Peru and Bolivia in the world

Our journey (air trips in dotted lines)

Date of the trip: from 4 to 24 August 2004.

Geography and climatic conditions: Peru is about twice and a half as large as France. The coast, along the Pacific Ocean, is a long stretch of desert where Lima, the capital city is located. It is a huge megalopolis hosting 8 million people. Inland, the Andes cordillera reaches its highest point at Mount Huascaran (6768 m) and splits up into 3 sierras. The Altiplano is a vast windy and chilly plateau extending way out into Bolivia. This is where you find Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. Further east at a lower elevation is the selva, a huge zone of Amazonian forest.

Bolivia is twice as large as France and has no access to the ocean. It is definitely a mountainous country.

The temperature depends on the season but above all on the elevation and you should forget concepts like summer and winter. There is a dry season, which should be called winter because this is the southern hemisphere. Actually, the local people call it verano, i.e; summer. The wet season which takes place during our winter and which should be summer is called invierno, i.e. winter. This, however, is not true on the Pacific coast. We had only one day of slight rain during our stay there. The weather was often overcast along the sea-side and it was dim because of the garua, a sort of drizzle which is very frequent at that time of the year. At higher elevations, temperatures, which would be around 5°C in the morning or in the evening, would exceed 20°C in the day-time, so we constantly had to put our sweaters on and off. The wind can also chill the air very quickly.

There is a 7-hour time zone difference between France and Peru and 6 hours' difference with Bolivia. When it is 12 in Paris, it is 5 a.m. in Lima and 6 a.m. in La Paz.

Road conditions: Theoretically, there is a highway code but no one seems to know it. People happily jump the lights right in front of the police who don't seem to give a damn, they take over at hill-tops, and nobody pays any attention to the double yellow lines. Instead of using their brakes, they hoot and drive as is they were all driving sports cars. The roads are beautiful and well-maintained and there are much fewer cars than coaches or lorries, except in towns, where you will also find numerous taxis, minibuses and delivery tricycles. In the countryside, you will share the roads with dogs, pigs, donkeys and Camelidae but they seem to have more common sense than the coach drivers.

Currencies: People use the Sol in Peru and the Boliviano in Bolivia. In small villages, you can pay in US Dollars but don't buy too many of them in Europe as you can pay with your credit card or change your Euros in large cities.

For those who would like to go directly to the list of birds I saw, please click here.

Our Party

Apart from Jean-Paul, our Arts Et Vie courier, there were Maryvonne and Marcel, Gisèle and Michel, Dominique and Jean-Louis, Micheline and André, Marie-Noëlle and Bernard, Simone and Élie, Huguette and Michel, Annick, Françoise, Mireille, Françoise, Pascale, Francis, Michel, my wife Danielle and I. This was a fantastic group, always on time.

The Trip

4 August 2004: Trip to Paris.

We took the train to Paris and then the taxi to Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport.

5 August: Paris - Madrid - Guayaquil (Ecuador) - Lima (Peru)

We spent the night in the hotel Première Classe in Roissy and, as planned, the taxi we had booked the day before came to pick us up at 4.40 a.m. . We met the party at the airport and got acquainted with them. There were 23 of us, plus our courier. Once in Madrid, we had to rush to get the plane that was to take us to Ecuador, where we stopped over at Guayaquil. Through the window, on the runway, I saw a Great White Egret and a bird I had never seen before. It was a raptor, with white belly and cheeks, red bill, and I found out it was a Crested Caracara. A new twitch even before reaching my destination! It looked promising. We landed in the capital city of Peru at about 6.30 p.m., local time. Something funny happened when I went through the immigration control. A Belgian, who had the same first and last names as mine was being looked for by the police for some crime unknown to me and I was questioned for quite a long time. Fortunately, he was not born on the same day and after various checking operations the local Head of police apologized and shook hands with me. After a 25 hour-travel, about 15 of which had been spent in the plane, we finally reached hotel Jose Antonio where, for the first time, we were offered a Pisco sour, a drink many of us were soon going to drink in almost immoderate quantities. This beverage is made of brandy which originally came from Pisco and was obtained exclusively from the distillation of recently fermented fresh grape juice, using methods maintaining the principle of traditional quality established in the zones of recognized production. It is flavoured with lemon, whipped egg white and a few other good things.

