Specialized Photo Tour concentrating on Bird and Wildlife Photography in one of the Remotest Areas on Earth
Price: $4,450.00 USD
Single Supplement: $850.00 USD
The Manu Biosphere Reserve has the highest diversity of life on Earth and is one of the most important conservation units in the world. If you were to choose THE best bird and wildlife photography trip in the world, this must surely be a candidate for the winner. The beauty of this trip is the variety of habitats visited ranging from orchid laden cloud forest where Spectacled Bears and Cock-of-the-Rocks still live unmolested, to untouched Amazon rainforest where 13 species of Primate abound and Giant Otters still exist in the ox-bow lakes. A trip to Manu is a trip to one of the world’s great wilderness areas where wildlife is still plentiful. Although not filled with mega fauna as Africa – this is the best of the Amazon, the whole watershed of the Manu River drainage having been protected for over 50 years with beaches loaded with breeding Skimmers, Terns, Orinoco Geese , Turtles where predators such as jaguars and Ocelots can still be encountered.
Day 1: Arriving in Lima we transfer to our hotel in Lima, which will vary depending on flight arrival times.
Day 2: Early morning flight to Cusco and we head out south of town with a picnic lunch to Huarcapay lakes. The lake is surrounded by Inca, and pre-Inca ruins. Here we will see a variety of high Andean waterfowl including Puna, Yellow-billed and Cinnamon Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail, Andean Duck and other wetland associated birds. White-winged Grebe and Andean coot will be here too. Depending on the time of year migrant North American shorebirds (waders) may be present. We will be specifically on the lookout for Wren-like Rushbird, Many-colored Rush-tyrant, Yellow-winged Blackbird, Puna Ibis and Andean Negrito. Birds of Prey we may see include Aplomado Falcon, Cinereous Harrier, Red-backed Hawk and Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle. In the arid scrub around the lake we’ll look for the endemic Rufous-fronted Canastero and also Streak-fronted Thornbird. We should find the pretty, endemic Bearded Mountaineer feeding in the tree tobacco (Nicotania sp.) with Giant Hummingbird and Trainbearers. Peruvian, Ash-breasted and Mourning Sierra-Finches will be here with Greenish Yellow-finch and Blue and Yellow Tanager. In the late afternoon we’ll drive back to Cusco for a night in the old Inca capital. B:L:D
Day 3: Early start in our expedition bus. We will make a couple of selected stops in the inter-montane valleys specifically for two endemics. We’ll take a picnic breakfast as the sun hits the slopes and colorful Quechua peasant farmers pass by with livestock creating a peaceful pastoral scene – our target here – the Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch. We should see Andean Hillstar, Andean Flicker, Black-throated Flowerpiercer, Chuiguanco Thrush and more. Our next stop is for the endemic Creamy-crested Spinetail, before arriving at the last Andean pass – Ajcanacu. We have had luck with Andean Condors here in the past and if it’s clear we’ll be able to look out from the last range of the Andes over the Amazon basin stretching into the distance, as the Incas did in ancient times, worshipping the sun rising over the endless rainforest. In the after-noon we will bird the upper limits of the eastern slopes. Working our way down the eastern slope of the Andes, the forest becomes more continuous and we will spend the afternoon birding to our accommodations. Possibilities are many but we hope to encounter mixed species flocks of Tanagers, Flycatchers and Furnarids. Gray-breasted Mountain Toucan, Collared Jay and Mountain Cacique are among some of the many species we may find. Night at the comfortable Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge near Union at 1300 meters. B:L:D
