. Train back to Cusco. Overnight in Cusco.
Saturday 20 October: Start Manu Tour. To COR Lodge birding en route. Overnight at COR Lodge.
Sunday 21 October: Birding between 1300-1500 masl. Overnight at COR Lodge.
Monday 22 October: Birding between 1500-2000 masl. Overnight at COR Lodge.
Tuesday 23 October: To Amazonia Lodge birding en route. Overnight at Amazonia Lodge.
Wednesday 24 October: Birding Amazonia Lodge trails. Overnight at Amazonia Lodge.
Thursday 25 October: Birding AL trails. Boat to Amazon Manu Lodge. Overnight at AML.
Friday 26 October: Birding AML trails. Afternoon to Cocha Blanca Oxbow Lake. Overnight at AML.
Saturday 27 October: Birding AML trails. Afternoon to Cocha Cumango Lake and watchtower. Overnight at AML.
Sunday 28 October: Visit Blanquillo Clay Lick. Afternoon birding AML trails. Overnight at AML.
Monday 29 October: Travelday to Puerto Maldonado by boat and car. Overnight at PM.
Thursday 30 October: Birding PM area. Onwards flight to Lima. Afternoon visit Lima museum. Overnight in Lima.
Friday 31 October: Drive to Pisco birding en route. Overnight in Pisco.
Saturday 1 November: Boat trip to Islas Ballestas. Birding Paracas and drive to Nazca. Overnight in Nazca.
Sunday 2 November: Flight over Nazca Lines and visit Chauchilla Cemetery. Long drive back to Lima.
Monday 3 November: City tour Lima. Evening flight home arriving next day.
Our flight with Iberia from Dusseldorf to Lima went smoothly and everything went according to schedule. After a 2 hour stopover in Madrid we had a trouble free flight arriving at Jorge Chavez Airport in Lima at 17:35 local time. Going through customs went quickly and after changing money we were met by someone from Mami Panchita to bring us to the hotel. After a 25 minutes drive we arrived at the Hostal Mami Panchita. The hotel is owned by a fellow Dutch countryman called Toon. We had a welcome drink at the bar and Toon immediately arranged the internet check-in for our flight to Arequipa and airport transfer the next morning. After dropping our luggage in the room we had a drink in the hotel’s patio and afterwards went to bed early at 21:30.
Because of the time difference with Europe I was up pretty early and at first light I checked out the small hotel garden together with Roland for our first birds of the trip. We noted amongst Pacific Dove, Croaking Ground-dove, Chiguanco Thrush, Rufous-collared Sparrow and a black morph specimen of Vermilion Flycatcher. We then had breakfast at 7:00 and left for the airport at 7:30. Our flight to Arequipa with Aerocondor was on time leaving at 9:00 and arrived in Arequipa at 10:10. A car from Hostal La Casa de mi Abuela picked us up for the transfer to the hotel arriving there at 10:45. The hotel is centrally located and only a couple of blocks walk from the major attractions in Arequipa. The rest of the day was filled in by visiting the Santa Catalina Monastery, the Central Plaza and the museum of Ice Mummy Juanita. Despite having no birding on the program we were able to tick one of the areas specialties in the gardens of the monastery namely Peruvian Sheartail. After a most enjoyable day in the very attractive city we headed back to the hotel around 18:00 and later had dinner in a nice local restaurant near the hotel.
At first light we headed out an hour or so for some birding in a city park located close to our hotel. Besides a few Black-crowned Night-herons we did not see any new birds. After an excellent buffet breakfast we were picked up by Raul Cuela who was our driver and guide for the coming two days during the trip to the Colca Canyon. Raul appeared to be a very friendly guy and actually had quite some knowledge about birds and where to find them. We left the hotel at 7:15 and made several birding stops en route. From about 25km outside the city we made several good birding stops having amongst Golden-spotted Ground-Dove, Oasis Hummingbird, Plain-breasted Earthcreeper, Andean Tit-Spinetail, Spot-billed Ground-Tyrant, Black Siskin and Bright-rumped Yellow-Finch. As we drove further through beautiful landscapes the bird life changed into more high altitude specialists like Andean Hillstar, Mountain Caracara, Puna Hawk, White-winged Cinclodes, Canyon Canastero, White-throated Earthcreeper, Mourning and Plumbeous Sierra-Finch. At about 4000 masl we entered the national reserve of “Salinas y Aguada Blanca” where we saw several vicuñas, one of the two wild members of the Camelid family. After leaving the reserve behind us we left the main Arequipa-Puno road taking a left turn and had a coca tea at a roadside restaurant. From here the road climbed even more to a pass at an altitude of 4900 masl. During the climb we had several good birding stops at some lagoons and at so called bogs producing amongst Andean Goose, Puna Teal, Speckled Teal, Crested Duck, Giant Coot, Puna Ibis, Andean Lapwing and Andean Negrito. Just before the pass we took a right turn following a dirt road for about 7 km to a lake where we had Chilean Flamingo, Andean Avocet, Baird’s Sandpiper and Andean Gull. We then headed back to the main road and climbed to 4800 masl stopping for birds at an area with bogs just before the highest pass. This is the prime site to find the rare Diademed Sandpiper-Plover. Unfortunately we missed the bird but we had another chance when going back to Arequipa the next day. However the stop was very worthwhile with new trip ticks like Puna Snipe, Andean Parakeets, White-fronted Ground-Tyrant and White-winged Diuca-Finch. At the same site we also saw several Viscacha’s, a rodent which is a member of the Chinchilla family. A drier area a bit further on at the pass produced one of the best birds of the day: Grey-breasted Seedsnipe. From here the road descended to Chivay at 3700 masl. A few km before entering the village an Ornate Tinamou crossed the road right in front of our car. We arrived in Chivay at about 14:45 and checked in at Hotel Pozo del Cielo located on a hill overlooking the village. Initially we wanted to visit the village and the hot springs in the afternoon but we had quite some health problems because of the altitude and decided to relax for the rest of the afternoon. Anne-Marie was so sick that she even had to stay in bed for the rest of the day. In the hotel bar I made my daily checklist while having a chat with Raul. The day produced 64 bird species. Best bird of the day: Grey-breasted Seedsnipe. In the evening we had dinner in the hotel’s restaurant.