6 August: Lima - Ica -Nazca

It was a short night as we were woken up at 3 a.m. . In the darkness, we took the Panamerican Highway along the coastal desert as far as Chinchero where I had a good time watching a Vermilion Flycatcher and a few Rufous-collared Sparrows. We also had our first experience of Peruvian driving but no one said anything yet. I was surprised at the numerous shanty towns we could see everywhere. Dogs were running about in the streets strewn with rubbish. Was that the famous El Dorado? We finally reached a small harbour where we embarked on a speedboat which took us at full throttle to the Ballestas Islands. After a quick view of the Candelabrium we sped to the Sea-lion and sea-bird colonies. It was a terrific sight and even those who knew nothing about birds were impressed. Besides Band-tailed Gulls, there were Peruvian Boobies, Neotropic and Red-legged Cormorants, but the most beautiful birds were undoubtedly the Inca Terns and the Humboldt Penguins. There are so many birds that the islands are covered with guano that Peruvians exploit in very difficult conditions. Not even 2 hours later, we were back in the coach, heading for Nazca. This village is very famous for its geometrical figures or representations of animals carved in the ground by a pre-Inca civilization. Nobody knows exactly the meaning of these drawings but I remember with pleasure how the little Cessna flew over them, once on the right, then on the left, even if I didn't trust the spluttering engine too much. I also found a few birds unknown to me yet: Andean Swift, Long-tailed Mockingbird, Croaking Ground-Dove and Pacific Dove among others. We were accommodated at the Nazca Lines hotel.

Band-tailed Gulls and Snowy Egrets

Humboldt Penguins

Inca Terns

South American Sea-lion 

7 August: Nazca - Arequipa (2630 m)

We got up at 5.20 a.m. because it's a long road to Arequipa. Teresa, our local guide, gave us much information about her beautiful country. We drove along desert stretches making far too few stops in my opinion and the driver went like mad in the garua. I nevertheless managed to catch a glimpse of Turkey Vultures, Grey Gulls and huge Peruvian Pelicans. During a short stop-over, I bought a bottle of Inca Cola. I had heard of this gold coloured beverage before and I found it had a very chemical taste, reminding me of the pink bubble-gum I used to chew when I was a kid. Not far from Ocaño, we saw human bones strewed along the road-side. This was all that was left over of the Inca tombs pilfered by local people who think the treasures they sometimes find were bequeathed to them by their ancestors. This is why they feel no scruples selling what they have found to fortunate collectors. Just before reaching Arequipa, in the middle of very colourful mountains, we had a good view of the volcano Misti which reaches its highest point at 5851 m. We were accommodated at the "Maison d'Élise", a very good hotel which I always remember with much pleasure. This may not be the case for Michel, a member of our party, who suffered from a detachment of retina and who had to be operated on in a state of emergency. Everything turned out fine in the end even though he had to stay in Arequipa and was allowed to join the group again only a few days before the end of the stay. I must admit that such problems are more easily solved in all-in journeys than when you're on your own in a foreign country.

Peruvian Pelicans and Snowy Egrets

Snowy Egrets

Turkey Vultures

The Panamerican Highway

8 August: Arequipa - Juliaca - Puno (3870 m)

I got up at 6 a.m. to go bird-watching. I thus twitched the Planalto Hermit and the Peruvian Sheartail. Our local guide then showed us round Arequipa, the White Town. It is named like this because its buildings are often made of white tuff called sillar. We visited the church of the Compania and Santa Catalina convent and then took off, heading for Juliaca, on the Altiplano. We met our new guide and went to the pre-Inca site of Sillustani. Walking up to it, we soon became aware that we were at a much higher altitude. We were not used to the lack of oxygen yet and some of us were beginning to experience the first effects of soroche, or mountain sickness. Headaches and bouts of nausea were beginning to take their toll. At lake Umayo, I found Andean Lapwing, White-tufted Grebe, Cinnamon and Speckled Teal, Mountain Caracara, Andean Goose, Black-faced and Puna Ibis. All these birds were proof we were in a different biotope now. We drove on to Puno where we were accommodated at the hotel Qelqatani.

