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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

Home to 1,400 different bird species,Venezuela boasts the sixth richestavifauna on Earth. To sample thiswealth of birdlife, bird tours havetraditionally focused on the north of thecountry; this holiday, however, will explorethe little-known southern region whichforms the core of the world's largesttropical wilderness area, the territoryidealised in Conan Doyle's 'The Lost World'and Hudson's 'Green Mansions'. Here wewill focus on the birds of the famous tepuis,or table mountains, together with thelowland forests which collectively comprisethe ancient Guiana Shield. By adding a visitto the Oilbird Cave and the Paria Peninsula(the point at which Columbus finally landedon mainland America), we offer you anunbeatable wildlife tour of easternVenezuela!We begin on the Caribbean coast, with anight in an inn not far from the airportbefore flying on, the following morning, tothe north-east of the country. Here we willspend the rest of the day exploring thestrange, arid moonscape of the ArayaPeninsula, looking for such dry countryspecialities as Yellow-shouldered Parrot,Buffy Hummingbird, Glaucous Tanagerand Vermilion Cardinal, as well asAmerican Flamingo, Scarlet Ibis and awide range of waders. An hour's drive nextmorning takes us to Finca Vuelta Larga, aGerman-owned conservation ranch wherewe will look for the diminutive Black-dottedPiculet, White-chested Emerald and thestunning Crimson-hooded Manakin,together with a variety of both open-country and wetland birds. Cerro de Humo (Smoke Mountain), on theParia Peninsula, is our fourth day'sdestination. Here we hope to rendezvouswith the Paria endemics - Scissor-tailedHummingbird, White-tailed Sabrewing,White-throated Barbtail, Paria Whitestartand Venezuelan Flowerpiercer - and alsotry to find such birds as VenezuelanParakeet, the local form of Slate-crownedAntpitta and Handsome Fruiteater beforewe drive on to Caripe. This site is bestknown as the location of the Oilbird Cavefirst described by Humboldt, and on oneof our two evenings here we will witnessthe remarkable sight of thousands ofOilbirds leaving their cave. Whilst in Caripewe will also take a hike up Cerro Negro insearch of the endangered endemic, Grey-headed Warbler, and Venezuelan Sylph.Bidding farewell to Venezuela's north-east,we now set our sights on an entirelydifferent avifauna. Our lodge in theImataca Forest Reserve is best known asthe access point to the world's top regionfor breeding Harpy Eagles. Here we havearguably the best chance anywhere in itsrange of finding this, the world's largesteagle. The reserve is also home to aplethora of superb lowland rainforestspecies and we will spend the next threenights here in search of them. Amongstthe hundreds of species that we could seehere, Marail Guan, Black Curassow, manyparrots (including Caica and Red-fanParrot), Black-necked and Green Aracaris,Guianan Toucanet, Black-spotted Barbet,Curve-billed Scythebill, Fasciated andGreat Antshrikes, a host of antbirds (suchas Rufous-throated, Ferruginous-backedand the spectacular White-plumed),antwrens (including Todd's, Spot-tailed,Long-winged and Grey) and PompadourCotingas are just a few! Reluctantly dragging ourselves away fromthis rainforest bonanza, we next drivesouthwards towards the tepuis, where wewill spend our final four nights in thewonderful, family-run Barquilla de Fresalodge. The owners are excellent hosts andknow exactly what we have come for, theirlodge being located in the fabulouslowland forests at the base of the Sierra de Lema escarpment - home toCapuchinbirds and other cotingas. Aftereach long day's birdwatching in thelowland rainforests, and on the wall of thetable mountain above the lodge, we will nodoubt return to relax at the lodge with acold drink and to enjoy the Crimson Topazat the feeders, the Paradise Jacamars inthe garden and the Swallow-wingedPuffbirds nesting by our cabins. However,our main targets will be the 30 or moretepui endemics, amongst them TepuiTinamou, Tepui Parrotlet, TepuiGoldenthroat and so on; not to mention theTepui Spinetail, Antpitta, Brush-finch,Whitestart, Greenlet and Mountain-grackle!Blue-cheeked Parrot, Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, Bearded and White Bellbirds andsuch rare birds of prey as Orange-breastedFalcon and Black-faced Hawk will beamongst other species that we hope to seein this unforgettable prehistoric-lookinglandscape with its sweeping vistas ofunbroken rainforest and sheer tepui walls.It is little wonder that this area is aUNESCO World Heritage Site! A marvellousspot at which to conclude our tour!Those of you wishing to stay on may optto take our 3-day extension to visit theAngel Falls, the world's highest waterfall.Our camp lies alongside the stunninglybeautiful Carrao River, with a series ofwaterfalls close by. One day will bedevoted to travelling up-river in canoes tovisit the base of the Angel Falls.Venezuela - Oilbirds, Harpy Eagles & Table MountainsA 16-day birdwatching and wildlife holiday visiting the Araya and Paria Peninsulas, Oilbird Cave, Guiana Shield and Table Mountains, with an extension to the Angel Falls.Thursday 15th November - Friday 30th November 2012 Cost: £3,495Thursday 14th November - Friday 29th November 2013 Cost: £3,595Angel Falls extension available on both tours Cost: £1,095 Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationCOLOMBIAANGEL FALLSRIVERORINOCORIVERCARONICANAIMACIUDADGUAYANAGRANSABANAIMATACAFORESTRESERVEPUERTO ORDAZ(EXTENSION)CARIPEARAYAPENINSULAPARIAPENINSULACARACASVENEZUELAOutline itineraryDay 1Fly Caracas. Day 2Fly Carüpano; ArayaPeninsula. Day 3/4Paria Peninsula. Day 5/6Caripe. Day 7/9Imataca Forest Reserve. Day 10/13La Gran Sabana. Day 14Puerto Ordaz. Day 15Depart Venezuela. Day 16Arrive London.Angel Falls extension Day 15/17Canaima and AngelFalls. Day 18Depart Venezuela. Day 19Arrive London.Accommodation Birding lodges and small inns, mostwith private facilities.Food All included in the price.GradingWalking is fairly easy, except for two(optional) longer hikes up Cerro deHumo and Cerro Negro. Focus Birds and wildlife.LeaderCecilia Herrera (main tour);Alejandro Nagy (extension).Single room supplement£295, where available (extension:£275).Web quick search: VEN04211KukenánHarpy Eagle