Today the Colca Canyon was on the program. Unfortunately Anne-Marie missed the trip because she was still sick. While she stayed in bed the rest of us had an early breakfast and left the hotel at 6:30. We took an alternative route to Cruz del Condor which according to Raul was better for finding good birds. We followed the north side of the canyon until about halfway and then crossed a bridge catching up with the original south side “tourist” route. We made several birding stops having new birds like Giant Hummingbird, Black Metaltail, Black-hooded Sierra-Finch, White-throated Sierra-Finch and like yesterday another Ornate Tinamou showing itself for a long period in an open field. At the bridge over the river we stopped for Torrent Duck and Silvery Grebe. Taking the alternative route however meant that we arrived too late at Cruz del Condor and we consequently missed the spectacle of having close-up views of Andean Condors passing by in the canyon in front of you. However Roland saw one juvenile pass by and later on I was lucky having two birds circling over the mountains behind the canyon. Not as close as hoped for but better then nothing… Other birds we saw at Cruz del Condor were Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Cinereous Conebill and Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant. We then headed back to Chivay stopping en route at a spot overlooking a lake were we had Ruddy Duck. We arrived back at the lodge at 12:30, packed our luggage and had lunch before heading back to Arequipa at around 14:00. At the high pass we had another fine trip tick with Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe and we were lucky this time at the bogs at 4800 masl having two of the eagerly hoped for Diademed Sandpiper-Plovers. Near the vicuña reserve we had another short stop having Aplomado Falcon. We arrived back in Arequipa around 17:30 and said goodbye to Raul. We checked in at the same hotel as two days before. I wasn’t feeling very well and went to bed for an hour or so. Later in the hotel’s tourist office we arranged our internet check-in for our flight to Cusco the next morning. In the evening we had a pizza in the hotel’s restaurant. Back at the room I made my checklist. We had 49 species today with 18 new ones for the trip having a trip total now of 85 species. Best bird of the day was of course Diademed Sandpiper-Plover closely followed by Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe and Andean Condor. Because we had to leave very early the next morning we asked to serve the breakfast on the room which was brought in the evening. During the night I woke up many times to visit the toilet….
No birding for today. I woke up as sick as a dog at 5:45 having a combination of altitude sickness and diarrhoea. It would have been better to stay in bed but the program didn’t allow that as we had to travel further to Cusco. After the breakfast at the room (with only a cup of tea for me), we left the hotel at 6:15 for a 20 minutes drive to the airport. Our flight to Cusco was on time at 7:55 and after a stopover in Juliaca we arrived in Cusco at 10:00. We arranged our own taxi to the Hostal Marani and after checking in I was very happy to finally get into bed, which I did not leave until the next morning. Because Anne-Marie was still sick too, Wilma and Roland did the Cusco city-tour without the two of us. However the culture guide was supposed to arrive at the hotel at 12:00 but did not show up until 15:00. So the only option for them was doing a shorter version of the tour visiting the main square, the Cathedral, Santa Domingo church & Koricancha (Inca Temple of the Sun) and the nearby Inca sites of Sacsayhuaman and Qenko. When they arrived back at the hotel at 18:15 Juve had to get the train and entrance tickets to Machu Picchu which were supposed to be brought to our hotel by local tour-operator Inca Connections. In the evening our dinner consisted of soup and biscuits at the room.
We had breakfast at 7:30 and were picked up by culture guide Jacky and driver Juve at 8:00 for the start of the Sacred Valley Tour. Juve will also be our driver during the upcoming Manu Tour and is also an avid birder. Our program started with a drive over the main square of Cusco and a short revisit to the ruins of Sacsayhuaman and Qenko because Anne-Marie and I missed that the day before. Our next stop was at Tambomachay commonly referred to as the Inca Baths, before heading on to the ruins of Pisac located high above a valley overlooking a patchwork of fields, Inca terraces and the village of Pisac. Our last visit of the day are the ruins of Ollantaytambo which protected the strategic entrance to the Urubamba Valley. Around 15:00 Juve and Jacky dropped us at the Hotel Munay Tika in Ollantaytambo and headed back to Cusco. After checking in we had a late lunch at a restaurant opposite the hotel next to a small creek. After lunch I went to bed because I was still feeling weak. Roland went out for some birds in the neighbourhood. While the others went for dinner in the evening I stayed at the room and had some biscuits and banana’s. Despite being a culture day we were able to see six new birds for the trip being Green-tailed Trainbearer, Torrent Tyrannulet, Blue-and-Yellow Tanager, Band-tailed Sierra-Finch and Golden-bellied Grosbeak. Besides these Roland had a Golden-billed Saltator during his afternoon birding.
