Inkaterra Birdwatching Tours 2014

Peru is renowned for its bird life, being home to a total of 1836 species – that’s 20% of the world’s registered bird species. The changing ecosystems throughout the country, from tropical rainforests to the Andean mountains, makes  it  the perfect environment for both visiting migrators and endemic species.

To  celebrate Peru’s status as one of the best birdwatching countries in the world, Inkaterra Hotels is launching two birdwatching itineraries to showcase the best ornithological gems Peru has to offer.

On the first 2 night itinerary guests have the chance to spot some of the 207 registered species that live in the Cloud Forest surrounding the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. Guided tours and walks will give keen birdwatchers some of the best opportunities to spot particularly elusive species, and the area surrounding the Inca Citadel is a favourite for the Inca Wren.

Inca Wren

Further to this, the gardens of the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel itself house the world’s largest collection of native orchid species, with 372 found within the gardens. Here hummingbirds, tanagears and the iconic Cock of the Rock can be found flitting around the picturesque setting.

The second bird-watching trip is a totally different experience, with three nights in the Amazon Rainforest of Southern Peru, in the Madre de Dios-Tambopata region. Here there are 540 bird species waiting to be discovered, together with other creatures like monkeys, three toed sloths, black caymans and the rare giant river otter.

Guided trails through the rainforest can help to reveal these natural treasures which are so often camouflaged against the surroundings. Staying at the Inkaterra Reserva Amazónica and journeying across Lake Valencia, the Madre de Dios river or high above the treetops on the Inkaterra canopy walkway, guests have plenty of opportunity to spot the amazing birdlife for which theses forests are home.

Both these tours run over four days , which give ample opportunity to explore the area and catch a glimpse of some of those exclusive creatures. For more information and booking, take a look at our website at inkaterra.com

Inkaterra 4th Quarter Photography Competition Winner

The final quarter photographic competition of 2013 has drawn to a close at Inkaterra. Congratulations to all who took part, please keep a close eye on the Inkaterra website and social media pages for the details of the next competition.

After receiving a number of spectacular images from of talented individuals, from guests to guides, one photograph proved to be the most popular amongst our voters. Our winner is Noe Roger Huaraca Charca with this picture of the Sphaenorhynchus Lacteus or as it is more commonly known, the Orinoco Lime Tree Frog.

As you can see below, we had some stunning images submitted to the competition, and these were some of the best. Take a look at the photos, and hopefully we’ll see you in 2014 and you can submit your own masterpieces – you may even be lucky enough to win!

Clockwise from main: Giant River Otter – John Barnes, Hotel Guest; Yellow Spotted River Turtle – Jesus Glhemm Ccari, Explorer Guide at Inkaterra Reserva Amazónica; Brown Throated Three Toed Sloth – John Barnes, Hotel Guest; Rainbow Boa – Carlos Torres, Explorer Guide at Inkaterra Hacienda Concepción.

Clockwise from main: Parides Neophilus - Mayra Maximiliano, Reservation Councillor at Inkaterra Lima; Anhinga – John Barnes, Hotel Guest; Andean Mot Mot – José Luis Lavilla,  Explorer Guide at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

From left to right: Spectacled Caiman – Albert Clar, Hotel Guest; Spectacled Caiman, Jesus Glhemm Ccari, Explorer Guide at Inkaterra Reserva Amazónica

 

 

OMAPED Christmas Chocolatadas

On 20th December, Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel was proud to host a very special event in collaboration with OMAPED, the Municipal Office for People with Disabilities in Peru.

More than 200 people in the area of Machu Picchu suffer with some form of disability, meaning that daily life can often be very difficult. As part of their Christmas celebrations, OMAPED organised a special event together with many organisations from across the district, throwing a traditional Chocolatadas for those individuals helped by OMAPED.

The event consisted of entertainment, and like the chocolatadas held throughout Peru at this time of year, hot chocolate and sweets were handed out to those attending. As a final surprise, Papanoel himself, Father Christmas took time out from his very busy December to hand out presents. As part of its ongoing commitment to local CSR initiatives, Inkaterra is proud to be involved with such initiatives as this, helping to spread the spirit of goodwill during the festive season.

¡Feliz Navidad!

