Birdwatching in Cusco and Machu Picchu

The department of Cusco features a major diversity of species that are appreciated by ornithologists from all over the world.

Lake Huacarpay or Lake Lucre (3,000 masl) is the best spot for sighting the main bird species in the Cusco region. The lake, with its tranquil waters, sprawling totora reed clumps and flooded areas, is overlooked by hills studded with cacti and trees.

At the same time, the dirt road between Ollantaytambo and the town of Quillabamba (Cusco cloud forest) offers visitors a chance to cross over an incredible range of altitudes and eco-systems, in addition spectacular views of nearby peaks, particularly Mount Veronica (5,750 masl). The area known as San Luis features many of the bird species found elsewhere around the country.

The Machu Picchu historic sanctuary, and particularly the forests that line both banks of the Urubamba River, below the citadel of Machu Picchu itself, are home to the habitats of an enormous variety of bird species, calculated at more than 400, such as the cock-of-the-rocks (Rupicola Peruviana), considered Peru's national bird. The area also features brightly-colored orchids and tree-born ferns, considered treasures of the sanctuary.


Rainy during the summer months (from December to March). Sunny from May to September, although rain showers are common. Temperatures reach a maximum of 27° C, and rarely drop below 11° C.


Lake Huacarpay is located 25 km south of Cusco. To reach the Abra Malaga pass, travelers should take the road from Ollantaytambo (97 km from Cusco). - To study bird species in the Machu Picchu area, watchers should take the trail from Aguas Calientes (the town of Machu Picchu), continuing downstream for several kilometers.

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