This excursion starts in the Inca capital Cusco, past fields of crop, where the local farmers still sow and plow by hand with their traditional tools, we drive to the folkloric capital of Paucartambo. From here we drive up the mountains a little more until we reach Acjanaco.
From now on it´s downhill and suddenly the landscape changes rapidly indicating that we have reached the cloud forest of the Manu where the mountain streams give life to a vast variety of plants and flowers. Right away the local host greats us, we are talking about the “Imperial Quetzal”. The king of this cloud forest is however the Cock of the Rock, the national bird of Peru, which we can observe performing his mating dance from the viewing platform of the LEK.
We will leave the cloud forest to get deeper into the rainforest reaching the port of Atalaya where we will switch our van for a motorized boat. Heading downriver along the Madre de Dios we enter the Biosphere Zone of the Manu, giving us plenty of opportunities to watch wildlife.
Once we are in the Maquisapayoj we will get settled in our Lodge. Here we can visit the most important macaw salt lick of the park called “Blanquillo”, the tapir salt lick and two lakes called “Blanco and Camungo” where a family of giant otters have found their home. Furthermore you can observe over 600 different species of birds around the lakes and the highest viewing tower in the Peruvian Amazon which was constructed next to a 350 year old Ceiba tree.
From up here you get a chance to see 8 species of monkeys, red deer and maybe even a jaguar. We finally return past the towns of Puerto Colorado and Mazuco to Cusco or Puerto Maldonado.
It is important to know, that the salt licks of the macaws and the tapir as well as the lakes are protected areas and are located in the Biosphere Zone of the Manu.
We will leave Cusco at 5:30 am and start our 8-9 hour drive to the jungle. We will pass the highest point of our trip at an altitude of more than 4.000 msl. Along the way we will stop a few times, once to see the Chullpas of Ninamarca, a Pre-Inca cemetery. From here we will pass the pastures of the Andes until we reach the town of Paucartambo at an altitude of 2.900 msl.
Paucartambo is a small town with a lot of history and tradition, it is also known as the folkloric capital of Peru. After a short visit to the pretty town center we continue to Acjanaco at 3.560 msl, which also marks the entrance to the National Park of Manu. From now we drop down towards the jungle.
Along the way we’ll get to see orchids and birds such as the Resplendent Quetzal, Toucan and Tangara. In San Pedro we’ll come across a strategically perfect place to observe the national bird of Peru, the Andean cock-of-the-rock. Inside the LEK we will be able to observe these birds jumping and singing merrily while preforming their typical mating ritual. With a bit of luck we’ll spot mammals like monkeys or the spectacled bear. We move on through tropical rain forest until we reach the “Ecological Bambu Lodge”.
Food: breakfast, snack, lunch, dinner.
LEK: A platform built to appreciate the Andean cock-of-the-rock.
Accomodation: Bambu Lodge, Double or Triple rooms with private bath and shower.
Early in the morning, after a delicious breakfast, we will head towards Atalaya where our private boat will be waiting for us. We will drive on the river Madre de Dios for about 6 hours, loosing altitude as we go until we are at an altitude of about 820 feet. Along the way we will be able to observe the fauna of the river. With some luck we will see herons, falcons and parrots as well as the largest rodent of the world, the Caypibara.
Monkeys are hopping around the branches of the trees and sometimes you even get to see the hunter of the Amazon Jungle, the jaguar.Along the river banks we will also observe the small communities of the jungle which have lived here for ages. Among them the community of the Arkambut and the ethnic group of the Piro. In the afternoon we will reach our accommodation the “Manu Birding Lodge / Maquisapayoc” where we will spend the night in double rooms with private bath. A night hike is optional.
With the first rays of the sun we will drive about 40 minutes downriver in order to visit a small lagoon named „Cocha blanco“. Around this small lake we can observe a lot of wildlife, the lake is also habitat to the endangered giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis). To see these animals close up, we will head out onto the lake in a small catamaran, that way flora and fauna can be observed a lot better. After our visit of the lagoon we will hike through the forest for a bit, to learn more about the plants and animals of the jungle.
For lunch we will be back at the Lodge.In the afternoon we can take another short hike through the jungle, we do want our clients to experience the magic of this place at all times.
In the evening we will head out to the Tapir Saltlick, a place where big mammals like tapir, deer, porcupines etc. gather at night, to absorb the minerals and salts out of the mud which are essential to their diet and digestive system.
Before sunrise we head downriver for about an hour to reach the famous Ara saltlick. This part of the Manu National Park offers the perfect location to see the different aras and parrots which fly here in the morning hours. They gather here to absorb the minerals out of the clay, which are essential to their diet. This is also an important social gathering for these endangered birds.
Our viewpoint is perfect for hobby and professional photographers. After thoroughly watching these magical birds we will head back to our Lodge for lunch.In the afternoon our specialized guide will lead you into the depth of the jungle.
At night you can optionally visit the Tapir Saltlick again, in case there was no animal sighting the night before.
On this day we will visit the second lake on our itinerary, the oxbow lake “Cocha Camungo”. Here we will be able to see the giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) once again, navigating our catamaran across the lake. Afterward we can climb the 165 feet tall Tower where you can appreciate an amazing view of the treetops of the Amazon Jungle.
Up here among the treetops you can experience wildlife and flora close up. In the afternoon we will hike through the rainforest in order to learn more about the animals and plants of the Biosphere.
After breakfast we will start our way back in a 3 hour boat ride downstream to the town of Boca Colorado where we will say goodby to our boat crew which as accompanied us through the Manu over the last couple of days. In a private taxi we drive for about one hour to Puerto Punkiri (why do we take a taxi? Our transport from Cusco cannot enter to Boca Colorado).
We will have to cross the river Inambari till we reach Puerto Carlos where our transport from Cusco will wait for us. Along the asphalted Transozeanica we will head back to Cusco in a 7 to 8 hour bus ride, reaching Cusco around 6:00 pm.
NOTE: If you would like to avoid the long bus ride back to Cusco, we offer you to take private transport to Puerto Maldonado (about 2,5 hours) and head out the same day by plane to Lima. Please ask for additional costs for this option which includes airfare and transport.