WHERE IS LOCATED THE MANU NATIONAL PARK?
Manu National Park is one of thirteen National Parks in Peru. It is located in Cusco and Madre de Dios, extending from the highlands in Cusco (4000m) to the Amazon floodplain at the mouth of the Manu River (300 m).
The park was established on May 29th, 1973, with an area of 1,532,806 ha. In 2002, the entire lower valley of Manu, which used to have the temporary status of Reserved Zone, was annexed; since then it has an area of 1,692,137 ha. Manu National Park is unique in Peru’s National System for Protected Areas (SINANPE) as being the only National Park which protects an entire watershed. It also includes a complete sample of Andean-Amazonian landscapes of southeastern Peru and a huge number of species of flora and fauna.
This Park is also home to the native people of Matsigenka, as well as other poorly known groups, known as the Mashco-Piro or Nomole, which live in voluntary isolation inside the park.
In 1977, UNESCO declared Manu National Park and adjacent areas as a Biosphere Reserve with an area of 1,881, 200 ha. Ten years later, in recognition of its outstanding natural value, UNESCO added the Park to the list of “World Heritage Site.”
It ranges from 300m at the confluence of the Manu River with the Alto Madre de Dios River, to 3,800 meters at the summit of the mountain Apu Kañahuay. Some researchers believe that in the virgin areas of this reserve is found the Païtiti or the lost city of the Incas.
HISTORY OF MANU NATIONAL PARK
Inca – colonial. Manu area has a history marked by the arrival of foreign people, since the times of the Incan Empire and since the Inca Pachacutec and Tupac Inca Yupanqui annexed this area to their empire, until the arrival of the Spaniards soon after the invasion of Cusco they founded Paucartambo, where they established farms and parcels and where also the king Carlos III of Spain ordered the construction of a bridge to facilitate trade of local products; and this how this valley began to supply products Cusco as coca, sugar, cotton, pepper, wood and others.
In March 1567, the Spanish Juan Alvarez Maldonado who was charge of the province of Mojos started a journey of 37 days to make the first expedition from Paucartambo to the current location of Pilcopata. In May of the same year, Manuel Escobar mounted a second expedition that followed the course of the Alto Madre de Dios River to the Manu River.
Republic Era of Manu National Park
In 1861, Colonel Faustino Maldonado embarked on a new expedition from Paucartambo to the Madre de Dios River. It was after him that 30 years later, the rubber man, Carlos Fitzcarrald baptize the mouth of the Tambopata River to Puerto Maldonado, the actual capital of the department of Madre de Dios.
In the lowland forest, indigenous people were affected by extractive activities in the late nineteenth century, the rubber boom ushered in companies like bold Fitzcarrald, one of the most famous of that time. However, Manu area was partially exploited. Rubber activities ceased in the 20s when the resource, unable to recover to intensive exploitation and competition from the prosperous and less expensive crops in Asia started to decline.
Between 50 and 60, the construction of the final section of the road began the logging of cedar and mahogany and the work in the “haciendas” and then extraction of fine skins (jaguar, ocelot, and Giant otters). More recent are the oil exploration activities. Meanwhile, in the Andean region, agricultural activities were affected by the agrarian reform initiated in 1969.
Since the twentieth century, the religious presence became more significant. In 1902 the Dominicans founded their first mission in Asuncion. In 1908 they installed the second missionary position, San Luis del Manu, at the mouth of the Manu River; after leaving it, they settled in Pantiacolla mission, which after being washed away in a river flood the finally stablish in Shintuya in 1958.
In the Biosphere Reserve of Manu Park there is evidence of ancient cultures, such as petroglyphs Pusharo, a set of prints of those who still could not explain its origin and meaning, which were first reported by Father Vicente de Cenitagoya in 1921 and are located on the right blank the Shinquivenia tributary of Palotoa river; other petroglyphs are found in the Queros river on a great rock wall “Xinkiori” which is legendary for Huachipaeris. Similarly, we are aware of an archaeological site in the area Mameria located in the headwaters of the Piñi Piñi River.
Creation of Manu National Park
In 1967, at the initiative of Celestino Kalinowski, son of a famous Polish naturalist who came to Peru in 1887, and the report of the British advisor Ian Grimwood, the Peruvian state was recommended the creation of a National Park in Manu. In 1968 it was declared a National Forest and subsequently the Manu National Park was established on May 29, 1973, by Supreme Decree 0644-73-AG, in order to preserve its natural and cultural heritage for the benefit of present and future; determined for the same purpose by UNESCO recognition of the Biosphere Reserve of Manu which today covers an area of 1,881,200 ha (18,812 square kilometers) in the provinces of Paucartambo in Cusco and Manu in Madre de Dios. Its boundaries were drawn by applying the principle of natural boundaries and river tributaries. However, the boundary of the park in the same river Manu had to stop at the confluence with the river Panahua because there was an oil exploration.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NATIONAL PARK AND BIOSPHERE RESERVE?
The National Park is a category of Protected Natural Area owned and managed by the Peruvian government as part of national protected area system of Peru (Sistema Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas por el Estado en el Perú – SINANPE). Its objective is to protect and preserve intact ecosystems, which can hold a high biological diversity and relevant esthetical and landscape attractions, where indirect use activities can be done like: research, education, tourism and recreation.
