We have just returned from a bird watching trip to Peru and I would recommend it to anyone who loves a more active holiday. The first three days are spent travelling – we flew from Murcia to Madrid then to Lima and finally to Cusco. The first bird watching stop was Huacarpay Lake where we saw Speckled, Puna and Cinnamon Teal along with egrets and waders. We also started to become familiar with the common birds like Chiguanco Thrush, House Wren, Rufous-collared Sparrow and Hooded Siskin. We also saw our first hummingbirds including the Bearded Mountaineer, Green-tailed Trainbearer and Giant Hummingbird. Our first destination was Wayqecha Research Station where our list of hummingbirds grew and we saw our first Toucan. We watched a variety of chat-tyrants and tanagers, including, Blue Grey Tanager, D’Orbigny’s Chat-Tyrant and Giant Hummingbird. Nearly every day we were up at 4am and were bird watching until 5pm or later. This left time for a quick shower before completing our bird check list for the day and then having dinner. During our stay in the Eco-lodges, particularly those in the rain forest, we had no electricity in our rooms so with only candle light, or our torches, we found it easier to be in bed by 8.30pm. Some days we walked long distances and were glad of a long night’s rest.
We moved on to Cock of the Rock Lodge where we were able to see the national bird of Peru performing its mating rituals in the lek. Machu Picchu was fascinating and the scenery was spectacular throughout and with most of the travel being through rural areas we saw how many of the Peruvians still live in very traditional conditions. Patches of ground are cultivated and along the roads we frequently saw tethered cows, pigs and sheep. The houses were very basic but often had a satellite dish attached! We also saw herds of alpaca and llama on the mountains and even large numbers of horses in some areas. Many people still wear the traditional clothes and they are nearly all bright and very colourful. Because we visited a wide range of habitats we experienced different local climates. We had everything from cool weather in the cloud forests and hot and very humid conditions in the rain forest, where we stayed for a week. All the walking gave us good appetites and we ate large meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food was excellent, even the picnic lunches which we frequently took with us, but we still topped up with fruit and biscuit snacks along the way. The bird watching was very successful and as it was our first visit to South America a large number of the birds were totally new to us. I think our total will be over 500 once we check our world list. There was not a great deal of wildlife but we did see quite a few monkeys, squirrels, agoutis, giant otters, a tapir, a sloth, a tarantula and a huge number of beautiful butterflies. I nearly trod on a snake at Manu and when we called the guide to find out what sort it was he identified it as a fer-de-lance which is aggressive and venomous. Because it was in the garden of the lodge he had it killed to ensure no one was bitten by it. I was certainly glad I did not actually step on it even though I was sorry it could not have been removed to a safer place.
During our stay at Manu Wildlife Centre we visited the macaw lick and were able to observe the huge numbers of parrots and macaws that visit each morning. We saw sixty plus Red-and–Green Macaws, Chestnut-fronted Macaws, Orange-cheeked and Blue-headed Parrots and Yellow-crowned and Mealy Amazons.