Roland again did some pre-breakfast birding. The rest of us had breakfast at 8:00 and afterwards went back to the room to pack our luggage. After checking-out we walked to the train station at 9:15. During the walk we stopped for a short while having Rusty Flower-piercer and Black-throated Flower-piercer in a flowering tree next to the road. Our train to Aguas Calientes left on time at 10:00 arriving there at around 12:00. During the train ride we noted 8 Torrent Ducks, while Anne-Marie saw an Andean Guan. We walked to the Hotel La Pequena Casita, checked in and dropped our luggage in the room. Although still weak I was feeling much better than the days before. Roland and I decided to go out for some birds while the ladies visited a museum. We first checked out the beautiful cloud forest gardens of the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel which is a good place to sort out some hummingbirds. At the feeders we noted amongst Sparkling Violet-ear, Green Violet-ear, Green-and-White Hummingbird, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Gould’s Inca and Booted Racket-tail. Other birds we saw on the trails were Silver-backed Tanager, Blue-capped Tanager, Hepatic Tanager, Stripe-faced Wood-Quail, Russet-backed Oropendola and a Highland Motmot sitting in a tree along the river. Afterwards we did some birding along the railway in the direction of Machu Picchu for about 2 km and walked back to the village along the dirt road. Birds noted during the walk included amongst Long-billed Starthroat, Andean Solitaire, Oleaginous Hemispingus, Golden-naped Tanager, Saffron-crowned Tanager, Beryl-spangled Tanager, Tropical Parula, Slate-throated & Spectacled Whitestart, Citrine and Russet-crowned Warbler. Just before arriving back at the hotel at 18:00 it started raining on which we decided to not go to the hot springs. In the evening we had dinner in a local restaurant. Today we saw 44 species adding 34 to our trip list of now 125 species. Best bird of the day: Highland Motmot.
On today’s program is one of the cultural highlights of the trip namely Machu Picchu. Roland already left the hotel at 5:30 birding his way up to the ruins. The rest of us decided to go up by bus. We had breakfast at 6:30 and took the bus up to the ruins at 7:15. We were very lucky with the weather today having sunny weather with clear skies. Arriving at the entrance we had to wait for half an hour for Roland who was still underway on foot. New birds noted by Roland during his walk up included White-crowned Manakin, Inca Wren, White-eared Solitaire, Slaty Tanager and Black-backed Grosbeak. While waiting for Roland I checked out the first part of the trail going down to Aguas Calientes having Ocellated Piculet. Around 8:30 we were ready to visit the ruins taking a 2 hours guided tour. The first sight on the ruins was really awe inspiring and impressive. The combination of a nice sunny morning, the beautiful Inca ruins itself and the surrounding scenery with steep jungle clad mountains made it one of the highlights of the trip. After the guided tour we walked back to the restaurant at the entrance were we had a drink and snack. While Roland and me decided to bird our way back down to Aguas Calientes, the ladies stayed at the ruins a bit longer and later took the bus back. While walking down the bird activity was fairly slow as it was already midday and because of the sunny weather it was also fairly hot. Despite that we were able to see some new birds like Streak-necked Flycatcher, White-winged Black-Tyrant, Black Phoebe, Rufous-chested Tanager, Chestnut-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Blue-and-Black Tanager and Yellow-bellied Seedeater. We arrived back in AC at around 15:00 were the ladies were already waiting for us. We had a drink outside and walked to the train station for our journey back to Cusco at 16:00. We were supposed to arrive in Cusco around 20:00 but apparently the locomotive had engine problems and couldn’t drive at it’s normal speed. Besides that there was no electricity so we had to continue our journey in total darkness arriving late in Cusco around 22:00. We took a taxi to Hostal Marani where we had a late dinner consisting of a good soup with bread. Today we saw 47 bird species and added 17 to our trip list of now 142 species. The real birding starts from tomorrow!!!!!
Today is the start of our Manu trip. After an early breakfast we were picked up at 6:00 by Juve and David Geale, our excellent bird guide for the upcoming eleven days. Our first stop was at the reed fringed Lake Huarcapay some 30 km outside Cusco. This stop proved to be excellent as the lake held several new species for our trip list. We saw amongst Cinnamon Teal, White-tufted Grebe, Plumbeous Rail, Upland Sandpiper, Wren-like Rushbird, Brown-chested Martin and Yellow-winged Blackbird. Best ones where the endemic Bearded Mountaineer and the indeed colourful Many-coloured Rush-Tyrant which were one of our targets here. After a two hour stop we headed on leaving the last tarmac behind us and climbing to higher altitudes. En route to the pass at about 4100 masl we had some excellent stops producing some specialty birds like the endemic Creamy-crested Spinetail, Rusty-fronted Canastero and Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch. Other new birds noted included Tyrian Metaltail, Andean Flicker, Golden-billed Saltator and a brief view of a Slender-billed Miner at the top of the pass. Halfway during the descent towards the town of Paucartambo we stopped to have our lunch break. After lunch we birded the area for a short while but it was very quiet at this time of the day. We continued down to Paucartambo where we stopped for a short while because David had to buy an umbrella. From here we climbed again to the Ajanaco pass at 3550 masl. where the Manu National Park begins. A brief stop at the pass produced Moustached Flower-piercer. From here it is downwards all the way to the Amazonian lowlands. En route to Pillahuata at 2600 masl we made several birding stops having amongst Andean Guan, Violet-throated Starfrontlet, Pearled Treerunner, Golden-headed Quetzal, Red-crested Cotinga, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager and best of all Grey-breasted Mountain-Toucan. As we approached Pillahuata it started to rain. Here we tried to tape in the endemic Red-and-White Antpitta but although it responded we failed to see it. As we descended the rain became heavier causing a landslide which we could barely pass. The drive down in the dark and heavy rain was a bit scary and we were very happy to arrive at the Cock of the Rock Lodge at around 19:30 save and sound. We had a fine candlelit dinner followed by a nice cool Qusquena beer. Today’s list produced 101 species of birds adding 51 to our trip list of now 193. Today’s indisputable winner of the “Best bird of the day trophy” is Grey-breasted Mountain-Toucan.
