Manu National Park, one of the biggest protected areas in the world, is home to the some of the greatest biodiversity and the greatest biomass in the world. The park boasts over 1,000 species of birds and 200 species of mammals. Manu spans across a variety of habitats, from the Andean cloud forests to the humid lowland rainforests. Many magnificent creatures inhabit Manu’s rich ecosystem, including jaguars, pumas, spectacled bears, tapirs, anacondas, and harpy eagles. A great amount of butterflies and plants inhabit Manu’s different bioregions.
In 1973, the Peruvian government established Manu as a park, protecting the great biodiversity living in it. In 1977, Manu National Park became a Biosphere Reserve. Then, in 1987, UNESCO declared Manu a World Natural Heritage Site. Protecting countless numbers of species of animals and plants, and a plethora of different habitats, Manu truly is “a living eden.”
This Trip is the Complete Manu Experience because we visit all points of interest in the Manu National Park. A fantastic combination of comfortable lodges and wildlife attractions. Some of the time will be spent canoeing the lake on a floating catamarans observing lake animal life. We may encounter an Agami Heron or a Sungrebe and Shock-headed & Large-headed Capuchin Monkeys are usually feeding on fruits nearby. We look for a family of Giant Otters that live here. These, the world’s largest freshwater carnivores, remain common only in Manu.
Day 01: Cusco to Cock of the Rock Lodge
Day 02:Cock of the Rock Lodge to Romero Lodge
Day 03:Romero Lodge to Manu Wildlife Center
Day 04:Visit the Cocha Salvador & Cocha Otorongo
Day 05:Manu National Park to Manu Wildlife Center
Day 06:The Manu Clay Lick Project and trail system
Day 07:Manu Wildlife Center - Puerto Maldonado
End: Puerto Maldonado
Age: Young children with their parents, 18 without parents.
Group size:No Minimum
We departure from Cusco early in the morning. We first visit a mountain wetland habitat teeming with migrant and local waterfowl, before crossing two mountain ranges between the Cusco valley and the Paucartambo valley, to a maximum altitude of 3,900 MASL.
Finally, we follow the highway through an extraordinary world of forested cliffs, waterfalls and gorges. We take leisurely stops to see mountain villages, the chullpas (pre‐Inca burial chambers), and the abrupt ridge top of Ajanaco, which marks the final high point where the Andes begin their swoop into the Amazon basin.
After the lunch, we descend through the tropical Andes, observing overhanging trees, giant ferns, monster begonias, countless orchids and bromeliads, and a diverse and teeming birdlife. Finally, we reach the comfortable Cock of the Rock Lodge in the late afternoon, the best hour to see this famous bird from the nearby viewing platform.
Rising early, we could scout for birds, and perhaps Brown Capuchin or Woolly monkeys along the nearby road. Or we can take a secluded nature walk on a short trail loop to the river and back.
After breakfast we continue our drive, as mountains give way to low rolling hills and farmland. At Patria we visit a plantation of coca grown legitimately for the Peruvian coca leaf market.
At midday we reach Atalaya, a tiny port where the Piñipiñi River meets the Alto Madre de Dios River. Now the rivers become the highways of the rainforest, and henceforth we will travel in large and comfortable canoes.
During normal river conditions we arrive at our lodge in time for exploration and wildlife viewing – which may include toucans, kingfishers, a rare endemic hummingbird and a multitude of butterflies ‐ along one of its many forest trails.
We turn northward up the chocolate-brown waters of the Manu River into the Manu National Park.
The pristine quality of the forest is instantly apparent, with abundant birdlife and no signs of outside development.
We check into the park at Limonal ranger station and then proceed upstream to the Romero Lodge
We pass the mouth of the Manu River, the gateway to the Manu National Park. We pause our journey to stretch our legs and visit Boca Manu, the village a short way downriver.
After some four hours on the river we reach the Manu Park Wildlife Center, a simple but comfortable lodge almost invisibly in the forest. Time permitting, we will take a short walk before dinner to stretch our legs and enjoy our first encounter with rainforest.
Today we visit two lakes near our Manu Park Wildlife Center. Our trail to Cocha Otorongo begins 30 minutes downstream from the Manu Park Wildlife Center. This brief river journey to the trailhead can always offer the chance of a thrilling wildlife sighting. Perhaps we will spot a family of Capybaras, the world’s largest rodent, browsing on the riverbank, or if we are very lucky, a solitary Jaguar might stalk slowly off an open beach into the forest.
On the short trail to the lake we may see one or more of the park’s 13 monkey species leaping through the trees - such as kapok, ironwood and figs, which will astound us with their vast size-.
The lakes are abundant in fish and wildlife, and provide optimum habitat for caimans and the Giant Otter, one of the Amazon’s most endangered mammal species. This lake is protected, and boats are not allowed. However, it features a dock platform and a 50ft tower from which to scan the trees and marshy shoreline. We have a good chance of sighting the resident Giant Otter family as they dive for their food.
