INCA TRAIL WILDLIFE
We are now taking this journey into the Inca trail wildlife. Let us guide you again to the remote mountain valleys, to those evergreen valleys and cloud forests we pass through on our journey to Machu Picchu citadel. Just hearing the scream of the wild and looking at them carefully makes our journey even more memorable because all animals are wonderful. The Inca trail has excellent habitat for birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, and on and on. Among many species of all of them, we also have got endemic species that developed in this tiny spot of the world. We have got river animals, terrestrial animals, and wild and domestic ones. Those and more to see on the way to Machu Picchu. You know that you and all of us don´t know exactly what else is lurking near the cliff mountain slopes or beneath the acres and acres of bushes on the eastern side of the range. Here is a brief introduction to the Inca trail wildlife and Inca trail animals we expect to see.
When we refer to Inca trail hiking, therefore, the Inca trail wildlife. Obviously, from all the existing fauna along the Inca trail and surroundings, the spectacled bear stands out together with the colored tucan. There had been reports of el Oso de anteojos near the Sayacmarca Inca site and also down near the sun gate, crawling through the Andean jungle. They would really sniff and hear the humans, just to be cautious and get away from people. If it is a sudden encounter with the bear, it will just get away since they are shy. They feed on bromeliads and roots. They are not going to turn into a potential hazard for hikers.
Grey-breasted mountain toucan
It is a nice sensation hearing their call, a nasal sound. Chances to hear and see these toucans are from the third-day mid-hike from Phuyu Patamarca to the sun gate site on the final day of the hike. They can be found in groups, in pairs, or in family groups in wooded ravines and pre-mountain forests, between 2000 m and 3400 m. Hear them calling there with their colorful beaks, sitting on tree branches nearby and far away.
There had been reports of sightings of these elegant birds flying, holding reptiles in its claw. Reptiles such as snakes and lizards suffer in the air hanging and swaying as if asking for mercy that will never be granted to them because it is so when it is about the food chain. Caracaras build their nests on rock ledges away from where people walk and inhabit. That being so, the caracaras on the Inca trail are commonly spotted during the second and third days in the Puna grasslands near dead woman´s Pass and Runcuraqay Pass. They are black backs and white bellies, and orange beaks that fly shallow and stiff, always looking for food.
This turkey-like bird is heard at dusk or dawn in the early hours. They inhabit the humid mountain and forests where there are Bromeliads. They are usually silent. They would move throughout the forest in this manner. It is blackish with some white silvery feathers in the chest and has red dewlap. The early hike to the sun gate is a good opportunity to hear their call. With some luck, these birds would be nearby to be seen.
The beam of the sun or the copper hummingbirds of the Andes. These sunbeams are usually encountered near the dead woman´s pass, hovering above the scanty little bushes and flowers in search of nectar as all hummingbirds do. The next spot to see them is Pacaymayo area, gliding to catch insects, other times perching on flowers. They are short-billed and don´t have any white color in contrast with other hummingbirds.
With its majestic head and flipping its wings at an astounding beat. It is a little animal, with its long bill, perfect body, and feathers sparkling, simply wonderful, wonderful. Just look at them patiently. These giant hummingbirds frequent lower semi-arid bushy slopes, and Polylepis woodlands. Along the Inca trail, they can be seen near Patallacta and also the Pacaymayu Valley. Again they feed on nectar and flying insects.
The king of the Andes! They inhabit steep mountains and cliffs where they built their nests. The human impact on them resulted in a decrease of their population, for there is little chance to see of more often as in previous years. These Condores are the biggest flying land birds of South America with an estimated impressive 300 cm wingspan and 11 kilos weight. They feed on smaller animals, but mainly they are in search of carrions, leftovers of deer meats, Alpaca, and calves. When flying very high they look black, but when flying shallow, the color comes to view to determine if it is a male, juvenile or female. Males have a white collar down and are larger than females. Females are more black and gray, and juveniles are all dusky brown. They soar for hours, solitary, in pairs, or in larger groups. Although not frequent, at least in the Machu Picchu Inca trail area.
