Would you like to add the 4-day extension to see Andean Condors and Rainbow Mountain? Click HERE
Peru – Machu Picchu (10-16 October 2022)
Start Date: 10-10-2022
End Date: 16-10-2022
12 spot/s available
We invite you to join Eagles Eye Safaris in Peru!
BIRDING, BEARS, and MACHU PICCHU (7 days/6 nights)
Plus the option to include CONDORS and RAINBOW MOUNTAIN (+4 days/4 nights)
Up to 11 Days of Birding, Wildlife, Inca Ruins, Culture, and Beauty in Peru
- Machu Picchu and Sacred Valley
- Endemic Birds of Peru with an expert local birding guide
- Spectacled Bears
- Andean Condors
- Rainbow Mountain
- Ausangate Glacier
- Wildlife Photography
- Culture and crafts of the Peruvian People
- History of the Inka people and the Spanish Conquest
- Archeology including many Inca ruins in the Sacred Valley
- Incredible Landscapes in the Andes Mountains
Eagle Eye Safaris has designed a unique birds, bears, and Machu Picchu travel program in concert with Peru Nature Photography, focused on enormous natural wealth such as endemic birds and wildlife, archaeological sites, living culture and dreamy landscapes. This route is one of the best natural corridors for bird watching and photography, designed for enthusiasts by specialists.
Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu have become the top spots for most travelers to Peru and South America. The ancient capital of the Inca (or Inka, as they spell it in Peru!) State and its surroundings have a combination of nature, history, mysticism and authenticity that is not matched by another area on the continent. This magic touch has attracted the interest of artists, birders, photographers, intellectuals, and thousands of travelers increasingly attracted by a multicultural magnetism. Our 7-day trip combines Inka archeological treasures through the Sacred Valley culminating in a tour of Machu Picchu, birding along the way with a Peruvian expert, and wildlife spotting while experiencing the warm, rich culture of the Peruvian people—the descendants of the Inca people.
If you want more adventure, you have the option to add a few more days with our 4-day trip extension to see 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. Want to go? Select this as an add-on extension when you book Birds, Bears, and Machu Picchu!
10 October – DAY 1:
Arrive in Cusco – Walking Photography Tour
Start of the tour: we will meet you at the airport and transport you to the hotel. Cusco is easily reached via a short flight from Lima. Cusco is at an altitude of 14,100’ (3400 m.a.s.l). Because of the altitude, you may want to consider arriving a day or two early to acclimate.
If you arrive in Cusco early enough, you can join our walking tour in the Historic Center of the city, featuring history and the Traditional Market of Cusco. We’ll focus on photography this afternoon, where we will have the chance of capture the historical and current culture of Cusco. We’ll focus on portraying the beautiful angles of the Cusco Colonial areas, and its picturesque postcard vistas, with its balconies, portals, ancestral walls and its traditional market immersing you with colorful, vibrant culture. We’ll see the ancient Inca stones overlaid by the architecture of the Spaniards and learn about the incredible knowledge and abilities lost when the Inca culture was invaded. (Overnight Cusco hotel; no meals included) (extra hotel nights can be arranged for early arrivals)
11 October – DAY 2:
Cusco Archeological Sites and Sacred Valley Photography and Cultural Tour
We will begin our activities at 7:00 am, exploring the most important archeological Incan temples near Cusco city, such as: Sacsayhuamán, Q ́enqo, Puka Pukara and Tambomachay. These ancient treasures feature magnificent construction and meaning, dedicated to the most representative Andean Ghosts. While we learn about the history of the Incan culture, we will also be birding; birds are everywhere, and we’ll point out the highlight species, trying to capture them while capturing a sense of place and history in our photos.
Next, we travel to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, arriving in Písac, a traditional and ancient town. We will have the chance to explore its beautiful and colorful traditional market, where you can buy some of the best handmade pieces of pottery, wool, silver, handicrafts and more.
After the market, we’ll enjoy lunch in one of the best traditional restaurants in town, featuring organic products.
