ATV 13: THE MANU NATIONAL PARK (9D-8N)

Departure       :  7:30 a.m., on fixed departure dates
Duration        :  Nine days and eight nights
Location        :  Manu, Department of Cusco
Season          :  All year round.

DESCRIPTION:

The Manu National Park is located in South-eastern Peru (between the North of the Department of Cusco and the Department of Madre de Dios). It is one of the largest tropical parks in South America. It extends from the Highlands to the Jungle and has a surface of 2 million hectares (4.5 million acres). Its territory is rich in flora and fauna with a variety of habitats including high Andes, cloud forests and lowland tropical rain forests.

In 1977, the Manu National Park was designated as World Biosphere Reserve since it shelters the best existing example of biodiversity in protected rain forest, as well as cloud forest endemic areas. There, we can observe the giant otters (Pteronura brasiliensis), the black caiman (Melanosuchus niger), the majestic jaguar (Panthera onca), the strange spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus), the tapir (Tapirus terrestris), the ocelot (Felis pardalis), 13 different species of primates and an estimated one thousand species of birds, including seven species of Macaws.

In the Manu National Park, there are 10% of the world’s vascular plant species, including several species of figs and palms, and countless species of medicinal plants which are currently being catalogued by scientists. A single hectare of forest in Manu, can hold up to 220 species of trees, while a hectare of temperate forest in Europe or North America may only hold 20 tree species. Therefore, the Manu National Park may be the most biologically diverse and best preserved park on the planet.

ITINERARY:

For our guests who are fans of nature and birdwatching, we provide an option for a 9 day circuit, deep in the Manu National Park Reserve. We can also combine this tour with Rafting or Mountain Biking Trips. For more information, there will be a briefing the night before departure.

1st DAY: CUSCO – CLOUD FOREST

An early departure from Cusco (Cuzco) is necessary to prepare for a full day of activities, from the highlands down into the lush Cloud Forest. After leaving Cusco, we’ll go through the town of Paucartambo; known as the region’s folkloric center. The next stop is at the vantage point of Tres Cruces (3,950 m. / 12,950 ft.), for an overview of the Amazon Basin. After having spent some time there, we’ll descend through different ecological levels. Along the way, we may see a diversified endemic flora and fauna, such as butterflies, flowers, giant tree ferns and orchids, as well as monkeys, Andean deer and birds of all kinds. Late in the afternoon, we’ll arrive in the San Pedro area; the home of Peru’s National Bird; the “Cock of the Rocks” and of the spectacled bear (the only bear found in South America). Overnight stay at our campsite.

2nd DAY: CLOUD FOREST – PILCOPATA

After our first night in the Cloud Forest, we’ll have a pre-breakfast walk, to possibly be able to watch the spectacular Cock of the Rocks displaying in a mating ritual that daily takes place at the foot of a clay lick, where between eight and ten male individuals perform for a female. Then, we´ll return to our campsite, to have a hearty breakfast and get ready to go to the village of Pilcopata. There, we’ll start our hike to get to the Native Community of Huacaria. This is a Huachipaire ethnic group that will share with us their traditional food, allow us to hike their trails and swim in their rivers. Late in the afternoon, we’ll return to Pilcopata for dinner and sleep in a local lodge.

3rd DAY: CAMPSITE IN THE NATIONAL PARK

Today, after breakfast, we’ll still have a 45 minute ride to Atalaya, where we’ll board our canoe that will take us to Buena Vista Lodge, situated on the banks of the mighty Alto Madre de Dios River. There, we’ll spend the day exploring the surrounding area, as well as very interesting trails that will show us amazing ecosystems and we´ll also have the opportunity to swim in the river. After dinner, we’ll experience various sounds of the Amazonian night, like that of the musmuqui; the world’s only nocturnal primate, the kalinowski rat, numerous species of frogs, great potoos and the pigmy owl, among many other inhabitants of the night. Campsite.

4th DAY: CAMPSITE IN THE NATIONAL PARK

After a comfortable night’s sleep in the lodge, we’ll have a pre-breakfast walk to watch a strange pre-historic looking bird; the hoatzin. Now, the expedition begins in earnest. We’ll board our motorized boat (with cushioned seats, life jackets and a roof for sun and rain protection), to start the journey down the Upper Madre de Dios River, towards the Reserved Zone of the Manu National Park. As we gradually adjust to this exciting jungle environment, we’ll see the last range of the Andes, the Pantiacolla Mountains, looming ahead in the distance. There may be time to stop and visit the Machiguenga ethnic group, in their village of Shepitiari. There, we’ll have the opportunity to observe their culture and typical way of living. Continuing our boat ride, we’ll arrive at Boca Manu, in the park’s Reserved Zone, to set-up our campsite and have dinner. At night, we’ll take flashlights and walk along the riverbank. The pools are full of the black caimans’ shining eyes and if we are lucky, we may encounter an olingo, a kinkajou or even an ocelot on the trails. The nighttime noises produced by the tree frogs and insects, in the forest, will certainly turn this walk into an experience not to be forgotten. Campsite.