The Biosphere Reserve is a UNESCO category. It is a representative ecological area with three self-complementary functions: i) support for education and scientific research, ii) conservation and iii) sustainable development. Nowadays, the Manu Biosphere Reserve is divided in a nuclear zone represented by the Manu National Park territory, a buffer zone and a transition zone.
IS THE MANU NATIONAL PARK OPEN THE WHOLE YEAR?
Yes, it is open the whole year. The best time to visit is from April to November during the dry season. The heavy rainy season is from February to March, when access by both road and air becomes more difficult and when trails in the forest can become flooded.
GEOGRAPHY OF MANU NATIONAL PARK
The Grass land: In its vast territory, from the high plateaus of 3500 m, covered with grass, where the dry air and temperatures vary as is the sun or under the shade, and depending on the month reaching -9 ° C to 22 ° C between the months of September and April and times of snow or hail rains between October and April; is down a long stretch of transition called “wooded thicket or matorral boscoso ” that descends to about 2,600 meters from where the vegetation forms a forest, which to date have identified about 450 species of plants and area where rainfall can reach between 500 and 1000 mm.
The Forests “Montana Baja”: takes place between 2200 and 1650 m; there are found trees up to 25 m in height covered with orchids and ferns growing families on the walls of the deep precipices. These can be found Araceaes broad leaves and tree ferns that characterize the place, covered in these cloud forests there is a cold climate and landscape between shadows and penumbras which is constantly wet.
The “Rainy Montaña” forest: This area is also known as “cloud forest” and is an almost magical place located between 600 and 1650 meters, the fog is constant and covers the beautiful landscape full of greenery, trees here are up to 30 m height which are overgrown by orchids, and ferns forming a dense forest interrupted only by small streams and waterfalls that are born and are lost in the vegetation. At present it is estimated that this area contains no less than 200 different species of trees with a density that can exceed 700 per hectare. Here the temperature varies between 20 ° and 25 ° C at night can drop to 16 or 18 ° C.
The “tropical humid forest”: This area is also called “lowland” and spreads over the vast Amazonian plain from 300 to 600 meters. This is undoubtedly the most representative area of the Reserve. Here at Manu area meandering river, the trees have a gigantic height; on the high tops of these, only two species emerge beyond the wall or ceiling canopy of the forest: the robust shihuahuaco (Dipteryx micrantha) and kapok (Ceiba pentandra) which are the highest of the forest trees and can exceed 60 m tall and has a crown up to 50 m in diameter.
DISTRIBUTION OF MANU NATIONAL PARK
The Nucleo Zone: The Nucleo Zone or Manu National Park area is dedicated to the protection and only anthropological and biological research are allowed, limited to the observation of life and ecological processes in their natural form; in the Park is found the Cocha Cashu Biological Station, one of the most important research centers in tropical forests. The place is intangible and to visit it you should have a special permission.
In this same area there are human populations of native Amazonian belonging to different ethnic groups that inhabit from time immemorial, whose number is estimated at about 1000 indigenous; however, there is also a Quechua population of approximately 200 people in the area Callanga.
The Reserved Zone: Manu Reserved Zone is located in the lower part of the Manu River, in this area tourist activities (organized by authorized agencies) and research with minimal manipulation are allowed. You may observe a rich natural landscape by the large number of flora and wildlife visible from the rivers and the “lakes” (meandering river that close and are isolated from the mainstream, forming ponds that hold a wealth of fauna). The visits are controlled. It extends from the Panagua River to Boca Manu.
The Cultural Zone: The cultural area is formed by the basin of Alto Madre de Dios River and the Andean territories bordering the southern part of the reserve, the dividing line between the National Park and the Mapacho River. This area is dominated by settler populations who develop agricultural, livestock and forestry activities and who have basic health, education and development, although incipiently. Conducting environmental activities is permitted.
Around the Manu Biosphere Reserve there are other areas such as State territorial lands in favor of Ethnic Groups Kugapakori and Nahua, the Megantoni Sanctuary and the Amarakaeri Reserved Zone; because the expansion of these territories plus the basin of Mapacho river expanded of the existing cultural area later called (Multiple Andean and Amazon use area) are considered within studies and proposals for integrating them into the Biosphere Reserve of Manu.
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS OF THE MANU NATIONAL PARK
- High Andean Sector: Acjanaco – Tres Cruces:
Arriving at 3650 m, you can see the puna and the cloud forest that are home to unique species of flora and fauna such as; orchids, bromeliads, ferns, spectacled bears, pumas and brightly colored birds. Around the Acjanaco checkpoint and the Tres Cruces viewpoint you can take walks and enjoy wonderful landscapes. At the Tres Cruces viewpoint you can see the sunrise between the months of June to August. Hundreds of people come in the months of June and July to appreciate this phenomenon that occurs during the winter solstice. The area is accessed by a 13.5 km road. from the Acjanaco Control Post, which is the registration place for visitors to enter the Park through the high Andean area.
- Historical Cultural Zone:
Located in the basin of the river Palotoa (500 m). In this area, the enigmatic “Petroglyphs of Pusharo” stand out, figures that have been engraved on immense rocks, representing one of the most important manifestations of cave art in the Peruvian Amazon.
Access begins on the Alto Madre de Dios River, from the towns of Atalaya, Santa Cruz and Shintuya. In the area there is a tourist lodge managed by the native community of Palotoa – Teparo near the petroglyphs.
