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Manu Biosphere Reserve: 7 Days
Manu National Park is a sprawling biosphere reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its variety of habitats and diverse plant and animal life. The park contains virtually the whole of the Manu River watershed, from the sources of its tributaries in the high Andes to where it empties into the Madre de Dios RIver. The Manu is the largest national park in Peru, measuring 15,328 sq. km (5,917 sq. miles). The Biosphere Reserve adds another 2,570 sq. km (992 sq. miles).
The Manu Biosphere Reserve has the highest concentration of animal licks, including the biggest blanquillo macaw lick and the famous tapir lick. We also visit 5 lakes where giant river otters live and it is possible to fish for piranhas. On this tour you have spend time travelling by boat and enjoy more options for animal watching and exploring on the trails.
Day 1: Cusco - Bambu Lodge
We pick you up at your Cusco hotel in our private bus at 5:00am. Our our drive into the jungle we stop at interesting places like Ninamarcas to see the chullpas, which are pre-Incan funerary towers built for the nobility. We travel over the Andes and through the famous cloud forest where we can observe the male Andean cock-of-the-rocks (Peru's national bird). After lunch we explore slowly, looking for woolly monkey, brown capuchin, quetzals and toucans in the cloud forest. Later in the afternoon we arrive in Asuncion village. The trip will take around 11 hours and the highest pass on the road is at an altitude of 4,000 m (13,123 ft). We will spend the night in Bambu lodge and offer an optional guided night walk.
Day 2: Bambu Lodge - Hummingbird Lodge in Boca Manu
After an early breakfast, we continue our trip by bus to Atalaya. On the way we stop to explore a place of orchids. From Atalaya we take our motorized boat towards Boca Manu. Along the banks of the upper Madre de Dios River we will see interesting birds like herons, vultures, macaws and flycatchers. The night is spent in comfort at the Hummingbird Lodge. There will be an optional night walk (to see tarantulas, insects, frogs, snakes etc.)
Day 3: Hummingbird Lodge - Maquisapayoj
After breakfast, we continue on the river for approximately 2 hours. During the boat ride we have the best options to see jaguars, capybaras, caimans sleeping on the beach, herons fishing at the river's edge, macaws, toucans, vultures, eagles and other bird species. We spend the night at the Maquisapayoj lodge, where a hot shower awaits you. Another optional night walk is offered.
Day 4: Maquisapayoj Macaw and Tapir Lick
At 4:45am we go to the macaw clay lick. The trip is 40 minutes by boat and 15 minutes walking to the special observation platform. The animal activity begins around 5:30am with the small parrots and later the big macaws. The parrots eat the mineral-rich clay to help their stomach digestion. You can see the hundreds of parrots, parakeets and macaws that come to this particular place.
After lunch we walk through primary rain forest for about 1.5 hours to the tapir lick. Here there is a special observation platform as well. The tapirs are usually active at night.
Day 5: Blanco and Camungo Lake
Another early start to visit Blanco Lake, where we look for the giant river otters that very often use this lake. This is also an interesting place to observe the prehistoric bird called hoatzin, plus the snail kite, brown throated three-toed sloth, red howler monkey, squirrel monkey, white fronted capuchin, brown capuchin and other species of this habitat.
After lunch we visit Camungo Lake where we climb up a 42 m (138 ft) tower which gives us a great viewpoint to observe the marvelous toucans. We'll take a catamaran tour for another chance to see giant river otters. Returning to the lodge, we have another option to find tapirs in case we did not have luck the night before.
Day 6: Maquisapayoj Trails
On this day we explore the trails around the lodge, where we can find the black spider monkey, monk saki, emperor and saddle-backed tamarin. Your guide will provide many insights into the local medicinal plants and the trees and their uses. We also have another last option for tapir viewing.
Day 7: Maquisapayoj - Cusco or Puerto Maldonado - Cusco or Lima
Early in the morning, we start with our return trip to Cusco, first by boat to Colorado village and then by car to Puerto Carlos. After crossing the Inambari River, we take our private bus to Cusco, and will arrive at your hotel there by about 7:00pm. For guests who prefer to fly out to Cusco or Lima, we can instead take them from Puerto Carlos by another car for the 2.5 hour drive to the Puerto Maldonado airport. Air travelers will then be responsible for dinner and transfer to their Cusco or Lima hotel.
- Professional naturalist guide with telescope (fluent in English, Spanish, German, Quechua)
- Specialized birding guide on request
- Private boat and bus transport as noted
- Optional return airline ticket (if you have requested that in advance)
- Entrance fees to macaw clay lick, tapir lick, Blanco and Camungo lakes
- All camping equipment
- Cook, meals and snacks
- All lodging noted above
- First aid kit, including extractor for poison and antidote for snake bite
- Radio communication
- Rubber boots
- Discretionary spending, tips
For tips on what to bring, check our Travel Tips page.