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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Peru: Machu Picchu and the Manu-Kosñipata Road

Tour Information

Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for Tours to Peru: Machu Picchu & the Manu-Kosñipata Road. Its purpose is solely to give readers a sense of what might be involved if they take this tour. Although we do our best to make sure that what follows here is completely accurate, it should not be used as a replacement for the formal document which will be sent to all tour registrants, and whose contents supersedes any information contained here. 

ENTERING PERU: For United States citizens, a passport valid on the day of entry and with at least one blank page for an entry stamp, and return airline ticket are required. Visas are not necessary, and recently tourist permits and customs forms have been dispensed with; only your passport will be stamped upon arrival. If this changes, and you are given an immigration form, keep the tourist permit stub with your passport at all times — it may be required for departure from the country.

A valid Yellow Fever vaccination is required if you are arriving from a country where the disease is a risk. See for more information.

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information here:, and the CIA World Factbook background notes here: .

PACE OF THE TOUR: Sunrise in southern Peru this time of year is around 6:00 a.m. and sunset is at about 5:40 p.m. We plan to be in the field at dawn, with breakfast at about 5:30 each day in order to be out during the best birding hours. Except on travel days, we schedule time off after lunch for an hour or so before a late afternoon outing. We always have at least an hour off before dinner each day and typically end most days, having eaten and completed the day’s bird lists, by 8 p.m. On some days, we’ll schedule optional owling/nightjar outings either in the evening or before dawn.

We will be going over a pass at 13,700 feet (4170 m) on the first day of the tour where we will likely get out and look around bit, with short, easy walks. We’ll then spend time at a lower pass at around 11,500 feet (3500 m) and then end up at our lodge for the night at about 9600 feet (2925 m), and much of the next morning. After that we’ll continue downhill to much more comfortable elevations. Most, if not all, of our birding in the first few days of the tour will be done while walking on roads. At Villa Carmen almost all of our walking will be on trails. The longer walks are about two miles in length on even ground, but even on the shorter ones we go slowly and spend a lot of time standing and looking. Trails are mostly level, but there are some short but steep inclines where the trails cross ravines, and footing can be very unstable with rock and roots in places. Anyone with balance issues should carry a hiking stick.

When on the road we’ll be fairly close to the bus, but one should be prepared for long periods of standing and walking slowly. A small travel stool is handy for those who find this tiring. The forest trails may be muddy in spots and short roadside vegetation could be wet from dew or rains, so waterproof footgear is highly recommended – waterproof hiking boots or even rubber boots are best. If you don’t mind having wet feet, a cheap pair of sneakers would also work as long as you have something dry and clean to change into back at the room (or even in the bus).

HEALTH: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. 

They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A and Typhoid. 

Malaria: The CDC considers Peru to be of low risk for travelers contracting malaria. While malaria is not common in the Manu area, it does exist, and the CDC has determined that a traveler who is on an appropriate antimalarial drug has a greatly reduced chance of contracting the disease. 

Yellow Fever: Yellow Fever vaccination is recommended by the CDC. 

Please contact your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure, as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure. 

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations for Peru can be found on the CDC’s Travel Health website at

Elevation: This tour involves two days at elevations over 11,000 feet – one pass is at 13,700 feet (4170m). If you have a heart problem, please consult your doctor concerning these higher elevations. If you know you suffer from the more typical mild effects of elevation sickness (headache, nausea), we find that acetazolamide is a very effective drug (available in the US by prescription under the brand name Diamox or over the counter in Peru).

Insects: Many potential health problems can be prevented by adequate protection against insects. Even when mosquitoes may be sparse, biting gnats and chiggers can still be a nuisance. To be protected, bring plenty of spray repellent and wear long sleeves and pants when in the field. We recommend using insect repellents with a concentration of DEET of at least 20%. 

Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail. 

Miscellaneous: We do not often encounter snakes and take time to observe them whenever possible; most are not venomous, and venomous ones are not aggressive.  At times we will be remote, and while the lodges have emergency medical supplies, professional medical assistance will be several hours away from some of them. 

One can never completely escape the risk of parasites or fungal infections. Please consult with your physician. We avoid tap water but filtered and bottled water are readily available. 

CLIMATE: At the time of our visit, the austral spring, coastal Lima is seasonally foggy, damp, and chilly, necessitating a sweater. Cusco, an Andean town, is cold at night and early in the day (potentially down to near freezing). During the afternoon, it can be very bright and sun protection should be used. At Wayqecha, morning could be in the low 40’s °F, but in the lowlands expect temperatures in the 70s to high 80s °F with high humidity. Rain is probable in the eastern Andes and lowlands. To deal with all climatic contingencies we recommend light gloves and a rain jacket that could double as a windbreaker and a sweater for the highlands and lightweight warm weather clothes for the lowlands. A compact umbrella is essential for birding in light rain.

ACCOMMODATIONS: Our hotels and lodges are always among the best available, comfortable and modern, and all have rooms with private baths. In Lima, we’ll stay in a standard modern airport hotel. Elsewhere on the tour, our accommodations are more basic eco-lodge quality, but still very nice, wooden construction with hot water and private baths. Single accommodation cannot be guaranteed at Villa Carmen; please consult the WINGS office for more details.

At Pillahuata, we stay at Wayqecha Lodge, a biological research station perched on the edge of a wild ravine overlooking the endless cloud forest of the Kosñipata Valley. Facilities include 10 twin rooms (each with two twin beds). Each room has recently been remodeled to contain a private bathroom. Electricity for charging batteries is provided by generator from 6:00-9:00 p.m. (there are outlets in the rooms), and internet is available 24 hours at and near the dining hall. The elevation here is about 9,600 feet (2925 m); temperatures may drop to 45º F (7º C) at night, and in the humidity it can feel colder than that.

At San Pedro we’ll stay at either Cock of the RockLodge or Manu Paradise Lodge. Both are situated in the pristine cloud forest of the mountains of Manu just a few minutes’ drive from a spectacular Andean Cock-of-the-rock lek furnished with a viewing platform to observe these colorful birds during their dawn displays. Facilities at Cock of the Rock Lodge include twelve spacious bungalows with private toilets and two single beds in most cabins. There is no electricity in the rooms yet; lighting is by solar charged lantern, electricity for charging batteries and internet are available in the dining area only when the generator is running from 6:00-9:00 p.m. In There is a large dining area and lounge overlooking a feeding station for birds. Manu Paradise is more hotel-like with rooms in two adjacent two-story buildings that also house the dining room. Hummingbird feeders are also in the garden here. Hot water is provided by gas heaters in all places.

Villa Carmen Research Station, just outside of the town of Pilcopata, has six beautiful, newly constructed cabins with private bathrooms, hot water, and full-time electricity in the rooms. Wi-Fi is available in the dining area.

As is typical in the tropics, occasionally, small lizards, amphibians, mammals, or unusual insects may visit a hotel room, especially in the lower elevations.

INTERNET AND MOBILE PHONE ACCESS: Mobile phone access is rather limited on this tour and is only available in and around Lima and Cusco, though some might find service at Villa Carmen. Wifi internet is available at all of our hotels but is limited to the generator hours of 6:00-9:00 p.m. in San Pedro.

FOOD: Food on our southeastern Peru tours is quite good. We’ll start all days with warm breakfasts, almost always including scrambled eggs or an omelet. Lunches are either back at our lodge or, during transfer days, a boxed lunch prepared by the lodge, usually including something like a chicken-pasta dish, fruit, juice, and cookies. All dinners are at our lodges and, like the sit-down lunches, usually start with a delicious soup and then follow with a main dish with trout, chicken, or beef, rice, potatoes, cooked vegetables, and sometimes a salad. Dinners are followed by a simple dessert. We have no reservations about eating fresh vegetables or drinking beverages with ice at our lodges, which cater largely to foreigners like ourselves. A couple of our lodges have only a very limited selection of alcoholic drinks available, though all have beer and wine, and can also prepare pisco sours, the Peruvian national cocktail.

Drinks: Bottled water and/or a soft drink or a beer is provided at lunch and dinner, as is coffee or tea. All other drinks or ‘personal’ drinking water for use in your room etc. is the responsibility of the individual; our lodges typically have filtered water available for refilling your own bottles. We also keep bottled water on the bus for ‘emergency’ use during the day.  

Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions. 

TRANSPORTATION: The flights to Cusco and back will be in modern, full-sized jets (such as an Airbus 320), and our transportation from there will be in a small bus provided by our ground agent. Most road travel will be on an unpaved, often bumpy road, but we are fortunate just to have roads into this fabulous area. Some roads may be quite bumpy and/or winding; anyone susceptible to motion sickness should bring an appropriate remedy. Participants should be able to sit in any seat in our vehicles.

Updated: 19 December 2019