- Manu River Sector:
Between the Limonal and Pakitza Posts (300 m). Along the river it is possible to observe jaguars, shore birds, turtles, macaws, among others. Its oxbow lakes (lagoon in Quechua), habitat of the river wolf, black caiman, and a large birdlife stand out. Another tourist attraction is the various forest associations on the banks of the river, where you can see trees over 40 m. of height and great variety of flora and fauna. One cannot ignore the collpas (salt land in Quechua), which are walls with a high concentration of salts and minerals where numerous species of fauna flock.
Tourist activity in the Manu Biosphere Reserve is mainly influenced by the presence of the Manu National Park, within which you can find facilities such as shelters, services provided by SERNANP, access to trails and lakes, among others.
Despite this, for some travelers the time it takes to visit this natural wonder is certainly a long time and they choose to develop a large part of their activities in shorter times in the Buffer Zone of the Manu National Park, which belongs to this Biosphere Reserve.
Nature is relatively well preserved to be able to develop activities in it and you can also find accommodations with different services and at different prices.
Biodiversity in the Manu National Park
- 1,025 bird species (55% of the 1,800 Peruvian bird species, and 10% of the world’s birds).
- 221 species of mammals (43.5% of all Peruvian fauna), and 5% of the species worldwide (7 species are definitely endemic to the country).
- 150 amphibian species.
- 100 Reptile species
- 210 fish species
- 1,307 species of butterflies (15% of the world’s total)
- Up to 500 thousand species of invertebrates (136 species of dragonflies, more than 300 ants and 650 beetles).
- Up to 15 thousand species of plants (IUCN and UNEP, 2009)
AMAZON RAINFOREST ATTRACTIONS
The Amazon can have a mysterious nature for first-time visitors.
We’ve made this Amazon Rainforest travel guide to help you find the best areas to visit. The guide will help you make the most of your experience.
We will cover the best areas to visit for deep rainforest adventures and where to go on short tours of 3-days. We will also mention areas of the Amazon better for certain animals and plants. For example, clay licks provide fantastic places to see macaws and other parrots. These are only found in certain regions.
Rainforests contain impressive animals and plants. In total, the world’s rainforests cover only 7% of the Earth’s surface but contain 50% of all land-living species.
And the Amazon is the world’s largest container of wildlife. The Amazon Rainforest covers 40% of the South American continent. This vast forest contains some of the world’s most untouched tropical wilderness.
The next largest rainforests of the Congo in Africa and the island of New Guinea can fit comfortably inside the vast expanse of Amazonia.
Within the Amazon Rainforest, you can find an incredible diversity of animals and plants. There are also wildlife-rich oxbow lakes and beautiful scenery to enjoy.
For example, the Manu National Park in southern Peru contains 10% of all the world’s bird species. It’s usual for national parks and reserves in the Amazon Rainforest to have more species of birds and other animals than entire countries.
For nature lovers, adventure seekers, or simply people looking for a different vacation, this makes the Amazon a perfect place to visit.
The Amazon also makes a great add-on to other South American attractions, such as the Galapagos Islands or Machu Picchu.
Amazon Rainforest Attractions
There are some fascinating attractions in the Amazon Rainforest. You can find oxbow lakes, clay licks, canopy towers and tall emergent trees.
Not limited to the lowland rainforest, you can also explore the mysterious cloud forests on the side of the Andes. Differing in altitude and climate, these forests are home to a completely new set of animals and plants.
Oxbow lakes are areas where tributaries of the Amazon River once flowed but have since changed direction. This sometimes leaves behind oxbow-shaped bodies of water known as oxbow lakes. The lakes become very attractive for variety of animals and plants drawn by the water.
On tours of oxbow lakes, you can find many different animals. These often include the favorites Amazon animals. You can see giant river otters, black caiman, water birds, giant Arapaima fish and lake-visiting animals. These include many different monkeys, which feed from trees around the lake.
One of the most common animals around the oxbow lakes are the strange hoatzin birds. These are a chicken-sized bird that digest food by fermentation in a similar way to cows. Strangely, young hoatzins are born with a claw. This is used to cut through the shell of the egg but also to climb their way through the thick lake-side vegetation.
The lakes are also often surrounded by palms. And these are ideal nesting habitat for scarlet macaws and other parrots. This means you can often see different macaw parrots on short walks around the lakes.
Some great lodges in Peru to visit oxbow lakes include the Posada Amazonas Lodge, Refugio Amazonas Lodge.
Macaw Clay Licks
Clay licks are areas of exposed river bank where different animals come to feed on the clay itself. Over 50 different animals worldwide are known to use the licks. And the clay not only contains much needed salt, but also neutralizes toxins found in unripe fruits and seeds.
In South America and the Amazon Rainforest, one of the most iconic animals that visits the clay licks are the fantastic macaws.
Hundreds of macaws gather at the clay at one time and they present visitors with a fantastic display of sound and color. You can see all types of birds at different clay licks. Some of the licks are best for seeing scarlet macaws and other for the blue and gold macaws for example.
The rainforest of Puerto Maldonado in southern Peru is fortunate to contain the most clay licks of anywhere in Amazonia. This has created one of the most developed tourism industries in Amazonia.
Clay licks can be found throughout the Puerto Maldonado rainforest and the different protected areas. For example, for macaw clay licks, one of the best to see is the Chuncho clay lick in Peru’s southern Amazon. This is accessible from both the Tambopata Research Center and the Refugio Amazonas Lodge.