Cocha Salvador is the largest of the area’s lakes, at 3.5 Km, or some two miles long. It is also home to a family of Giant Otters. The lakeside trees are often alive with monkeys; Scarlet and Blue‐and‐gold macaws; a variety of herons and egrets scout the water’s edge; and the reptilian eyes and snouts of caimans, motionless as logs, may be spied beneath the branches.
We set off downriver at dawn. At this hour chances of wildlife encounters are excellent. We return to the Limonal park station, to file our wildlife report before leaving the park. After. we will be near the village of Boca Manu.
After ninety more minutes downstream we arrive at Manu Wildlife Center ‐ the exciting final stop of our journey ‐ in time for lunch.
After an early afternoon rest, we set off along the “collpa trail”, which will take us to the lodge’s famous Tapir Clay Lick. Here we will recognize the most active tapir lick known in the entire Amazon, our research has identified from 8‐12 individual 600‐pound Tapirs who come to this lick to eat clay from under the tree roots. This material absorbs and neutralizes toxins in the vegetarian diet of the Tapir, the largest land animal of Latin America. This experience is unique and exciting because tapir are normally very shy creatures and no visible up close.
After a delicious breakfast we walk through the forest for some minutes, where we find the Macaw Lick project. Carry your cameras and binoculars to appreciate the scarlet Macaws, that come flapping in groups of two and three, landing in the treetops. After, we continue walking and exploring on the network of trails surrounding the lodge then we return for lunch.
Later, we would appreciate the vegetation around the lodge. At the afternoon, we arrive to our Canopy Tower. On its platform we will have the opportunity to feel the adrenaline flying like a bird in the middle of beautiful jungle.
After lunch at the lodge, we offer an opportunity to search for caiman and other nocturnal life along the riverbank by boat accompanied by our guide.
We leave our lodge very early on the two hour and a half return boat trip downstream to the Colorado Village. We will enjoy the breakfast at the lodge or in the boat while you enjoy the wildlife activity around the river.
In addition, during the journey we will see several native settlements and gold miners digging along the banks of the Madre de Dios River. We will stop in the far-west type gold-mining town of Colorado to start our overland journey to Puerto Carlos for 45 minutes, then you will cross the Inambari River for 15 minutes boat trip to Santa Rosa, finally the bus will drive us to the airport in Puerto Maldonado City.
It extends through the basin of the Manu river, which gives it its name, and on one side of the basin of the Alto Madre de Dios river.
It covers a territory of 1'881,200 Hectares (18,812 Km²) Of all that protected territory, 81.5% corresponds to the Natural Zone, which is an intangible area, 13.5% to the Experimental Zone, which is destined for controlled research and tourist activities, and 5% to the Cultural Zone, where there are human settlements .
Relief Formed by mountains, hills, alluvial plains, ranging from 150 meters to 4,200 meters of altitude.
The only ways to get into Manu are the river courses. Through the Alto Madre de Dios you reach the Manu River and through it and its tributaries you reach different points of the protected area.
For some botanists, Manu has more plant species than any other protected region in the world. The more than 850 registered species, represent 15% of the world avifauna.
Invertebrates are counted in tens of thousands and it is estimated that there are more than half a million species of arthropods in the protected area. On its surface, 14 different types of forests have been identified, making it an obligatory point of reference for the study of tropical forest ecosystems.
Since the area is so close to the equator, the temperature does not very much throughout the year. The rainy season in the Peruvian Andes starts in about December. But the "dry" season does not mean that it does not rain then - it just means that it rains a little less often. It can rain at any time of the year, usually in the afternoon for a few hours.
Yes, we recommend to bring along a good mosquitoes repellent. In case you visit the rainforest during the month of December, January, February or March (rainy season), we strongly recommend a strong especial mosquito repellent. In addition we also recommend you to bring a couple of long sleeve t-shirts; they are very helpful in this case.
If you are just arriving from your country to Lima (sea level) and then to the highlands (Arequipa, Cusco, Huaraz, Cajamarca, Puno), we recommend you to take it easy, do not push yourself too much on the first hours. It is advisable to drink plenty of fluids such as water.
Travelling on the Peruvian coast, you may wear light clothing (shorts, T-shirts, sandals) during the day is warm, excepts mornings and nights. During our visit to the Andes we strongly recommend to bring proper warm clothing for the cold and rain (December to April). On the jungle, you will need light clothing.
When you arrive in Perú it is best to do so with U.S. dollars. While most western currency can be exchanged for Peruvian Soles rather easily, any shop, restaurant, or business will take U.S. dollars as payment. This can not be said readily of all other western currency. Be prepared however to receive your change in Soles. It is a good idea not to use bills in excess of $10-$20.00 U.S., as you might find it difficult for the merchant to change anything larger