4 Day/4 Night Add-On CONDORS and RAINBOW MOUNTAIN trip extension

16-20 October 2021

You have the option to add a few more days with our 4-day trip extension to see and photography Andean Condors and Rainbow Mountain. We’ll go high into the mountains to Chonta’s Condor Viewpoint, which allows birders to see enormous wild Condors soaring above and below us—yes, we’re that high! We’ll also have the opportunity to hike up for glorious views of Peru’s Rainbow Mountain – la Montaña de Siete Colores or the Mountain of Seven Colors, one of four rainbow mountains in the world. Colorful rock and sand formations have been created by erosion and tectonic movement over millions of years.

This trip may only be booked as a trip extension to the 10 – 16 October 2021 Birds, Bears, and Machu Picchu trip. Sorry, it is not available as a stand-alone trip.

This trip is at very high altitudes with cold temperatures and requires winter clothing including coats, hats, and gloves. We will camp at Chonta Village and Rainbow Mountain (1 night each location) with a full staff and tents included. Sleeping bags and coats may be rented in Cusco.

ITINERARY:

16 October 2021 – DAY 7:
Andean Condors and Chonta Village

We begin our unforgettable journey at 5 am for our 3-hour drive to the majestic canyon of Apurimac, the natural habitat of the Andean Condor, the largest flying bird in the world. During the drive, you can appreciate the majestic mountain range of Vilcabamba, as the Humantay & Salkantay snow capes (6,271 m.a.s.l) at every turn in the road, until we arrive at the community of Chonta. We’ll have a coffee break, before we start our trek to Apurimac Canyon’s viewpoint. Visualize the spectacular scenery as we cross the high plateau and Puna Grasslands. It’s a 2-hour walk, and we’ll take a reasonably slow pace so we can enjoy the incredible offerings of nature. This is a mostly level walk suitable for average fitness.

Some birds we may see on the way are:

  • Golden-billed Saltator
  • a variety of Sierra Finches
  • Hooded Siskin
  • Hummingbirds
  • Canasteros
  • Tanagers
  • Pigeons
  • Wrens
  • Tyrants
  • Cotingas
  • Swallows
  • Thrushes
  • Caracara
  • Raptors
  • Mammals like White Tail deer, Andean Fox and much more.

Once we arrive at the viewpoint (11,300’ or 3600 m.a.s.l.), we’ll watch up to a dozen Andean Condors with a wingspan of 3 meters soar upwards by using the thermal wind currents. About 100 Condors nest in the valley. The ancient Inkas considered Condors to be one of their deities and are incorporated in much of the art we will see and buy. After leisurely watching, we will enjoy a boxed picnic lunch with a magnificent view of Apurimac Canyon. The afternoon will be the best time to photograph the majestic condors in flight, and we’ll help you with tips and techniques to get the best photos. We will spend most of the day here, then set up at the camp site to spend the night in Chonta community. (B, L, D; Camping Overnight; sleeping bag not included but is available for rent in Cusco. You may also hire a porter to carry your backpack with advance notice)

17 October 2021 – Day 8:
Chonta community – Condors Viewpoint – Cusco Second Day

We will wake up early and walk around the Chonta Village to observe local birds and a spectacular sunrise view of Humantay snow peak. It’s a great moment to photograph a breathtaking landscape with alpenglow snowscapes. We will return for a scrumptious breakfast.

We will walk once again to the Condor viewpoint for one more chance to capture the magnificent rise of the condor over the Apurimac canyon in the best morning light. We are privileged to witness the majesty of the condor’s awakening. We might watch and photograph some other birds of prey, awaiting the condor’s return; this could be one of the most impressive things you may see if they bring back prey for condor chicks (if there are chicks on nests).

We’ll head back to Cusco late in the day. (B, L; Hotel overnight in Cusco; dinner not included)

18 October 2021 – DAY 9:
Rainbow Mountain

The Rainbow Mountain, with its naturally segmented striations, or stripes of various colors, is located in the Cordillera of Vilcanota, remote part of the Ausangate glacier and south of Cusco city. We will be at altitudes as high as 17,000’ (5200 m.a.s.l).

The Rainbow Mountain has only recently gained international attention among photographers who like to enjoy the high mountains and amazing landscapes. The pristine sky, accompanied by the constellations, stars and the Milky Way make this place unique and spectacular for the practice of astrophotography and the reunion of body and soul. Rainbow Mountain was hidden underneath snow and ice until about 2014, but climate change has made this incredible treasure visible.