Nearby, there are also smaller clay licks for mammals, which you can also see from the Refugio Amazonas Lodge. Parakeet clay licks for small parrots can be been from the Posada Amazonas Lodge.
In Peru, here’s a graph showing the different lodges and the most common mammals that visit the nearby clay licks.
The Cloud Forest
Cloud forests are defined as tropical forests at altitude dispersed with cloud cover. The Andean forests are home to one of the highest levels of species on Earth. And they are abundant with birds, including the world’s highest diversity of hummingbirds.
On tours of the cloud forest, you can find many different weird and wonderful animals and plants. As well as birds, see one of the highest diversities of orchids and epiphytes. Watch the different hummingbirds and visit the dancing ground of cock of the rocks. You can also see different mammals, including woolly monkeys, capuchins and even spectacled bears.
To visit the cloud forest, some fantastic tours in Peru, you can visit the cloud forest of the incredible Manu National Park accessible from Cusco.
WHAT MAKES MANU NATIONAL PARK SO SPECIAL
Manu National Park is a globally renowned haven of terrestrial biodiversity at the meeting point of the Tropical Andes and the Amazon Basin in Southwestern Peru. As a vast, geographically and economically isolated watershed, the still roadless property has been spared from most human impacts and is difficult to access to this day. The originally inscribed area was extended to 1,716,295 hectares in 2009, spanning the complete altitudinal gradient of the Eastern slope of the Andes from around 350 to above 4,000 m.a.s.l. The in some places precipitous transition includes high Andean Puna grasslands, mountain cloud forests, Yunga forests and lowland rainforest. Fed from numerous whitewater creeks in the mountains, the Manu River meanders through the lowland forests, before it joins the mighty Madre de Dios River at the Southern edge of the property. As evidenced by Incan and Pre-Incan ruins and petroglyphs, there is a long history of indigenous occupation. The local legend of Paititi, according to which the “Lost City of the Incas” is located within what is today the property, has lured researchers and adventurers alike. Today, various indigenous peoples are the only permanent inhabitants. Some of them are sedentary and in regular contact with the “modern world”, while others maintain a semi-nomadic lifestyle as hunter-gatherers in so-called “voluntary isolation” or “initial contact”, respectively.
The immense variety of Manu National Park in terms of altitude, microclimate, soils and other ecological conditions results in a complex mosaic of habitats and niches. There is a broad spectrum of plant communities, ranging from the seemingly homogenous but highly diverse Andean grasslands to a range of mostly pristine forest types. Estimates of plant diversity range between 2,000 and 5,000, with some scientists even assuming considerably higher numbers. Records of fauna are similarly impressive with well over 1000 vertebrate species, including at least 200 species of mammals and more than 800 species of birds. Among the mammals are the Giant Otter, 13 different species of primates and eight felids, including Jaguar, Puma and the elusive and endangered Andean Mountain Cat. The wide range of estimates in various taxonomic groups of fauna and flora illustrates how little is known, let alone understood about the diversity of life in the property. In the medium and longer term developments in the surroundings of Manu National Park such as gas extraction and road construction may affect the still mostly pristine property in various ways. Careful planning and management is needed to balance development needs with the integrity of a global conservation gem.
Manu National Park has a remarkable location at the meeting point of the Tropical Andes and the Amazonian lowland forests. The massive altitudinal gradient has favoured an extremely broad range of ecological conditions and the evolution of highly diverse species and ecological communities. The landscape diversity ranges from high Andean grasslands to various forests types, including pristine montane cloud forests and lush lowland rainforest. The combination of topography, ecological conditions and isolation have permitted the almost undisturbed and ongoing evolution of an extraordinary diversity of life at all levels and a high degree of endemism. In addition to the diversity of life, Manu National Park is also known for an unusually high abundance of fauna across many taxonomic groups.
The extraordinary biodiversity combined with the large size and excellent conservation state makes Manu National Park a protected area of major and global biodiversity conservation importance. More than 200 species of mammals, 800 species of birds, 68 species of reptiles, 77 species of amphibians and impressive numbers of freshwater fish imply a diversity of vertebrates matched only in very few places of the World. Numbers in other taxonomic groups are at least as impressive, for example the more than 1,300 recorded species of butterflies out of probably several hundreds of thousands of arthropods. Thousands of higher plant species are distributed across the diverse ecosystems, habitats and niches. Hundreds of tree species have been identified, often jointly growing within very small areas. For decades, the property has been among the foremost references for scientific research in tropical ecology. As such the property has significantly helped our understanding of tropical forest ecosystems. Even seasoned researchers are overwhelmed not only by the diversity of life but also by the impressive abundance of vertebrates, including mammals. Despite the major record of research, even today taxonomic studies invariably reveal species unknown to science, including vertebrates, clear evidence that Manu continues to hold many of its biodiversity secrets.
HOW TO GET TO MANU NATIONAL PARK
Located in the Madre de Dios and Cusco regions of Peru, the nearest city to Manu National Park is Cusco. The center of the Inca Empire and home of Machu Picchu, Cusco is the most popular tourist destination in the country, thus making Manu National Park conveniently located for those wanting to see both the Amazon and Wonder of the World, Machu Picchu.
