Led by professional naturalists and photographers Emanuele Biggi and Alessandro Catenazzi

With the support of ACCA (Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica)
Departure 24th June and return home on 9th July

To register to the trip:  ebiggi@anura.it  (NOTE: registrations end at the end of April 2016)

A journey to discover the natural and photographic fauna and flora and culture of the great Peruvian environments: the coastal desert, the Andean cloud forest and the lowland Amazon rainforest.

Peru is one of the countries with the highest level of biodiversity in South America, thanks to the diversity of its environments and climate zones. During this trip we will discover and photograph some important segments of this biodiversity, with the guidance of naturalists, world-renowned researchers and photographers who admire the exuberant Peruvian biodiversity. Prominence will be given to the “lesser” animals, such as amphibians, reptiles and arthropods, which represent 90% of all animal life in Peru. We will also visit some sites of great archaeological importance, such as archaeological complexes in Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. During 15 days we will experience the main ecosystems of Peru: the coastal desert, the Andes mountains, the cloud forest of the eastern slopes of the Andes, and the lowland Amazon rainforest.


DAY 1 June 24, 2016
Departure from city of origin; schedule flight for arrival in Lima in the early morning of June 25.

Arrival in Lima in the early morning.
Meeting at the airport and bus ride to Paracas (~3 hours).
Afternoon rest. Along the Paracas marina you can take pictures seabirds (pelicans, seagulls and herons especially).
Overnight: Hotel San Agustin Paracas

Visit the great coastal desert of Paracas. We will explore beaches where desert life rely on the contribution of nutrients brought by the ocean. Many organisms, including Microlophus lava lizards, geckos Phyllodactylus, scorpions and sun spiders live thanks to what the sea throws every day on the beaches. Andean condors fly down from their mountain canyons to feed on carcasses of whales and sea lions stranded on the beaches of Paracas.
In the evening, if weather permits, there will be a hike to “hunt” small desert animals, such as geckos, sun spiders and scorpions, the latter spotted using a portable ultraviolet light.
Dinner and night in Paracas.

In the morning visit by boat to the enchanting Ballestas islands, a series of small guano islands where you thousands and thousands of sea birds, including Peruvian pelicans (Pelecanus thagus), Guanay cormorants (Phalacrocorax bougainvillii), Humboldt penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus), Peruvian boobies (Sula peruviana), the Inca tern (Larosterna incaa) and many others. The beaches are frequented by South American sea lions (Otaria flavescens) and South American fur seals (Arctocephalus australis), which we will approach with our boat.
In the afternoon visit to other areas of the Paracas Reserve, where with a little ‘luck you can also observe the rare sea otter (Lontra felina), as well as some fearless pelicans.
Dinner and night in Paracas

Departure early in the morning for Lima to take a morning flight to the beautiful city of Cusco, the “capital city” of historic Peru, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After arriving at lunchtime, rest is recommended to acclimate for the transition to high elevations (from sea level in Lima to 11,000 feet in Cusco). Those who feel fine can take a ride through the city, sipping the typical coca tea that helps to better withstand the high altitude conditions. Our hotel is in a very convenient location to walk to some of the central places of the city, such as Plaza de Armas and the legendary rock with 12 corners in Calle Hatun Rumiyuq.
Night at Hotel Sonesta
Dinner at restaurant Limo

June 29, 2016: THE ANDES
Early morning departure for Wayqecha Biological Station, located at an altitude of ~9,000 feet in the Cosñipata valley, on the eastern slope of the Cordillera de Paucartambo ranging from the high Andes to the Amazon lowlands.
There are several stops along the way, namely the archaeological sites of Chulpas de Ninamarca and the citadel of Watoqto, as well as lookouts for landscape photography.
After check-in and lunch at Wayqecha, we will devote the afternoon to a first exploration of the cloud forest around 9,000 feet. The vegetation around the station transitions from montane scrub to cloud forest, and many plants rely on moisture intercepted from the fog that frequently enshrouds the slopes. Around the lodges you can very easily see and photograph several species of hummingbirds and epiphytic orchids that grow along the trails originating from the biological station. Some of the great animal protagonists of nature excursions in the Andean cloud forests are frogs and to a lesser extent reptiles and many arthropods that we will photograph using different techniques depending on the biology of the different species. Every day we will have nocturnal walks in the forest, whose darkness is filled with many different life forms. We will be staying in a biological stations, thus we will have the opportunity (for those interested) to follow some of the field work that scientists are conducting in the forests. Every year new species are discovered here at Wayqecha, and it is very possible that some of our photographic subjects will include undescribed species.
Dinner and night at Wayqecha Biological Station of Wayqecha