We’ll depart the hotel at 5:00 am to drive to the south of Cusco for approximately 2 hours to Pitumarca village. After a brief stop, we will drive for about 90 minutes, arriving at Qesuno camp site. Once there, we will have a full breakfast. After that, we begin our ascent in a medium to hard 1-hour; this is not for the faint of heart or the unfit. At this point, our breathing will become increasingly labored as we gain altitude, but we will take it slow and we will have supplemental oxygen available. Once we arrive at the top of the pass, the famous Ausangate Rainbow Mountain comes into view. We will be rewarded for our trekking efforts when we finally see the incredible mountain with its vibrant multi-hued layers of rock sediment of turquoise, gold, orange, brown, and red.

At the same time, we will have majestic views of the Ausangate snow cape. This trek to Vinicunca is without a doubt the most famous new attraction in Peru. We will hike over to the Red Valley, where we’ll enjoy one of the most beautiful landscapes of Ausangate mountain range. Then, we will walk back to Rainbow Mountain for the best light and angles. Most visitors have already gone back to Cusco, so we should have unspoiled views. We want the best opportunities for photography, and this is how we’ll get them.

After photographing this spellbinding mountain, we start downhill for lunch at the campsite. In the afternoon, if your physical condition is fine, you may want to go back at the top of the mountain for a sunset photography session or walk, looking for the best views in all directions. Keep in mind that the top of the mountain is very cold and windy; you must plan warm clothing for this part of the trip. Temperatures can be below freezing at night.

At night, if conditions permit, we will practice some astrophotography. (B, L, D; Camping Overnight; sleeping bag not included, you may rent one in Cusco. You may also rent warm clothing in Cusco if you don’t want to bring a coat. You may hire a porter to carry your backpack)

19 October 2021 – DAY 10:
Qesuno – Rainbow Mountain – Cusco Second Day

We will wake up at 4:00 am, and after hot coffee or coca tea, we will climb back to the top of Rainbow Mountain, set up our tripods and photography equipment, and await the spectacular sunrise. This moment will be one of the most amazing and beautiful scenes you will remember in all your travels. After sunrise, we’ll hike to a beautiful small lagoon located near the campsite, looking for more photography opportunities of landscapes, flora, and fauna.

Late morning, we will go back to our campsite to enjoy a good lunch, pack our belongings to drive back to Cusco for the night. (B, L; hotel overnight in Cusco; dinner not included)

20 October 2021 – DAY 11:
End of Tour; Free Time and Transfer from hotel to Cusco airport

This is the hard part…saying goodbye. We’ve had an incredible, memorable adventure. We’ve made new friends, learned about another culture, and enjoyed unique experiences. We’ll meet again…we are sure of it! (Breakfast only)

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Inclusions:

  • Professional Bilingual (English & Spanish) Local Peruvian Birding Guide
  • Eagle Eye Safaris photography coach/guide
  • Transportation during Tour including trains and vehicles
  • Meals as noted – (most breakfasts and lunches, most dinners on your own)
  • Accommodations as noted (Inkaterra Hotel fills up quickly and may not be available to accommodate late bookings; Eagle Eye Safaris reserves the right to substitute a different hotel in Aguas Calientes for those booking too late to confirm reservations. Birding will be done on Inkaterra grounds)
  • Entrance fees to archaeological sites
  • Water (included, but you must provide your own canteen or water bottle)
  • Snacks as noted
  • Camping gear (except sleeping bags) for Chonta and Rainbow Mountain overnights
  • Portable Oxygen during hikes at Chonta and Rainbow Mountain
  • Full camping support staff for Condors and Rainbow Mountain extension
  • Transfer to/from Cusco Airport

Exclusions:

  • Medical Evacuation Insurance (MANDATORY) Your policy MUST include high-altitude hiking as Cusco is considered high altitude
  • Personal equipment (photography, binoculars, scopes)
  • Extra hotel nights (can be arranged by request; approx. $130/night/double occ)
  • Gratuities (a gratuity guide will be provided)
  • Transportation to/from Cusco for the tour
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Drinks other than water (must have personal canteen or bottle)
  • Most dinners unless noted, lunch in Inkaterra on 14 October
  • Travel Insurance (STRONGLY recommended!)
  • Sleeping bags for 2 nights (Chonta and Rainbow Mountain); available for rent in Cusco
  • Personal porter for Condors (Chonta) and Rainbow Mountain
  • Laundry Service
  • Personal purchases
  • Visas
  • Reconfirmation or change of date for flights or trains