Manu National Park can be accessed by road from Cusco, though the only access to the lowlands is by boat up the Manu River. The bus from Cusco to Shintuya or Atalaya takes about 10-12 hours, then requires another 8 hours by boat to Boca Manu. From here, it’s another 8 hour journey to reach the entrance of the “reserved zone” of the National Park. This remote location is what has enabled it to remain so well preserved.
For those on a shorter timeframe, it is also possible to fly to Boca Manu from Cusco (or elsewhere in the country), and then all that remains is the 8-hour drive to the National Park Entrance. All-encompassing tours are recommended to make this journey as comfortable and easy as possible, with minimal time wasted traveling.
WHAT ARE ACCOMMODATIONS LIKE?
All of the Amazon lodges are constructed of traditional materials designed to minimize the impact on the local environment and maintain the ambiance of the rainforest. Accommodations vary from simple and rustic to quite comfortable. All of the lodges offer running water, showers and flush toilets. The most remote lodges have shared bathrooms and do not have electricity or hot water. They are a great choice for adventurous travelers interested in truly getting away from the distractions of modern life and experiencing the rainforest in the most authentic way possible.
Slightly less isolated lodges such as Refugio Amazonas , Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica include many more creature comforts. They have private baths, hot water, electricity, and fans in the room. These are great options for travelers of any age, providing an authentic rainforest experience without sacrificing all of the comforts of home.
MANU AMAZON RAINFOREST TOUR PRE-DEPARTURE BRIEFING?
You will have a pre-departure briefing at your hotel the day of your arrival or one day before at 6:00 pm, we will send you one of our tour guides who will explain you all the manu jungle tour program day by day, also he will answer any remaining questions about the tour, then you can finalize the payments of your balance.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE RESERVED ZONE AND THE CULTURAL AREA?
The Manu National Park is divided into three parts: cultural zone , reserved zone or core zone and the intangible zone. The cultural zone and the reserved zone are for tourist use. The intangible zone is used exclusively for scientific studies and with special permits.
Manu Amazon Jungle is a relatively remote area with little human population, and is has an extremely high biodiversity and very good opportunities to observe animals in the rainforest (especially at the clay licks), which is not very easy due to the dense vegetation.Manu offers ideal conditions for nature and animal lovers, photographers and ornithologists.
You will not find mass tourism here. In August (high season) there are most visitors around, so it gets a bit busy.
Please note that it is not always possible to exactly stick to the program on a rain forest tour and small changes to the program may occur. In case of unusual situations caused by the weather (for example ) our guide will look for the best alternative and always try to include all activities of our program. The guide will explain the situation to the group and you are welcome to ask questions.
Both tours, the Manu Biosphere Tour and the Manu Cultural Area, take you to the lowland rainforest of Manu and you visit
A.- MANU CULTURAL AREA
In the cultural zone of Manu, you can see two types of ecological floors, the first place to visit will be the cloud forest, where two species of Monkeys can be seen, and the national bird of Peru. And it is also a good place to observe endemic birds, such as trogon, quetzal, eagles, owls, and several species of hummingbirds. You can also see a variety of orchids, begonias and medicinal trees. Then a boat tour is made to the lodge inside the jungle, where walks are made to identify mammals such as sachava, monkeys, alligators, jaguars. And also take the opportunity to visit the parrot and macaw collpa.
It is called a cultural zone or buffer due to its proximity to the native villages that inhabit the Manu National Park such as Matsiguenka, Nanti, Yora, Haranbut, Yine and Quechua divided into the towns of Callanga, Huacaria, Keros, Shintuya, Diamante and Palotoa and they feed on house and fish therefore there is not much diversity.
On the Manu Cultural Zone you can enjoy the unique scenery of Rio Manu’s primary lowland forest. Inside the Reserved Zone (Tourist Zone) we visit the Machu Wasi lake to observe Giant Otters, birds, Mamals, Macawclaycliks, several insects. The scenery on Rio Manu is impressive and chances to observe wildlife on the river banks are very good. (If we are lucky we may see a jaguar.) But we spend considerably more time into the deep rainforest.
This tour is designed in activities of 3, 4 and 5 days.
B.- MANU RESERVED ZONE
The Manu Biosphere Tour is the more active tour, we spend more of 5 days in the area of Limonal and Blanquillo and we have plenty of time for walks on the trails. Our program is flexible and we have good opportunities to see a variety of animal species. Direfent lakes (to observe Giant River Otters), the big Macaw Clay Lick at Blanquillo as well as the Mammal Salt Lick, located at walking distance from our Lodge.
- The 5 day tour is the shortest tour to the Manu lowland, but shows you the highlights of Manu.
- On the 7 day Biosphere tour we have one day (day 5) on which the group can decide what type of animals you would like to prospect for again. This day is especially rewarding for bird, tapir and monkey observation. In case of bad weather conditions we are flexible enough to modify the itinerary according to our needs and have more options to see animals. On this tour our return journey takes us back to Atalaya and through the cloud forest.
- On the 8 day tour we have 2 full days inside the Reserved Zone which gives us better chances for giant otter and monkey observation.
- Chances to observe animals are similar on both tours. The more time you spend in the rainforest the better the chance to see a bigger variety of animals.
WHY IS THE RESERVED AREA MORE EXPENSIVE THAN THE CULTURAL ZONE?