09 August: Puno - Lac Titicaca - Copacabana (Bolivia)

We still had fine weather and lake Titicaca, surrounded with mountains that looked like puny hills, was a real beauty. We were to go to the Uros' isles which are actually floating villages erected on heaps of totoras (reeds). We saw quite a lot of Ruddy Ducks, Andean Coots, a few Puna Teals and Yellow-winged Blackbirds. The Uros were acting a bit for all the tourists but they were very friendly and eager to show their handicrafts. The colourful rugs were splendid, the sweaters, all made of baby alpaca if you were to believe them, were each more beautiful than the next and we were sorry not to be able to buy more for lack of time and room in our suitcases. We had to drive on to Bolivia, via Pomata, where we visited another beautiful Inca baroque church. In the evening, we reached Copacabana's hotel Gloria Copacabana.

Mountain Caracaras

10 August: Copacabana - The Isle of the Sun - La Paz

Even if the costumes of the campesinos were different and even if we used Bolivianos instead of Soles to pay, we hardly noticed we had changed countries. Copacabana was not very clean but, we were explained, this was due to the celebrations of the benediction of cars. The beauty of the environment is ruined because people hardly ever remove the rubbish they throw just anywhere. Fortunately, the blooming trees were sumptuous and on one of them, I saw a Black-throated Flowerpiercer together with a Peruvian Sierra-Finch. We took the boat to the Isle of the Sun where we walked up to the former palace of the Inca. A few hours later, we returned to Copacabana where we spent a few moments admiring the Black Virgin of the Candelaria, then took a car-ferry to cross the Tiquina Strait and drove on to La Paz. On the way, we stopped at Paulino Esteban's, a local celebrity. He specializes in the construction of totora boats and he can boast about having worked with the famous Thor Heyerdahl who, travelling on a raft named Kon Tiki, tried to demonstrate daring navigators might have left the South American continent to populate the Pacific Islands. After a pretty long journey, we arrived to La Paz at dusk and were happy to get some rest at the hotel Rey Palace where we were offered a Mate de Coca to welcome us and fight the effects of altitude.

Lake Titicaca as viewed from the Isle of the Sun

11 August: La Paz

It is the highest administrative capital city in the world. We discovered it at dusk, first driving through the poorer parts of the city in El Alto at 4100 m, at the limits of the Altiplano. The rest of the city is located in a basin and the richest parts of the city are situated at Calacoto, much lower, at about 3200 m. It was very lively and the people pressed us to buy odds and ends or proposed to shine our shoes to earn some money. There was also a miners' demonstration, under the close watch of armed police forces. We visited the San Francisco church, the cathedral, the national archaeological museum and to get our eyes some rest after seeing so much gold and so many mummies, we went to the Valley of the Moon whose eroded rocks reminded me of Bryce Canyon, USA. In the evening, we had a peña. This show, featuring folklore music and dances thrilled us all and some of us, among whom I, had the opportunity to play an active role in it. This enabled me to see what a physical achievement this represents at such high elevations.

The Cathedral of La Paz

La Paz

Valley of the Moon

Valley of the Moon

Valley of the Moon

12 August: La Paz - Sucre

I spent a horrible night trying to empty my stomach because of some kind of food poisoning. Spiteful gossips will say this was the result of my active participation in the peña. I was in a state of utter exhaustion and instead of visiting the Sorcerers' market in La Paz, I tried to get some sleep in the coach to recuperate.. I also slept in the plane to Sucre and was unable to follow the group who visited the Franciscan monastery of the Recoleta, the San Felipe convent and the textile museum. This gave me the opportunity to make the most of the comfort of the hotel Real Audiencia.