After lunch, we will drive to Pisac’s archeological site to appreciate and photograph its beautiful scenery, birds, and Inca architecture. We will take advantage of the best best views in the afternoon light, then we will drive along the river, enjoying spectacular landscapes until we reach the hotel in Yanahuara – Urubamba. Yes, we will stop for interesting and unique bird species! (B, L; Overnight hotel in the Sacred Valley: Urubamba – Yanahuara village; dinner not included)
12 October – DAY 3:
Urubamba Sacred Valley – Ensífera Camp Feeder
Wake up! We start our photographic activities at 5:30 am. This will allow us to “play” with the glorious morning light for the best captures of endemic species of hummingbirds, such as:
- Green and White Hummingbird
- White-tufted Sunbeam
- Bearded mountaineer hummingbird
- Chestnut-breasted mountain-finch
- Creamy-crested Spinetail
- Rusty-fronted Canastero
- Sword-billed Hummingbird
- Great Sapphirewing
- Tyrian Metaltail
- Shining Sunbeam
- White-bellied Woodstar, and much more
After our morning activities, we will enjoy a Novo Andean Organic lunch. After that, our van will take us to Ollantaytambo, where we will enjoy of a tour of this amazing Inka temple. The stones used to build this marvel were quarried on a mountain-top we can see across the valley—how did they move tons of stone, and carve it with such precision? That’s a mystery of the ages…
We will also do a photography tour at the antique village known as “Alive Inka Town”. We will have the unique opportunity to meet with the last descendants of the Incan Villages and the people who come from different highland zones as we explore its ancient streets and Plaza. (B, L; Overnight at Ollantaytambo hotel; dinner not included)
13 October – DAY 4:
Ollantaytambo – Machu Picchu
Early in the morning after breakfast, we will start with our photography activities at the hotel garden. We could photograph some species such as:
- Green and White Hummingbird
- White-bellied Hummingbird
- Bearded Mountaneer Hummingbird
- Green-tailed Trainbearer
- Black-tailed Trainbearer
- Giant Hummingbird
- Black-backed Grosbeak
- Bare-faced Ground dove, among others
About mid-morning, we will go to Aguas Calientes via a train ride through the mountains with beautiful scenery. We will have lunch after we arrive.
In the afternoon, we will enjoy our guided tour of the iconic Machu Picchu, one of the new 7 Wonders of the World. This is the best time to have a pleasant visit of this UNESCO archeological complex, with good light for photography. Machu Picchu was once the political heart of the Inca Empire. Built by hand hewn, dry stacked stone around the year 1450, it was abandoned during the Spanish Conquest and quickly overgrown by the rain forest. It was rediscovered by the outside world in 1911, when local children showed it to American explorer Hiriam Bingham. The method of construction of the Inca temples and fortresses remains a mystery today…how did they polish the rocks to glass-like smoothness, cut them into pieces that fit like a puzzle (they aren’t just stacked!), and move them into position on the top of mountains?
While at Machu Picchu, we will scan the skies for Condors, which are sometimes seen soaring above, and we’ll watch the rocks for chinchillas! Did you know that these soft, silvery little animals are native to Peru? We’ll see llamas and alpacas grazing, too, and maybe, just maybe, a wild Spectacled Bear will dash through the complex.
We will check in to the incredible Inkaterra Hotel, a complex built entirely for birding and wildlife. Over 200 species of birds visit the feeders and nest in the old growth canopy, left in place when the hotel was sustainably built with the environment in mind. This hotel is a birder’s paradise, and people come from all over the world to spot lifers here. Keep your camera handy—you never know what you’ll see as you walk the beautiful grounds! (B, L, D; Hotel overnight at Inkaterra Hotel Machu Picchu)
14 October – DAY 5:
Inkaterra Machu Picchu – Photography, Birding, and Spectacled Bear Full Day
After an early breakfast, we will start our activities around the hotel. The hotel has the best options to practice photography, with birding and viewing activities on the grounds by going to the feeders, where we can observe and photograph various species of birds, such as:
- Blue-naped Chlorophonia
- Blue-necked Tanager
- Blue and Grey Tanager
- Silver-backed Tanager
- Chestnut-breasted Coronet
- Long-tailed Sylph, among others
After lunch in the afternoon, we will encounter the amazing Spectacled Bear. Did you know that Paddington was a Spectacled Bear? Once common throughout the Andes, the Spectacled Bear is critically endangered. The Inkaterra Association and the Protected Natural Areas National Service manage the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Spectacled Bear Project, designed to recover bears that have been negatively affected by human impact, and reintroduce them into their natural habitat. They have non-releasable bears among the bears that are being rehabbed for release, all residing in about 4 acres of fenced property. Wild bears frequently come to visit them. We should be able to take lovely portraits of the captive bears and hope to get incredible photos of the wild bears if they are nearby. Donations help fund this effort and are appreciated by the Spectacled Bear Project.
