This trip allows you to have one of the best experiences in the Manu National Park which includes the Reserved Zone in only 8 days. We are starting from Cusco where the mountainous landscape dominates and a cold wind blows through the ichu grass growing along the steep hills, where the majestic Andean Condor watches over the land from high above. The people of this region call him “Apu Kañahuay” which means he who is close to god. As we descend the cloud forest suddenly surrounds us and the earth seems to be covered in lush vegetation of ferns and bamboo trees. The national bird of Peru awaits us down here, presenting his mating dance which we can observe from the viewing platform of the LEK. Afterward we will relax in our Eco-Lodge “Bambu Lodge”.
We will leave the realm of the clouds behind us and enter a zone of days heated by the sun and cool nights with of the scent of flowers. Along the winding river of the Manu, our motorized boat will take us further into the rainforest. Along the sandy beaches we can observe herons, caimans, turtles, capybaras and even jaguars.
In the Reserved Zone of the Manu we will set up camp at the “Casa matshiguenka” lodge which is run by the local community of the Matshiguenka. Feel free to explore the natural mirror lakes of Salvador and Otorongo in order to observe the curious and restless giant otters.
Once again we will change scenery driving further into the hushed zone of the Manu biosphere also known as Maquisapayoj. Her you can take plenty of photos of the macaws at one of the largest salt licks of the Manu, as well as visit the saltlick for the largest mammal in the Amazon, the tapir. With quite a bit of nostalgia we will leave the natural paradise behind us and head back to the business of the big city.
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 “Bambu Lodge”.
Early in the morning, after a substantial breakfast, we’ll head out by bus to Atalaya (about 2 hours). Along the way we’ll be able to admire flora and fauna. In Atalaya we’ll switch onto a motor boat and head down the river Alto Madre de Dios for about 5 hours until we reach the Hummingbird Lodge. Initially manioc- and banana plantations can be seen along the river banks until we head deeper into the jungle. Plenty of aquatic birds and parrots can be seen during our boat ride, furthermore with a bit of luck there will be mammals like monkeys and caipibaras. Lunch will be on our boat today.
Around 3 om we will reach the Hummingbird Lodge, located on the river banks of the Madre de Dios river. The Lodge is located very close to the actual reserve and offers great pathways to explore the jungle during the late afternoon or evening. Hikes around the Lodge are optional.
We leave very early in the morning. A 4 hour boat ride takes us toward the river Manu and the control point of Limonal where we will enter the actual Manu Reserve. The park rangers will check our permits and give us a some useful advice about entering the National Reserve. Along the river Manu we will be able to experience the unique nature of the rainforest with its flora and fauna. With a bit of luck we can see animals like caimans, turtles, monkeys, tapirs and maybe even e jaguar.
We reach our Lodge – called CASA MATSHIGUENKA – at the banks of the river Manu. It is the only one within the Reserve of the Manu. Here we will get to know the habits of the family of the Mattshiguenka which lives in this Lodge. We will spend our first night in the heart of the rainforest.
Very early we will head out to the Cocha (=lake) SALVADOR which is located upstream deeper into the Reserve. The Cocha Salvador is one of the most important lakes within the Manu National Park. The eco system is home to many important animals like the giant river otter, the black caiman, anacondas, plenty of different species of birds and up to 13 species of monkeys. Using a small catamaran to navigate the lake gives you the opportunity to see these animals close up.
After visiting the lake, we head back to our Lodge, the Casa Matshiguenka. In the later afternoon we will visit the cocha OTORONGO, this lake can be appreciated from a 20 meter high observation platform. From here we then head back to the Lodge for our second night in the Manu National park.
Today we start our boat ride before sunrise and head upstream to the biological research center Pakitza which also functions as another check point. Sunrise and sunset are the best times of the day to observe wildlife along the banks of the river. Now is the time to see a caiman or even a jaguar. We will have breakfast in Pakitza and then hike through the rainforest to see even more wildlife. In the afternoon we will head back to our Lodge Casa Matsiguenka. As soon as it gets dark, we can head out for a night hike in order to see reptiles, amphibians and spiders (hike optional). We will spend out third night deep inside the Reserve.
Today we will leave the actual Reserve of the Manu National Park and head out to the so called buffer zone also known as Manu biosphere or Maquisapayoc. Here we will visit the most important clay lick (=collpa) for the mammals living in the jungle. The animals use these collpas in order to absorb salts and minerals from the clay, which they need to detoxify and digest their diet. Tapirs, deer, porcupines as well as monkeys pass by here on a regular basis. Since most animals are nocturnal, this is a night time activity. Your guide will coordinate the excursion with you accordingly. The ride from the Lodge Casa Matshiguenka to the Birding/Maquisapayoc Lodge takes about 6 hours. Breakfast will be taken during the boat ride. We will reach the Lodge around 3:30 pm.
At 5:00 am we will head by boat towards the collpa of the parrots which is about one hour away. This clay lick is the only one in the Manu National Park where you can see the birds close up. Many different species of parrots come to feed off the clay of the cliffs along the river bank. They need the minerals to detoxify and digest, furthermore the collpas function as social meeting place and secure the survival of these endangered species. This collpa is perfect for hobby and professional photographers, since the observation platform is actually very close to the cliff.
After visiting the collpa, we head back to our Lodge Maquisapayoc to have lunch. In the afternoon we can explore the rainforest around the Lodge.
**At night there will be another opportunity to head to the Tapir Collpa in case the previous night had not been successful in spotting tapirs.
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 goodbye 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.
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