CUZCO (Compass)

Lat:00o00´S/00o00´W ha topography msl 
Protected/registered status 
Best Time for visit (14th, 19th-20th April, 2006)


Birding Site Guide

Yanahuara is easily reached in 15 mins (1s) from Ollantaytambo by minibuses heading to Urubamba. Asked to be dropped off at Quinto Paradero by a huge ‘Casa Andina’ sign. Coming from Ollantaytambo, turn left here and follow the gravel track up and you pass The luxury ‘Casa Andina’ hotel after 7 minutes walk on your left. After 15mins walk, you reach a fork in the road where you turn right. Walk 2 minutes further and turn left at a sign for ‘Libertador Valle Sagrado Lodge’. After about 45 minutes’ walk from the main road you will see a huge, bright blue water tank on your right. Walking straight from here you continue up the valley crossing the river 2-3 times. To avoid the river crossings turn left on a small path just 1 minute after the blue tank. If you have transport, you could drive to this point and start walking from here. Either get dropped off or maybe pay someone to look after your car.

The trail is easy to follow from here and the birding gets better and better. I went up for a day trip one day from Ollantaytambo but failed to see Royal Cinclodes so went back up and camped for the night. Going up and down in a day is tough, as is carrying all your camping stuff to stay. An easier option might be to hire some indigenous people to help you or take your stuff up with mules. ECOAN may be able to help you with this. Barry Walker can arrange trips up there. 

Just after you turn left at the blue tank, there are some maize fields over a wall on the left. Here I saw Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch. Just after you turn left at the blue tank, there are some maize fields over a wall on the left. Here I saw Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch. A little further on, some forest starts where I saw Andean Parakeet, Tufted Tit-Tyrant and Red-crested Cotinga. Further up, between 3,400m and 3,600m I saw Tyrian Metaltail, Rufous-breasted and Giant Conebill. Between 3,600m and 3,800m I saw Andean Flicker, Rufous-fronted Canastero, White-browed Conebill, Creamy-crested Spinetail and White-browed Tit-Spinetail. At about 2850m the good polylepis forest starts. This takes about 2 and a half hours non-stop walking. With breaks and birding, this took me 3 and half hours on my day trip and almost 5 carrying a heavy pack. This first good area has most or the Polylepis specialists minus Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant and Royal Cinclodes. The former can be seen about 10-15 minutes further along after a gap between forest patches. Royal Cinclodes is very difficult and took me 3 days searching to locate. 

Further along, the trail splits. The left fork carries on along the river to a flat open area with a few houses. A nice chap called Mario lives here with his family and a drunk called Claudio lives right at the end. This open area is a good base to camp but beware, it gets very cold at night. My tent was frozen in the morning. This open area has Black and Thick-billed siskins, Plumbeous and Ash-breasted sierra-finches. From the flat area you can walk up the hill to the trail. This carries on to 2 lakes. The first is fairly large and the second not much more than a boggy area. At the far end of this, there is a small but very good patch of mossy Polylepis which apparently has a pair of Royal Cinclodes. I didn’t see them but found Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant, Peruvian Sierra-Finch and Stripe-headed Antpitta. 

Before the first lake, coming up from the open valley, there is a decent-sized Polylepis patch on your right. Apparently this has 3 pairs of Royal Cinclodes. I didn´t find any. Towards the end of this patch, on the right side of the trail is a large boulder. Behind this leads a trail up into the forest. This trail eventually reaches a clearing and crosses a stream. After this, there is a trail leading up on the right hand side of the stream. This is very steep and the altitude here about 4200m making it a tough climb. It eventually reaches another level which looks like an amphitheatre. At the back on the left you will see a small patch of excellent mossy Polylepis. This has 1-2 pairs of Royal Cinclodes. It is however under intense cutting pressure. The day I was there, 3 indigenous people from Huacahuasi were there with 25 llamas loaded down with wood. I saw 51 species including 6 lifers. 

Species seen

  • Speckled Teal Anas flavirostris
  • Crested Duck Anas specularioides
  • Rock Pigeon Columba livia Introduced species
  • Spot-winged Pigeon Patagioenas maculosa
  • Band-tailed Pigeon Patagioenas fasciata
  • Eared Dove Zenaida auriculata
  • Andean Parakeet Bolborhynchus orbygnesius
  • White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonaris
  • Sparkling Violet-ear Colibri coruscans
  • Green-and-white Hummingbird Leucippus viridicauda Endemic
  • White-tufted Sunbeam Aglaeactis castelnaudii Endemic
  • Giant Hummingbird Patagona gigas
  • Tyrian Metaltail Metallura tyrianthina
  • Blue-mantled Thornbill Chalcostigma stanleyi
  • Andean Flicker Colaptes rupicola
  • Bar-winged Cinclodes Cinclodes fuscus
  • Royal Cinclodes Cinclodes aricomae Critically endangered
  • White-winged Cinclodes Cinclodes atacamensis
  • White-browed Tit-Spinetail Leptasthenura xenothorax Endemic Endangered
  • Tawny Tit-Spinetail Leptasthenura yanacensis Near-threatened
  • Creamy-crested Spinetail Cranioleuca albicapilla Endemic
  • Puna Thistletail Schizoeaca helleri Endemic
  • Rusty-fronted Canastero Asthenes ottonis Endemic
  • Streak-throated Canastero Asthenes humilis
  • Stripe-headed Antpitta Grallaria andicola
  • Red-crested Cotinga Ampelion rubrocristata
  • White-crested Elaenia Elaenia albiceps
  • Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant Anairetes alpinus Endangered
  • Tufted Tit-Tyrant Anairetes parulus
  • Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant Ochthoeca rufipectoralis
  • Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant Ochthoeca fumicolor
  • Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant Cnemarchus erythropygius
  • White-fronted Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola albifrons Possibly seen
  • Brown-bellied Swallow Notiochelidon murina
  • House Wren Troglodytes aedon
  • Chiguanco Thrush Turdus chiguanco
  • Great Thrush Turdus fuscater
  • Cinereous Conebill Conirostrum cinereum
  • White-browed Conebill Conirostrum ferrugineiventre
  • Giant Conebill Oreomanes fraseri Near-threatened
  • Blue-and-yellow Tanager Thraupis bonariensis
  • Peruvian Sierra-Finch Phrygilus punensis
  • Plumbeous Sierra-Finch Phrygilus unicolor
  • Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch Phrygilus plebejus
  • Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch Poospiza caesar Endemic
  • Band-tailed Seedeater Catamenia analis
  • Black-throated Flowerpiercer Diglossa brunneiventris
  • Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis
  • Golden-billed Saltator Saltator aurantiirostris
  • Thick-billed Siskin Carduelis crassirostris
  • Black Siskin Carduelis atrata

Other Fauna 
A total of -- species of mammals. 

There are -- recorded species of amphibians and reptiles. 


Author: Charles Hesse