Cantuta: the national Bolivian flower

13 August: Sucre - Potosi (4100 m)

After a whole day's sleeping and fasting, I felt a little better and was able to go along with the rest of the party. Everybody was very thirsty at night because the air was dry, to the point that some of us started nose-bleedings, and the soroche affected people in different ways. We visited the San Francisco church and the Casa de la Libertad. We hardly had time enough to look at the beautiful white colonial houses and then we boarded the coach again to drive through a magnificent landscape. As we stopped now and then, I spotted a few Andean Swifts, Shiny Cowbirds, a White-winged Black-Tyrant and the engine that started to heat before our picnic lunch. Our two young drivers didn't seem to bother too much even though it was sometimes difficult for them to make a hill start. The road was winding but the surface was good so they took advantage of this to speed up, which triggered off a unanimous uproar and calmed them down for some time. We then had to take a 13-km long dust road and as they hadn't found the right place where it started, they crossed a railway line and were unable to get the vehicle off the rails for some time. Once out of that untoward position, the coach rocked and rolled and we had to get off again because the track was very narrow and crumbled on one side, just above a small brook. We eventually made it to the Manquiri Sanctuary, isolated in the middle of the mountains in a gorgeous landscape. In the village, I was lucky enough to get a good view of a Golden-billed Saltator. In the evening, we finally arrived at the Hostal Libertador in Potosi, all the way down from roads winding above 4000 m.

The crumbling road


14 August: Potosi

The Old Town of Potosi has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO. The Cerro Rico, a mountain riddled with mine galleries, dominates the city. It holds all sorts of ores like lead, silver or zinc, but above all tin. We were to visit the mine called Morena 1, at an altitude of 4266 m, but before doing this, we had to go and buy a few presents for the miners that we would meet. Ready-made bags can be found in some small shops and they usually hold things like cigarettes, 96° alcohol, coca leaves and possibly some food or a stick of dynamite. Mining conditions are pretty hard apparently and, in the hope of finding a good seam, the miners ask Tio, the God of the underground world, embodied as a horned statue, to help them in their work. This is done at an official ceremony called the Chaya. Tio, and then Pachamama, or Mother-Earth, are then offered coca leaves and alcohol. I participated in the ceremony but did not venture to drink the hot stuff as the miners did.

After the mine, we visited the Casa de la Moneda and then the San Francisco church. The contrast between the riches in these holy places and the poverty everywhere outside is striking.

The entrance to Morena 1

15 August: Potosi - La Paz (3500 m)

We left early in the morning because, once more, we were to drive for a long time but the new coach was comfortable and we were not tossed about too much on the few dust roads we had to take. There were numerous llamas, donkeys and sheep along the road sides. While we stopped at the barrage lake of Tacagua to have lunch, I saw a Cinereous Ground-Tyrant, a Bar-winged Cinclodes and a White-bellied Cinclodes. All along the Altiplano, there were a good many Mountain Caracaras, Andean Lapwings and Andean Swifts. Several times, I observed that the Caracaras were in pairs. I found the landscape odd and beautiful at the same time. It is flat and windy and the little Hichu grass you can find is dry and stiff and only good for llamas and alpacas. In the evening, after an 11-hour journey, we are again at the hotel Rey Palace in La Paz.

La Paz


On the edge of the Altiplano

16 August: La Paz - Tiahuanaco - Puno (Peru)

We left La Paz and its tangle of electric wires and many cars, drove up again to the Altiplano and headed towards Tiahuanaco. After the interesting visit of the museum where Juan Carlos, our guide, had another opportunity to demonstrate he was a cultured man, we went to the semi-subterranean temple and we spent a good time watching its famous Gate of the Sun. The wind was blowing hard but nobody flinched because we were so impressed by the monoliths and Juan Carlos' performance.

When we crossed the border to return to Peru, I grumbled a little because of all the red tape but as nobody seemed to be looking for me at the Desaguadero customs house, I made the best of it, especially so as this was the place where I saw my one and only Short-winged Grebe, right on the river separating Bolivia from Peru. Our new guide had a very poor command of the French language and, unfortunately for him, he made me angry while trying to please the group. We had stopped at some distance from Chilean Flamingoes and he wanted to throw stones at them to make them fly off. This must be a habit with local guides but I didn't like that and politely, but very clearly, let him know. We then stopped over in the small town of Juli where we visited a derelict church nevertheless containing enough religious artefacts to give us a hint of its former wealth. Some time later, I saw about 50 Eared Doves and about 10 Black-faced Ibises before reaching Puno where we spent the night in the same hotel as before.

