PERU TRAVEL PLANNER
Manu National Park tour
The Manu Explorer 6 days
MANU NATIONAL PARK RESERVED ZONE PROGRAM
THE MANU EXPLORER 6 DAYS 5 NIGHTS TOUR
Please contact us
for more information and for pricing.
Note: We require minimum two passengers traveling together If
single traveler ask for the supplement.
By commercial flight Cusco/Puerto Maldonado/Cusco
Manu Cloud forest, Manu National Park and Manu Wildlife Center
Operates: from April through October
FIXED DEPARTURES: SATURDAY
This is one of the most fascinating nature trips in the world. Our overland
route crosses an extraordinary range of life zones from highlands to lowlands,
taking us through an array of ecosystems found nowhere else on the planet in
such close proximity. We see high altitude farming valleys and traverse stark
highland puna, plunge through layers of grassland, elfin forest, layers of lush,
ever-changing cloud forest, and then lowland tropical valleys where farmers
cultivate coca and exotic fruits. All the way we traverse the habitat of
innumerable bird species. Then our journey winds its way by river through
lowland rainforest, taking us to a remote jungle village, then to a tented camp
in the heart of Manu, the Upper Amazon basin’s greatest national park, and
finally to the comfort of the Amazon’s finest wildlife lodge.
Only 20% of the entire Amazon has rich, floodplain soils that produce high
yields of rainforest fruits, and therefore support dense populations of monkeys,
macaws, and all other vertebrates and invertebrates. Of this 20%, ONLY ONE
PERCENT is both protected by biological reserves AND has regular jet or
turboprop flights. Manu Wildlife Center is the finest lodge in that “one percent
of 20%” —which explains why Condé Nast Traveler Magazine found it to be “the
most intense wildlife experience in Amazonia”.
Manu National Park, Amarakaeri Communal Reserve, Manu Wildlife Center Private
Reserve, and Los Amigos Private Reserve comprise a single, continuous complex of
protected areas in Manu province —the best protected section of the one percent
of the 20%. The oldest of these units, Manu National Park, boasts the coveted
status of UNESCO World Heritage Site. The entire complex covers 2.5 million
hectares / 6.2 million acres, almost the size of Belgium or the U.S. state of
Maryland. The region includes vast areas inhabitated only by either uncontacted
tribes or a handful of intrepid scientists.
In this vast area we find 1,000 of the globe’s 10,000 bird species (200 more
than all of the U.S. and Canada combined), 15,000 of the world’s 250,000
flowering plant species, and hundreds of Jaguars. To put all of this in
conservation perspective, this protected area is TWICE AS LARGE as all Costa
Rican reserves —in fact, fully half the size of ALL of Costa Rica.
In Manu we navigate the waters of an isolated oxbow lake, home to giant otters,
caimans, monkeys and an endless variety of birds.
Our trip ends downriver with the Amazon’s finest wildlife viewing opportunities,
at Manu Wildlife Center. This lodge offers the finest Tapir viewing in ALL the
Amazon, as Tapirs are nightly visitors to the lodge’s mud wallow. The mornings
feature clay licks and fruiting trees teeming with parrots and macaws. A network
of trails, two towers for forest canopy viewing, and two adjacent pristine lakes
round out the perfect rainforest experience.
After a short canoe journey we return to Cusco aboard a modern, commercial
||5 days and 4 nights
||Jungle excursion (see detailed program below)
||included as specified below
||YES, feel free to ask for extra
DAY 1: CUSCO TO COCK-OF-THE-ROCK LODGE.
Our overland journey begins at 3,400 m / 11,150 ft, with an early departure
from the highland city of Cusco. Today’s destination is the lush cloud
forest region where the Andes fall away to the Amazon basin. This is a day
of scenic drama and striking contrasts. 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 m / 12,790 ft. Finally we follow a sinuous ribbon
of highway on its plunge through an extraordinary world of forested cliffs,
waterfalls and gorges. We take leisurely stops to see mountain villages, a
hilltop necropolis of chullpas (pre-Inca burial chambers), and the abrupt
ridgetop of Ajanaco, which marks the final high point where the Andes begin
their swoop into the Amazon basin. In clear weather we will see a
breathtaking panorama of cloud forest and mountain giving way to the lowland
rainforest plains far below us.
After a picnic lunch near here we descend through the startling and rapid
environmental transformations characteristic of the tropical Andes, passing
from grassland and stunted trees through elfin forest, until we wind through
a lush and magical world of overhanging trees, giant ferns, monster
begonias, countless orchids and bromeliads, and a diverse and teeming
We make frequent spontaneous stops, perhaps spotting a brilliantly feathered
quetzal, a trogon, or the wild turkey-like Guan. We reach the comfortable
Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge in the late afternoon, the best hour to visit the
nearby viewing platform for the display ground, or “lek”. This is usually
the highlight of a long, full day, a chance to see Peru’s dazzling national
bird, the Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola) in full, raucous courting display.
(Box Lunch, D)
DAY 2: COCK-OF-THE-ROCK LODGE TO BOCA MANU.
Rising early, we have a second chance to view the Cock-of-the-Rock display,
and then 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. Now the
lowland rainforest part of our journey begins. Rivers are the highways of
the rainforest, and henceforth we will travel in large, comfortable dugout
canoes shaded by canopy roofs and driven by powerful outboard motors.
As we follow the river’s broad, rushing course past the last foothills of
the Andes, our ever-changing route offers sightings of new birds —terns,
cormorants, White-winged Swallows, and flocks of nighthawks flushed from
their daytime lairs by the sound of our engine.
