The Abra Malaga in Cusco is a route that starts in the town of Ollantaytambo, Cusco and runs along the 28B Ollantaytambo – Quillabamba highway crossing unique Andean ecosystems. This route contains two types of well defined areas: El Abra (4,297 masl) and the lower area (Carrizales 3,245 masl).
With an unsurpassed view of the snowy Verónica, the Abra Málaga in Cusco has a privileged location in the Andes of Cusco. Here you can see the elegant flight of condors and hawks, as well as the presence of deer, spectacled bears and hummingbirds and, occasionally, the elusive Andean bear. This destination is also one of the best scenarios in the world for bird watching, since it houses unique species such as the Andean churrete or the pechicenizo torito. Its mountains are ideal for cycling and long and relaxing walks.
The predominant ecosystem is that of the Montano Tropical rain forest or cloud forest in the Carrizales area, with forests of low-lying trees covered by epiphytic plants and also some areas of bamboo. In the Abra Málaga of Cusco, at 4,200 meters above sea level, we find ourselves in a rainforest-Montano Tropical, with small forests of Polylepis at the sources of the basins.
The birds you can see are rare and highly sought after.
The avifauna of this area of Peru has been studied since 1869 by Sclater and Salvin, Berlepsch and Stolzmann (1906).
In 1915 an expedition of the Machu Picchu Geographical Society is conducted, led by Frank M. Chapman and George K. Cherrie (July 1-24, 1916), and by Harry L. Watkins (April 3-25, 1917).
From September 1974, June 1976, 1977 and 1978, October 1978 and August 1979, staff at the Louisiana State University (LSU) Museum of Zoology visited the valley to inventory and increase knowledge of birds and small mammals. Three main camps were made along the Ollantaytambo-Quillabamba highway through Peru’s Abra de Málaga (3,900 m), and a fourth was in Kiteni (450 m), after Quillabamba.
It is located 3 hours and almost 120 km from the city of Cusco. Take the road to Ollantaytambo and then follow the paved road that leads to Quillabamba. You will arrive at the Malaga pass (4,200 masl), where the area begins.
To go to Abra Málaga Pass you must take the road to Quillabamba in a private car or taxi. Public transportation has fixed departure times in the morning. There is no cell phone coverage on the route.
The Abra Málaga Pass is the highest point of the route and is the safest and most accessible area to see the Royal Cinclodes. To do this you must follow the path that begins at the checkpoint, located at the highest point of the Abra. From there, follow the path until you reach a Polylepis forest located at 4,150 meters above sea level. You can also see the Stripe-headed Antpitta, Blue-mantled Thornbill, Shining Sunbeam, Puna Tapaculo, White-browed Tit-spinetail, Tawny Tit-Spinetail. The route for this forest is very rugged and long. It takes 2-3 hours to cover it.
Another place of interest is the descent of the Abra Málaga Pass, on the way to Quillabamba, where the good places are the vegetation patches around the track, there you can see the Puna Thistletail, Unstreaked Tit-tyrant, Creamy-crested Spinetail, Diademed Tapaculo, Thrush- like Wren, Rufous-chested Tanager, Buff-breasted Mountain-tanager, Chestnut-bellied Mountain-tanager, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-tanager, White-bellied Hummingbird.
In the area near the town of Carrizales it is possible to observe the Inca Wren.
Starting from Ollantaytambo, the first place to visit is Las Peñas, located 15 Kms from the town. So called because there are remains of Inca stone buildings in the place. In the surroundings, between the bushes and on the roadside you can see: Cuzco Brush-finch, Chestnut-breasted Mountain-finch, Tyrian Metaltail, Shining Sunbeam, White-tufted Sunbeam, Puna Tapaculo, White-browed Conebill.
The climate is rainy between the months of November to April, and temperate with infrequent rains between the months of May to October. The temperature varies from -5 degrees in Abra Málaga to 20 degrees in the Carrizales area.
Along the road no payment is necessary. To enter the Cinclodes route, it is necessary to pay an entrance fee, differentiated for Nationals and Foreigners. This payment is made at the checkpoint. Here there are bathrooms.
For the Inca Jungle Trek that cross the Abra Málaga is not neccesary to buy a permit, but for the Inca Trail is necessary to get your permit: 4 day Inca Trail Tour, 2 day Inca Trail, Machu Picchu 3 day hike, 2 day Inca Trail with camping, One day Inca Trail.
The Abra Málaga Private Conservation area is located in the Cusco region. The project for this area to become a conservation area was carried out thanks to the initiative of the owner of the Malaga estate, Mrs. Auristela Toledo, achieving the purpose for the year 2007. Abra Málaga is located at a height between 2 200 meters at 4,400 meters above sea level, which allows observing a diversity of microclimates ranging from the “Cloud Forest”, at the lowest altitude, to the foot of Nevado Verónica, at the highest.
The reasons for this area of Cusco to be declared a Conservation Area are due to: the intention of recovering the natural resources of the area that are deteriorated or in the process of deterioration, as well as the protection of those lands considered fragile; or in favor of obtaining the protection of the different communities that are located in the lower parts. Due to its proximity to the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, this territory must also fulfill its purpose as a buffer zone for the Sanctuary.
Abra Málaga is also important because it is an ecosystem that is made up of the last forests of Queuña, extremely fragile in the place, being therefore also the area of flora and fauna of greatest threat in South America. These are characterized by presenting a fairly resistant trunk that thickens 1 mm annually and whose bark when falling serves as fertilizer for the same tree.
Although the forests included in this Conservation Area are used for birdwatching, their diversity has decreased considerably in recent years, even so, birds such as the Tijeral Ocráceo and the Churrete Real can be seen.
The area is also part of the habitat of endangered animals, such as the spectacled bear or Andean bear; in addition to the condor, which is the largest flying bird in the world; the dwarf deer, among many others. It is also common to find different types of plants of small sizes in the area, especially flowers, which are scattered throughout the territory.