17 August: Puno - Juliaca - Cuzco (3400 m)

We left at 7 a.m. heading northwards and came back to Juliaca, the city where you can see so many delivery tricycles. We saw Andean Lapwings and Mountain Caracaras several times and also an Andean Flicker. This is a cattle breeding area and in the fields, near Chuquibambilla, a great many Bolivian Blackbirds were looking for food. Oddly enough, a lot of birds are black and white at such high elevations. This is the case with Andean Lapwings, Mountain Caracaras, Black-faced Ibises, Andean Swifts, Andean Geese, not to mention Blue-and-white Swallows.

We took the road through the Altiplano via the Abra la Raya pass at an altitude of 4312 m and we stopped at a short distance from a small graveyard to buy beautiful sweaters. The road is picturesque when you go down the pass but as climatic conditions are not so hard, you can see some vegetation again and the people are not so poor. We went through Sicuani where we saw a procession walking and dancing to the rhythm of a music band and, running ahead of them, a man carrying a fine roasted pig on his head. We spent the afternoon visiting archeological sites at Raqchi and Piquillacta and we also admired the church of Andahuaylillas which local people call the Andean Sistine Chapel. As usual, we found the high-altar magnificent just like the wooden ceiling. We arrived at the hotel Jose Antonio in Cuzco in the evening and as night falls very quickly there, we had time enough to observe the crescent of the moon which is not vertical in this part of the world, but horizontal.

18 August: Cuzco and whereabouts

For once, we had a little rain in the mountains but this did not spoil in the least any of the visits. We went to the cathedral and to the 2 churches built on its flanks, the church of Triumph and that of the Holy Family. Then we strolled in the street named Hatun Rumiyoc and had a close look at its famous Inca stones which are used as a base for more recent buildings. We then visited the museum of religious art, the San Blas area with its craftsmen and the Merced cloister. After this, we left the town for a short while to go as far as the Sacsayhuaman Cyclopean vestiges, the remains of Puca Pucara, Quenq'o and Tambo Machay, which are all astonishing sites.


19 August: Cuzco - Pisac - Ollantaytambo - Yucay

We were very pleased to learn that Michel (the one who had had to be operated on because of a detachment of retina) and his wife had been allowed to join the party again. Going to Pisac, we noticed that on several roof-tops, there were crosses, bottles or bulls, which symbolize a desire for protection, food or money respectively. Apparently, most people wanted to get richer. On the way, I observed an Andean Lapwing behaving like our gulls. It patted the ground with its feet then ate what it had managed to bring up to the surface. The landscape was still very beautiful as we took the road going down into the sacred valley of Urubamba and then to Ollantaytambo. The terraces hanging to the sides of the steep mountains were breathtaking but we had to climb up 200 steps and this was no easy task at such an elevation, so we walked up very slowly. We wouldn't have run anyway because the path was narrow and dramatically high. We were impressed indeed when we learnt that the stones which had been used to build the semi-Cyclopean walls come from a quarry located on a mountain on the other side of the valley.

We then left this place and on the way I spotted 5 Spot-winged Pigeons. When we arrived in Pisac I was really surprised at the size of the site. There were terraces and buildings all over the mountain side and I already knew that we would never be able to see everything. While walking, I saw a Giant Humminbird, a Peruvian Sierra-Finch, a Band-tailed Seedeater and a Golden-billed Saltator. It was still hard to walk but I noticed we were getting used to the elevation because our bodies had had time enough to produce those precious red corpuscles. After visiting the vestiges, we went to the Pisac market and I was a bit disappointed, I must admit. Of course, the campesinos were selling their fruit and vegetables but there were also people selling just anything and I couldn't find any interest in this big outdoor bazaar. We were at the coach before the appointed time and waited to reach the hotel Sonesta Posada del Inca in Yucai. It is a former monastery and once more we were served a Pisco sour. The atmosphere, in front of the fire-place, was very pleasant. We cast a glance at the Southern Cross and we were off to bed.




