The Manu National Park covers an area of 20,000 sq km starting at an altitude of 4000m on the eastern slopes of the Andes north of Cusco, descending to remote virgin cloud forests containing some of the most diverse bird population on earth, and finally plunging down into lowland rainforests which are home to an astonishing variety of jungle flora and fauna.

Declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1977, the park’s remoteness and inaccessibility has helped it protect the huge tract of virgin jungle and its wildlife. As a result the Manu can boast an almost unimaginable variety of flora and fauna. It is home to 20,000 vascular plant types, more than 5000 flowering plants, 1200 species of butterfly, and an unknown quantity of insects. There are also 1000 species of birds – including hummingbirds, 7 species of macaw, parrots, toucans, hoatzins and tanagers – and 200 mammal species including jaguars, 13 species of monkey, giant otters, capybaras, ocelots, agoutis, tapirs, giant anteaters and armadillos. Reptiles – including black and white caimans, and river turtles – can also be found by the Manu River.

The reserve is best visited between June and November during the dry season.


Day 1: Cusco – Manu ‘Orquideas de San Pedro’ Jungle Lodge

We leave Cusco early in the morning in our specialized overland vehicles. Around mid-morning, we visit the interesting pre-Inca tombs of Ninamarca, commonly known as ‘Chullpas’. We then continue to Paucartambo, a picturesque Spanish colonial town, and on to the Acjanacu Pass, which marks the beginning of the Cultural Zone of the Manu Biosphere Reserve. Here, a thick cloak of clouds creates the perpetual humidity that is the ideal habitat for epiphytic plants such as bromeliads. The varied and fascinating reserve is home to a vast array of flora and fauna, including the cock-of-the-rock, spectacled bear, orchids, tree ferns, mosses and lichens. This cloud forest lies between 2000 and 3500 meters above sea level, and at least 50 per cent of the plant species found here are endemic to this region. We spend the night in our Orquideas de San Pedro lodge.

Day 2: Manu ‘Erika Lodge’ Jungle Lodge

Today we wake up very early to observe the cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruviana), Peru’s national bird. The male birds are a vibrant reddish orange color. At around 5am, as many as several dozen birds come together for a display of a ritual mating dance, which we can watch from the comfort of an observation platform called ‘Lek’. The males show off and posture for the females, displaying their crest. The females, fewer in number, use the dance to select the most suitable mate. After breakfast we continue down the narrow road between waterfalls and canyons towards the town of Pilcopata, which is a drive of approximately two hours. A 30-minute bus ride then takes us to the port of Atalaya, where we board our covered outboard motor boat, and head down the Alto Madre de Dios River, which takes another half-hour or so. Our private jungle lodge ‘Erika Lodge’ is found here on the banks of the river. We spend the next two nights here. There are opportunities for short walks around the lodge.
Optional (for experienced people only): Descent by mountain bike from the Cloud Forest (1700m) to Pilcopat town (700m).
Optional: At Pilcopata town we can go rafting for one hour down the Kosñipata River. We also have the opportunity to swim in the river, and enjoy the spectacular view of the Koñeq Canyon.

Day 3: Manu ‘Erika Lodge’ Jungle Lodge

Erika Lodge is located in a transition zone between high and low jungle (between 600m and 1150m) and the wide range in altitudes explains the diversity of wildlife found around the lodge. Immediately after breakfast, we start walking near the riverbanks. During the hike, our guide tells us about the insects, medicinal plants, trees, and animals to be found in the region. In the afternoon, we board our boat for only five minutes, and then walk for around half an hour, following a lovely trail, to observe and talk about the interesting flora found in this area – such as sensitive plants, heliconias, and fruit plantations. When we arrive at Machuwasi Lake, we use a telescope to observe an astonishing variety of birds, including great egrets, toucans, carpenters, keskadees, and cardinals. In the evening, we go for a short night walk to observe American bullfrogs, horned frogs, tree frogs and an incredible variety of insects.
New!!! Canopy tour: Our guests traverse from tree to tree and platform to platform using pulleys on horizontal traverse cables, as they sail through the treetops of the tropical rainforest canopy, and over the trails far below. Expert guides assist you in this exciting journey through the different layers of the virgin rainforest and explain what’s going on around you, from the time you leave the ground, until you rappel back down to the forest floor.

Day 4: Manu – Cusco

We get up very early to board our boat – again for only five minutes – heading downriver to a parrot clay lick called ‘Collpa’, on the riverbank. Many species of parrots – including the blue-headed parrot and the white-eyed parakeet – feed on the clay to supplement their diet of seeds and fruits with minerals and salt. Shortly afterwards, we continue downriver to Atalaya Port, where our bus is waiting to take us back to Cusco. We arrive late in the night.

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