5th DAY: CAMPSITE IN THE NATIONAL PARK

The day will start with a short pre-dawn walk, to hear the chorus of birds, monkeys and insects, as they greet the day and call to delimit their territory. As the Sun rises, the Eastern skies turn into a pale yellow. We might spot a bat falcon or some other predatory birds watching patiently from the treetops, as they wait for their prey. Beaches, especially during the dry season, are loaded with birds at rest and feeding, such as herons, Orinoco geese and skimmers, only to name a few. Afterwards, the expedition will proceed on its way upstream, heading towards the heart of the Manu National Park, to have a first stop at the Limonal. We’ll register at the Park’s Ranger Station and have our permits signed. From this point on, we´ll be journeying through primary forest, where only indigenous tribes live. We’ll start to see more birds such as kingfishers, toucans, herons, macaws, parrots, jabirus and possibly spot some mammals, like the tapir, capybara, several species of turtles and the caimans. We might also be able to see a jaguar on the river banks. By mid-afternoon, we’ll arrive at the Caiman Camp; our base for the next two days inside the forest, by the riverbank and near the Lake Cocha Salvador. There, we’ll have mosquito screens in the dining room, bathrooms, showers and platforms to set up our tents on. Before dark, we’ll take a short hike to get acquainted with this green paradise. Upon returning to our camp, a delicious dinner will be waiting for us. A night hike will end this exciting journey through the Reserved Zone of the Manu National Park. Campsite.

6th DAY: CAMPSITE IN THE NATIONAL PARK

We’ll have an early morning start with a 4 to 5 hour walk along the right bank of the river, to visit Lake “Cocha Otorongo”. This will give us the opportunity to see other species of birds and mammals that are unique to this area and this trail is a particularly good one to meet with the woolly monkey. Several species of butterflies, in a multitude of colors, will float about the trail, as the Peruvian Amazon boasts for more than 4,000 species of butterflies, with the Manu hosting 1,200 of them. A short hike, along trails leading through the forest, will bring us to the lake. There is an observation platform over the water, to watch birds and wildlife. After a half hour boat ride, we’ll be back at the base camp for lunch. Afterwards, the afternoon will be fully dedicated to exploring the area near Lake “Cocha Salvador”. Many trails wind through the forest of ficus, palm and rubber trees, where we’ll see several species of flowering plants, birds and mammals. We’ll also explore other areas, observing the footprints and droppings of jungle mammals. Our guide will give us basic information about the rainforest’s ecosystems and will point out some of the area’s medicinal plants used by local indigenous groups. We may also cross paths with a herd of peccaries; a species of wild boar that lives there. At the lake, there is a catamaran available for paddling out to the center of the lake, to quietly observe the wildlife on the shores. Then at night, we’ll take our flashlights and explore the jungle, looking for nocturnal monkeys, rodents, etc. Campsite.

7th DAY: CAMPSITE IN THE NATIONAL PARK

Today, we’ll continue our journey downstream, crossing the Manu River and passing by its smaller tributary; the Piquen, we’ll arrive at Boca Manu, where the river joins the Alto Madre de Dios. From there, we’ll navigate another three hours down the river, to reach the lodge at Blanquillo, where we’ll sleep in the comfort of mosquito-netted beds set on raised wooden structures, with native-style thatched roofs. Along the way, we´ll be able to talk to local people fishing on the riverbank and this is a great opportunity to observe their customs. We’ll also visit the Lake Cocha Blanquillo with its diversity of animals, including a family of giant otters and birds. One more night at the campsite.

8th DAY: CAMPSITE IN THE NATIONAL PARK

Before breakfast, we’ll head down the river (five minutes by boat), to go to a position facing a 90 to 100 m. high macaw lick which is a natural mineral rich clay deposit located on the riverbank. From a small floating platform, camouflaged with palm leaves (to avoid disturbing the birds), we´ll be able to watch medium size blue-headed parrots and smaller perakeets arrive noisily pair by pair, to find their place in the treetops above the lick. Then the larger red and green macaws will come in an impressive show of colors. After breakfast, we’ll work our way back up to the Madre de Dios River and to the airstrip near Boca Manu. Early in the morning, flocks of birds pass over the boat and we may see a capybara; the world’s largest rodent, by the riverbank. In Boca Manu, we’ll say goodbye to the part of the group that will fly back to Cusco (Cuzco) and the rest will continue the journey up the Alto Madre de Dios River, to finally set-up camp, late in the afternoon, on a beach by the river.

9th DAY: CAMPSITE IN THE NATIONAL PARK – CUSCO

This is our last day in the rain forest. Our boat will take us to Atalaya. There, our vehicle will be waiting to take us back to Cusco, where we’ll arrive late at night. Lunch included.

OPTIONAL: If you want to return to Cusco by plane from Boca Manu Airport, there’s an additional $125.00 cost.

INCLUDES:

  • Specialized English / Spanish speaking guide
  • Camping equipment
  • 02 nights in local Lodges
  • All meals
  • First aid kit
  • All land and river transportation (buses or 4WD vehicles and motorized boat)
  • Rafting equipment
  • Mountain biking equipment
  • Safety box for valuables and storage for luggage.

ENTRANCE FEES NOT INCLUDED.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • Personal sleeping bag
  • Binoculars, camera with ASA 200 and 400 films for use in the inner forest
  • One pair of lightweight ankle height boots and sandals
  • Warm clothing, long sleeve shirts and long pants (cotton)
  • 100% waterproof rain gear (long poncho or rain wear)
  • Insect repellent (recommended with 50% Deet), sunscreen lotion
  • Flashlight with enough spare batteries (alkaline) and bulbs
  • Wide brim hat (for sunny days), sunglasses
  • Towel, swimming suit, personal medicines and /or supplies
  • Day pack and one backpack or duffel bag of luggage per person
  • One bottle of water for the first day and plastic bags.