Alpacas around the manger, turkey at midnight and a potential wait until January to receive your presents; Christmas in Peru has more than a few quirky traits. As a predominantly Christian nation, it is unsurprising that Christmas is celebrated widely in Peru. Thanks to influences from America and European colonialists, a Christmas in Peru is very similar to those in the UK and the West. However there are a few traditions that make a Peruvian Christmas just that little bit unusual…

Though the Scandinavian tradition of Christmas trees are becoming more popular, it is the nativity scene that dominates in almost every Peruvian home. Known locally as retablos, they have a rich history in Peru. These wooden carvings were traditionally used by Catholic priests in converting the indigenous population to Christianity. Largely resembling the traditional nativity scene recognised worldwide, retablos do retain a little Peruvian quirk. Look closely and you’ll spot llamas and alpacas surrounding the manger, rather than cows and donkeys.

A big difference between a Peruvian Christmas and one in the UK is that when most of us are tucked up in bed waiting for Father Christmas on the 24th December, in Peru, the party is already in full swing. Noche Buena or “Good Night” is the peak of Christmas in Peru, and it is far more lively and spirited than the 25th.  About 10pm on Christmas Eve, churches throughout the country hold the Misa de Gallo, akin to Midnight Mass. Outside the church; there are fireworks, music and revelry signalling the start of a very special period.

At midnight, Christmas dinner is served. As in the UK, turkey is traditionally the centrepiece, but like most Peruvian gastronomy, dishes are full of distinct, herbs and spices. One of the most traditional accompaniments to a Peruvian Christmas dinner is a spiced apple sauce, along with a huge variety of salads, home made tamales and of course, the Christmas cake.

Of course, Christmas isn’t complete without presents! In Peru, households exchange gifts before tucking into the spectacular feast, some give gifts afterwards, and in some Andean communities, gifts aren’t exchanged until January 6th during Epiphany, signifying the arrival of the Three Wise Men bringing their gifts to baby Jesus.

In Cusco especially, crowds flock to the city for Chocolatadas, an event that sees the true spirit of Christmas come alive. Communities group together to provide for those less fortunate than themselves. Often organised by churches, businesses or shops, they characteristically give hot chocolate, sweets, bread and even toys to poor children or pensioners. Many poorer families descend on Cusco for several days in order to attend Chocolatadas.

Whilst the build up to Christmas can last several weeks, with events that take place across towns and cities, right town to smaller close-knit communities, but it is on the 24th, after the meal and the gifts, in the dead of night, that Christmas truly comes alive in Peru.  Once the children are put to bed, the adults really let their hair down and enjoy the festive celebrations. As the parties are in full swing until the very early hours…it’s no wonder that Christmas day in Peru is rather quiet!

In any case – whether you are in Peru or not, we wish you a very Merry Christmas from everyone at Inkaterra.

 

Birding Rally Challenge – Southern Peru – The Winners Are Crowned

After one of the closest competitions that we have seen, we are proud to announce that the winners of the final Birding Rally Challenge Southern Peru 2013 are the Field Guides from the USA, after spotting a grand total of 457 species. Just two species behind with 455, and tied for second place are Sunbird (UK) and Surbound (US).

Third place is awarded to the team from South Africa, Birding Ecotours, who counted 389 species. It has been an incredible Birding Rally Challenge for us to help host, and it is remarkable that the teams managed to identify 619 species, that is 7% of the world’s total species.

Green and White Hummingbird

Here is a breakdown of the Birding Rally Challenge results in full:

FIELD GUIDES (USA) – Total: 457

SUNBIRD (UK) – Total: 455

SURBOUND (USA) – Total: 455

BIRDING ECOTOURS (South Africa) – Total 389

AVIATUR (Colombia) – Total 350

Heptic Tanager

We would like to offer our congratulations to all the teams that have taken part. The support that they have lent to ecotourism and sustainable development in Peru is immeasurable. We look forward to seeing our friends again for the next Birding Rally Challenge  BRC – Nor Amazónica in May 2014.

The challenge has definitely intensified.

There is nothing like a bit of international rivalry between the UK and the USA teams!

Day 2 of The Birding Rally Challenge 2013

The teams in the 2013 BRC

The Birding Rally Challenge has set off to a flying start here in Peru. Already on our 2nd day, the UK Sunbird’s showed great promise coming in first place for their day 1 sightings, but have now been knocked off the top spot by US team Surbound. Combating a merciless sun, the teams did a great job on the Rally’s second day.

