Few places on the planet flutter with the level of bird diversity found in Peru. At this crossroads for migratory birds, where 84 distinct life zones foster an astonishing array of endemic species, nearly 2,000 avian species have been identified—more than in all of Europe and North America combined. Embark on a thrilling bird-watching adventure that takes in the Andes and the Amazon, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, cosmopolitan Lima, and colonial Cusco. Along the way, discover a rainbow of birds in their native habitats, from kingfishers and parakeets to the Andean cock-of-the-rock.
Arrive in Lima and transfer to your hotel in the elegant San Isidro neighborhood. Spend the afternoon at leisure. Tonight, enjoy a welcome reception and dinner with your fellow travelers.
Venture into the mountains surrounding Lima on a birding excursion to Santa Eulalia Canyon. At this spectacular gorge, watch for black Inca hummingbirds and rare endemic birds such as the rufous-breasted warbling finch. With any luck, catch a glimpse of the iconic Andean condor. With a wingspan of 10 feet or more, this majestic creature is one of the world’s largest flying birds and has inspired centuries of art and mythology.
Fly to Puerto Maldonado, gateway to the Amazon. Set off on a scenic motorized canoe trip down the meandering Madre de Dios River to arrive at Inkaterra Hacienda Concepción, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World. Get settled into your screened-in cabana, then join a naturalist to explore the property’s trails for an introduction to the local flora and fauna, which includes more than 540 bird species. This evening, go on a sunset river cruise.
On a morning outing to the Inkaterra Field Station, hear about bird-monitoring initiatives and discover methods of studying local birds. Later, visit an organic orchard, then paddle your way around a tranquil oxbow lake on a canoe. Watch for colorful birds such as hoatzin, kingfishers, and flycatchers. Tonight, explore the rain forest after dark with an expert guide.
Go on a hike through the rain forest, meet with a researcher, and help set mist nets for birds. Then, exclusively for National Geographic guests, take a guided tour of the lodge's cacao plantation, try your hand at milling the bean, and learn how to make cacao bread. If you prefer, opt to try catch-and-release canoe fishing or enjoy more time for birding instead.
Embark on an early boat cruise to Cachuela clay lick, where hundreds of parakeets, parrots, and chestnut-fronted macaws gather. Watch the birds feast on the mineral-rich clay and learn about avian diversity from an expert guide. Enjoy breakfast aboard the boat and keep an eye out for more birds along the water. Back at the lodge, tour the on-site farm and botanical garden. Learn about medicinal plants and see birds flock to lush fruit trees. Toast your Amazon experience on a sundowner river cruise.
Depart the lodge by motorized canoe, then fly to Cusco. Begin your journey through the Sacred Valley of the Inca, a magnificent landscape dotted with ancient ruins and picturesque market villages. Stop at Awanacancha, a textile center dedicated to preserving Inca traditions. Learn about Andean camelids and feed some friendly llamas and alpacas. Continue on to colonial-style Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World perched on an emerald slope.
Go on a breathtaking train ride that travels from the Sacred Valley to the cloud forest. Upon arrival in the pedestrian-only town of Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes), set off on a guided tour of the legendary 15th-century Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Later, settle into your room at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World nestled in a lush rain forest below the citadel.
Rise early to catch the early morning sun over Machu Picchu. Hike up to the “Gate of the Sun” (Inti Punku), once the main entrance and built as an homage to the sun god. This afternoon, join a birding guide on a walk along the Vilcanota River into the Mandor Valley. Spot such avian charmers as the speckle-faced parrot, green jays, and even the Andean cock-of-the-rock—Peru’s vibrantly hued national bird. Later, take a relaxing dip in a secluded waterfall.
Early this morning, join an expert guide on a birding walk through the cloud forest, home to an astounding variety of tree and plant life. Stop at a river observatory and search for the sought-after torrent duck and white-capped dipper. Continue on to a tanager feeding area. Later, exclusive for National Geographic guests, enjoy a private guided visit to the lodge's Andean Bears Rescue Center and learn about efforts to rehabilitate South America's only bear species. Then take the train to Cusco and get settled into your suite at Inkaterra La Casona, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World set within a restored 16th-century mansion. Tonight, compare bird notes during a festive farewell reception and dinner.
Enjoy a morning at leisure in Cusco before flying to Lima, where we have secured hotel rooms for the night. You may choose to depart later this evening or the following morning, at your leisure.