The trip to the area reserved by boat is approximately 7 to 8 hours every day and by bus only the first and last day according to your itinerary. Our company pays the Peruvian state for nature conservation, for the entry of each tourist, for each passenger and annually and this same money is for payments of the park guards of the Manu National Park. Each group of Andean Great Treks visits the Machiguenka house to buy their handicrafts that are made by themselves with plants, fruits and natural colors and we support in this way to generate economic income for the subsistence of the population of Tayacome and Yomibato. We also work directly with the natives of tayacome, yomibato, Diamante as crew members and boat riders in our company as connoisseurs guarantee our safety in the rivers of Alto Madre de Dios and Manu. Since they are native of the jungle.
HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULD I BRING?
300 to 400 soles should be taken for additional purchases on the tour such as handicrafts, soft drinks, moisturizers, beers and tips for the staff (motorcyclist, crewman, cooks and guides).
WHY SHOULD I TRAVEL WITH ANDEAN GREAT TREKS?
Andean Great Treks is peruvian a local tour operator, offering an unforgettable experience since 2008 that works with social and environmental responsibility. Pay the Peruvian state to conserve nature to the National System of Protected Natural Areas. .All the guides and drivers are very knowledgeable professionals of the jungle that guarantee 100% their safety because they studied in the Peruvian jungle and specialized in Cusco.The company’s teams guarantee 100% YOUR SAFETY AND COMFORT. The prices are reasonable quality and price. Your trip is 100% guaranteed. If you travel with us you will be helping to protect the environment and therefore the economic sustainability of the native communities mentioned above.
HOW BIG ARE THE TOUR GROUPS FOR MANU AMAZON JUNGLE TOUR WITH ANDEAN GREAT TREKS?
On our Manu tours the maximum group size is 10 people per guide. This way everybody can hear what the guide says and the group is not too big to observe animals. If there are 8 to 12 participants on a tour we take one more guide to divide the group in two while walking on the trails, but you may be sharing the bus and/ or boat. If there are more than 12 participants on the same tour we split in 2 groups, each with its own guide and boat.
ARE WE GOING TO SEE LOTS OF LARGE ANIMALS IN THE MANU AMAZON JUNGLE?
Our tour guides are very well prepared, they use all of their senses listening for small sounds like the breaking of a branch or fruit falling from the canopy, sniffing for animal odors, scanning the leaves above and below for motion. With this heightened attention and care to make little noise, the chances of observing large and small creatures is greatly increased.
The Manu Amazon Jungle has the greatest collection of life on earth, and so understandably, many visitors to the Manu Amazon Jungle expect to see lots of mammals. But it should be kept in mind that the story of the Manu Amazon Jungle is that it has high diversity, but low density. So on our trip we will see lots of kinds of creatures but not very many of each kind. But the beauty of this place is how the flora and fauna have evolved the wonderful and bizarre adaptations to thrive in this wilderness. With this perspective, travelers can directly experience and appreciate the infinite variability.
ARE YOU GUARANTEED TO SEE BIRDS AT THE MACAW LICKS?
The dry season is a good season to see the birds. The most likely reason for them to come together and eat the clay is because at certain times of the year there are hardly any fruits available for them, just seeds. Seeds in general have a toxic layer, exactly to prevent animals eating them. If the macaws eat them anyway, they have a build up of poison in their stomach. To neutralize the acids that the poison produces in their stomachs, they eat the clay. In the rainy season up until the beginning of the dry season (May) there are many fruits. So the macaws eat fewer seeds and more non-toxic fruits and feel less necessity to eat the clay. Usually it means there are fewer macaws present in the beginning of the dry season. In the middle of the dry season there may be about 100 to 150 macaws visiting the clay lick in one morning, whereas there may only be 10 to 50 at the end of the rainy season/beginning of the dry season.
IN MANU AMAZON JUNGLE THERE IS A LOT OF WALKING?
There is not a lot of walking in the sense of going far. All walking is done slowly. This is because most of what you find in the manu amazon jungle is vegetation and to be able to pick out the animals you have to take your time to look around, and listen as well.
For the manu amazon jungle 7-days tour, there are the following walks: The first day of the tour has an afternoon walk of about two hours. The second day is mostly spent looking for birds and animals on the Alto Madre de Dios River, with less walking than the other days. The third and fourth days feature a short walk to Lake Salvador, and various different walks in the Reserved Zone and on trails around the accommodation. The 5th & 6th day you walk maybe one or two hours in the Blanquillo area. The seventh day there is no walking at all.
WHEN IS THE BEST WEATHER TO VISIT THE MANU AMAZON JUNGLE ?
As local travel agency that we travel all the time and organize trips, We would recommend you to travel from April to January, this is the good time to visit the Manu Amazon Jungle and all over of Peru.
- From April to May is the transition months of the end of the raining season with moderate rainfall usually is raining only one or three hours a day but not every day.
- From June to October is our dry season, but the Manu Amazon Jungle is well known as the rainforest so even at this season we may have some rainfall not as much like in the rainy season.
- From October to January is the transition months which is the end of the dry season and the beginning of the rainy season and there is moderate rainfall usually is raining at nigh one or three hours by night, but not every day.
- From the ends of January, February and March is really our rainy season until the beginning of April at this time of the year there are some big landslide that block roads and the rivers in some areas floatplanes at this time some village, towns and cities have no road connections just for a couple of days.
DO I HAVE TO BE FIT FOR A MANU AMAZON JUNGLE TOUR? ARE THE WALKS CHALLENGING?