June 30, 2016: THE CLOUD FOREST
Exploration of the Andean cloud forest, hike to the canopy walkway allowing observation of the forest canopy from above.
Meals and night at Wayqecha

Early rise around 4am to drive up to  the lookout of Tres Cruces (12,000 feet) where you can admire a spectacular sunrise over the Amazon forest from the top of the Andes. The high Andean grasslands and elfin forests are also home to interesting mammals such as the Andean fox (Pseudalopex culpaeus), various species of eagles, as well as endemic animals, including frogs and spiders related to high altitude environments. Return to the station for breakfast around 9 am, and exploration of the cloud forest after resting in the late morning and afternoon.
Meals and night at Wayqecha

Transfer from Wayqecha towards the lowland Amazon forest. We will stop several times along the way, to photograph interesting wildlife and the legendary “cock of the rock” (Rupicola peruviana), one of the most iconic and famous birds of the montane forest. Arrival at Villa Carmen Biological Station in the late afternoon, where temperatures are considerably higher than at Wayqecha.
Meals and night at Villa Carmen Biological Station, followed by a night out in the forest.

DAYS 10-11
Exploration and photographic activity in the forest trails of Villa Carmen. Some of the activities will be guided tours to discover the medicinal plants, and exploration looking for reptiles, amphibians and insects, as well as larger wildlife (monkeys) and of course birds.
Meals and night at Villa Carmen Biological Station, followed by a night out in the forest.

DAY 12
Transfer from Villa Carmen to the Sacred Valley. This will be a long ride (several hours), and we will stop for lunch at the Andean Community of Challabamba to feast on tarwi (Lupinus mutabilis), a native legume traditionally farmed in the Andes, before continuing to our final destination Urubamba.
Dinner and night in Urubamba.

DAY 13
We will visit the Sacred Valley of the Incas, particularly the archeological sites of Ollantaytambo, Moray, Chincero and the impressive salt mines of Maras. At Chinchero and Ollantaytambo and we also visit local handicraft markets, and at Chinchero we will visit an Andean weaving workshop. This last part of the trip will focus more on the cultural richness of the Andean landscape, to understand how the Incas and earlier cultures were able to exploit and modify a difficult territory, for example by building impressive terraces (andenes) on steep mountain slopes to grow crops such as potatoes and Andean cereals.
Dinner and night in Ururamba

DAY 14
We will take a bus transfer from Urubamba to the train station of Ollantaytambo, and from there board the 7:45am train to Aguas Calientes. We will arrive at Aguas Calientes at 9:15, take another bus up the mountain and arrive at Machu Picchu, where we will visit the citadel (UNESCO Heritage and included among the 7 Wonders of the Modern World) and then, after a short hike, the Puerta del Sol, the ending of the famous Qhapaq Ñan or Inca trail. Our visit will take approximately 3-4 hours. We will descend to Aguas Calientes in the afternoon, and board the 6:20pm train for our return to Ollantaytambo.
Lunch at Machu Picchu
Dinner and night in Ollantaytambo

DAY 15
8 July 2016: RETURN TO LIMA
Transfer to Lima in the morning and transfer to hotel NM San Isidro (Parque del Olivar). In the afternoon short visit to historic downtown (or Barranco). In the evening we will visit the archaeological site of Huaca Pucclana, followed by dinner at the site in one of the best restaurants in town.
Night in Lima (*some participants might need to leave for airport to catch midnight-3am flights to Dallas, Miami, etc.)

DAY 16
July 9, 2016: Early morning: Transportation to the airport and return to city of origin.


The trip is recommended for nature enthusiasts, beginners or experienced nature photographers at any level of expertise and experience. Visits are scheduled to leave extended periods of time for observation and photography. It will not be a series of “hit and run” visits, because it takes patience, willingness to adapt to circumstances and curiosity to observe nature.
The trip is NOT recommended to those who are afraid of snakes, frogs and toads, insects and spiders, as they will be among our main photographic subjects.
Peru being the cradle of some of the most important and ancient cultures of South America, we will devote two days to explore a very small part of the immense archaeological heritage of the country, visiting two of the most spectacular and iconic sites in Latin America, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.

The price is about US$3600 including:
-all ground transportation (and boat to Ballestas),
-hotel and field station accommodations,
– guide services

It doesn’t include:
– international and domestic flights
– trip insurances
– a dinner in Lima.

There may be some slight variation according to the exchange rate with the dollar and other small changes.

All hotels have been carefully selected hotels and are of excellent quality. Participants will share double or triple rooms with twin beds (matrimonial on request). Single occupancy is possible at some but not all locations and requires payment of additional fee.

