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 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.
Humans have altered the majority of forests in the world. Fortunately, Manu has remained intact and untouched by civilization. Thus, we can observe a 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. This makes it one of the most biologically diverse parks on the planet.
We leave Cusco early in the morning in our specialized overland vehicles. Around mid-morning we visit the interesting Pre-Inca 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 3500 meters above sea level and at least 50% of the plant species found here are endemic to this region. Overnight stay in eco lodge.
Today we wake up very early to observe the Cock-of-the-Rock, Peru’s national bird. At about 5am as many as several dozen males come together for an exhibition of a ritual mating dance. The males display their crest, showing off and posturing for the females. The females, fewer in number, watch to select the most suitable males. We observe this fascinating behavior from an observation platform called a “Lek”. After breakfast we continue by bike down the narrow road between waterfalls and canyons toward Pilcopata town (*1) for 2 hours approximately (*2). We then take a 30 minutes bus ride to the port of Atalaya. From here, we board our covered boat and head down the Alto Madre de Dios River for approximately 30 minutes toward our private reserve of “Eco Lodge”, where we will spend the next two nights. On arrival you will have a short tour of the area surrounding the lodge.
(*1) Optional: Descend with mountain bikes from the Cloud Forest (1,700m) to Pilcopata town (700m). For experienced bike riders only.
(*2) Optional: At Pilcopata town we have the option of a 1 hour rafting trip through the jungle down the Kosñipata River. This includes the chance of a dip and of course to enjoy the spectacular view of the Koñeq Canyon.
Erika Lodge is located in a transition zone between high and low jungle (600m to 1,150m), encompassing different habitats. This altitude range explains the high diversity of wildlife found around this lodge, so immediately after breakfast, we will start walking near the riverbanks, during the hike our guide will talk about insects, medicinal plants, trees, reptiles, mammals, etc. This afternoon we board our boat, and after five minutes, we will walk for another 30 minutes down a pretty trail to Machuwasi Lake where with the help of a telescope we can observe great egrets, tucanets, carpenters, Keskadees, cardinals and more. In the evening we take a short night walk to observe American bullfrogs, horned frogs, tree frogs and an incredible variety of insects.
New!!! Canopy tour: Our guests traverse from tree to tree and platform to platform using pulleys on horizontal traverse cables, as they sail through the treetops of the tropical rainforest canopy, and over the trails far below. Expert guides assist you in this exciting journey through the different layers of the virgin rain forests and explain what’s going on around you, from the time you leave the ground, until you rappel back down to the forest floor.
This day we will get up very early to board our boat again for only five minutes down river to a Parrot clay Lick called “Collpa” on the riverbanks, where many species of parrots such as the blue headed parrot, white-eyed parakeet, feed for mineral and salt supplements to their diet of seeds and fruits. Immediately after we continue to Atalaya Port where the bus will drive us to Cusco city, arriving late in the night.
We get up early, at 5.00 am, to take the first bus (at 6.30 am) to Machu Picchu. We will have a guided tour of about 2.5 hours with the tour guide.
We need to be back in Aguas Calientes by around 2:00 pm (or It will depend on the schedule or the train service that you choose) to catch a train back to Ollantaytambo , and them some of our coworkers will be waiting for you, to drop you up in your hotel
* The exact programs are subject to change, due to weather and other unexpected circumstances.