Manu Biosphere Reserve
Manu Biosphere Reserve is one of the few truly pristine regions of the tropic, it is perhaps the best area in the Cusco's Amazon Rainforest for watching wildlife. It located among the departments of Cusco and Madre de Dios.
Before becoming an area protected by the Peruvian government, the Manu National Park was conserved due do its inaccessibility. The park remains fairly inaccessible by road to this day. Manu National Park was founded in 1973 and the Manu Park was declared a Biophere Reserve In 1977, UNESCO recognized it as a Biosphere Reserve and in 1987 it was pronounced a World Heritage Site. It is the largest National Park in Peru, covering an area of 15,328 km².
The Biosphere Reserve includes an additional 2,570 km² and an extra 914 km² are included in a "Cultural Zone" (which also is protected), bringing the total area to 18,811 km².
The park protects several ecological zones ranging from as low as 150 meters above sea level in parts of the Amazon Basin to the Puna grasslands at altitudes of 4200 meters. This topographical range is the primary factor that contributes to it having one of highest levels of biodiversity of any park in the world.
Overall, more than 15,000 species of plants are found in Manu, and up to 250 varieties of trees have been found in a single hectare. The reserve is a destination for birdwatchers from all over the world, as it is home to over 1000 species of birds, more than the number of bird species found in the United States and Canada combined.
Itinerary 6 Days/5 Nights
Day 1: Cusco - Pacucartambo - Rainforest - Pilcopata Lodge
The first day of our adventure into the Jungle of Manu, we will pick you up around 5:00 AM from your hotels in Cusco, using the service of our private transport. The first part of our excursion will take us through the majestic Andean mountains.
Afterwards, we will visit the town of Huancarani which contains the funeral towers of Ninamarca, a cemetery of the Lupaca Pre –Inca Culture, which we will visit briefly on our way to Paucartambo, which is known as the folkloric capital of the district of Cusco.
In the face of modern times, this small colonial pueblo has managed to hold on to its rich tradition for centuries upon centuries. At mid-day we will arrive at the entrance of Manu National Park and access to one of the most protected natural areas in South America.
We will continue on in our private transport down a dirt road and on through the thick fog from which this section of the forest takes it name. Eventually we will arrive at the home of the exotic Peruvian National Bird, the “Cock of the Rock”, where it is known to gather with others of its kind for some sort of social gathering that seems 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 in the beautiful Pilcopata Lodge, where we will arrive at approx. 5:00 p.m.
Day 2: Pilcopata Lodge - Atalaya - Alto Madre de Dios River - Manu Biosphere Reserve
After eating our breakfast we continue the tour by bus going through the high forest arriving to Atalaya which is found next to Madre de Dios River (700 meters over the sea).we will pass by Alto Madre de Dios river whit its relatively clean waters to enter the clay laden waters of the Manu River.
With a brief stop at the park ranger station at Limonal to present our permits we travel for about five hours up the Manu. Beaches, especially in the dry season, are loaded with nesting birds and feeding Herons, Egrets, Orinoco Geese, Terns and Skimmers to name a few.
Some beaches will host sunning White and Black Caimans (South American relatives of the Alligators) and breeding Side-necked Turtles. Hundreds of Sand-colored Nightjars roost during the day on logs and beaches and there is a chance of encountering a sunning Jaguar - the worlds third largest cat.
In 1999 one in three of our trips saw Jaguar in Manu. We will see some species of primate on this river trip, possibly Red Howler Monkeys or the smaller Squirrel Monkeys. After having lunch by the river we arrive at our Safari Camp near the lake of Cocha Salvador.
We'll have the afternoon to explore some of the trails through the pristine rainforest in the area. A visit to the lake of Cocha Otorongo is planned, where observation piers and a 20 meter observation tower in the rainforest canopy overlooking the lake are available for observing wildlife.
We will also be on the lookout for a large family of Giant Otters that inhabit this lake. Before or after dinner an optional excursion into the forest at night is available with your guide in search of nocturnal creatures.
The lakes are full of eye-shine of the large Black Caiman and if we are lucky we may encounter an Olingo Kinkajou or even an Ocelot on the trails. Certainly the night-time noise of tree frogs and insects in the forest is an experience not to be forgotten. Night at Casa Matshiguenka lodge, there are flush toilets and shower facilities.
Day 3: Reserved Zone of Manu National Park
Today we will start with a long walk of some three or four hours, from the banks of Manu River to Otorongo lake, here we will climb a 15m high observation tower, from where birds such as the exuberantly feathered and primitive Shansho (Hoatzin) can be seen, as well as monkeys feeding on fruits and several species of flowers and brightly-colored butterflies.
We will then return to our camp by canoe to enjoy a delicious lunch. The afternoon will be dedicated to exploring Salvador Oxbow lake and the surrounding area aboard our catamaran, from which will be able to observe the mega diversity attracted by this oxbow lake, including Black Caiman, White Caiman, a family of Giant Otters and waterfowl. Return to the lodge in the evening.
Day 4: Reserved Zone Of Manu National Park - Boca Manu
Early in the morning we will have another chance to go for a nature walk or one more visit to the oxbow lake and hear choirs of birds defining their territory in song. As the sun rises, the eastern sky changes to a pale yellow and we will be able to see falcons or other predatory birds patiently searching for prey from the treetops.
After lunch we will board our boat again and head downstream towards Boca Manu but this time just floating with out the engine in order to have the opportunity to observe with plenty of time this mighty and diverse environment. Arriving at Boca Manu we will visit the native community of the Matshiguenka and Yine ethnic group; also we will visit their botanical garden of medicinal plants and share their activities.
Day 5: Boca Manu - Bamboo Lodge
In the morning, After that we will sail Alto Madre de Dios up river to the port of Atalaya (the place from where we started our trip by boat), after reach it we will drive to Bamboo lodge where we are going to spend our last night in the jungle of Manu National Park.
Day 6: Bamboo Lodge - Paucartambo - Cusco
This morning will be our last opportunity to visit the Cock-of-the-Rock lek where we will have a last opportunity to see these colorful birds displaying. After breakfast our bus will take us back to Cusco, arriving in the afternoon.