Day 4 and 5: Cock of the Rock Lodge is situated in the pristine Cloud Forest of the Mountains of Manu just a few minutes’ walk from a spectacular Cock of the Rock lek furnished with comfortable blinds (hides) which enable us to photograph these colorful birds during their dawn mating rituals. Facilities at the Lodge include 12 large spacious en-suite bungalows with hot and cold running water, flush toilets and two single beds in each room plus several rooms with shared facilities – which room you get depends on how early you book!. Private bungalows have their own private balcony. Lighting is by candle and lantern but there is a small generator available for charging batteries. There is a large dining area and lounge overlooking a feeding station for Tufted Capuchin Monkeys and Tayras (a large mustellid related to the Martens). Hummingbird feeders attract several species right in the dining room including Rufous-webbed Brilliant. Many spectacular waterfalls in the area are far enough away so as to enable hearing birdsong. Orchids abound with c. 80 species recorded around the lodge. We have often run into troops of the large Gray Wooly Monkey here. One day we’ll devote to the 2500 meter altitude zone, and one day to the 1500 meter zone. Possibilities include White-rumped Hawk, Solitary Eagle, Rufous-capped Thornbill, Crested Quetzal, Golden-headed Quetzal, Masked Trogon, Highland Motmot, Black-streaked Puffbird, Blue-banded Toucanet, Olive-backed Woodcreeper, Montane Woodcreeper, Spotted Barbtail, Montane Foliage-gleaner, Amazonian Umbrellabird, Uniform and Variable Antshrikes, Slaty Gnateater, Chestnut-crested Cotinga, Scaled Fruiteater. Nights at Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge. B:L:D.NOTE:If Cock of the Rock Lodge is full we’ll stay at the nearby very comfortable Paradise Lodge.
Day 6: After a dawn breakfast accompanied by the singing of Andean Solitaires and Paradise Tanagers from the breakfast table, we leave San Pedro at 1600 meters and spend the day working and photographing slowly down to the comfortable Amazonia Lodge at 500 meters. We will pay particular attention to the stretch between 1500 meters and 800 meters. This upper tropical zone forest has disappeared on much of the Andean slopes in South America because of its suitability for cash crops such as tea, coffee and coca, but in this part of Peru the forest remains untouched. A spectacular new Tanager to science, yet to be described is along this stretch and we have seen it with several tours. Birds we have seen well on this stretch of road include: Rufous-breasted Wood-Quail, Speckle-faced Parrot, Chestnut-collared Swift, Peruvian Piedtail, Three-striped and Three-banded Warbler, Long-tailed Sylph, Lanceolated Monklet, Versicolored Barbet, Russet Antshrike, Rufous-lored Tyrranulet, Marble-faced Bristle-tyrant, Fulvous-breasted Flatbill, Russet Antshrike, Olive-tufted Flycatcher, Golden-crowned Flycatcher, Dusky-green Oropendola, Golden-collared Honeycreeeper, White-winged Tanager, Yellow-throated Bush-Tanager and much more. A short boat ride across the Madre de Dios River takes us to the lodge. We plan to reach Amazonia Lodge before dusk. Night at Amazonia Lodge. B:L:D
Day 7 and 8: Two full day at the comfortable Amazonia Lodge. This family run Lodge has a bird list of around 600 species and others are continually being added to the list. The lodge is situated in the transitional zone at 500 meters, where the last low foothills of the Andes begin to flatten out into the lowland Amazon Basin proper. There are Butterfly bushes that attract various Hummingbird species including the pretty Rufous-crested Coquette, Golden-tailed Sapphire, Blue-tailed Emerald, Black-eared Fairy and Wire-crested Thorntail, Koepckes Hermit and many more. We will spend a lot fo time here taking photos from the comfortable balcony of the Hummers and the fruit feeders that attract a variety of colorful Tanagers and a large Mustelid – the Tayra . A canopy tower on the hill