Manu Amazon Tours, in the Manu Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and ancient tangle of trees and waterfalls in Peru. Giant otters swim in the lakes and spider monkeys swing through the canopy. Blue-headed macaws, brightly coloured parrots and parakeets chatter away in the trees; ornate hawk-eagles circle above.
Manu National Park consists of several very different habitats and ecological zones, which are undoubtedly major factors in contributing to the extraordinary diversity to be found here. Tropical rainforests are the greatest expressions of life on the planet and offer a wonderful array of species to look for, but they are also amongst the most challenging places to take photos successfully.
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.