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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Peru April 21st- 30th 2003,
We travelled to Peru on a Travel Collection "Andes of Peru" trip. Although this was not a birding trip I managed to arrange 2 days of bird watching at Lomas de Lachay and Abra Malaga.
Flights were with Continental Airlines to Lima via Houston, Texas. On the return journey this entailed a 9 hour wait in Houston for the connecting flight.
The internal flights were with Aero Continente, both on time contradicting bad reports we had heard about them.
The train journey from Cusco to Puno took 10 hours but provided a lot of bird sightings, as did the train from Urubamba to Machu Picchu.
Faraona - in Miraflores area of Lima. Good hotel, large rooms, excellent facilities. Within driving distance of Lomas de Lachay and Pantanos de Villas. Within walking distance of the sea.
Incaland Hotel - Urubamba. About 1 hour from Cusco and at a slightly lower altitude. In the middle of the "sacred valley". Very good hotel, rooms in individual bungalows. Large with own sitting room and kitchen area. 26 acre grounds which back on to the river.
Don Carlos - Cusco. On the main road in Cusco from the airport. Standard "travel inn" type rooms. Surly staff! Indifferent food.
Posada del Inca - Puno. Set on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Beautiful Hotel. Excellent restaurant. Many birds in and around the grounds. Oxygen available if anyone has breathing problems.
English is spoken in all the hotels. Some Spanish is useful out and about especially if taking birding trips with local guides.
The cost of each trip was $150 per person which included driver in a Toyota Land Cruiser, guide, all food and drinks. They spoke very little English but identified the birds in English using "Birds of Peru" by Clements and Shany. We had Lucho and Alexjandro for Lachay and Goyo for Abra Malaga. All were excellent!!
Lomas de Lachay
This is an arid desert area 60km north of Lima at 600m above sea level. The area receives its moisture by condensation from the sea. April is not the best time to visit as it is extremely dry and some of the special birds, (Tawny Dotterel) are not present.
However, we saw approx 25 species including Cactus Canastero, Burrowing Owl, Least Seedsnipe, Cinereous Harrier, Black-chested Buzzard eagle, several Doves, several Finches, Thick-billed Miner and Vermillion Flycatcher.
On the way back we stopped at the coastal village of Acona and saw Peru Pelican, Booby, Band-tailed, Grey and Kelp Gulls.
Pantenos de Villas
A taxi driver will take you there from Lima for about $10 for a couple of hours. It takes about 30 minutes from Miraflores area of Lima. It is a wetland area bisected by the main road running along the coast. We went late in the day and didn't do the site justice. However, we had Cormorants, Gulls, Great Grebe, Silver-eared Grebe, Bittern sp., White-cheeked Pintails, Cinnamon Teal, unidentified waders, Blue and white swallows.
Train journey from Urubamba to Machu picchu
Torrent Duck and White-capped Dipper seen along the river past Km 98. You need to sit on the left hand side of the train going up.
There were not many birds to be seen at Machu Picchu and no Inca Wrens at all.
The grounds of the Pueblo Hotel, close to the train station, are good. Birds included several hummingbirds on the feeders.
A long drive from Cusco ( 120 miles - 4hrs ) to the pass at 14,000 feet above sea level. The scenery is spectacular and the air is thin!! At an area of Bamboo forest called Canchayoc we walked along the road and saw many species. Parodis Hemispingus, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Mountain Caracara, Inca Wren, Black-capped Hemispingus, Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager, Red-crested Cotinga, D'Orbignys Chat-Tyrant, Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant, Masked Flowerpiercer, Pearled Treerunner.
Coming back to the pass is the place to look for Royal Cinclodes. It is about a 3Km trek over rising rough ground to the Polyepsis forest (small bushes about 1 metre high). VERY strenuous!!
One Royal Cinclodes briefly showed itself but other specialities seen were Ash-breasted Tit-tyrant, White-browed Tit-Spinetail and Tawny Tit-Spinetail.
We then followed the dirt road back to Urubamba stopping at an area called Penas, a scrubby zone with lots of birds. Chestnut-Breasted Mountain Finch, White-Tufted Sunbeam, Great Sapphirewing, Bar-Winged Cinclodes, Rusty-Tailed Canastero.
Train journey to Puno
This takes about 10 hours. The train is "Orient Express" style with comfy armchairs instead of usual train seating, an observation car with an open area at the back and a 3 course lunch provided. Entertainment is provided with a "witchdoctor" performing a ceremony to Mother Earth, a Pan-pipe band and a demonstration of making Pisco Sour - the local favourite.
Numerous bird sightings along the way including Andean Flicker, American Kestrel, Andean Gull, Andean Goose, Mountain Caracara, Andean Flamingo and many herds of Llama and Alpaca.
Puno - Lake Titicaca
Many birds in this area - most very confiding. Common Miner, Sierra Mountain Finch, Plumbeous Rail, Andean Duck, Silver-eared grebe, Puna Ibis, Wren-like Rush Bird, Many coloured Rush Tyrant, Yellow-winged Blackbird.
This can affect anyone in varying degrees. Altitude sickness is also know as "Soroche". To alleviate symptoms we took Ginko Biloba before and during the trip. We also drank the local Coca tea "mate de Coca" at every opportunity and were not badly affected. Oxygen is available at the hotels, on the train, and is carried by "Birding Peru" on any trips at altitude.
Peru is a good birding location and using "Birding Peru" maximised the number of species we saw.
A little understanding of Spanish is useful.
Finally - don't bother with the Guinea Pig (Cuy) for dinner - it's overrated!! And watch out at Lima Airport. I had all my camera equipment and films stolen while having a meal on the last day!!
PERU SPECIES LIST
Grassland Yellow Finch
Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager