Lat:00o00´S/00o00´W ha topography msl 
Protected/registered status 
Best Time for visit (16th April, 2006)


Birding Site Guide

This is probably the most visited tourist site in Peru. The ruins are quite spectacular but ridiculously overpriced. They are accessed from the town of Aguas Calientes which is reached by train from Cuzco or Ollantaytambo. It can be done on a day trip from Cuzco, privately or as part of a tour, but the cheapest way is to buy tickets yourself in Ollantaytambo. The cheapest return fare for the 2 hour journey is a steep US$44. This train leaves Ollantaytambo at 8pm and the return train leaves Aguas Calientes at 5:45am meaning you have to spend at least 2 nights here. The cheapest option would be to camp down by the river but there is plenty of cheap accommodation. We stayed at a hotel by the station paying 30s for a double. The entrance ticket to the ruins is a further 80s (40s for students with a photo ID) which must be bought at the office in Aguas Calientes. The final nail in the coffin is an absurd US$12 return bus fare up to the ruins (less than 20 minutes). We walked the 6km steep trail up in 1 hour and 10 mins but would normally take 1 and a half to 2 hrs. Another option would be to take the bus up and walk back down. 

We set off in the dark to get to the ruins early. The first bus up leaves at about 5:30am. Many bird were calling on our walk up including Sickle-winged Guan. Interesting birds around the ruins were Inca Wren (common and very vocal in the early morning in scrub and bamboo), White-tipped Swift (flying over the ruins) and Black-and-blue Tanager. At the top of the ruins there is a trail leading to the Inca Bridge. This was very birdy and I saw White-eared Solitaire, Green Violetear, Green-and-white Hummingbird, Tufted Tit-Tyrant and Azara�s Spinetail plus coatis. 

On the walk back down to Aguas Calientes I saw Blue-necked and Saffron-crowned tanagers, Masked Fruit-eater, Sclater’s Tyrannulet, Pale-legged Warbler and Mitred Parakeet. There was White-capped Dipper on rocks in the river and Black Phoebe nearby. There is a famous Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek along the train tracks a few hundred metres from the old Puente Ruinas station. From the road, walk up the steps or access road and walk along the tracks o where they turn towards the right. Here there is a metal sign reading ?. After this there are steep, natural walls and shady forest. Here is a good place to see the birds. I heard them and saw them briefly in flight in the evening. Early morning would probably be a better time to look for them. Andean Solitaire was also heard calling from here. On the train ride back to Ollantaytambo, I saw Torrent Duck on a river. I saw 36 species including 7 lifers.

Species seen 

  • Torrent Duck Merganetta armata Seen from train to Aguas Calientes
  • American Kestrel Falco sparverius
  • Sickle-winged Guan Chamaepetes goudotii
  • Rock Pigeon Columba livia Introduced species
  • Mitred Parakeet Aratinga mitrata
  • White-tipped Swift Aeronautes montivagus
  • Green Violet-ear Colibri thalassinus
  • Green-and-white Hummingbird Leucippus viridicauda Endemic
  • Andean Flicker Colaptes rupicola
  • Azara's Spinetail Synallaxis azarae
  • Masked Fruiteater Pipreola pulchra Endemic
  • Andean Cock-of-the-rock Rupicola peruviana
  • Sclater's Tyrannulet Phyllomyias sclateri
  • White-banded Tyrannulet Mecocerculus stictopterus
  • Tufted Tit-Tyrant Anairetes parulus
  • Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans
  • Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus
  • Blue-and-white Swallow Notiochelidon cyanoleuca
  • White-capped Dipper Cinclus leucocephalus
  • Inca Wren Thryothorus eisenmanni Endemic
  • House Wren Troglodytes aedon
  • Andean Solitaire Myadestes ralloides Heard
  • White-eared Solitaire Entomodestes leucotis
  • Tropical Parula Parula pitiayumi
  • Slate-throated Redstart Myioborus miniatus
  • Pale-legged Warbler Basileuterus signatus
  • Blue-gray Tanager Thraupis episcopus
  • Blue-capped Tanager Thraupis cyanocephala
  • Saffron-crowned Tanager Tangara xanthocephala
  • Blue-necked Tanager Tangara cyanicollis
  • Blue-and-black Tanager Tangara vassorii
  • Dull-colored Grassquit Tiaris obscura
  • Tricolored Brush-Finch Atlapetes tricolor
  • Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis
  • Golden-billed Saltator Saltator aurantiirostris
  • Hooded Siskin Carduelis magellanica

Other Fauna 
A total of -- species of mammals. 

There are -- recorded species of amphibians and reptiles. 


Author: Charles Hesse