While the ladies stayed at the lodge we woke up at 5:00 for a quick breakfast before heading out around 5:30. In contrary to the heavy rain of yesterday evening we had bright and sunny weather this morning. Our first bird was a Hauxwell’s Thrush singing in the top of a tree near the entrance to the lodge. After driving downhill for a couple of km Juve dropped us at an altitude of about 1300 masl and we then birded our way up back to the lodge. The first two hours of birding were excellent adding a couple of good birds to our trip list like Wattled Guan, Red-billed Parrot, Bluish-fronted Jacamar, Chestnut-tipped Toucanet, Lemon-browed Flycatcher, Masked Tityra, Magpie Tanager, Orange-eared Tanager, Paradise Tanager and Orange-bellied Euphonia. Probably as a result of the warm and sunny weather, the activity already started slowing down from 8:00 or so before eventually dying down to nearly zero after 9:00. However while walking further uphill we had excellent views of two soaring Solitary Eagles, and at the entrance to the Manu Paradise Lodge we had Yellow-browed Sparrow. At the river bridge near our lodge we had Black Phoebe and Streaked Flycatcher. We arrived back at the lodge around 11:00 enjoying the birds in the garden and checking out the various hummingbirds visiting the feeders like Green Hermit, Wire-crested Thorntail, Many-spotted Hummingbird, Violet-fronted Brilliant and Booted Racket-tail. Another new bird we had in the garden was a Stripe-chested Antwren. After lunch we relaxed a bit until about 14:00 and afterwards checked out the trails below the lodge towards the river. We had some excellent new birds here like Montane Foliage-gleaner, Black-billed Treehunter, Warbling Antbird, Yungas Manakin (a lek along the trail) and brief views of a Versicolored Barbet. Around 4:30 we paid a visit to the Cock of the Rock lek. While walking to the lek we had excellent views of a Pale-eyed Thrush singing in the top of a tree along the road. At the lek we enjoyed the spectacle of seven displaying male Andean Cock-of-the-Rock for about half an hour. Some birds were sitting very close to the hide making it possible to get some excellent pictures. Another new bird for the trip here was a Bronzy Inca. We then did some more birding along the road until Juve picked us up for a 20 minutes drive uphill to a stake-out for Lyre-tailed Nightjar. We arrived there just before dusk and had excellent views of a male bird flying out of the trees above us displaying it’s beautiful long and elegant tail. On our way back to the lodge we had superb views of a Rufescent Screech-Owl sitting in a tree only a couple of meters from the road. Back at the lodge we had dinner and checked-off our bird list of today having 86 birds in total and adding 54 species to our trip list of now 247 species. Best bird of the day: Rufescent Screech-Owl.
We headed out at 5:00 driving uphill for about 40 minutes to bird the area between 2000 and 1600 masl. Roland (and Anne-Marie who stayed in bed) was pretty sick probably as a result of the malaria pills they started taking from the evening before. On our way uphill we saw another Rufescent Screech-owl. Arriving at 2000 masl we started birding our way down having amongst Barred Parakeet, Green-fronted Lancebill, Long-tailed Sylph, Blue-banded Toucanet, Slaty Tanager, Yellow-throated Tanager, Capped Conebill, Dusky-green Oropendola, Bluish and Deep-blue Flowerpiercer. The best sightings were an excellent view of a Black-streaked Puffbird and later on close-up views of a beautiful Versicolored Barbet. Roland was still feeling pretty sick and around 10:00 Juve brought him back to the lodge while David and I birded our way down on foot. There wasn’t much bird activity anymore but nevertheless we had some good birds like Striped Treehunter, White-eared Solitaire and Green Jay. At the bridge over the river near the lodge we had excellent views of a Sunbittern. We were back at the lodge at 12:00. After lunch we relaxed and checked out the birds visiting the garden until 14:30. At the feeders we had new hummers like Speckled Hummingbird and Wedge-billed Hummingbird and a beautiful Crested Quetzal perched in top of a bare tree. David also saw Black-goggled Tanager. After a light drizzle we went out at 15:00 birding the road downhill again having new birds like Swallow-tailed Kite, Yellow-breasted Antwren, Fulvous-breasted Flatbill, Blue Dacnis and Purple Honeycreeper. Unfortunately we missed our main target for this afternoon namely Amazonian Umbrellabird. We were back at the bridge near the lodge just before dusk where we had another Sunbittern and a brief view of Rufous-bellied Nighthawk. After dinner we did our checklist having 113 species for the day with 35 new trip ticks. Our trip list is now at 282 species. Choosing the best bird of the day wasn’t that difficult to my opinion: Black-streaked Puffbird.
