Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Little Boy- Ken excited to see us at Manu National Park 4000 m

Arriving in Lima from a flight from Cusco we started with adjusting to the higher elevation with sipping Coco Tea. This herbal tea has amazing qualities to help with the risk of altitude sickness. Our driver, Yirilo met us the next morning to drive us down through the mountains and into the Amazon. You can’t help but be in awe of the amazing landscapes photo opportunities. Rolling hills, winding roads and a variety of trees brush the landscapes.


On our way to Manu National Park, a home to different ecological zones between 4,000m (13,120ft) and 300m (984ft) above sea level we meet some local people living at these extreme high levels.  There are over 1000 species of birds, 200 species of mammals, many reptiles and 10% of all the plant species on the planet have been recorded within the park's boundaries. You can’t help but have an amazing feeling and feeling a bit light headed being over 4000 meters in elevation. The fresh oxygen going into your lungs is like having a complete body detox and the views are incredible! Along the way we spotted a Smooth Billed Ani, a Yellow Headed Vulture, Highland Mot Mots, and Oropendolas.

Cock of the Rock - Male
Since the drive to the Amazon is a 10 hour drive we included a stop- over at the Paradiso Lodge, home to Cock of the Rock. After 6 hours of winding roads and driving through waterfalls cascading over the mountains, we were welcomed by hummingbirds flying about. There sitting amongst the bushes looking at us, was a male Cock of the Rock.  Hummingbirds included Booted Racket-Tail Hummingbird, Many Spotted Hummingbird, White-Necked Jacobin, Crested Quetzal, Green Hermit Hummingbird and we also spotted a troop of White-faced Capuchin Monkeys across the river.

The next day, we continued down to the Amazon River boat dock where we would take a boat journey to our next destination, located in the tropical lowland rainforest of Manu Biosphere Reserve, The Amazonia Lodge. We passed by wonderful orchids growing along the mountain cliffs and great birding opportunities.  
Little Woodstar Hummingbird
As we entered the grounds of Amazonia Lodge, an old tea plantation we were greeted by the porters nice enough to carry our camera equipment and gear through the jungle paths.  When arriving to the main lodge there were a large variety of hummingbirds zip-zagging around. A perfect place for our multi-flash set up and to take advantage of some great tropical bird photography.  With our multi-flash set up in place and the perfect lighting to capture the brilliant colors we were impressed with the variety of birds. In the early morning we were greeted by an Agouti and could hear the Ornate Tinamou calling about. We took amazing photographs of a large variety of hummingbirds and video of the Rufous-Crested Coquette fanning his tail and presenting his Crown. We watched the courting dance between the male and female Rufous-Crested Coquette. We performed night macro photography of tree frogs, saw caimans in the swamp with red-eyes by the water’s edge and photographed the Scorpion Spider, a spider larger than a large dinner plate. After 1000’s of images later, exploring trails and night walks we were delighted with what we had accomplished and were ready to head back up to the mountains.
Rufous Crested Coquette - Male 
Some species we photographed include: Amethyst Woodstar, Blue Tailed Emerald Hummingbird, Fork- Tailed Woodnymph Hummingbird, Golden- Tailed Sapphire Hummingbird, Gould’s Jewelfront Hummingbird, Grey-Breasted Sabrewing Hummingbird,Green Hermit Hummingbird, White-necked Jacobin Hummingbird, Violet-bellied Hummingbird, Forked-Tailed Woodnyph Rufous-Crested Coquette, Golden-Tailed Sapphire Hummingbird, Koepckes Hermit, Road Side Hawk, Golden Olive Woodpecker, Lineated Woodpecker, Oropendola, Military Maca, Hoatzin, Crimson Masked Tanager, Cinnamon Throated Wood Creeper, Chaca Laca, Chestnut-Eared Aracari, Trogons, Forked Tailed Tyrant Flycatcher and more.

On the return drive through the mountains we spotted Mountain Caracara, Blue Winged Mountain Tanager and Black Bellied Tanager. We stopped again at the Paradiso Lodge to photograph more hummingbirds, tanagers and lucky to photograph and video a White-faced Capuchin Monkey. Photographed Black and Chestnut Eagle, Cock of the Rock, Mountain Gem Hummingbird, Booted Racket –Tail, Speckled Hummingbird, Little Woodstar, Rufous Hummingbird, American Spotted Tanager and Silver Beaked Tanager.

We took advantage of the waterfalls beside the lodge and waited for the perfect light to create that soft slow flowing water affect. Cranking our F-stops high and setting our timers the flowing water turned from a regular scene into flowing candy-floss along the rocks. We saw Dippers and we were lucky enough to photograph Ladder Tailed Night Jar that flew out from under a rock.

Rarely seen during the day, this Ladder-Tailed Night Jar appeared from under a rock.
Night Jars are nocturnal.

Scarlett Macaw
We visited 2 Parrots Garden owned by a local boy and his grandmother where we were able to hold a 3 week old Ocelot, photograph a Spider Monkey, Scarlet Macaws, Sloth and Wild Boars.
Reaching Cusco, a city full of historical buildings and busy streets. We stayed at a charming Peruvian style hotel, Terra Adina and refreshed ourselves with the local Coco Tea, essential to drink before going onto Machu Picchu to assist with the changes in elevation.
The next morning we took the Vistadome train with panoramic views of the mountains and local country side to the base of Machu Picchu. The train is a wonderful way to see the grasslands and farms along the way up into the mountains.

Reaching our next hotel Pueblo Hotel-Inkaterra Resort, a luxury 5 star hotel we took the opportunity to pamper ourselves getting ready for some incredible hummingbird and tropical bird photography. While enjoying the orchid gardens and amenities of this resort we photographed some incredible hummingbirds such as: Collard Inca Hummingbird, Chestnut Breasted Hummingbird, Long-tailed Sylph, White-bellied Woodstar, Highland Mot Mot, Collard Inca Hummingbird, Blue Grey Tanager (Amazonia Sub-species), Euphonia, Blue Dacknis Tanager,Grass Green Tanager, Red Crowned Ant Tanager, Blue Necked Tanager, Rufous- Collard Sparrow. Jay and Stephanie were delighted to see their images as it was their first time photographing hummingbirds.
Collard Inca Hummingbird

Long- Tailed Slyph Hummingbird 

Koepcke's Hermit 

Woman on the mountain looming and looking after her sheep

Machu Picchu Ruins

Our last stop was Machu Picchu, a site definitely worth visiting. A hike up steps from the main entrance to the platforms viewing the ruins is well worth the effort. You are amazed at the craftsmanship of these ancient ruins that gives you a heavenly feeling as you look across the landscape. We watched the sun slowly rise with light beams hitting the ruins. Plenty of landscape photo opportunities, sitting about are Alpacas enjoying the view. Turn around and you see wonderful snow-peaked mountains in the distance. Overall if you are looking for endless photo opportunities, with an Amazonia journey, culture, incredible bird photography and birding opportunities with ever changing landscapes from jungles, lowlands, grasslands to snow-peaked mountains then Peru is an adventure for you.  We hope to see you on the next workshop in Peru.

More information and photo gallery

Jennifer, David, Stephanie and Jay at the ruins

Alpaca - Peruvians make wool sweaters, hats, blankets from the wool. 

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