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Birdwatching at Machu Picchu

Peru machu picchu in sunlight c michael edey pura

We all know Machu Picchu for its magnificent ruins, perched on a narrow plateau between mountains, deep in the green hills of the Andes. There are stories of emperors, of conquistadors and of the search for a lost city of the Incas. But here's a side few get to see...

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Peru machu picchu andean motmot chris bladon 2

Machu Picchu sits in Andean cloud forest, a habitat for myriad exotic birds species that most of us are highly unlikely to see pop up on our humble garden feeders anytime soon. Nor are you likely to see them up at the ruins though. This one, if you're wondering, is a gorgeous Andean motmot.

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Peru machu picchu birdwatching 20 c chris bladon

Tucked away down by the railway line in Machu Picchu Pueblo, the village you'll stay in, are the lush, peaceful and bird-rich Inkaterra cloudforest gardens. If you're ok with an early start, going out with a trained bird guide is the best way to get to grips with it all.

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Peru machu picchu birdwatching 1 c chris bladon

Hummingbirds are ubiquitous, especially on the feeders, where they are fairly easy to photograph with a decent camera at the right shutter speed.

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Peru machu picchu birdwatching 4 c chris bladon

This beauty is the Chestnut-breasted coronet hummingbird, one of many varities you'll spot here on any given day.

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Peru machu picchu birdwatching 12 c chris bladon

For me, the most rewarding sightings - if not the best photos - happen spontaneously, away from the feeders. Here, a green and white hummingbird (that's it's actual name, no kudos for creativity) approaches a Heliconia.

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Peru machu picchu birdwatching 15 c chris bladon

Another hummer helps itself to the nectar of the Heliconia.

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Peru machu picchu birdwatching 2 c chris bladon

A male thick-billed euphonia takes flight after refuelling on banana.

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Peru machu picchu birdwatching 18 c chris bladon

The lighter, yellower female thick-billed euphonia. If you're wondering whether I know all this 'who's who' business or whether I had to Google it all and play spot the bird... I'm not telling

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Peru machu picchu birdwatching 16 c chris bladon

Tanagers are regular visitors to the banana feeders. This one is of the blue-necked variety.

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Peru machu picchu birdwatching 3 c chris bladon

The blue and yellow tanager: again, not the most creatively named bird you'll ever see, but it's certainly a colourful one, with just a hint of a beard going on there.

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Peru machu picchu birdwatching 6 c chris bladon

The majestic Andean motmot takes flight between what I'm pretty sure is Cantua buxifolia.... That one was definitely a Google.

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Peru machu picchu birdwatching 7 c chris bladon

And then finds a perch from which its fans can admire it in all its feathery glory.

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Peru machu picchu birdwatching 11 c chris bladon

Out on the mighty Urubamba River, a family of torrent ducks finds an oasis of calm. Our guide got rather excited at this point, so I assume sightings of these family conferences don't happen every day.

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Peru machu picchu birdwatching 13 c chris bladon

The distinct drum of a woodpecker was traced back to this golden-olive chap.

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Peru machu picchu birdwatching 8 c chris bladon

It's not all about the birds. This is a place of orchids - 372 varities have been recorded here - and lush, green foliage. We did promise cloud forest...

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Peru machu picchu birdwatching 9 c chris bladon

Tangled vines lend the gardens a more intrepid jungle feel.

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Peru machu picchu birdwatching 21 c chris bladon

Orange trees are a surprising find between the cloud forest plants and trees.

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Peru machu picchu birdwatching 10 c chris bladon

The early morning light in the gardens is a thing of beauty.

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Peru machu picchu birdwatching 14 c chris bladon

Where there are beautiful birds, there are often beautiful butterflies to spot and identify. I've no idea what this is, but it's rather nice. Between the birds and butterflies, the colour of the flowers and the sound of the river rushing by, this is a true haven in what must be one of the world's busiest villages.

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Peru machu picchu incan ruins of machu picchu

Thank you for reading. This visit was but a fraction of what I experienced in Peru - a country so full of colour, so rich in history and so varied in its flavours. And as you now know, the bird life can be pretty special too. Please feel free to have a look around our Peru holidays, and let us know if we can help you start planning.

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Peru machu picchu in sunlight c michael edey pura
Peru machu picchu andean motmot chris bladon 2
Peru machu picchu birdwatching 20 c chris bladon
Peru machu picchu birdwatching 1 c chris bladon
Peru machu picchu birdwatching 4 c chris bladon
Peru machu picchu birdwatching 12 c chris bladon
Peru machu picchu birdwatching 15 c chris bladon
Peru machu picchu birdwatching 2 c chris bladon
Peru machu picchu birdwatching 18 c chris bladon
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Peru machu picchu birdwatching 3 c chris bladon
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Peru machu picchu birdwatching 7 c chris bladon
Peru machu picchu birdwatching 11 c chris bladon
Peru machu picchu birdwatching 13 c chris bladon
Peru machu picchu birdwatching 8 c chris bladon
Peru machu picchu birdwatching 9 c chris bladon
Peru machu picchu birdwatching 21 c chris bladon
Peru machu picchu birdwatching 10 c chris bladon
Peru machu picchu birdwatching 14 c chris bladon
Peru machu picchu incan ruins of machu picchu

Machu Picchu = the world's most famous archaeological site, right? Of course. But it's also surrounded by beautiful and bird-rich cloud forest. Because we don't rush your visit, and becase we visit the ruins in the calm of the afternoon, you'll have the opportunity to arrange a private early morning tour of the Inkaterra Gardens. Here's a taster of what you might encounter...

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