Manu Amazon Jungle tours can be done with normal fitness by people of all age groups. You should be able to walk medium distances (for about 2 – 3 hours) and on often uneven surfaces. Make sure you bring good walking shoes.
If you are travelling with children, please let us know in advance for further recommendations, depending on the age of your children.
On a Manu Amazon Jungle tour you spend some time travelling by bus and by boat – this varies according to the tour (e.g. on the National Park Tour you spend more time in the boat) and we do walks that usually do not exceed 3 hours at a time. We don’t have to cover big distances on the walks; we will often walk slowly or stop to observe animals and plants on the way. Sometimes we need to listen, wait and have patience. You only need to bring a day pack on the walks. Night walks are optional and usually take about 1 hour. You are not expected to carry your luggage to the lodge, but help is appreciated.
Due to the humidity and warm temperatures some people may feel a bit weak or faint, but there normally is a short ‘siesta’ at midday and you have the possibility to stay at the lodge instead of participating in a walk. In the rain forest it ‘s important to drink a lot.
A rainforest tour is not a ‘comfort tour’, but if you bring appropriate gear (please see our packing list) you will have an incomparable experience.
WHAT KIND OF TRANSPORTATION DO YOU PROVIDE FOR THE TRIP INTO MANU AMAZON JUNGLE TOURS?
As several days of our tours include road travel, Andean Great Treks emphasises the importance of safety and travel comfort. All vehicles have special adaptations for driving unpaved roads. Depending on the number of people in your group, you can be traveling by 4-wheel drive truck, a mini van, or a medium sized bus. All drivers are experienced on the Manu Amazon Jungle Roads. Additionally, Andean Great Treks has its own set of rules to be followed by the drivers, to reach higher safety standards, giving you more pleasant travels.
IS THERE A LUGGAGE LIMIT?
Please bring a maximum of 23 kg of luggage per person on your Manu Amazon Jungle Tour. Especially during the dry season (approx. from June to September) the water levels of the rivers are low; therefore we try to reduce the weight of our boat to make headway better and faster. We recommend to bring a waterproof bag or rucksack for the amazon jungle tours.
During the Manu Amazon Jungle Tour you can store the rest of your luggage at your hotel in Cusco. In case you have special photo equipment with a considerable weight please let us know in advance.
WHAT ARE THE BOATS LIKE?
Our boats are 15 and 16 m long with Yamaha outboard motors. They have wooden seats with cushions and backrests as well as a roof. There are life vests for all passengers. When travelling on the river in the rain you may get wet, so you should have your rain gear at hand. Our boat staff will also provide plastic covers to protect you if it rains. There is no toilet on the boat; please just let your guide know if you need to use the bathroom, so he can stop the boat. And you can make your needs on the banks of the river
IS DRINKING WATER PROVIDED DURING THE TOUR?, IS THE WATER SAFE TO DRINK?
We bring bottled mineral water from Cusco for the entire tour, for every excursion in big bottles and this is drinkable and perfectly safe during trip. The water in the bathroom is not for drink is only for body cleaning but this water is clean.Please bring a big water bottle for the first day of the tour (min. 3 lt) as it is complicated to get out water for you during the first day’s bus ride. Then please keep your water bottle and you can refill it every day in the morning and/ or evening.
Due to the high temperatures in Manu Amazon Jungle, it is important that you have to drink plenty of water. Please help to protect the environment and avoid buying plastic bottles as these are not yet recycled properly in Peru.
WHAT MEANS OF COMMUNICATION ARE AVAILABLE IN MANU? CAN I FIND A DOCTOR IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY?
When visiting Manu Amazon Jungle you should be aware that you travel to a remote area and there is no reliable mobile phone line nor internet access. In case of an emergency and for receiving short reports by our guides we have radio communication at the lodges. There is a satellite telephone in Boca Manu village and sometimes there is mobile phone access there as well.
Along our route there are 3 small hospital wards, apart from this the guide will carry a first aid kit throughout the tour.
Please inform us about diseases that may represent a risk on the tour, such as epilepsy or heart diseases (even if symptoms date back several years), before your tour.
In case of severe illness, a transport back to Cusco might become necessary. Please make sure that you have good and adequate travel health insurance.
IS THERE ELECTRICITY AT THE LODGES IN MANU AMAZON JUNGLE?
At el Paraíso Amazon Lodge, where we spend the first night, there is electricity, but in the lowland there is none.
At Casa Matsiguenka a generator is normally available. Make sure you bring enough spare batteries for your camera and flashlight for the tour. We recommend to leave your, Laptop or IPad in Cusco.
There is no Internet access in Manu Amazon Jungle,there isn’t a mobile phone signal; only in some places you may receive calls occasionally.
We recommend to bring rechargeable batteries and to take used batteries back home, as they are not recycled in Peru.
WHAT KIND OF BINOCULARS DO I BRING?
Binoculars are essential to a better appreciation and recognition birds and other animals. Binocular and sleeping bag both can be rented in Cusco.
Binoculars are essential for a Manu tour: to spot animals and get a closer view of them.
8 x 40, 10 x 40 or 10 x 42 magnifications are recommended.
Quality binoculars (Zeiss, Eschenbach, Leica, Minox und Nikon brands)
BEST TIME TO VISIT THE AMAZON RAINFOREST
There is no dry season in a amazon rainforest, so pack your best mac and some waterproof boots.