All itineraries may vary according to the judgment of the tour leader, and elements beyond our control (example, adverse weather, delay or change of flights, delayed trains) and accommodations. Inkaterra Hotel fills up quickly and may not be available to accommodation late bookings; Eagle Eye Safaris reserves the right to substitute a different hotel in Aguas Calientes for those booking too late to confirm reservations. Cusco, Chontas, and Rainbow Mountain are at very high altitudes and hypoxia is a real threat. Medical Evacuation Insurance is REQUIRED for those joining this trip.

* Equipment List:

  • Passport or ISIC card (MANDATORY)
  • Binoculars
  • Neutral colored clothing (neutral colors-tan, green, gray, brown) (MANDATORY)
  • Sun Block – SPF 45-90 recommended
  • Personal Canteen/Large Water Bottle/Camelbak (MANDATORY)
  • Photography Equipment including a wide-angle lens for landscapes, and a zoom lens for birds
  • Layers to include warm clothing, rain jacket, waterproof hiking shoes/boots
  • Sunglasses
  • Safari Hat or ball cap
  • Extra Snacks (nuts, power bars, dried fruit, etc)
  • Daypack
  • Insect Repellent (STRONGLY ADVISED! Bring DEET wipes)

See Eagle Eye Safaris packing list for a comprehensive list. If you don’t have some of the required equipment or don’t want to carry it to Peru, you can probably rent it (please inquire).

* Cost:

Double: $ 4500 (7 Day/6 Night Birds, Bears, & Machu Picchu ONLY); + $1000 to add on the trip extension for Condors and Rainbow Mountain (total 11 Days/10 Nights)

Single: $ 5400 (7 Day/6 Night Birds, Bears, & Machu Picchu ONLY); + $ 1100 to add on the trip extension for Condors and Rainbow Mountain (total 11 Days/10 Nights) (Single Occupancy will have private hotel rooms, but must share a tent when camping for Condors and Rainbow Mountain, if you join the trip extension)

Deposit: 40%

Balance Due Date: 90 days Prior to Safari

* Max Clients on this trip – 12 clients

* Leader:

1-6 Clients: Karen Blackwood

7-12 Clients: Karen Blackwood and Ernest Porter

* Photographic skills level:

Beginner to pro. Karen Blackwood or Ernest Porter will offer personal attention and coaching to help you get the best photos possible. Birdwatchers and non- photographers are welcome!

* Fitness Level:

***Medical Evacuation Insurance is MANDATORY for both portions of this trip ***

Be sure that your policy includes high altitude hiking!

Chonta Condor Viewpoint and Rainbow Mountain Add-On Trip Extension: Fit; This trip include hikes in high altitude mountainous regions, and hypoxia and altitude sickness are possible. Please consult your personal physician to evaluate your fitness realistically for these hikes at these altitudes!

* Expected Weather/Temperatures:

70*F (20*C) daytime/42*F (6*C) nighttime in Cusco with occasional rain possible; temperatures at Rainbow Mountain can be below freezing overnight: 32 to -10*F (0 to -12*C); daytimes average about 60*F (15*C).

* Health Considerations:

Cusco, Chonta Condor Viewpoint, and Rainbow Mountain are high altitude and hypoxia and altitude sickness is possible. Please discuss altitude sickness with your physician prior to travel. Medical Evacuation Insurance is MANDATORY for this trip for this reason. Be sure your policy includes high altitude hiking (TrueTraveler and World Nomad apparently have policies available that include high altitude hikes. Eagle Eye Safaris has no relationship with any insurance company.)

* Electric Conversion:

Peru uses Type A and C plugs. Standard voltage is 220V/60Hz. These are available on most international travel adapters. Check to see if your appliances chargers need a converter. If the label states: “INPUT: 100-240V, 50/60 HZ,” the appliance can be used without a converter.

Be sure to order your Eagle Eye Safaris T-shirt and hoodie prior to this trip by clicking HERE. We have a selection of fun images so you can safari in style.