MANU NATIONAL PARK:
The Manu National Park, located in southeastern Peru, is one of the largest parks in South America. The area of the park encompasses parts of the Andean department of Cusco and the jungle department of Madre de Dios. Manu protects over 2 million hectares (4.5 million acres) of territory rich in flora and fauna species in a variety of habitats including high Andes, cloud forests, and lowland tropical rain forests.
UNESCO officially recognizes this natural paradise as a world heritage site. In 1977 they designated Manu National Park as a World Biosphere Reserve because it contains the best existing example of biodiversity in protected areas of rain forest, as well as endemic areas of cloud forest.
Although humans have altered most forests in the world; Manu has remained intact and untouched by civilization. Thus, we can observe a huge variety of animals in their natural habitats, including: Giant Otters (Pteronura brasiliensis), Black Caiman (Melanosuchus Niger), the majestic Jaguar (Panthera onca), the strange Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus), the Tapir (Tapirus terrestris), the Ocelot (Felis pardalis), 13 species of primates, and an estimated one thousand species of birds including seven species of Macaws (Ara sp.).
Manu also contains 10% of the world’s vascular plant species, including several species of figs and palms, as well as countless species of medicinal plants that scientists are currently cataloguing. A single hectare of forest in Manu can have up to 220 species of trees, while a hectare of temperate forest in Europe or North America may only have 20 tree species. Manu National Park may be amongst the most biologically diverse and protected parks on the planet.
We leave Cusco early in the morning in our specialized overland vehicles. Mid-morning, we visit the interesting tombs of Ninamarca, commonly known as “Chullpas”. We continue to Paucartambo, a picturesque Spanish colonial town, and then to the Acjanacu pass, which marks the beginning of the Cultural Zone of Manu Biosphere Reserve. Here, a thick cloak of clouds provides perpetual humidity and makes an ideal habitat for epiphytic plants such as bromeliads. This varied and fascinating world is home of the Cock of the Rock, Spectacled Bear, Orchids, Tree Ferns (one of the oldest living plants), mosses and lichens. This cloud forest exists between 2000 and 3500meters of altitude and at least 50% of the plant species found here are endemic to this region. We will overnight in a jungle ecolodge. Lunch Box and dinner Included.
Today we wake up very early to observe the Cock of the Rock (Rupicola peruviana), Peru’s national bird, from an observation platform. The male birds are a vibrant reddish orange, where several dozen come together for an exhibition their mating ritual dance in a place called Lek. The males display their crest, showing off and posturing for the females. The females, fewer in number, watch to select the most suitable males. After breakfast, we continue in our overland transport down the narrow road between waterfalls and canyons toward the town of Pilcopata and then to Atalaya Port. Here we board our motor boat and head down the Alto Madre de Dios River for approximately 30 minutes toward the reserve where we will overnight in a local jungle lodge. In this area, we will hike through the interesting trail system that this transitional area between high and low jungle offers. Overnight in the lodge. Breakfast and Lunch Box Included
*1 Optional tour: Descend with mountain bikes from San Pedro (1700m), from the cloud forest to Pilcopata (700 masl) considered High Jungle territory.
*2 Optional tour: In Pilcopata town we will can begin a 1 ½ or 3 hours river rafting (class I and II rapids) trip down the Koshñipata River where we will have the opportunity for a fun dip and of course enjoy the spectacular view of the Koñeq Canyon. Continue down the Alto Madre de Dios River to the Lodge after the activity.
After breakfast, we leave the lodge to board our canoe for the four-hour ride down the Alto Madre de Dios River to Boca Manu’s airstrip. During our voyage, we may see bird species typical of the river and forest edge such as: Black Skimmer, Pied Lapwing, Capped Heron, Jabiru Stork, and several species of kingfishers, swallows and flycatchers. (Optional flight from Cusco to Boca-Manu; this means that some new members may join our group, the plane flies over the Andes to a narrow gravel landing strip in the jungle, taking approximately 45 minutes). Boca Manu’s village is situated a short distance from the confluence of the Manu River with the Alto Madre de Dios River place where you can buy your last fresh supplies and cold drinks before setting off again in the canoe. We will enter the Manu River and the Reservation Zone, stopping in a white sand beach where we camp along the riverbank. We can enjoy a short walk around the area.
*3 Free Option: New!!! Canopy tour: Near the lodge, our guests can traverse from tree to tree, platform to platform, using pulleys on horizontal traverse cables zip lines, as they sail through the treetops of the tropical rainforest canopy, over the trails far below. Expert guides will assist you in this exciting journey through the different layers of the virgin rainforests, from the time you leave the ground, until you rappel back down to the forest floor.