20 August: Yucay - Machu Picchu (2430 m) - Cuzco.

I decided to get up early enough to have time to go birdwatching in the hotel gardens. I came across the usual Rufous-collared Sparrows, Eared Doves, a Golden-billed Saltator and a Band-tailed Seedeater. At breakfast, I learnt that Huguette had found a small yellow scorpion in the bathroom lamp, which she didn't like one little bit. Such things are bound to happen when you are in the middle of the countryside. We left before 8 to go to Ollantaytambo where we were to take the train to Aguas Calientes. From there, a bus would take us up to Machu Picchu.

The local train was blue and very pleasant and we were comfortably sitting in front of small tables covered with fine white table-cloths. The staff came to serve us hot drinks and croissants. At the first stop, we had plenty of time to watch the courageous hikers and their sherpas, getting ready to leave for the Inca Trail. I took advantage of this stop to watch a Black Phoebe catching insects from the boulders in the Rio Urubamba. We had been lucky enough to get a seat on the left with a nice view on the valley and the mountains around. The train was long overdue then and we were finally told there had been a landslide and we had to get off the train. We walked on the mountain side to board another train, waiting for us on the other side of the fallen rocks. We found this was a terrible nuisance because the visit to Machu Picchu was bound to be delayed. After we had boarded this train, it winded its way into a valley that was getting narrower and narrower. Going down, the tropical vegetation became more luxuriant and a few banana trees replaced the agaves. On our way, I had a quick view of only 2 Torrent Ducks. On the other hand, there were plenty of Blue-and-white Swallows in Aguas Calientes and they kept swooping around our heads. We then got on a bus which took us up along a very high and dusty road, winding in the middle of breathtaking peaks covered with thick dark green forest.

The grandeur of the landscape was up to my expectations. We were very lucky because the weather was gorgeous while a lot of people often see the site covered with clouds. We had put on our heavy walking boots because we had been told the ways were rather steep and we had also sprayed our bodies with insect repellent. Actually, there are not many mosquitoes there but the midges do sting and some of our friends, who had been bold enough to uncover some fleshy parts of their bodies, soon learnt it at their own expense. After the visit, we took the same way down to Aguas Calientes where I watched Black Phoebes from the restaurant towering above the Urubamba. Just before taking the train back to Cuzco, I saw a Torrent Tyrannulet. In the outskirts of Cuzco, the small train started to wiggle down and then, as the slope was too steep for a bend, it stopped several times to take different shuntings and was thus sent in the right direction. We reached the hotel at about 11.30 p.m. .


Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

21 August: Cuzco

We were free to spend the day the way we liked so we went to the Inca museum and also did some shopping. While having lunch at the Papillon, a very pleasant restaurant owned by a Breton, Danielle and I ate a tiny bit of Cuy, which is the local name for "guinea-pig" (thanks Marie-Noëlle!).

22 August: Cuzco - Lima

We landed in the customary grey weather of Lima and, as usual, we had to wait for our luggage, which did not come this time. Three hours later, Jean-Paul, our courier, who was fed up with listening to the contradictory news sparsely given out by the airport authorities asked us to leave with Teresa, the local guide, and visit the city. According to the latest news, our luggage was blocked in the freight zone because nobody had given the necessary document to retrieve it. Jean-Paul said he would wait and try to get it. Of course, there was no making up for the lost time. Crossing the Rio Rimac, which is nothing but an open sewer, I saw my first Black Vulture. We managed to rush into the cathedral just as they were closing the doors, had a quick look inside and it was time to get out. We then darted to the San Francisco convent which we visited at the same hectic pace. About 15 Black Vultures were posted on the towers of the building or gliding above the city, spreading their wide black wings. Apparently, they knew that 25,000 people were buried here from 1650 to 1808. In the catacombs, you can see a pit holding skeletons 30 feet deep.

In the afternoon, we visited the archaeological museum, stopped at the Love Park near the sea-side and ended with the gold museum. We were all dead tired and those who had left their return tickets in their cases feared they might not find them again. Teresa had felt this and asked us if she should shorten the visit, which we all accepted willingly. Finally we found the cases at the hotel in the evening and everybody heaved a sigh of relief.