enables us to watch canopy foothill flocks. We will be visiting a variety of habitats over the next two days including floodplain and hill forest. The possibilities around Amazonia Lodge are enormous but some species we will be on the lookout for include: Black-capped Tinamou, Blackish Rail, the strange Hoatzin, Buckley’s Forest Falcon, Wattled Guan, Military Macaw, Blue-headed Macaw, Pheasant Cuckoo, Koepcke’s Hermit, Rufous-webbed Brilliant, Bluish fronted Jacamar, Chestnut-capped Puffbird, Fine-barred Piculet, Red-billed Scythbill, Dark-breasted Spinetail, Dusky-cheeked Foliage-gleaner, Bamboo Antshrike, Chestnut-backed Antshrike, Amazonian and Thrush-like Antpitta’s, Rusty-belted Tapaculo, Mottle-backed Elaenia, Red-billed Tyrranulet, Johannis’ Tody-tyrant, Yellow-browed Tody-flycatcher, Black-backed Tody -Flycatcher, Ornate Flycatcher, Band-tailed, Fiery-capped and Round-tailed Manakins, White-thighed Swallow, Golden-bellied(Cuzco) Warbler, Black-faced Dacnis – the list goes on….! We should bump into troops of Black-capped Squirrel and Night Monkey. We will be reluctant to leave this very birdy place, but yet more awaits us in the Amazon lowlands. All nights will be spent at Amazonia Lodge. B:L:D
Day 9: Early morning birding near Amazonia Lodge in search of anything we have missed. As the day begins to warm, we will head down the Alto Madre de Dios river in our motorized canoes to its confluence with the Manu River (about 4 hours), and then on for another two hours to the comfortable Romero Rainforest Lodge , the CREES foundation conservation group. Accommodations are very comfortable in this isolated lodge. The river trip is a pleasure as we leave the last foothills and enter the Amazon proper. Our boats are roofed with comfortable padded bucket seats. Reaching the confluence of the Manu and Madre de Dios rivers we turn up the Manu to the sound of Macaws and beached loaded with nesting birds. We plan to arrive at the exclusive Romero Rainforest Lodge in the late afternoon. Night Romero Rainforest Lodge. B:L:D
Day 10: A full day at the Romero Rainforest Lodge. This small lodge is a perfect refuge amidst pristine forest. The surrounding trail system and forest holds some birds that are hard to see elsewhere on this trip including Black-faced Cotinga, White-cheeked Tody-Flyctcher, Long-crested Pygmy-Tyrant and Pale-winged Trumpeter. We’ll explore the ample trail system perhaps walking to Limonal seeing various troops of primate along the way, where our boat will pick us up and return us to the lodge for lunch. Night Romero Rainforest Lodge. B:L:D
Day 11: Today we head upriver to the Aguaje Tented Camp. On the river journey, we will have the opportunity to see some of the typical riverside species such as Pied Plover, Collared Plover, Orinoco Goose, Large-billed and Yellow-billed Tern. At his time of year each beach we pass is loaded with nesting birds and this is our big chance to see a Jaguar sunning on a log or other wildlife on the beaches. Flyovers will include many species of Macaws and Parrots, and this is our opportunity for some Bird of Prey observations. Night Aguaje Tented Camp. B:L:D
Day 12: Aguaje Tented Camp. Our first journey on an Ox-bow Lake – Cocha Salvador. This huge Oxbow lake is home to a permanent family of Giant River Otters, Black Caiman, Sungrebes and Agami Herons. We will spend a few hours slowly paddling around the lake edge getting excellent photo opportunities of the lakeside fauna. Night Aguaje Tented Camp. B:L:D
Day 13: To Romero. Morning in the forest and at another Oxbow lake – Cocha Otorongo. This lake also boasts an Otter group – after lunch we’ll head down the Manu River, this time in the afternoon light, stopping as opportunities permit to photograph wildlife and birds on the white sand beaches, Macaws and primates along the way. Night Romero Rainforest Lodge. B:L:D
Day 14: Romero to MWC Lodge. Situated just upriver from the Blanquillo Macaw Lick.