Very early, after a 10 minutes boat ride, we will arrive at a Parrot Lick “Collpa”, which is a wall of clay in the riverbanks, where many species of parrots such as the blue headed parrot, the white-eyed parakeet, the dusky-headed parrot the chestnut fronted macaw, among others, come to feed mineral and salt supplements to their diet of seeds and fruits. After registering in the official tourist logbook at Limonal, the Park Rangers Headquarters and eating an early breakfast, we will continue to travel up the Manu River for 4 hours approximately into the pristine heart of the reserve; we will leave the final traces of humans behind us. We arrive to Salvador Lake, our safari campsite (screened dining room, toilets / showers and radio communication is available). Differences in wildlife abundance will be noted immediately as we begin to see macaws, herons, kingfishers and cormorants frequently and improve our chances of encountering with capybaras, caiman, storks, ducks and other wildlife, you will often see animals sunning themselves on beaches, or foraging for food in the trees lining the riverbanks. This canoe ride gives us the opportunity to observe the immensity of the rainforest. We arrive early in the afternoon to have lunch before setting off on a jungle trail. We will appreciate the forest itself and discuss general rain forest ecology.
We rise early in the morning, as the forest is awakened by the Red Howler monkey (Aloatta seniculus) declaring its territory. A morning walk before breakfast is a great way to catch wildlife in the pursuit of food, with very pleasant temperatures this time of day. We explore Salvador Lake by paddling quietly along on a catamaran, giving us the opportunity to observe unique species of birds, monkeys, caimans and with luck the Giant Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis). This endangered species can be seen swimming, fishing, eating and playing. After we enjoy lunch, we cross the river to walk an 8-km trail to another oxbow lake called Otorongo. This forest, which is estimated to be 200 to 300 years old includes truly huge Ceiba trees and Strangler figs, is home to several mammals that are occasionally encountered: Saddleback tamarins, Squirrels, Spider and Brown Capuchin Monkeys, Collared and white lipped peccaries among others. At the lake, a strategically located observation tower rises 15 meters above the lake and the jungle floor, where from the top you not only get spectacular view of the lake and the surrounding forest but also excellent opportunities to observe birds of the canopy, this also gives us more chances to observe wildlife including the Giant Otter, from above. Back at Salvador Lake, late in the late afternoon we will use the catamaran, and with the help of flashlights we can observe the black caimans rise from the depths of the lake to begin their search for prey. We return to the safari campsite after our night excursion.
Once again, we begin with an early start to enjoy walking around Salvador Lake. We then pack up and slowly head downstream the interesting Manu River. At approximately 3pm we arrive to a small Island that belongs to a Native family where it’s possible to do a short walk through the forest to observe American bullfrogs, horned frogs, tree frogs and an incredible variety of colorful insects. We continue to Boca Manu’s Village, situated a short distance from the confluence of the Manu and Alto Madre de Dios rivers. From here we descend the Madre de Dios River arriving to the Juan de Dios Reserve to spend one more night at the Lodge in this magical Amazon jungle. Guests have the possibility to do a short night walk.
Around mid-morning we board our canoe to return to the airstrip at Boca Manu. At this point, those who are returning to Cusco by plane will catch their flight. This optional flight from Boca Manu to Cusco offers spectacular views of the surrounding jungle and the area’s meandering rivers. The other part of the group will continue up the Alto Madre de Dios River to camp on a nice river bank, deep within the Cultural Zone, so that we can enjoy the sights and sounds of the jungle for one last night.
Waking up very early, we continue the trip by boat to Atalaya, where the bus will be waiting for us to drive back up and out of Manu, arriving in Cusco very late this night or early next morning.
AIR CHARTER ALTERNATIVE
DAY 3: Arrive by plane from Cusco to Boca Manu at mid-morning
DAY 7: Leave Boca Manu and arrive in Cusco in the early afternoon
Things you should bring along on a trip to Manu
Own ground transportation (overland buses and 4WD vehicles), own boat transportation (covered motor boats), Specialized and bilingual guides, 01 night in San Pedro open air lodge, 01 night in Erika Lodge, two-person tents, sleeping mattress, meals, first aid Kit including anti-ophidian shots) air charters (optional - maximum 10kgr. of luggage per person), paperwork and payment for Park permits, radio communication equipment in all lodges and campsites, Satellite telephone for emergencies and as additional service we offer safety box for values and storage for luggage in Cusco’s main office.
Guaranteed departures with minimum 7 participants