Quite possibly the only accessible piece of virgin rainforest left in the world, Manu is located in a beautiful and entirely unspoiled corner of south eastern Peru. The area of the park encompasses parts of the Andean department of Cusco and the jungle department of Madre de Dios jungle. Manu protects 18,811 sq km of territory rich in flora and fauna species in a variety of habitats including high Andes, cloud forests, and lowland tropical rain forests.
This natural paradise is officially recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site. In 1977 they designated Manu as a World Biosphere Reserve because it contains the best existing example of bio-diversity in protected areas of rain forest, as well as endemic areas of cloud forest. Manu is internationally acclaimed as one of the most biodiverse areas on earth.
The majority of forests in the world have been altered by humans. Fortunately, Manu has remained intact and untouched by civilization. It is therefore possible to observe a variety of animals in their natural habitats, including: Giant Otters, Black Caiman, the majestic Jaguar, the strange Spectacled Bear, the Tapir, the Ocelot, 13 species of monkey, and an estimated one thousand species of birds.
Manu also contains 10% of the world’s vascular plant species, including several species of figs and palms, as well as countless species of medicinal plants that scientists are currently cataloguing. A single hectare of forest in Manu can have up to 220 species of trees, while a hectare of temperate forest in Europe or North America may only have 20 tree species.
Apart from the wildlife, the journey into the park itself is spectacular. Access to the entrance of the Manu Reserved Zone is normally by road from Cusco, a 2 day trip carrying you over the Andes at 4000m, past Inca ruins and down through cloud forest on the eastern side of the Andes into lush lowland rainforest. Roads remain largely unpaved and wind their way along precarious tracks cut into the mountain side and overlooking deep gorges. The trip is an adventure in itself.
The Manu Biosphere Reserve is divided into 3 separate zones:
1. Core Zone or Manu National Park (15,328 sq km).This region is strictly preserved in its natural state, where a number of indigenous tribes reside. Only government sponsored biologists and anthropologists may visit with permits from the Ministry of Agriculture.
2. Experimental or Reserved Zone (2,570 sq km).This area is set aside for controlled scientific research and ecotourism. Entry to the reserved zone is accessible by permit only. Entry is strictly controlled and visitors must visit the area with an authorized guide. The only accommodation in the Reserve Zone is in the comfortable (and expensive) Manu Lodge or in safari-style camps.
3. Cultural Zone (914 sq km). This zone is set aside for two nomadic native groups, where locals still employ their traditional way of life. The cultural zone is accessible to anyone and several companies offer lodge based tours within this zone.
For the traveler wanting to experience the Manu rainforest there are really only 2 possibilities: take an Adventure Tour Package or a Jungle Lodge program.
MANU ADVENTURE TOUR PACKAGES
We have developed a variety of jungle adventure programs designed to meet the expectations of those nature lovers wanting to travel to the real Manu rainforest, knowing that after this unforgettable experience our passengers will have a better understanding of the vital need to protect these fragile ecosystems.
We offer itineraries ranging from three to nine days, but we can also organize customised itineraries for special interest groups such as birdwatchers and orchid lovers.
Our programs can be operated as private groups at any giving date. For individual travelers we offer as alternative weekly fixed departures. Here below two program options. Please feel free to contact us for more detailed information.
Itinerary Manu Andes & Parrot Clay Lick, 7 Days / 6 Nights →
Itinerary Manu Andes & Parrot Clay Lick 6 Days / 5 Nights →
Manu Wildlife Center
The Manu Wildlife Center is a 44 bed lodge located on the Madre de Dios river only 90 minutes by motorized dugout canoe from the Boca Manu airstrip at the confluence of the Manu and Alto Madre de Dios rivers.
Manu Wildlife Center is a privately owned rainforest reserve which forms part of the Manu Biosphere Reserve. It is located in the Cultural Reserved Zone, set aside for indigenous Amazonian peoples. The lodge is on the banks of the Madre de Dios River in pristine rainforest.