The restaurants in the city have been carefully selected to allow participants to discover the varied Peruvian gastronomy, a real national pride. At the biological stations meals we will enjoy simpler meals, but always prepared by professional chefs and representing Peruvian gastronomy with local and fresh ingredients.
Please report any allergies or personal food restrictions to arrange the menu accordingly.

During the 15-day trip we will encounter a variety of climates. We therefore recommend technical clothing with long pants, t-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, warm sweaters, a lightweight but warm jacket, gloves (alpaca sweaters, gloves and hats can also be purchased in Cusco). During our stay in Cusco night temperatures may drop very close to freezing. We also recommend a long and wide poncho with enough room to protect the backpack, and a baseball hat to keep the hood of the poncho from interfering with vision and photography. We recommended waterproof or Goretex hiking boots (please make sure they are seed free and clean of mud, dirt, etc that might contain exotic species). Sunscreen should be of high protection factor (30 and up), also recommended are sunglasses (especially in the desert and Andes), and insect repellent (high DEET content always best in tropical environments), all of which can also be purchased in Cusco but at a higher cost.

We recommend participants to be vaccinated against tetanus, yellow fever, and hepatitis A and B. In the Pilcopata region near Villa Carmen, malaria has been reported but at very low incidence, those who want to reduce (the already low) risk of infection can take prophylaxis drugs such as Malarone or similar drugs.
Useful travel medicines are antibiotics for gastric infections, dysentery treating drugs (Loperamide and similar), and triple antibiotic creams for topical use (small wounds, etc).
To prevent altitude sickness (soroche) we recommend plenty of rest the first day, staying hydrated, and drinking infusions of coca tea or muña grass that relieve some of the symptoms associated with soroche. We will also have soroche pills and local pharmacies sell oxygen cans. We have scheduled the first day in Cusco to be a day of resting with a light dinner in the early evening.

The following locations will have mobile operators that operate roaming (some with data access) for international operators: Lima, Paracas, Paucartambo, Villa Carmen, Urubamba, Macchu Pichu
Without mobile network: Wayqecha (internet available for emergencies)

Lightweight and versatile tripods, best those that allow reaching down to the ground.
Camera with at least two batteries (batteries can be recharged at both field stations)
Macro lens (60mm, 90mm or 105mm)
Macro Flash
General Flash with diffusers
Telephoto or zoom for photos of birds and monkeys: at least a 300 mm (or similar zoom, as 120-400, 150-600 …)
Landscape lens / wide angle: 16-35, 12-24, 24-70 or similar
Many memory cards, possibly with small HD for backup
We do not recommend to bring laptop PCs because moisture might damage them, but the organization will have at least one portable laptop and HD for backups
Reflector 5-in-1 (very helpful)
Filters and polarizers can be useful
Photo backpack with rain cover strongly recommended

– The sixth extinction. An unnatural story by Elizabeth Kolbert
Pulitzer Prize. Several chapters describe the work that scientists conduct at Wayqecha and Villa Carmen to understand how cloud forests will respond to climate change

- Rapid Color Guides (Field Museum)
Freely available photographic guides for various groups of flora and fauna, available for Paracas, Wayqecha, Villa Carmen, Machu Picchu, Cusco, etc. (English / Spanish)

- Peru’s Amazonian Eden: Manu National Park and Biosphere Reserve by Kim MacQuarrie, André Baertschi
Large format “coffee table book”, richly illustrated with photographs by André Baertschi (English / Spanish)

- Birds of Peru: Revised and Updated Edition of Thomas S. Schulenberg, Douglas F. Stotz, Daniel F. Lane, John P. O’Neill, Theodore A. Parker
The best guide on Peruvian birds

- Travellers’ Wildlife Guides Peru by David L. Pearson, Les Beletsky, Priscilla Barrett, David Beadle, David Dennis, Daniel Lane
General guide to the fauna and flora of Peru

- Manu: The Biodiversity of Southeastern Peru Don E. Wilson, Abelardo Sandoval
Compendium of scientific papers on the biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest of Manu National Park (English)

Emanuele Biggi

Emanuele Biggi

Naturalist, Wildlife Photographer and tv presenter

Emanuele is author and curator of scientific expositions. TV presenter in Italy. Winner of various international photography prizes (highly commended at Wildlife phographer of the Year 2011, Winner at BigPicture Competition on 2014) and speaker at Wildphotos Symposium on 2013 and judge at the Asferico International photography competion on 2016.

Alessandro Catenazzi

Alessandro Catenazzi

Associate Professor at Southern Illinois University

Alessandro discovered more than 20 new species of frogs and lizards (and even some diatoms and solifuges), most of them from Peruvian ecosystems. He’s a talented photographer and conservation ecologist.