Plaza de armas in Lima

23 August: Lima - Guayaquil - Madrid

That was our last day. On our way to the airport, I saw a few Spot-winged Pigeons, Black Vultures and gulls, which were either Band-tailed or Kelp Gulls. We took off in the garua, had a quick look at the Cordilera Blanca and landed in Guayaquil, Ecuador where, just like on the way in, I saw a Great White Egret on the runway. We had been told we would not change planes before Madrid but then someone announced it was not the case. I must say I was not surprised and somewhat relieved at the news. I had just seen a mechanic open the right reactor to check something. Francis, sitting behind me, had seen some smoke come out at take-off and then when the plane landed. Lan Chile may not have the newest planes but apparently they don't play with the safety of their passengers.

24 August: Madrid - Paris - Forbach

We had accumulated so much delay that we missed our plane in Madrid. Of course, I was sure we would also miss the train to Forbach but we were lucky enough to board just before it left. We were exhausted but happy to be home again, our heads full of pleasant and unforgettable memories.

Birdwatching Guides:

Inca Tern (photo by Bernard Guibert)

List of species

Pied-billed Grebe Podylimbus podiceps Small numbers.
White-tufted Grebe Rollandia rolland Pretty common on lake Titicaca. One adult with a young in Bolivia.
Short-winged Grebe Rollandia microptera Only one bird, seen on the Rio Desaguadero at the border between Bolivia and Peru.
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis Not many, except for a flock of about 20 in Sicuani (Peru).
Snowy Egret Egretta thula Common at the sea-side.
Great White Egret Casmerodius albus Some along the Pacific coast.
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax One immature bird in Huatapata, Bolivia.
Striated Heron Ardeola striata Few.
Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis Some, especially near Desaguadero. Some birds seen from afar that may have belonged to this species.
Black-faced Ibis Theristicus melanopis Not many. Seen near Sillustani. They looked pretty big in flight.
Puna Ibis Plegadis ridgwayi Rather common, even at high altitudes.
Andean Goose Chloephaga melanoptera Some, at high elevations.
Speckled Teal Anas flavirostris Seen several times.
White-cheeked Pintail Anas bahamensis Few. Seen at lake Umayo near Sillustani.
Puna Teal Anas puna Not many. Seen at lake Titicaca.
Torrent Duck Merganetta armata 2 birds on the Rio Urubamba.
Cinnamon Teal Anas cyanoptera Some. It's really a beautiful bird.
Andean Duck Oxyura ferruginea Common lake Titicaca.
Humboldt's Penguin Spheniscus humboldti Several at the Ballestas Islands.
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus Some flocks, near the Ballestas Islands.
Peruvian Pelican Pelecanus thagus Several at the sea-side.
Peruvian Booby Sula variegata Common near the Ballestas Islands. The unstreaked neck differentiates it from the Blue-Footed Booby (Sula nebouxii), which I did not see.
Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax olivaceus Common near the Ballestas Islands.
Red-legged Cormorant Phalacrocorax gaimardi At the Ballestas Islands. Much scarcer than the previous bird.
Inca Tern Larosterna inca Several at the Ballestas Islands. It's really a terrific bird. A few immatures.
Crested Caracara Polyborus planeus Only one at the Guayaquil airport (Ecuador).
Mountain Caracara Phalcoboenus megalopterus Often seen in pairs on the Altiplano. I also saw one bird at a lower altitude.
Black Vulture Coragyps atratus Several in the centre of Lima.
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura Quite common at the sea-side, even on the beach rocks.
Puna Hawk Buteo poecilochrous One bird hovering against the wind in the Puno area.
American Kestrel Falco sparverius Quite common on the Altiplano.
Plumbeous Rail Rallus sanguinolentus One bird at the Uros' Islands on lake Titicaca.
Giant Coot Fulica gigantea Few. As large as a small goose.
Slate-coloured Coot Fulica ardesiaca Rather common on lake Titicaca.
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus Few.
Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes One bird only.
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus One bird on a beach near Tanaca.
American Oystercatcher Haematopus palliatus About 30 in the Tanaca region, on the Pacific coast.
Andean Lapwing Vanellus resplendens Common on the Altiplano. I saw one of them attack a Mountain Caracara.