Day 15 to 18: Four full days based at the Manu Wildlife Center. There will be the opportunity on one morning to visit the Macaw lick and observe the spectacle of hundreds of Parrots and Macaws at close quarters from our blinds. Here we will see the beautiful Orange-cheeked Parrot, hundreds of Blue-headed Parrots as well as Mealy and Yellow-crowned Parrots. Smaller visitors include White-eyed, Cobalt-winged and Dusky-cheeked Parrotlets. Some of the time will be spent birding the extensive trail systems which have been designed to visit different forest types. The area around this lodge has the most forest types of anywhere in the Manu area, and thus the highest bio-diversity – which means the most species of birds. Large stands of Bamboo hold many local and much sought after species, and coupled with the extensive Varzea, Terra Firme and Mature Transitional Floodplain Forest, this means a mind-boggling variety of bird-life. We will spend time at a two different canopy observation towers accessed by spiral metal stairway’s photographing canopy flocks which include Sclater’s Antwren, Chestnut-winged and Lineated Foliage-gleaners, Three-striped Flycatcher, Red-billed Pied Tanager, Yellow-shouldered Grosbeak and a multitude of Tanagers, Dacnis and Honeycreepers. Some of the scarcer forest species we will be on the lookout for that we have seen here previously include: Bartlett’s Tinamou, Razor-billed Currasow, Pale-winged Trumpeter, Sunbittern, Pavonine Quetzal, Purus Jacamar, Striolated Puffbird, Gray-cheeked Nunlet, Cream-colored Woodpecker, Tschudi’s Woodcreeper, Collared Puffbird, Ruddy Spinetail, Plain Softail, Striped Woodhaunter, Banded Antbird, Ash-throated Gnateater, White-throated Antbird, Black-spotted Bare-eye, Black-faced Cotinga, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, White-bellied tody-tyrant, Royal Flycatcher, Musician Wren, Pale-eyed Blackbird, Yellow-shouldered Grosbeak to name but a few. We will also visit two Ox-bow lakes in the area – Cochas Blanco and Camungo where we will see lakeside birds including Hoatzin, Sungrebe, Agami Heron, Greater Large-billed Seed-finch, Silvered and Band-tailed Antbirds, Amazonian Streaked Antwren, Rufous-sided Crake, Gray-breasted Crake and we may be lucky and see one of the two Giant Otter families that live in the area.. A night visit to the large mammal lick in the forest, apart from attracting Tapirs, Peccaries and maybe a Jaguar, also attracts Guans, Curassows, Chachalacas as well as Rose-fronted and Rock Parakeets and Dusky-billed Parrotlet as dusk approaches. All nights at the Manu Wildlife Centre. B:L:D.
Day 19: Early start on our comfortable boats and our last look at early morning Parrot flocks. Our journey down the Madre de Dios River takes us past pristine forest until the town of Boca Colorado. It will be a great chance to see riverside birds and raptors. Leaving our boat we’ll take one hour ride in local transport to the Inambari River where our bus will be waiting on the other bank to take us, birding along the way, into the bustling frontier town of Puerto Maldonado where we’ll stay at our comfortable hotel. B:L:D
Day 20: Early morning around the airport and the road to Cusco. We should pick up a lot of new species in these few hours including seedeaters, Red-breasted Blackbird and White-tailed Kite. Other birds we’ll be on the lookout for include Grassland Sparrow, Gray-breasted Crake, Black-faced Tanager, Barred Antshrike, Crested Caracara, Lesser – Yellow-headed Vulture, Small–billed Tinamou, Rusty-margined and Sulphury Flycatchers etc. Point –tailed Palmcreeper is common and Black-banded Crake is a possibility. Morning Lan Peru Airbus 319 flight to Lima and connecting international flights. We’ll provide day use of a hotel in Lima for relaxing before your international flight or overnight if needed. B:
Does not include air Lima – Cusco & Puerto Maldonado – Lima but we will purchase these on request – the price depends on when we get your full name, deposit and passport numbers