Eight and eighteen seater planes fly from the Cusco airport to Boca Manu. The flight takes about 40 minutes. From here comfortable motorized dugouts are used for the 90 minute trip to the Manu Wildlife Center. Alternatively, a longer and more adventurous journey can be made by road and river from Cusco. In this trip you visit other important areas of Manu on your way to Manu Wildlife Center. See our 9 day program.
Manu Wildlife Center consists of 22 double bungalows built in the style of, and using the same materials as the local Machiguenga indigenous communities. Local wood, bamboo and palm fronds for roofing are used. All materials used have been sustainably harvested or brought in from distant areas. Although all the rooms are screened with imported insect netting, beds are furnished with individual mosquito nets. The bungalows are arranged around a pleasant and well planned Amazonian garden with plants and shrubs that attract birds, butterflies and mammals. All bungalows are private and separated from each other for privacy and all have large windows facing the forest and garden. All the 22 bungalows boast private toilet and shower facilities. Hot and cold water is always available and all toilets facilities are flush. The dining area is separate from the other facilities but close to all bungalows and the nearby kitchen area. Food is good and wholesome not gourmet, and we use a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, grains and meats in our menu.
More Information about Manu Wildlife Center →
The Pantiacolla Lodge is ideally situated at 550m of elevation in high ground forest that overlooks the rushing Upper Madre de Dios River. This 16 bed lodge has communal toilets and showers.
The Pantiacolla Mountain Range, which is the final Andean range in Manu prior to the vast lowland forests, rises gradually more than 1,000 m into the clouds behind the lodge. Explorers with a few extra days can hike a long trail from the lodge to the top of the Pantiacolla Range, where two bird species new to science were discovered in the 1980’s. As many as 7 species of monkeys have been reported for the area.
Though the lodge clearing offers superb birding without even stepping into the forest, the 20 km of forest trails in all habitat types offer unparalleled access to the world’s finest birding forests. The foothill forests of Manu within view of the Andes are famous for having the largest bird lists of any sites in the world–nearly 70% more bird species, in fact, than sites in the central Amazon of Brazil, for example.
Pantiacolla is the birding lodge with the best location and the most complete, most scientifically-designed trail system. Birders can spend weeks here without exhausting the immense bird list.
When the secrets of Manu’s natural sanctuary were recognized in 1973 and Manu was declared a National Park, there was already an active and established culture of indigenous Machiguenga people who go back for centuries as an integral ingredient of the region and often took a backseat as tourism developed in Manu, despite being the “true owners” of the forest.
In 1996, a project was initiated by the native communities of Yombebato and Tayakome, in conjunction with a non-government organization from Germany, to establish a rustic lodge based on Machiguenga construction techniques and lifestyles in the Cocha Salvador area, deep in Manu.
Accommodations are simple rooms with beds and mosquito nets, rustic furniture and communal dining areas. More than adequate toilet and shower facilities are on hand.
The object of this project is to give the visitor the opportunity to learn about and understand not only the natural wonders of Manu but also the cultural history and traditions of its inhabitants. In 1999 the lodge, Casa Machiguenga, received its first guests but there is still much to be done before the full potential is realized and the aims and dreams of these quiet, gentle people to become included in, and benefit from, the attraction that Manu offers, are achieved. This, after all, is their home.
Cock of the Rock Lodge
The Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge (CORL) is located in the Kosñipata Valley of South Eastern Peru and is named for the world’s largest known display ground of the blazing scarlet Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Peru’s National Bird. The lodge is nestled in a pristine Andean Cloud Forest, beckons the enthusiastic birder and adventurous nature lover.
Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge is located in cool, mosquito-free cloud forest at 1600m of elevation along the amazingly wild single lane road from Cusco to the Manu lowlands. From Cusco, it takes 6 hours or so to drive the winding 180 km to this biological Eden, but most travelers prefer to spend 8-10 hours along the route to savor the eye-popping scenery, excellent birdwatching, and colorful orchids, fuchsias, heliconias, and other exotic flowers.