Our Founder and Chairman, Jose Koechlin, at the opening of the BRC 2013 with PromPeru

Our Chairman & CEO, José Koechlin, at the opening of the BRC 2013 with PromPeru

Both US teams, Surbound and Field guides were sent to Valencia Lake at the beginning of Day 2. Leader’s Surbound ticked off White-chested Swift’ and ‘Plain soft tail’ near Gamitana creek from their checklist, and a magnificent ‘Black Hawk Eagle’ perched low on the Madre de Dios riverside caught their eye. Meanwhile, Field Guides found a ‘Long-crested Pygmy Tyrant’, due to Dan Lane’s privileged sense for bird calls. A ‘Chimney Swift’ and an extremely hard-to-find ‘Sungrebe’ were Field Guides’ other picks.

Spotted at the BRC on day 2

The UK team Sunbird’s, now in second place, walked around the surroundings of Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, where they spotted a ‘Pavonine Cuckoo’ (very rare for the area) and the impressive long-beaked ‘Purus Jacamar’. On the same route, South African Birding Ecotours found two colourful species from the tropics; an ‘Ivory-billed Aracari’ and a ‘Curl-Crested Aracari’.

South Africa Birding Ecotours

Aviatur (Colombia team), led by Alba Milena Ayala –the first woman to participate at the rally– was the only one to travel by the Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion and Lake Sandoval route, where they spotted a ‘Long-billed woodcreeper’, a ‘White-throated Jacamar’ and an ‘Agami Heron’.

Spotted in action at the BRC

Barred Antshrike

It’s been a successful few days here in the Amazon for the beginning of the Birding Rally. Tomorrow see’s the last day at Tambopata, after which all teams will be heading to Puerto Maldonado. Check out the full itinerary for the rally here. Stay tuned for updates on both our Twitter and Facebook and right here on our blog, as well as on the official BirdingRally Challenge.com website.

Birding Rally Challenge 2013

Next week, from 3rd to 10th December, the third Birding Rally Challenge begins in Peru. Considered the world championships for birding, for those who aren’t in the know, this is the ultimate event in the ornithological world, bringing together the most renowned birding teams from all over the globe in a six-day contest to decide the best Birding Team in the world.

The challenge for the teams from the United States, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Colombia is to cover the greatest number of habitats within a certain area in a limited amount of time counting the number of bird species they can identify; and naturally, the winners are the team that has spotted the highest number of species.

Peru has been specially chosen to host the Birding Rally Challenge because of its expensive natural biodiversity. Peru is a true treasure in ornithological terms. It is home to 1836 species of bird – that is one fifth of all registered species in the world, Peru is the second leading country in the world for bird diversity, and the best in terms of bird observation. The unique habitats that Peru has, from lush wetlands to vibrant cloud forests means it is host to visiting species, as well as the 120 endemic bird species that call Peru home.

Organised by the Inkaterra Hotels, the Inkaterra Association and PromPerú, the teams will travel 840km through Peru, from Tambopata in southern Peru, to the bio diverse cloud forest of Machu Picchu, and the teams will stay at the Inkaterra Reserva Amazónica and Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel.

The actual challenge won’t simply be a walk in the park for our teams. They will have to contend with the changing climates of Peru, from the tropics of the rainforest to the coolness of the Andes, not to mention the strict rules about bird sightings.

But this competition is not simply about birdwatching. The Birding Rally Challenge has some core principles behind it. Designed to develop ecotourism in Peru, the competition promotes conservation and sustainable tourism, especially regarding the local communities that are often overlooked by traditional tourism.

In December 2012, the first rally lasted five days, and a total of 692 species were sighted. The second rally, Nor Amazon, trumped this total, with the birding teams observing 864 separate species in Peru – that’s 10% of the world’s registered bird species.

The 9th December is deadline day for our five birding teams, with the closing ceremony and winners being announced at 19.00. Will it be another successful rally for the American team? Only time and a keen eye will tell.

Inkaterra awarded at PURE Life Experiences

 

 “There is nothing more emotionally rich, with less impact, than the Inkaterra canopy walk in the Peruvian rainforest. Stunning!” –Richard Bangs

Inkaterra PURE Life the Show

Another great achievement for Inkaterra! We were very pleased to win the Best High Emotion/Low Impact Travel Experience for our Canopy Walkway at Pure Life Experiences, The show, in Marrakech just yesterday. Our mission has  been to conserve and celebrate Peru’s nature and cultures. In partnership with The World Bank and National Geographic, our NGO Inkaterra Asociacion created a 1,330ft canopy walkway suspended above the Peruvian jungle. This canopy walkway exists in the middle of a pristine part of the jungle, allowing guests to experience a fantastic sense of place in the most high emotion / low impact way.