Splashes of brilliant yellow, pink and red foliage dot the forest-clad
slopes around us, and the breeze is laden with the heady perfumes of the
At our overnight lodge near Boca Manu, a new array of forest sounds awaits
our ears. As night falls the whistling call-and-response of tinamous gives
way to the loud shrill of cicadas. (B, Box Lunch, D)
DAY 3: BOCA MANU TO MANU NATIONAL PARK (MANU WILDLIFE TENTED CAMP).
In the morning we may join other eco-guests arriving by air from Cusco. We
make a short visit to the village of Boca Manu, riverside capital of the
remote and sparsely populated Peruvian province of Fitzcarrald. The main
activity here is building dugout boats for travelers on the river, and we
see how these sturdy craft are made. Logging is prohibited here, so the
resourceful villagers work entirely with lumber brought downriver by
Now we turn northward up the chocolate-brown waters of the Manu River into
the lake-rich lower 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, as our boat driver steers skillfully through shallows and
driftwood snags. Orinoco Geese and Horned Screamers strut on the beaches,
Capped and White-necked Herons patrol the shoreline, and countless
sunbathing turtles dive off their log perches as we approach.
After some six hours on the river we reach InkaNatura’s Manu Tented Camp, a
simple but comfortable low-impact lodge nestled almost invisibly in the
Time permitting, we will take a short walk before dinner to stretch our legs
and enjoy our first encounter with virgin rainforest. (B, Box Lunch, D)
DAY 4: MANU NATIONAL PARK (MANU WILDLIFE TENTED CAMP): COCHA SALVADOR &
Today we visit two lakes near our camp. Park authorities determine the time
of our visit to Cocha (Lake) Salvador; depending on this schedule, we will
visit Cocha Otorongo earlier or later in the day.
Our trail to Cocha Otorongo begins some 30 minutes downstream from the camp.
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,
flicking its tail in annoyance at our intrusion.
On the short trail to the lake we may spy one or more of the park’s 13
monkey species leaping through the canopy high above. And some of the trees
which form that canopy —such as kapok, ironwood and figs, will astound us
with the vast size of their trunks and buttressed root systems.
These are oxbow lakes, formed when the river changed course, leaving a
landlocked channel behind. The lakes are abundant in fish and wildlife, and
provide optimum habitat for caimans and the Giant Otter (Pteronura
brasiliensis), one of the Amazon’s most endangered mammal species.
This lake enjoys maximum protection, and boats are not allowed. However, it
features two dock platforms and a 50 ft tower from which to scan the trees
and marshy shoreline for monkeys, kingfishers, Anhinga (a large, long-necked
waterbird), and countless other species. We have a good chance of sighting
the resident Giant Otter family as they dive for the 4Kg. of fish that each
individual consumes daily.
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. We cruise the lake
on a floating catamaran platform, which offers superb new perspectives of
lake and forest. The lakeside trees are often alive with monkeys; Scarlet,
Chesnut-fronted and Blue-and-gold macaws beat a path overhead; 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. Somewhere
on the open water or in among toppled bankside trees, we may spot the sleek
heads of the shy Giant Otters. These social animals play and fish together,
and we may see them sprawled on a fallen tree trunk, dozing or gnawing on a
fish. (B, L, D)
DAY 5: MANU NATIONAL PARK (MANU WILDLIFE TENTED CAMP) TO MANU WILDLIFE
CENTER AND TAPIR CLAY LICK.
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 reaching the turbulent union of the
Alto Madre de Dios and Manu rivers and then the village of Boca Manu, we may
drop off some passengers returning to Cusco. 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 at the most active
tapir lick known in all the 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 around the edge. This unlikely snack absorbs and neutralizes
toxins in the vegetarian diet of the Tapir, the largest land animal of Latin
America. The lick features a roomy, elevated observation platform 5 m / 17
ft above the forest floor. The platform is equipped with freshly-made-up
mattresses with pillows. Each mattress is covered by a roomy mosquito net.
The 10-m-long, elevated walkway to the platform is covered with
sound-absorbing padding to prevent our footsteps from making noise. This
Tapir Experience is unique and exciting because these normally very shy
creatures are visible up close, and flash photography is not just permitted,
The hard part for modern city dwellers is to remain still and silent
anywhere from 30 minutes to two or more hours. Many prefer to nap until the
first Tapir arrives, at which point your guide gently awakens you to watch
the Tapir 10-20 m / 33-66 ft) away below the platform. Most people feel that
the wait is well worth it in order to have such a high probability of
observing the rare and elusive Tapir in its rainforest home. (B, L, D)
DAY 6: MANU WILDLIFE CENTER TO CUSCO – DEPARTURE DAY
We leave our lodge very early on the two hour and half return boat trip
downstream to the Colorado Village, the breakfast will be serve on the boat
while you enjoying early morning wildlife activity as we go, of course this is a
perfect time to take advantage of valuable early morning wildlife activity along
the river, in aditions this journey allows us to see several lowland native
settlements and gold miners digging and panning gold 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 a
van or bus will drive us to the airport in Puerto Maldonado City, in
approximately two-hours and half, from here you fly by a commercial airplane to
Cusco or Lima (airfares not included) (B)
Please note that the program may vary slightly so as to maximize your wildlife
sightings, depending on the reports of our researchers and experienced
naturalist guides based at the lodge.
INCLUDES: All hotel and lodge accommodations based on double or
single occupancy. All scheduled land, lake and river transportation. All
transfers. All scheduled excursions with English-speaking guide services.
All entrance fees. Meals as specified in the itinerary. B=Breakfast;
NOT INCLUDED IN THE FEE
International or domestic airfares, airport departure taxes or visa fees,
excess baggage charges, additional nights during the trip due to flight
cancellations, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages or bottled water,
snacks, insurance of any kind, laundry, phone calls, radio calls or
messages, reconfirmation of international flights and items of personal