DAY 1: CUSCO TO COCK-OF-THE-ROCK LODGE.
Our overland journey begins at 3,400 m/11,150 ft, with an early
departure from the highland city of Cusco. Today's destination is the
lush cloud forest region where the Andes fall away to the Amazon basin.
This is a day of scenic drama and striking contrasts. We first visit a
mountain wetland habitat teeming with migrant and local waterfowl,
before crossing two mountain ranges between the Cusco valley and the
Paucartambo valley, to a maximum altitude of 3,900 m/12,790 ft. Finally
we follow a sinuous ribbon of highway on its plunge through an
extraordinary world of forested cliffs, waterfalls and gorges. We take
leisurely stops to see mountain villages, a hilltop necropolis of
chullpas (pre-Inca burial chambers), and the abrupt ridgetop of Ajanaco,
which marks the final high point where the Andes begin their swoop into
the Amazon basin. In clear weather we will see a breathtaking panorama
of cloud forest and mountain giving way to the lowland rainforest plains
far below us.
After a picnic lunch we descend through the startling and rapid
environmental transformations characteristic of the tropical Andes,
passing from grassland and stunted trees through elfin forest, until we
wind through a lush and magical world of overhanging trees, giant ferns,
monster begonias, countless orchids and bromeliads, and a diverse and
We make frequent spontaneous stops, perhaps spotting a brilliantly
feathered quetzal, a trogon, or the wild turkey-like Guan. We reach the
comfortable Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge in the late afternoon, the best hour
to visit the nearby viewing platform for the display ground, or "lek".
This is usually the highlight of a long, full day, a chance to see
Peru’s dazzling national bird, the Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola) in full,
raucous courting display. (Box Lunch, D)
DAY 2: COCK-OF-THE-ROCK LODGE: ALONG THE ROAD AND TRAILS
In the early morning we have a second chance to view the Cock-of-the-Rockdisplay.
This lek and its observation blind are famous among birders, since
nowhere else on the planet allows so many of these spectacular blazing
red birds to be seen so easily. (Note that the very best months for
viewing Cocks-of-the-Rock are in September, October and November,
although the males display throughout the year.) Afterwards we can
stroll along the clearing formed by the nearby road, spotting other
birds, and with luck some Brown Capuchin or Woolly Monkeys.
After a hearty breakfast we can explore the forest overhanging the
gravel road near the lodge, or some of the miles of trails that wind
through the valley, to see high elevation cloud forest birds. This is a
relaxed and enchanting day. As we amble among the woods and waterfalls
we can marvel at the extraordinary variety of orchids, bromeliads,
ferns, begonias, lichens and mosses -- and we also have a chance of
sighting Woolly and / or Brown capuchin monkeys. Along the way we may
encounter some of the most colorful denizens of the cloud forest, such
as the brilliant Golden-headed Quetzal, Gray-breasted Mountain Toucan,
Blue-crowned Motmot, Umbrella Bird, Blue-banded Toucanet, fruit-eating
tanagers, Red-crested Cotinga, Banded-tail Fruit-eater, and a variety of
In the afternoon we can relax at the lodge, enjoying the dining hall
viewing platform, or our private forest-overlook balcony. Or we can
cross the river on the lodge’s private oroya (cable bridge) and hike the
trail on the south side of the Kosņipata River. (B, L, D)
DAY 3: COCK-OF-THE-ROCK LODGE TO CUSCO.
After an early breakfast we set off once more up the cloud forest
highway, pausing here and there to alight and stroll in search of more
birds: ones we have already seen, but are too spectacular to ignore, and
birds we are seeing for the first time. Or perhaps we will glimpse
monkeys that have so far eluded us. We wind our way through the
enchanted mountain landscape on our route back to Cusco, knowing that
the memory of this will remain with us for years to come. (B, Box Lunch)
Please note that the program may vary slightly so as to maximize your
wildlife sightings, depending on the reports of our researchers and
experienced naturalist guides based at the lodge.
END OF OUR SEVICES
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