Manu Road Butterflies 11 days
Although it is famous as a birding route, the Manu Road offers spectacular opportunities for butterfly observation as well. We focus especially on the lower and middle cloud forest elevations at 1000-2000 m. with a few days higher and lower too. We can expect a great variety of satyrs at the upper end of this range, and the diversity of skipperlings (Dalla) along this road is incredible. At the lower end of our transect we'll find many species from all families.
This tour is easily extended to include lowland sites; email us for details.
Manu Road Butterflies Itinerary
Day 1: Cusco to the Cloud Forest
In the morning we'll spend some time around Lake Huacarpay, where we may see Nabokovia cuzquenha, Junonia vestina, and others; now and throughout the tour we'll also keep half an eye out for interesting birds if the group is interested. We'll then spend the day driving through the dry Andes towards Manu, stopping at a few spots on the way; we have seen Hylephila peruana in the past. We'll spend the afternoon in the upper cloud forest; this is often cloudy late in the day, but we may see our first high-elevation satyrs, including Oressinoma sorata and up to three species of Vanessa.
Day 2: Upper Manu Road
After an early morning bird walk for those that are interested, we'll spend the day looking for high-elevation specialty butterflies. These are likely to include a variety of hard-to-identify Pedaliodes specices, while some easier to recognize targets include Corades cistene, Corades ulema, Lymanopoda eubagioides, and Orophila diotima. Late in the day, or if the clouds roll in early sooner, we'll drive down to our base for xploring the cloud forest.
Day 3 - 4: Middle Manu Road
The area within 1 hour drive of Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge covers a very interesting an altitudinal range; we'll spread our time at the various stream crossings, wide spots on the road, and even on a forested trail looking for butterflies. The possibilities are nearly endless, but we can expect to find many of our Dalla species here as well as lots more satyrs from many genera. Other crowd-pleasers include the beautiful Callicore lyca and several other "numberwing" or "88" species, Baeotis bacaensis and other metalmarks, and several Adelpha sisters. The flowered garden at the lodge is also visited by many species, especially skippers of various flavours. When butterflying is slow we will take some time to enjoy the colourful mixed bird flocks that are frequent in the area.
Day 5: Lower Manu Road
Today we'll focus our butterflying around the famous bridge at 1000 m. elevation; here we're likely to find some incredible beauties, possibly including the stunning metalmarks Ancyluris formosissima and Mesosemia messies. Late in the day we'll transfer to Amazonia Lodge, in the foothills, and put out our first batch of bait there (then hope it doesn't rain overnight!).
Day 6 - 7: Amazonia Lodge
We'll have two full days at Amazonia, where we're likely to be overwhelmed by amazing butterflies. Possibilities are far too many to list. Spitwads are popular with various Astraptes flashers as well as Pyrrhogyra redrings and others. Bait spots along creek and river banks can swarm on a good sunny day; here we could see various Antigonus spurwings including the beautiful A. decens and the stunning Gorgopas trochilus competing with crescents and other brushfoots and skippers for the juciest spots. We could also find a few species of Morpho and swallowtails and of course lots of others including more stunning metalmarks possibly including the royal blue Metacharis regalis, Melanis marathon, or Notheme erota. Among the most impressive satyrs we could find are the glittering Caeruleuptychia helios and the cryptic but intricately-marked Rareuptychia clio.
Day 8: Back to the Cloud Forest
We'll again spend nearly all day at Amazonia Lodge; in the late afternoon we'll make the return trip to Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge.
Day 9 - 10: More Cloud Forest
Partly because the weather in the cloud forest is unpredictable, and partly because there is simply so much to see, we'll have two more full days to work the road above and below Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge. However well we did during our visit on the way down the road, there is sure to be more to look for. We can visit anywhere between 1000 and 2000 m. depending what we want to search for.
Day 11: Back to Cusco
Again depending on where we think we'd find the most new species, we'll spend most of the day on the Upper Manu Road; one special target if we missed it on the way in will be the wonderful firetip Metardaris consinga which is found on both sides of the pass at the top of the Manu Road. Late in the afternoon we'll arrive back in Cusco to conclude the tour.