If there’s time, we’ll go to the orchid garden to have a portrait photograph session. Peru is home to many stunning orchid species. Afterwards, we will wind up the afternoon with an elegant tea service (included). (B, D; Overnight hotel at Inkaterra Hotel Machu Picchu; lunch not included)
15 October – DAY 6:
Inkaterra Machupicchu – Moray Archeological Complex – Maras Salt Mines – Chinchero Craft Center – Cusco
After breakfast, we will have one more chance to go back into the gardens to watch and photograph birds, hoping to capture a few last new species, such as:
- Blue-capped Tanager
- Golden-naped Tanager
- Silvery Tanager
- Blue-backed Tanager
- Blue Dacnis
- Silver-beaked Tanager
- Andean Cock-of-the-rock
- Andean Motmot
We could also observe:
- Speckled Hummingbird
- Lesser Violetear
- Sparkling Violetear
- Long-tailed Sylph
- Bronzy Inca
- Chestnut-breasted Coronet
- Booted Racket-tail
- Gould’s Jewelfront
Around 10:00 am, we will go to the train station to go back to Cusco city, traveling by Ollantaytambo for a different view of the incredible fortress. On the route, we will have lunch and we will visit the following places:
Maras Salt Mines: In use since ancient times by the Inkas, the Salt Mines are made up of more than 5,000 small pools. The process of obtaining the salt consists of filling them with saltwater, then waiting until the water evaporates and only the crystallized salt remains. The water comes from a natural source located at the top of the complex. The Maras Salt brand is highly desired and required in the most prestigious hotels and restaurants nationwide due to its high quality and filtration process, which makes it unique.
Moray Archeological Complex: The Archaeological Complex of Moray is located 49 km from Cusco, at an altitude of 3500 meters above sea level. According to the historian Edward Ranney, the Inkas designed the deep bowl terraces of Moray as a research station for the development of specialized agriculture, perhaps for the adaptation of their more precious crops like corn, coca leaf and chili. The Incas hybridized and modified crops to make them suitable for human consumption. Soil was brought in from different regions, and the temperature within the bowl varies by 15*C from the top to the bottom, creating micro-climates. It is interesting to note that the Moray Ruins never flood, even in Peru’s rainy season; the Incas may have created underground channels built to drain the water.
Chinchero Ancient Weaving Center: We will visit a craft production and exhibition center where the finest textile art is practiced using ancient techniques and incorporating iconography from the most remote times, earning it worldwide recognition. (B, L; overnight at Cusco city; dinner not included)
16 October – DAY 7:
Airport Transfer OR Andean Condors and Chonta Village — Start of Trip Extension
Today is end of the trip for some clients and includes breakfast at the hotel. It is the start of the Optional Extension Trip for Condors and Rainbow Mountain. Those not continuing with us will be transferred to the airport for your flight.
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
- 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 – 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 – DAY 9:
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: turquoise, 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 – 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 – 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!
Would you like to add the 4-day extension to see Andean Condors and Rainbow Mountain? Click HERE
- 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
- 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
- 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)
- 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
- Safari Hat or ball cap
- Extra Snacks (nuts, power bars, dried fruit, etc)
- 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).
Double: $ 4950 (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: $ 5950 (7 Day/6 Night Birds, Bears, & Machu Picchu ONLY); + $ 1200 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)
2nd Payment: 30% – 180 days prior to Safari
Final Payment: 30% – 90 days prior to Safari
* Max Clients on this trip – 12 clients
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!
7 Day/6 Night Birds, Bears, and Machu Picchu trip: Average to fit; most hikes are gentle grades, however, many archeological sites such as Machu Picchu and Ollyantantambo features many stairs and some steeper ascents. Cusco is a high-altitude city, and hypoxia or altitude sickness is possible.
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.
Birds, Bears, and Machu Picchu:
Andean Condors, Chonta Village, and Rainbow Mountain:
Inkaterra Macchupicchu Lodge:
Double Occupancy, Single Occupancy