A return to nature wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the park of Manú in the Amazonian jungle, in the department of Madre de Dios. This biosphere reserve, one of the richest in the world, classified by Unesco as a natural human patrimony, is the home of about a thousand different birds, 33 types of monkeys and 200 types of trees…Also a variety of flowers, plants, butterflies, fishes, caimans, jaguars, snakes, etc.
This trek is a unique opportunity to walk in the high-jungle and going down the river Madre de Dios by boat… Observing the fauna by day as by night, meeting the people who live on these lands in their traditional way, in total harmony with nature for centuries, counting tales from the jungle around the campfire. This trip is truly a journey into a unique environment that can be experienced in only a few places on earth.
Manu Biosphere Reserve 7 days Itinerary:
Day 1: Cusco – Rainforest Lodge
On the first day of our adventure into the Jungle of Manu, we pick you up at your hotel in Cusco around 6am, using our private transport. The first part of our excursion takes us through the majestic Andean mountains. There is a quick visit of the town of Huancarani on our way to Paucartambo, where we visit the funeral towers of Ninamarca, a cemetery of the Lupacas pre–Inca Culture. We continue to Paucartambo, well-known for its folklore and its colonial-style town. Around midday we arrive at the entrance of Manu National Park, where we access one of the most protected natural areas in South America. We go further in our private transport down a dirt road and on through the thick fog, from which this section takes it name ‘Cloud Forest’. We arrive at the home of the exotic Peruvian National Bird, the “Cock of the Rocks”, famous for the ‘communal dances of the bright coloured rainforest birds. It is a kind of social gathering that seems reminiscent of a large courtship. For sure you will enjoy this amazing spectacle, completed by an impressive array of sounds and colours that can only be found in the jungle. For our first night, we stay at Rainbow Lodge.
Day 2: Rainforest Lodge – Bonanza Ecological Reserve
Very early at 6:30am, we leave in the direction of Port Atalaya. On the way we stop a few times to visit small local farmers producing many varieties of jungle fruits, even the famous Coca plant. Later, we go on the first boat cruise of our journey: a river excursion on the Madre de Dios, one of the tributaries of the mighty Amazon River. During our day we have the chance to see many types of colourful birds such as parrots, oropendolas, vultures and others species. We stop at the Natural Hot spring. Hopefully, we will see some jungle mammals as monkeys or the famous capybaras. In the afternoon, we arrive at our next sleeping destination, the Bonanza Lodge. We hope to arrive around 3:00 pm. We go on a walk during the night, which is the best time to see many anthropoids, tarantulas, scorpions and snakes. This is of course optional.
Day 3: Bonanza Ecological Reserve – Casa Matsiguenka
After breakfast it is time to say ‘Good-bye’ to the almost clear waters of the Madre de Dios River; and to continue our tour towards the clay laden waters of the Manu River. We drive for about five hours up the Manu River. The beaches, especially in the dry season (March–December), are loaded with nesting birds and feeding herons, egrets, orinoco geese, terns and skimmers. Some beaches will host sunning white and black caimans and breeding side-necked turtles. Hundreds of sand-colored nightjars roost during the day on logs and beaches and there might be the chance of encountering a Jaguar. On this day we will also catch side of some species of primates, possibly Red Howler Monkeys or the smaller Squirrel Monkeys. After having lunch on the riverbank we head to Casa Matsiguenka. We'll have the afternoon to explore some of the trails through the pristine rainforest of this area.
Before or after dinner, an optional excursion into the forest at night is available with your guide, searching for some nocturnal creatures. We spend the night at the Casa Matsiguenka: a rustic native owned lodge run by the Matsiguenka’s themselves.
Day 4: Casa Matsiguenka – Cocha Salvador
After breakfast we spend the morning at the lake of Cocha Salvador. Some of the time will be spend canoeing on the lake to be close to the animal life in the water. We may encounter an Agami Heron or a Sungrebe, and Brown Cappuchin Monkeys are usually feeding on fruits nearby. The rest of the day will be spent walking the trails in the area in search of some of the 13 species of monkeys found in the forest here. Your guide will explain some of the basics of rainforest ecosystems and show you a few medicinal plants of the area used by local, indigenous groups. We may cross paths with a group of Peccaries - a species of wild boar found here. During the afternoon we enjoy the sunset. We spend another night at the Casa Matsiguenka
Day 5: Casa Matsiguenka – Cocha Otorongo
Today we have to walk (very slowly) for about 4-5 hours from our camp through the forest to Cocha Otorongo. We may encounter troops of monkeys. This is a particularly good trail for Woolly and Black Spider Monkeys. We'll pay special attention to the plant life on this hike and we listen for the rustle of vegetation or the soft sound of fruits falling to the rainforest floor that may betray the presence of animals or large birds. A visit to Lake Cocha Otorongo is planned, where observation piers and a 20m/65f observation tower in the rainforest canopy overlooking the lake are available for observing wildlife. We will also look out for a large family of Giant Otters that inhabits this lake.
Day 6: Casa Matsiguenka – Bonanza Ecological Reserve
Leaving the lodge we'll head up the Madre de Dios River for three hours to the comfortable Bonanza Lodge-Wildlife Center. This strategically located lodge facility is jointly owned and run by Amazon Wildlife Peru, a local conservation group. It is used as a base for scientific bird-watching research in the area and as a center for visitors wanting to explore the rainforest. We should arrive in time for lunch and a shower and get to meet whichever researchers are onsite.
The afternoon is set aside to relax or, if you want, to explore a trail through the untouched forest to a lookout point on a cliff over the river to watch roosting flights of parrots and macaws during sunset. Those who wish can participate in a night-walk with the guide in search of nocturnal animals. We spend this night at Bonanza Lodge.
Day 7: Bonanza Ecological Reserve – Cusco
We leave Bonanza Lodge early in the morning to go to Port Atalaya. From here we take our transport directly to Cusco passing through the Cloud Forest. You will be back at your hotel in Cusco around 5/6pm.
Manu Biosphere Reserve 7 days (Group Departures)
• Private bus and boat
• Rubber boots and rain poncho and a waterproof bag
• Accommodations and Lodges
• Bilingual native guide from the jungle
• Mineral water
• First aid kit
• 3 meals per day including a vegetarian option
• Professional cook
• Entrance to Manu National Park
• Entrance to Salvador Lake
• Entrance to Otorongo Lake
• Extra drinks
What to bring:
• Repellent with a minimum of 40% deet
• Good Binoculars
• Camera with extra batteries
• Flashlight with extra batteries
• Sun lotion
• Pocket money
• Day pack
• Water bottle
• Sun hat
• Swimming suit
• Toilet paper
• Small Towel
• Dark colour clothes
The vaccinations are recommended if you want to enter the Manu Park.