Trip report: Peru: Manu and Machu Picchu (Aug-Sep 2014) by Tropical Birding

Guided by José Illanes.This was a set departure tour.

Peru is one of the World’s mega diversity countries, and is also not small either. As a birder, it is impossible to cover it all in one trip, so that if you only ever intend to visit Peru once, the choice of where to go can be daunting. However, this trip serves to address that question head on. This has become the quintessential birder’s trip to Peru; if you are only ever going to be able to come once, this is the standout choice of tour to join. Why you ask? Because, in many ways, this trip has it all. To visit Peru, and not see Machu Picchu, could be considered a “crime against Peru”; and indeed many who choose to come to Peru, choose to do so initially for the considerable draw of these Incan ruins, with the birding almost being an afterthought. This tour proves that it’s possible to visit Peru, see lots and lots of great birds, and have Machu Picchu too. In a sense, this tour is proof that you can have your cake, and eat it too! Aside for the remarkable Incan ruins, this tour offers a lot more besides. The Manu area is simply extraordinary from a birder and nature lover’s perspective; it ranks among the most diverse areas in the world. Manu is not merely Manu National Park, but a lot more besides. The Manu Road is Andean birding at its very best; it allows birding from temperate forest at the top end, typified by stunning hummingbirds and extraordinarily colorful tanagers, all the way down into the Amazon Basin too, with its very different offerings of multitudes of colorful toucans and cotingas, and otherworldly Hoatzins, stunning Agami Herons, and strange Sungrebes. In between all of this there are forests of other types too, and the near unique thing about the Manu Road, is there is largely unbroken forest all the way down, making it easy to sample all of what has been mentioned, and plenty more in between, like displaying Andean Cock-of-the-rocks, and dayroosting Andean Potoos, and gaudy endemic tanagers and antpittas. All of this featured firsthand on this tour, which packs a lot into its allocated time. Thus extraordinary Andean scenery, scintillating birding in one of the most diverse regions on Earth, and those must see ruins of Machu Picchu. The mere name Manu conjures up magical images of dense rainforest, holding spectacular birds and mammals. By the end of this trip, 704 birds later, no one was doubting they had visited somewhere with no equal, and somewhere incredibly special indeed, that is the envy of many other countries and birders the world over.

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