Tuesday 23 October
Today we were leaving the Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge. After packing our luggage we headed out at 5:00 making several birding stops en route between 1400 and 1000 masl. New birds noted during the first hours of the morning included Plain Antvireo, Great-billed Hermit, Ornate Flycatcher, Eastern Wood-Pewee and two endemics: Peruvian Pied-tail and Black-backed Tody-Flycatcher. As we reached an altitude of about 1000m we left the cloud forest behind us and the habitat dramatically changed into an open degraded area with agricultural fields and grasslands. A short stop here produced a totally different set of birds like Blue-black Grassquit, Chestnut-bellied Seedeater, Chestnut-bellied Seed-Finch and Smooth-billed Ani. In the village of Pilcopata we had a short break for a refreshing drink. From here we headed on further towards the village of Atalaya. Between these two villages we had some excellent birding stops at a ridge with some remnant forest. Here we had amongst Double-toothed Kite, White Hawk, Red-throated Caracara, Yellow-billed Nunbird, and Black-faced Antthrush. Around noon we had our packed lunch at the car before arriving in the village of Atalaya at 13:00. Here we said goodbye to Juve and boarded the boat to Amazonia Lodge, located on the other side of the river a few minutes downstream the Madre de Dios river. Arriving at the river edge we walked to the lodge while our luggage was transported by wheelbarrow by someone from the lodge. During the walk we noted new birds like Swallow Tanager, Turquoise Tanager, Golden-bellied Warbler and Black-crowned Tityra. We were welcomed at the lodge with a cool lemonade drink and enjoyed the birds in the beautiful garden from a comfortable chair on the porch. New birds included amongst Pale-legged Hornero, Black-and-White Seedeater and Purple-throated Fruitcrow, while the feeders produced new hummers like Grey-breasted Sabrewing, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Blue-tailed Emerald, Gould’s Jewelfront, Violet-headed Hummingbird and Golden-tailed Sapphire. Around 3:00 we headed out on the lodge trails visiting an area around a small lake. Just in front of the lodge is a small open area with a small watchtower where we had Uniform Crake and our first of many Hoatzin. We then entered a more forested area around a small lake and the birding turned out to be really marvellous with new birds showing up in great numbers. Besides an array of new Antbirds we had amongst Black-fronted Nunbird, Chestnut-eared Aracari, Plain-crowned Spinetail, Slender-billed Xenops, Fine-barred Piculet, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, Black-billed Thrush and Yellow-browed Tody-Flycatcher. We spend the last hour of daylight on the small watchtower scanning the open grassy area having amongst Blackish Rail, Scarlet Macaw, Dusky-headed Parakeet, Grey-rumped Swift and Black-capped Donacobius. At dusk we successfully spotlighted a Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl. Back at the lodge I had a nice cool beer on the porch while David and Roland tried to find a calling Common Pauraque. We had an excellent dinner and afterwards did our daily list showing 146 birds for today with no less than 78 new for the trip. Our total trip list is now at 360 species. Although it is common my best bird of the day was Hoatzin.
We headed out early at 5:00 to explore the hill forest trail and the watchtower. Like yesterday afternoon the birding was excellent again. During our way up the forest trail we had some really good birds like the endemic Koepcke’s Hermit, Black-tailed Trogon, Semicollared Puffbird, Foothill Antwren, Black-faced Antbird and Ochre-bellied Flycatcher. From the somewhat rickety watchtower we had amongst Tiny Hawk, Ornate Hawk-eagle, Blue-headed Macaw, White-thighed Swallow, Green Honeycreeper and Black-faced Dacnis. On our way back down the trail we again had some brilliant birds like Lemon-throated Barbet, Band-tailed Manakin, Round-tailed Manakin and Sapphire Quail-Dove. A bit further down we had a good flock with amongst some excellent new tanagers like Yellow-crested, Bay-headed, Green-and-Gold and Opal-crowned Tanager. At a landslide near the river we tried to flush nightjars but unfortunately we were not successful. We finally arrived back at the lodge at 12:00. After lunch we birded the garden from the porch until 15:00 having new birds like White-necked Jacobin, Rufous-crested Coquette, Grey-necked Wood-Rail, Red-capped Cardinal and the beautiful Masked Crimson Tanager at the feeder. In the afternoon we birded a more open area along a stream and later on did some “Tinamou hunting” on a forest trail. Although we did not see any Tinamou we had some excellent new birds like Cobalt-winged Parakeet, Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift, Blue-crowned Trogon, Ocellated Woodcreeper, Buff-rumped Warbler, Pygmy Antwren, Long-tailed Tyrant and a noisy party of Violaceous Jay. Back at the lodge we had a quick shower and afterwards a cool beer on the porch. After dinner we made up the checklist for today showing 127 birds of which 49 new for the trip and a trip list of now 409 species. Best bird of the day: Band-tailed Manakin.
We used our last hours at the excellent Amazonia Lodge by birding the trails surrounding the small lake again until breakfast. The birding was excellent again with still quite some new birds showing up like Blue-throated Piping-Guan, Blue-crowned Motmot, Rufous-capped Nunlet, White-lined Antbird, Band-tailed Antbird and best of all a brilliant Plum-throated Cotinga. The “tinamou hunting” was successful this time having views of Undulated and Black-capped Tinamou, and as a bonus a pair of Starred Wood-Quail. At 8:00 we were back at the lodge for breakfast, packed our luggage and walked to the river where we were supposed to be picked up by a boat at 9:00 for our onwards journey to the Amazon Manu Lodge located in the real lowlands. As we walked to the river David was called back to the lodge as there was someone on the phone for him. When David arrived back he told us that the boat was still waiting in Atalaya for the lorry coming from Cusco with our food on board. Later we heard that the lorry has had an engine breakdown. While we waited at the river, David did some phone calls with the owner of the boat and with Wim ten Have. Around 11:00 David came back with the good news that a boat was coming from Atalaya but still without our food. We decided to leave anyway and buy some food in Boca Manu. We had to stop in Boca Manu anyway to pick up our cook for the coming days. Some noteworthy birds seen during the boat trip included Orinoco Goose, Roseate Spoonbill, Capped Heron, Pied Lapwing, Large-billed Tern and White-banded Swallow. Because of the high water level of the river the trip went quicker than expected arriving in Boca Manu around 15:30. While David arranged the food together with our cook we had a refreshing drink and saw a group of thirteen Black Skimmers on the opposite side of the river. Around 16:15 we were off again arriving at the Amazon Manu Lodge just before dusk. Birds seen from the boat during the last part of the journey included Spix’s Guan, Blue-and-Yellow Macaw, Drab Water-tyrant and several Eastern Kingbirds. From the river edge at the lodge we enjoyed the sight of dozens of Sand-colored Nighthawks flying low over the river. After dinner we did our daily checklist having a total of 114 birds for today with 35 new for the trip, having a trip list of now 444 species. Best bird of the day: Plum-throated Cotinga.