Canopy Walkway

To complete this memorable experience we built an adjoining canopy tree house 30 meters above ground, which provides an incredible oasis where guests can observe a range of wild animal species, most of which aren’t usually visible from the ground, and listen to the amazing jungle sounds, all while enjoying drinks served by a private butler. Be on the lookout for different birds of the jungle, such as toucans, woodpeckers, trogons, among many others, or try to identify them through their songs, from the observation decks. Learn about the interrelationship of the flora and fauna at the various levels of the forest and its integration into the jungle ecosystem. Come and experience it yourself at Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica. Thank you PURE! See you next year…

PURE Life The Show

“The Inkaterra approach gives new meaning to “being in the forest.” You truly become a part of the action.” – Sylvia Earle

Image

Off the (well) beaten track – Peru’s Alternative Inca Trails

Machu picchu

Without doubt, Machu Picchu is the most famous attraction in Peru. The winding Inca trail draws people from across the world, but like so many of the World Heritage Sites, Machu Picchu’s awe and attraction comes at a cost.

Over 400,000 people visit every year and, whilst the Peruvian government has restricted the amount of people who can walk the Inca Trail to a maximum of 500 daily; with 2500 people being allowed entry to Machu Picchu itself, and only 400 being allowed to trek Huayna Picchu, there is still a great risk of permanent damage to these protected sites.

So, what’s the alternative? Well, there are trails running throughout Peru that are just as stunning as those leading to Machu Picchu – and with far fewer people! Camino Del Apu Ausangate is a path through this stunning landscape of snow-capped mountains and rust-red hillsides and thermal springs.  And you’re more likely to stumble across a heard of llamas than you are another tourist.

inka1

For those still looking for that Machu Picchu experience, Choquequirao is the best option. Nicknamed “Machu Picchu’s Little Sister” this site is ideal for those who still want to experience an Incan settlement, but with solitude. After two days of uphill and downhill climbing, adventurers are rewarded with lush slopes, traditional buildings and ‘llama-terraces’. And for the real explorers (or mad-men) climbing the Choquequirao terraces 5,000 feet above the Apurimac river is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Camino Salkantay is an alternative path to Machu Picchu, and trekkers really do take the high-road. With the original Inca Trail reaching 13,800 feet above sea-level, Salkantay rises even higher to over 15,000 feet. As such, walkers will be explore some of the area’s most spectacular mountains, and while the high altitude may have a strain on the body, the hot-springs, warm duvets and friendly bartenders at some of the lodges along the trail do help the daily recovery.

Views from Choquequirao

Views from Choquequirao

If you are still committed to trekking the Inka Trail all the way to Huayna Picchu, then do your homework. Booking your tickets online is the only way to ensure you reach the peak – and do this early: unsurprisingly with a centuries old settlement nestled in the heart of the Andean mountains, mobile phone signal isn’t at its strongest.

However, with all of these treks being so ‘off-piste’, so to speak, they’re not for the faint-hearted. Expect strenuous days and aching nights. But the end destination is beyond words. Just invest in a good pair of boots. Our additional tours at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel mean you’ll have an expert, local guide alongside you whilst trekking the Inca Trail. It’s even a trip to take with the whole family with our specially created family journey to Machu Picchu. Make 2014 the year you see one of the most iconic archaeological sites in Peru, if not the world.

Halloween: The Day of the Creole Song in Peru

Creole Day

Do you not do Halloween? Are all of those silly costumes, sickly sweets and chocolates too much? Well, the Peruvians have a an alternative solution: Creole Music Day. Sounds good doesn’t it? You don’t know the half of it.

So what is it?

To sum up, The Ministry of Culture hosts a meet-up and performance of Peruvian Creole music to celebrate the Día de la Canción Criolla on 31st October.

Cusco Square

Creole Music Day was created in 1944 to celebrate the rich tradition of Peruvian Creole music. The word Creole (pronounced criollo) generally refers to Spanish-influenced culture of the Americas. Creole music was born from a mixture of musical traditions from a variety of groups, including African peoples brought to Peru as slaves. Typical instruments include the Peruvian cajón and the guitar, among others.

Creole Day in Peru

For a taste of Peruvian Creole music, interested parties should head down to the III Encuentro de Centros Musicales (3rd Meeting of Musical Centres), where a number of musicians will demonstrate their skills in the Creole musical tradition. The event begins at 7.00pm and it’s free for anyone to attend.