Taruka or deer
With its big great horns, the buck and the little beauty doe are sometimes seen near Runkuraqay pass. In all of Machu Pichu sanctuary, where the Inca trail belongs, there are 4 species of them inhabiting. The Sachacabra deer, the smallest deer in the world, the white-tailed deer, then there is the Andean deer or ciervo Altoandino and tanka Taruka, mazama Chunyi. With a little luck, it is possible to see them in the morning early and afternoon hours after the crowds.
Andean Bothrops or la Jergona
Inhabits premontane and humid forests with good rat activity, earthworms, and insects. When it is cold and freezing, they curl up in the bushes only to come out and slide when the sun comes out. During the Inca trail hiking, travelers should watch out their steps from the area of Phuyupatamarca until Machu Picchu. If it happens to come across one of them, wait for a moment and just let them go away, for they are dangerous. They might be found trailside sunbathing or crossing the trail left to right and disappearing in the bushes once again.
These noisy parakeets are birds of humid forests. They are green in color, light green with red to pink foreheat that contrasts with the green head. Flocks of parakeets can be seen roosting in the trees near the camping ground of the Wiñayhuana site near Machu Picchu. They feed on wild fruits, seeds, and nuts.
A very sneaky animal and a good sniffer. Although rumors of foxes stealing people´s sheep and chickens have grown in Huayllabamba they are hardly ever spotted during the daytime. That makes them sneaky, and very intelligent animals by nature. Dogs are good guards and often fight against foxes but seems these pointed ears, thick fur, and bushy tails hunt tirelessly. Their diet includes mice, fruits, and grasshoppers. The scream of the fox is heard near the first camping area above Huayllamba during the night.
Known also as nasua nasua, often seen near the sun gate and Huiñayhuana Inca site. They walk in the afternoon hours and morning times, usually in groups, with mothers and little ones behind. Males are larger than females and walk alone except during mating season. What is particularly interesting about these animals is that they have white rings around the tail. Their diet consists of nuts, fruits, small rodents, and lizards.
Mustouched flower piercer
The eternal enemies of hummingbirds since these also feed on flower nectar. They perch on flowers and leaves where they get food, and hikers sometimes experience these little birds flying from right to left and again to right, up and down very actively. It is very common to see in Machu Picchu and the Inca trail. Their habitat area is between 2000 m and 3 000 m. They are black, and their cheeks show white streaking.
If there is one bird all hikers are going to see on the Inca trail hiking, is the Andean thrush or Zorzal. They inhabit areas ranging from 2000 m to 4000 m. Therefore, the valleys of km 82, kusichaca, Huayllabamba, and Sayacmarca are favorable and host these bird species. Black to brown in color, yellow legs and bill, jumping in pale short grass areas in search of seeds and worms. Other times, they fly to bushes and trees for fruits and berries. They don´t really care about animals and humans. They would even mingle with domestic hens and roosters, as seen in family houses in the Huayllabamba sector.
They forage in rocky and grassy slopes with some shrubbery. What is particularly interesting about these tinamous is that when the day goes rainy, wet, and cloudy, these birds are going to call repeatedly from somewhere within the bushes. Then hearing their somewhat saddened calls is very possible on rainy days. They are quite shy and run rapidly along the borders and bushes. With about 35 cm. Dark gray, pale streaks and spots, slightly curved bill, and white-throated. There had been reports about Tinamous walking trail sides with its little ones, three to four, following the mother. That is a very delightful sight from all of the Inca trail wildlife. They can be found at elevations ranging from 2 800 to 3 800. On the Inca trail, expect to see them near Runku Raqay Pass and Chaquicocha Camp.
Puma or cougar
The Andean puma, also known as the mountain lion. Second largest feline in South America after Jaguares. The fiercest feline of the Andes, feared by animals and humans. The question is, is there any remaining puma in the Machu Picchu sanctuary, in the 37 000 ha? Yes! There have been reports of photos of these cats taken with trap cameras very elegant and nice to see. They are nocturnal rather than active during the daytime, therefore; chances to see them are extremely low. They feed on raccoons and deer, and they live in these deer´s ecosystems as well.
Now it is time to hit the trail and keep an eye out for the wilderness and see if there is something.