Friday 26 October
This morning the lodge trails are on the program heading out at 5:15. Birding in the rainforest is always pretty difficult but the birds where very vocal and responding very well to David’s playbacks. The birding through terra firme forest and patches of bamboo appeared to be excellent having some very good birds like Razor-billed Curassow, Masked Trogon, Gilded Barbet, Scaly-breasted Woodpecker, Red-billed Scythebill, Bamboo Antshrike, Manu Antbird, Long-crested Pygmy-Tyrant, Pink-throated Becard, Fiery-capped Manakin, Scaly-breasted Wren and Thrush-like Wren just to name a few. Arriving back at the lodge around 12:00 we had Festive Coquette in a flowering bush behind our cabins. After lunch we headed out by boat to visit the Cocha Blanca oxbow lake. After a 20 minutes ride on the main river we got off the boat for a walk through the forest reaching the beautifully located oxbow lake after about 10 minutes. We then paddled around the lake on a floating platform enjoying not only the prolific bird life but also the beautiful scenery and serene tranquillity. In total we saw 46 bird species at the lake including an excellent set of new birds like Muscovy Duck, Sungrebe, Least Grebe, Purple Gallinule, Anhinga, Boat-billed Heron, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Horned Screamer, Snail Kite, Green Kingfisher, Lesser & Great Kiskadee and close-up views of a Ladder-tailed Nightjar roosting in a bush along the lake. During the boat ride back to the lodge at 5:30 it started raining heavily. Back at the lodge we had dinner and did our daily checklist. Today’s birding had been excellent and was one of the best days of the entire trip. Unfortunately there was no beer at the lodge to celebrate it. We ended up at a day total of 157 birds, and added 66 new birds to a trip total of now 510 birds. Best bird of the day: Horned Screamer. When we went to our room at 9:00 it was still raining.
When we woke up at 5:00 it was still raining heavily so we decided to stay in bed until 7:00. The sky did not look very promising when we got out of our cabin. We had breakfast and the only thing we could do was waiting for the rain to stop. Luckily the rain suddenly stopped at 10:00 and we immediately headed out on the lodge trails and saved the initial plan to visit the watchtower for the afternoon. At a small oxbow lake we tried for Pale-eyed Blackbird but we missed that. However the surrounding trails produced some very good new birds like a pair of Pale-winged Trumpeters, Ruddy Quail-Dove, Dark-billed Cuckoo, Long-billed Woodcreeper, Great Antshrike, Grey-crowned Flycatcher and not to forget a Banded Antwren which was one of the most memorable bird sightings of the trip. As we located the bird we sat down quietly and waited. The bird walked right in our direction and we had extended close-up views of this beautiful bird. On our way back to the lodge David suddenly was seized with fright when we nearly ran into a big snake lying right next to the trail. We were lucky that David, who was walking in front located it soon enough as it appeared to be a bushmaster, one of the most poisonous and dangerous snakes in South America. We tried to chase it away by throwing sticks but it didn’t move at all. So our only option to pass was taking a detour through the dense bushes. After this adventure we arrived back at the lodge at 13:00. After lunch we headed out to the Cumango oxbow lake and watchtower, located about 25 minutes by boat from the lodge. We first visited the watchtower which was built along a huge Ceiba tree. From the platform in the tree at 45 metres above the ground we had a fantastic view on the surrounding forest and the oxbow lake. One of the first birds we saw was a beautiful Spangled Cotinga, along with Yellow-browed Tody-Tyrant and Green-and-gold Tanager. We also had distant views of a family of Giant Otters. While the rest stayed in the watchtower Wilma and me went to the lake for a short boat ride in the hope to get closer views but unfortunately we did not see them anymore. New birds seen at the lake and from the watchtower by the others included amongst King Vulture, Rose-fronted Parakeet, Purus Jacamar, Lineated Woodpecker, Pale-eyed Blackbird and Black-capped Becard. At 5:30 we walked back to the boat and after a 30 minutes ride upstream we arrived back at the lodge just before dusk. After dinner our checklist showed 121 birds for today with 25 new for the trip, with a trip total of now 535 species. Choosing today’s best bird isn’t easy but let’s say it was Banded Antwren for the quality of the sighting and second Spangled Cotinga for it’s colourful appearance and beauty.
Today a visit to the Blanquillo Macaw Lick is on the program. We left the lodge at first light at 5:00 for a 25 minutes boat ride. Normally the lick is accessible via a trail from the main river, but because of the high water level we could approach the hide all the way by boat. Before the activity started we had breakfast at the hide, which is located about 40 to 50 metres from the claylick. Around 7:00 the activity started and the first Blue-headed Parrots began to gather in the trees above the lick, increasing to a maximum at around 7:30. Other Parrots seen around the lick included Red-bellied Macaw, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Rose-fronted Parakeet, Cobalt-winged Parakeet, White-bellied Parrot, Yellow-crowned Parrot, Mealy Parrot and the beautiful Orange-cheeked Parrot. After 8:00 the activity died down giving us some time to look for other birds around the hide like Razor-billed Curassow, Lesser Yellowlegs, Dark-billed Cuckoo and Little Ground-Tyrant. Around 8:30 the activity at the lick increased again but this time it was the turn to the Red-and-Green Macaws of which David counted 76 individuals. We enjoyed this spectacle for about an hour. When a group of Howler Monkeys came too close to the lick all Macaws flew off at once under a pandemonium of screeches. Around 10:00 we left the hide taking the boat back to the lodge. We got off the boat a few hundred meters past the lodge and birded the trails before walking back to the lodge at 13:00. Some new birds recorded on the trails included White-bearded Hermit, Collared Trogon, Red-necked Woodpecker, Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher, Brown-rumped Foliage-gleaner and best of all the endemic White-cheeked Tody-Tyrant. After lunch we had a break for an hour or so while David and Roland did some birding having Pavonine Quetzal and Golden-crowned Spadebill new for the list. Around 3:00 we all headed out again birding the trail towards the Tapir clay-lick. This trail tends to be good for Red-billed Pied Tanager, a specialty of the area. We followed the trail for about 2 km until a small clearing and from there we walked back to the lodge. We again had some excellent new birds like Violaceous Trogon, Striped Woodhaunter, Long-winged Antwren, Black-spotted Bare-eye (missed by myself), Rufous-capped Antthrush, Rusty-belted Tapaculo, White-crested Spadebill, Blue-backed Manakin and Yellow-backed Tanager. Unfortunately we missed the Red-billed Pied Tanager. We got back at the lodge just before dusk and were surprised by the pleasant news that finally the beer had arrived. We enjoyed a beer on the bench along the river and when it got dark David and Roland went out for a couple of minutes of “nightjarring”. When they arrived back we did our daily checklist and afterwards had dinner. Today we had 117 birds with 29 new for the trip. Our trip list is now at an amazing 564 species. Best bird of the day: Orange-cheeked Parrot.
