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Manu National Park: 5 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. It is largely inaccessible, with human habitation restricted to a handful of small communities of the Matsiguenga Amazonian nation, living mostly along the rivers. The Manu is the largest national park in Peru, measuring 15,328 sq. km (5,917 sq. miles). The Bioshpere Reserve adds another 2,570 sq. km (992 sq. miles) and the Cultural Zone, which has a different level of preservation, adds 914 sq. km (353 sq. miles).
The Park includes ecological zones that range from as low as 150 m (492 ft) above seal level, in the southwest Amazon rain forest to Peruvian yungas at middle elevations and the central Andean wet puna at elevations reaching 4,200 m (13,780 ft). As a consequence of this huge topgraphical range, the Manu has one of the highest levels of biodiversity of any park in the world.
Day 1: Cusco - Bambu Lodge
On the first day of our journey into the Manu jungle we will pick you up around 6:00am from your hotel in Cusco. The first part of the excursion is a drive through the majestic Andean mountains. We will briefly visit the town of Huancarani, which contains the funeral towers of Ninamarca in a cemetery of the Lupacas, a pre-Incan culture.
From there we continue on to Paucartambo, which is known for its folklore and is a colonial town. At mid-day we arrive at the entrance of Manu National Park, one of the most protected natural areas in South America. We drive in our private transport down a dirt road and on through the usually thick fog, from which this section of the forest takes it name of cloud forest.
Eventually we arrive at the home of the exotic Peruvian national bird, the cock-of-the-rock, where gathers with others of its kind, for some sort of social gathering reminiscent of a large courtship. You will find that this is quite an amazing spectacle complete with an impressive array of sounds and colours that can only be found in the jungle. For our first night, we will stay at Bambu Lodge.
Day 2: Bambu Lodge – Bonanza Ecological Reserve
At 6:30am we leave in the direction of Port Atalaya. On the way we make a few stops to visit the small local farmers who produce many varieties of jungle fruits, even the famous coca plant. Later, we begin our river boat excursion on the Madre de Dios, one of the tributaries of the mighty Amazon River. Throughout the day we will have the chance to see many types of colourful birds such as parrots and vultures. We stop at a natural hot spring for a soothing treat enroute.
Hopefully, we will see some jungle mammals such as monkeys or the famous capybaras. In the afternoon, we arrive at our next sleeping destination, Bonanza Lodge, a little sanctuary in the jungle with an extensive trail network and great wildlife watching opportunities. We will go on a night walk, which is the best time to see many anthropoids, tarantulas, scorpions and snakes. This is of course optional.
Day 3: Expedition in Bonanza Ecological Reserve
At daybreak we go on a morning trek to enjoy the Amazon jungle's most impressive spectacles. We will explore primary and secondary forest and should find a variety of the Manu's abundant wildlife such a monkeys, anteaters, and peccaries and many different types of trees and medicinal plants. Your guide will be able to identify all of this for you. In the afternoon we arrive at our camping place in the middle of the jungle, where our cook will be ready with some tasty snacks. We will go fishing and late in the afternoon will search for some caiman. Tonight we sleep in tents, in good comfort while also feeling the life of the jungle all around us.
Day 4: Bonanza Ecological Reserve - Muyuna Parrots Clay Lick
After breakfast we go into the jungle again to seek the rich biodiversity of birds, monkeys, exotic plants and maybe even the famous jaguar. We will have a short walk in the forest for about 3 hours. Getting to our lodge, we will have time for showers and lunch. Afterwards we will travel by boat for 3 hours upstream, arriving at Muyuna Parrots Clay Lick, where will spend our last night with a tasty barbecue, a campfire and sleep in tents. You'll have the option again of a guided night walk.
Day 5: Muyuna Parrots Clay Lick - Port Atalaya - Cusco
We leave from Muyuna Parrots Clay Lick early in the morning to go back to Port Atalaya. From here we will take the bus directly to Cusco passing through gorgeous scenery on our return to your hotel.
- Professional guide specialized in jungle knowledge; fluent in English, Spanish, German, Quechua
- Transport by bus and boat
- All camping equipment, except sleeping bags
- Accommodation in lodges, as indicated above
- All the meals, plus snacks, indicated above
- First aid kit (including poison extractor; snake bite antidote)
- Entrance fees to the natural hot springs and Bonanza Ecological Reserve
- Breakfast on the first day and lunch on the last
- Discretionary spending, tips
For tips on what to bring, check our Travel Tips page.