Grey Gull Larus modestus Very common along the Pacific coast.
Band-tailed Gull Larus belcheri Pretty common at the Ballestas Islands. The black band at the tail is indeed very striking on adult birds. Some in "winter" plumage.
Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus Several at the Ballestas Islands.
Andean Gull Larus serranus Common on lake Titicaca.
Rock Dove Columba livia Feral birds. 2 mating birds in Ollantaytambo.
Eared Dove Zenaida auriculata About 50 on the village square in Juli and juvenile birds in Yucai, Peru.
Pacific Dove Zenaida meloda Seen in Nazca, in a hotel park. Only at low elevations.
Spot-winged Pigeon Columba maculosa This bird looks like our Common Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus).
Black-winged Ground-Dove Metriopelia melanoptera One bird near Sillustani.
Bare-faced Ground-Dove Metriopelia ceciliae In small numbers. Besides the tiny size, the orange eye-ring is also striking.
Common Ground-Dove Columbina passerina In Nazca. The base of its bill is pink and not yellow as with the following bird.
Croaking Ground-Dove Columbina cruziana Strikingly tiny bird with a yellow and black bill. One in Nazca.
Giant Hummingbird Patagona gigas Some, quite easy to spot and unmistakable. Both in dry and wet areas.
Planalto Hermit Phaethornis pretrei One in Arequipa.
Peruvian Sheartail Thaumastura cora In Arequipa. The long spatulated tail is striking.
Andean Flicker Colaptes rupicola Seen several times even in very populated archaeological sites.
Bar-winged Cinclodes Cinclodes fuscus One bird at lake Tacaqua, Bolivia.
White-winged Cinclodes Cinclodes atacamensis 2 on the Isle of the Sun.
White-bellied Cinclodes Cinclodes palliatus One at lake Tacaqua, Bolivia.
Cinereous Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola cinerea Some. These birds reminded me of Whinchats.
Plain-capped Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola alpina One bird with Cinereous Ground-Tyrants.
Vermilion Flycatcher Contopus borealis Some in hotel parks at low elevations.
White-winged Black-Tyrant Knipolegus aterrimus Few. In arid biotopes.
Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans In the Rio Urubamba. These birds catch insects just like wagtails.
Torrent Tyrannulet Serpophaga cinerea One in Aguas Calientes.
White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonaris About 15 in the region of Sicuani, Peru.
Andean Swift Aeronautes andecolus Several, even at low altitude.
Blue-and-white Swallow Notiochelidon cyanoleuca Common at Machu Picchu and Aguas Calientes.
Brown-bellied Swallow Notiochelidon murina At least 200 above a river near Sicuani, Peru.
Long-tailed Mockingbird Mimus longicaudatus Some in a hotel park in Nazca.
Chiguanco Thrush Turdus chiguanco Pretty common and not very shy. The red eye is visible when you're close enough.
Bolivian Blackbird Oreopsar bolivianus Numerous in the meadows in the area of Chiquibambilla, Peru. Associated with Mountain Caracaras.
Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis Some. About 30 in Manquiri, Bolivia.
Yellow-winged Blackbird Icterus chrysater On the Uros' Islands, lake Titicaca. The males are far easier to spot than the females when in flight.
Black-throated Flowerpiercer Diglossa humeralis One in a hotel park in Copacabana.
Golden-billed Saltator Saltator aurantiirostris Seen at various occasions.
House Sparrow Passer domesticus Several.
Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis Often seen, in all types of biotopes, from sea-level to high altitudes.
Peruvian Sierra-Finch Phrygilus punensis Not many. One in a hotel park in Copacabana.
Band-tailed Seedeater Catamenia analis 2 birds in 2 different places in Pisac.

Turkey Vulture (photo by Bernard Guibert)

Other animal species:

Llamas (Lama lama) and Alpacas (Lama pacos): They are domestic animals but I must admit I didn't look at them as if they had been cows.

Northern Viscacha: (Lagidium peruanum): This fur-covered animal belongs to the same family as the Chinchilla. One of them was seen by a member of our group in the Valley of the Moon near La Paz.

Scorpion: A member of the group found a yellow species in the lamp of her shower in a hotel in Yucai.

South American Sea-Lion (Otaria byronia): Numerous at the Ballestas Islands. They can measure up to 2.8 m and weigh from 300 to 520 kg. The males are very impressive.

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