Today we are leaving Amazon Manu Lodge. After saying goodbye to the lodge staff we got on the boat at around 5:15 for a long ride to Puerto Maldonado. After about 30 minutes we stopped along the left side of the river and birded a short trail with bamboo stands for about an hour. Here we had amongst Long-billed Starthroat, Rufous-headed Woodpecker, Large-headed Flatbill and Moustached Wren. An attempt to call in Peruvian Recurvebill unfortunately failed. We then continued our ride towards Puerto Maldonado while having our packed breakfast on the boat. During the boat ride we finally managed to see Yellow-billed Tern and besides that we had new birds like Black Caracara, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture and a group of eight Jabiru. Around 11:00 we had a sanitary stop on the river bank were the ladies found a family of five Burrowing Owls sitting on a dead tree trunk. During the remaining boat ride we had lunch and just before arriving to the village of Labyrinto we had a Short-tailed Hawk soaring over the river. In Labyrinto we disembarked the boat at around 14:00 and took a taxi to Puerto Maldonado arriving at the excellent Don Carlos Hotel at 15:00. After a quick shower we enjoyed a nice cool beer on the terrace in front of the hotel while a Saffron Finch landed in a tree in front of us. Around 16:00 David and Roland went out for some birding having amongst White-tailed Kite, Short-crested Flycatcher and Double-collared Seedeater new for the list. They also met a local birdwatcher who knew some good birding sites in the neighbourhood. They agreed with him to visit the sites the next morning. The rest of us stayed in the hotel. While the ladies went for a swim in the hotel’s pool I had a flock of Lessons Seedeaters from the terrace. In the evening we invited David to have dinner with us at the hotel as he was staying in another hotel. Our checklist showed 68 birds for today of which 18 were new. We now have a trip list of 581 birds. Best bird of the day: Jabiru.
While the ladies stayed in the hotel to relax and enjoy breakfast we headed out at around 5:15 by taxi which was pre-arranged by David the day before. In town we picked up the local birdwatcher and continued to a site with some small remnant forest patches surrounded by agricultural fields just outside town. We did not expect too much of the birding around Puerto Maldonado but we were very much surprised by the excellent birds we saw. New birds included amongst Grey Hawk, Ruddy Ground-Dove, White-throated Jacamar, Purus Jacamar, Cream-coloured Woodpecker, Straight-billed Woodcreeper, Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Purple-throated Euphonia and Troupial. From here we took a moto-taxi to some open agricultural fields and grasslands having amongst Chimney Swift, Lined Seedeater, Chestnut-bellied Seed-Finch and like yesterday two White-tailed Kites. David also spotted Striped Cuckoo which we unfortunately missed. Around 8:30 it was already pretty hot and we stopped a passing taxi to bring us back to the hotel. After breakfast we had a quick shower and packed our luggage to leave for the airport at 10:15. Our flight to Lima via Cusco was on schedule at 12:00. David had to get off the plane in Cusco and we did not all have chairs next to each other. So before getting in the plane we already said goodbye to David and thanked him for the great trip. As I was the only one with a chair next to David we quickly did our last daily checklist during the flight to Cusco. The list showed 77 birds adding another 16 species to our trip list of now 597.
Best bird of the day: Cream-coloured Woodpecker. When we landed in Cusco we waved goodbye to David and continued to Lima arriving there at 14:00. A taxi from Hostal Mami Panchita picked us up to bring us to the hotel. While Roland stayed at the hotel the ladies and me visited the Museo de la Nacion in Lima to sniff up some culture. In the evening we had dinner in a Chinese restaurant located only a few blocks from our hotel.