Wet and humid throughout the year, the Amazon’s climate is characterised by continuous rainfall and temperatures that hang around 30°C. Let’s not beat around the bush, the rainforest is no place for people who hate the heat. Whether you go in the wet or wetter season may affect how you explore, but every month offers its own experiences. In summer, drier weather permits rainforest treks, but boats are the only answer in winter, when rivers can rise to three storeys high.
WHEN TO GO, WET & DRY SEASON
The Amazon Rainforest doesn’t really have a dry season, but for six months of the year it is a bit less wet. It’s sometimes thought to be the best time for wildlife spotting, as animals are enticed out onto dry river banks to drink. It’s the best time to go if you want to be on your feet, with more ground accessible to walking excursions. Less moisture in the air means lower humidity and fewer mosquitoes, but both are going to be a feature of any trip to the rainforest.
Rain doesn’t stop play in the Amazon Rainforest, in fact the higher the water levels the further your boat can go, as rivers burst their banks and seasonal floodplains fill up. These new channels and shortcuts are easily explored by canoe or small cruise boats – arguably the best way to experience the rainforest. Bear in mind that rain doesn’t fall equally across the whole of the Amazon – Ecuador especially gets much more than Brazil or Peru.
Our Amazon travel specialists, shares his thoughts on the best time to go: “If you want to go to the Amazon it doesn’t really make much difference when you go; it’s the rainforest so it rains all year. There is high water and low water, but there are advantages to both. In low water you get more walks through the forest, and at high water (Jan-May) as much as 10m of water rise through the forest – which means you’re 10m higher into the canopy when you’re in a boat. So the animals that live in the canopy are not absolutely miles away – you can see them much closer!”
May to September is the best time to visit the Peruvian Amazon, when wildlife congregates on shrinking riverbanks and mobs of mosquitoes are in decline. The drier, clearer sky is also better for highland trekking.
ARE AMAZON RAINFOREST TOURS SUITABLE FOR KIDS?
“The Amazon is definitely family friendly but I would not be inclined to take kids under about 6. Maybe not even younger kids aged 6-8, you wouldn’t want to put them on those very long journeys, but some of the lodges are better set up for families. I went to a lodge in the Tambopata Reserve and we had a fantastic time because it’s not that far away, it’s not right on the river bank, they have very good dedicated guides for kids and trails set up for kids, they provide welly boots for kids and they’ve got a games area for kids.”
The Amazon Rainforest tours are an excellent choice for kids who are interested in wildlife and the outdoors. Spotting colorful macaws flying overhead, listening to howler monkeys roar in the trees, and climbing into the rainforest canopy inspire the wonder in all of us and can be particularly fascinating for children. Most lodges do not have electricity so they are not a good choice for kids who rely on television and video games for entertainment. Some lodges require much longer transfer times to reach or are particularly remote and rustic. Ask your trip coordinator for recommendations. Some vaccinations and malaria preventatives are also recommended for these tours. Some of these cannot be given to children under a certain age/ weight, though alternatives are generally available. Ask your pediatrician for advice before booking your tour.
WHAT ABOUT THE FOOD IN AMAZON RAINFOREST TOURS
The food at all of the Amazon lodges is excellent, fresh, and authentic. Generally, the lodges seek to provide a mixture of local and international cuisine. Jungle fruits, vegetables, and juices provide a uniquely fresh flair that is unmatched in more temperate climates. Although menu choices are limited at the most remote lodges, all can accommodate vegetarians or other common dietary preferences if sufficient notice is provided.
DO I NEED A POWER ADAPTER OR CONVERTER FOR THE ELECTRICITY IN THE AMAZON RAINFOREST?
It will depend on exactly where in the Amazon you visit, as different countries will have different types. Some trips may cross borders, so double check with your Trip Planners to confirm exactly which countries you’re visiting and what their power requirements are. Generally, you can expect the following:
Peru uses 220 volt, 60 cycle electricity. Travelers will require a voltage converter for 110 volt devices. Plugs are typically the 2 pronged flat type found in the US, though some facilities have been noted to use the 2 rounded prongs instead.
WHAT ARE THE TOUR GUIDES LIKE ON AMAZON RAINFOREST TOURS ?
Like all of our tour leaders, the Amazon guides are exceptional! They are fluent in English (some tours also have a second native guide who may only speak limited English) and generally speak the local jungle language(s) and Spanish as well. They are trained in biology or ecology and specialize in jungle guiding, giving them a unique ability to spot elusive wildlife. Some lodges, employ both a native guide from the local area and a biologist guide with formal training.
WHAT IS THE TYPICAL AGE RANGE FOR AMAZON RAINFOREST TOURS?
We have had travelers of nearly every age on our Amazon tours. These trips commonly attract multi-generational families as well as young honeymooners or adventurous single travelers. Travelers of any age can likely find an Amazon option where they will fit right in.
ARE AMAZON RAINFOREST TOURS A GOOD CHOICE FOR SOLO TRAVELERS?
Absolutely! We arrange small group tours (6 or less) so these tours are a great choice for single travelers interested in getting to know a small group of other travelers. Some lodges are easier to coordinate for single travelers than others.
DO AMAZON RAINFOREST TOURS INCLUDE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS?
Tour rates do not include international flights. We find that it is usually less expensive for travelers to book these separately and this also allows you the flexibility to choose the schedule and routing that is most convenient for you. You are welcome to book these on your own, or we can certainly help you arrange these flights with an airfare consolidator who specializes in South America flights.