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Northern Peru is arguably theoverlooked highlight of a trulydiverse and spectacular country.With a mountainous backbone dissectedby the mighty Marañon River and itstributaries, this vast region is abiogeographic jigsaw that is surely yet toreveal many hidden wildlife secrets. We willexplore it on this adventurous tour, as wetravel from the midst of the verdantAmazonian lowlands to the breathtakingUtcubamba Canyon, over the WesternCordillera of the Andes, and throughdesert and dry foothills before concludingat Chaparri Lodge and the crashing surf ofthe Pacific.This will be a spellbinding journey offeringa wealth of opportunities to enjoy theregion's spectacular scenery and richarchaeological heritage, as well as anornithological feast that may include suchlegendary gems as the remarkableMarvellous Spatuletail, endemic Inca-finches, the endangered White-wingedGuan (which was thought to be extinct forover 100 years), and a huge variety ofmore widespread species such as AndeanCondor, King Vulture and Andean Cock-of-the-rock. Without doubt, this is one of theworld's most tantalising birdingdestinations!We begin our tour with a flight to Iquitos,from where a short boat ride will deliver usto a well-appointed Amazonian lodgewhich allows us to embark on our holidayin style! Here we will explore a variety ofAmazonian habitats, seeking the birds andwildlife of the region. We will pay specialattention to an area of rare white-sand forest where there are several endemics,some only recently discovered, and to theinhospitable habitats on the islands in theriver where several specialist species havealso evolved. We should also seemonkeys, river dolphins, caiman and muchmore as we explore this region on foot andby boat.We next spend two days exploring thehumid forests to the east of the Andes,home to such species as Royal Sunangeland huge mixed species flocks teemingwith colourful tanagers. The lowerelevations here also accommodate suchsought-after species as Andean Cock-of-the-rock and Amazonian Umbrellabird.We'll eventually bird our way up to the highpass of Abra Patricia. The stunted forestsaround the pass, amidst the most awe-inspiring scenery of the tour, are home tosome of Peru's least known species. Thenew birders' lodge here, Owlet Lodge, isideally placed overlooking the forestedridges falling away to the east, and will beour base for the next two nights. The Long-whiskered Owlet (after which our lodge isnamed), is one of the great ornithologicalmysteries of the continent. Discovered in1976, it was for many years only everencountered by a handful of mist-nettingresearchers. Finally, in February 2007, itwas discovered naturally by researchersand has been seen by a regular trickle ofkeen birders since then.Remaining in the Andes, we next explorethe drainage basin of the mighty Marañon,one of Peru's principal Amazoniantributaries. The area comprises anincredibly complex topography and it ishere in these mountains that another suiteof endemic species has evolved. Travellingup the spectacular Utcubamba Valley tothe Andean town of Chachapoyas, we will,over the course of two days in the region, explore the area for birds, and also samplethe remnants of the incredible Chachapoyaculture which include the fortress of Kuelap(considered by many to rival Machu Picchufor its grandeur and location), theimpressive cliffs and sarcophagi of Karajia,and the museum of Leimebamba (thelagoon of the mummies).After crossing the Marañon itself, we willspend a night in the town of Jaen tosearch the nearby areas for suchendemics as Marañon Thrush and LittleInca-finch. Next, we cross the lowest passin the Andean chain (at just 2,200 metres)and, leaving the Andes behind, move ontowards the dry coastal lowlands of theTumbesian region of Peru, one part of themost diverse centre of bird endemism onthe planet. Based at the rustic andcharming Chaparri Ecological Reserve (runby the local community), the traditionalcabins provide a comfortable base fromwhich to go in search of such species asthe critically threatened White-wingedGuan and the endemic Tumbes Tyrant, aswell as such mammals as White-tailedDeer and Sechuran Fox.This coastal plain was once also home to adiversity of pre-Inca civilisations, includingthe Muchik who left behind a rich heritageof fine gold and silver jewellery in theiradobe pyramids. We will see some ofthese huge structures at the PomacArchaeological Sanctuary (which is alsohome to many of the endemic birds of theregion) and, during a short visit to theTumbas Reales Museum in Lambayeque,we will be able to marvel at the treasuresof the Lord of Sipan. These werediscovered as recently as 1988 and arenow displayed in a splendid new museumthat was recently named as one of theworld's 10 best small museums by the ArtNews magazine of New York.Northern PeruAn 18-day holiday combining the best of northern Peru's birds, wildlife and culture. Thursday 11th October - Sunday 28th October 2012 Cost: £3,895Thursday 10th October - Sunday 27th October 2013 Cost: £3,895Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationCHICLAYO PACIFIC OCEAN PERU LIMA JAEN MOYOBAMBA TARAPOTO IQUITOS LEIMEBAMBA CHAPARRI BOLIVIA CHILE ECUADOR COLOMBIA BRAZIL Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Lima.Day 2/4Muyuna Lodge.Day 5Iquitos.Day 6Reserva Alpahuayo,Tarapoto.Day 7Moyobamba.Day 8/9Owlet Lodge, AbraPatricia.Day 10Puerto Pumas.Day 11Kuelap, El Chillo.Day 12Jaen.Day 13Tucume.Day 14/15Chaparri EcologicalReserve.Day 16Chiclayo.Day 17Lima/in flight.Day 18Arrive London.Accommodation A mixture of the best availablelodges and hotels, some verycomfortable, some more rusticthough clean; most have privatefacilities.Food All included in the price.GradingGrade A/B. Easy day walks only.Focus Birds, other wildlife andarchaeology.LeaderPepe Moscoso or Alejandro Solano.Single room supplement£395.Web quick search: PER01209Chaparri Ecological ReserveMarvellous SpatuletailPink River Dolphin

Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Incaruin spectacularly located 2,430metres above sea level in thePeruvian Andes in the Cusco region of Peru.Perched atop a mountain ridge above theUrubamba Valley, 50 miles north-west ofCusco, most archaeologists believe that itwas built around 1450 as an estate for theInca emperor Pachacuti (1438-1472).Abandoned just over 100 years later, at theheight of the Spanish conquest (althoughthere is no evidence that the conquistadorsever knew of or visited the site), the citadelis now referred to as the 'Lost City of theIncas'. One of the most familiar icons ofSouth America and the jewel in Peru'scrown, Machu Picchu, and our trek to it(using luxury lodges rather than camping!),form the focal point of this mouthwateringnew holiday. This trek follows a different - and quieter- route from the 'classic' Inca Trail toMachu Picchu, but offers a uniqueopportunity to experience the majesty ofone of the world's great mountain rangeson foot, yet with the benefit of therevitalising comfort of a luxury lodge at theend of each day's walk. Our route to MachuPicchu winds through the spectacularpeaks, emerald-green glacial lakes andforested canyons of the CordilleraVilcabamba. Following in the footsteps ofthe Incan 'chaskis' - the relay runners whodelivered messages along the vast web offootpaths that linked Cusco to the far flungcorners of the Inca Empire, we too will beon a mission along the varied 32-mile route,targeting the special birds of the area whilewinding our way inexorably towards ourgoal. If the prospect of ending a day's trekin a cramped tent has previously dissuadedyou from contemplating a mountain trek,then we hope that you might now bepersuaded otherwise! Having experiencedthe raw beauty and rugged elements of theAndes during daylight, we will finish eachday on trek in one of four inviting lodgesoffering fine gourmet meals, select wines,goose-down bedding, hot showers, outdoorjacuzzis and even an optional massage; ouraward-winning hosts really have thought ofeverything with their attentive, high qualityservice.Having flown to Peru's capital, Lima, and onto Cusco to acclimatise for a day, we driveto the remote mountain village ofMarcoccasa from where we begin walkingto Salkantay Lodge, six hours' trekkingaway and our base for the next two nights.The lodge takes its name from MountSalkantay, the second most sacred peak inIncan mythology and, at over 6,000 metres,the highest peak in the region. After a dayof magnificent Andean scenery,hummingbirds, canesteros and conebills,and perhaps even an Andean Condor, wewill arrive to an open fire, tea and cookies.A similarly warm welcome is assured oneach day of our trek!Day two involves an acclimatisation walk upto Lake Humantay, fed by the great glaciersof imposing Mount Humantay above. Thewalk is optional, but recommended,although a dip in the lake is only for thehardy! After lunch back at the lodge, theafternoon is for leisure, photography, birding(threatened Polylepis forest is nearby and isproductive for mixed-species feeding flocks)and the superb jacuzzi! The followingmorning sees us contemplating the highestpoint of the trek, the Salkantay pass (atabout 5,000 metres), from where theimposing south face of Salkantay itselftowers above us and Andean Condors areoften seen. After the pass and a hot lunch,we then descend to the treeline and WayraLodge.On day four we descend along the left bankof the Salkantay River, passing throughincreasingly verdant scenery andencountering the warmer, humid air thatrises from the jungle to the east. Orchidsabound here, together with colourful,swirling mixed-species bird flockscontaining Pearled Treerunners, Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanagers and many more.A highlight at Colpa Lodge is the traditionalPachamanca meal which consists of tenderlayered meat, hot stones and vegetables allcovered up to bake! Another outdoorjacuzzi here offers panoramic views ofcloudforested ridges and peaks. Our nextday's hike to Lucma Lodge traverses someof the best organic coffee plantations in theworld. Then from Lucma we continue ontowards Aguas Calientes, from where we'llenjoy our first view of Machu Picchu fromthe south-east, a view that few other visitorshave ever had the opportunity to admire.Further superb subtropical birding, and theruins themselves, are now just a short trainride away!Our final night will be spent in the luxuriousPueblo Hotel in Aguas Calientes belowMachu Picchu, whose gardens are filledwith Saffron-crowned and Blue-neckedTanagers, and along whose borders flowsthe turbulent Urubamba River, home toPeru's most viewable population of TorrentDucks.Peru - The Mountain Lodges Trek to Machu PicchuA 12-day holiday, including a 6-day trek to Machu Picchu through the Cordillera Vilcabamba in the Peruvian Andes(using luxurious lodges en route), in search of birds and cultural aspects of the Inca Empire.Sunday 10th November - Thursday 21st November Cost: £3,695 Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Lima.Day 2Fly Cusco.Day 3Huayacarpay/Pisac.Day 4/5Salkantay Lodge.Day 6Wayra Lodge.Day 7Colpa Lodge.Day 8Lucma Lodge.Day 9Machu Picchu.Day 10Cusco.Day 11Fly Lima then London.Day 12Arrive London.AccommodationLuxury hotels in Lima, Cusco andAguas Calientes ... and luxurymountain lodges on trek. Food All included in the price, except forevening meals in Cusco.Grading Grade B/C. Strenuous mountainwalking, at times up to 5,000metres.Focus Birds, mammals, other wildlife andInca culture.Leader Andy Smith or Percy Avendaño.Single room supplement£990 (3 nights in Cusco £150; 6 nights on trek £840).Web quick search: PER08 210Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryCUSCOMANUMACHUPICCHUPACIFICOCEANPERULIMABOLIVIACHILE ECUADORCOLOMBIABRAZILPUERTOMALDONADOTrekking through the Cordillera Vilcabamba, backed by Mount Humantay Torrent DuckSalkantay Lodge