The next morning we had breakfast at 6:30 and were picked up by Lucho who was our driver during the Paracas – Nazca tour the next three days. Our first stop was at Pantanos de Villa, a marshy area with lagoons at the southern outskirts of Lima. Here we had amongst Plumbeous Rail, Kelp Gull, Band-tailed Gull, Grey-headed Gull, Wren-like Rushbird, Many-colored Rush-Tyrant and Scrub Blackbird. Our next stop was at the ruins of Pachacamac where we took a guided tour of about two hours. Around 11:30 we continued along the coast in southern direction where we made an excellent stop at the Puerto Viejo lagoons about 65 km south of Lima. The walk along the marshes and lagoons produced a good set of new birds like White-cheeked Pintail, Pied-billed Grebe, Great Grebe, Killdeer, Willet, Hudsonian Godwit, Stilt Sandpiper, Coastal Miner, Yellowish Pipit and Peruvian Meadowlark. A few km further by car we took an unpaved track to the right towards some agricultural fields. We first had lunch at the car and afterwards made a 2 hours walk through the fields having new birds like Peruvian Thick-knee, Mountain Parakeet, Amazilia Hummingbird, Long-tailed Mockingbird, Parrot-billed Seedeater, Chestnut-throated Seedeater and four Band-winged Nightjars. We arrived at the car at around 16:00 and continued our journey to Pisco. As we approached the outskirts of Pisco the devastation from the earthquake of last August was already pretty obvious with hundreds of piles of debris scattered around. Seeing the devastation in the town itself was pretty shocking with more then half of the buildings destroyed. Most shocking was seeing the church (or what was left of it) which claimed many victims as there was a mass going on during the earthquake. When we heard about the bad news at home we considered not to go to Pisco, but we changed our minds because we felt that you do not help the people by staying away. We stayed at Hostal La Portada which did not suffer any severe damage. However the plumbing had been damaged which meant we had no running water. After dropping the luggage at the room we had a cool beer at the reception while checking off our daily bird list. We ended up with 61 birds for today, adding 31 new ones to the triplist of now 628 species. Best bird of the day: Peruvian Thick-knee. In the evening we had an excellent dinner in a nice restaurant in town.
After an excellent breakfast outside the hotel we left at 7:15 to pick up Edgardo, our local bird guide for this morning. At the harbour we saw our first new birds like Peruvian Pelican, Royal Tern, American Oystercatcher, Whimbrel and Ruddy Turnstone. We then drove to Paracas arriving there way too early as our boat was only about to leave at 8:30. It would have been a better plan to make some birding stops on the way. While waiting at the harbour we saw many Peruvian Booby and an Elegant Tern. Around 8:30 we boarded the boat for a 2 hours trip to the Islas Ballestas, a group of islands located 20 minutes outside the coast. Approaching the islands the numbers of birds increased to the thousands with huge breeding colonies of Peruvian Booby, Neotropic Cormorant and Guanay Cormorant. Besides hundreds of see-lions we also saw a couple of Humboldt Penguin, Red-legged Cormorant and the beautiful Inca Tern. On our way back to the coast Edgardo pointed out a Sooty Shearwater. Back on shore we had a refreshing drink in the village before heading to a very dry area with some acacia trees located a few km inland. Here we found the localized Slender-billed Finch, of which I was even able to make a descent picture. Other birds seen at the same site included Lesser Nighthawk, Greyish Saltator, Long-tailed Mockingbird and Short-tailed Fiel-Tyrant. We then headed back to the coast and while approaching the Paracas peninsula we had a flock of about 25 Chilean Flamingo’s along the coast. We then went to the southern part of the peninsula to a bay called Lagunillas. Here we found a nice set of new birds having amongst Blackish Oystercatcher, Semipalmated Plover, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Surfbird, Grey Gull and the endemic Peruvian Seaside Cinclodes. We then headed back to the village of Paracas to have an excellent fish lunch. Around 15:00 we said goodbye to Edgardo and headed out for a 3 hours drive south to Nazca. After 90 minutes we had a short photo stop at the Huacachina Oasis, a lagoon surrounded by palm trees and impressive sand dunes. We then headed on through the dry and bleak landscape arriving in Nazca at around 18:30. We were staying in the excellent Hotel Alegria. After dropping our luggage at the room we discussed tomorrow’s plans with the owner of the tour company located next door. We then had an excellent dinner in a local restaurant and back at the hotel had a beer and a chat with our driver Lucho. Today’s checklist showed another 25 new birds. As this was our last day of birding our trip list ended up at an impressive 653 birds with an additional 43 heard only. Best bird of the day: Inca Tern.
Friday 2 November
Today we had an unusual late breakfast at 8:00 as our flight over the Nazca Lines was only at 10:00. Unfortunately Anne-Marie was sick again and couldn’t join us on the flight. We had a relaxed breakfast and headed for the small airport just outside town at 9:30. The flight over the lines in a small 4-seater Cessna lasted about 30 minutes and was a nice adventure, but the lines and figures itself were a bit of a disappointment to my opninion. Afterwards we headed back to the hotel to pick up Anne-Marie and our luggage and headed out for a visit to the Chauchilla Cemetery about 25 km south of Nazca. After that we visited a Nazca Ceramic workshop showing the old techniques of Nazca pottery and a place demonstrating an old way of extracting gold. Lucho’s car had a leaking hose, so while we had lunch at the hotel he went to a garage to let it fixed. After Lucho was back he had a quick lunch and around 15:00 we headed out for a very long journey (six hours) back to Lima. Around 19:00 we stopped for a quick dinner near Canete and continued to Lima arriving there at 21:30. We said goodbye to Lucho and checked in at the luxurious Faraona Hotel in Miraflores. While Roland and Anne-Marie went to bed we had a nice hamburger and Pisco Sour at the bar.
This was our last day in Peru. Until 13:30 we relaxed a bit having an excellent buffet breakfast, watching TV and surfing on the internet. We checked out 12:30 and waited in the bar for Luis who picked us up at 13:30 for a private City-tour in Lima. After a drive through the districts of Miraflores, Barranco and San Isidro we visited the San Martin square and the Plaza Major. Then we did a guided tour at the San Francisco monastery and catacombs. After the tour Luis dropped us at the airport at 17:30. After checking in we had dinner at the airport before boarding the plane on schedule leaving at 20:55. We had a trouble free flight to Madrid arriving there the next day at 14:00. In Madrid we said goodbye to Roland and Anne-Marie who had an onwards flight to Frankfurt while we were flying to Dusseldorf. We arrived in Dusseldorf at 18:30, picked up our car and drove home arriving there at 20:00. Another excellent trip has come to an end…
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