Manu National Park (6 Days / 5 Nights)

DAY 01: CUSCO – PILCOPATA

As we leave the Inca capital, Cusco we begin a winding ascent into the Andes, passing by the ruins of Ninamarca, where we will see chullpas, pre-Inca burial towers from the Lupacas. The road eventual winds down to the town of Paucartambo, a historically important administration centre from pre-Spanish times. Leaving Paucartambo we begin our ascent through what is referred to as the Puna ecological zone, that we find the home of the rare taruca, or Huemal Deer as well as the vizcacha, a beautiful rabbit-like rodent. The Puna is also home to rarely seen predators such as the Andean fox and Puma. As we reach nearly 3,500 metres a wall of white cloud rises up in front of us, completely obscuring the rich jungle lurking beneath. At Tres Cruzes, the highest point in our journey, we gaze out into the cloud-covered slopes of the Eastern Andes. We have just entered the Manu National Park, at only 5 hours from the polluted yet beautiful Cusco. With the breath taking view of the cloud forest we take a break from driving to have a picnic lunch. After lunch we descend into the Cloud forest where the tree canopy covered by mist gives life to a profusion of epiphytes, mosses, luscious green ferns and the Kur-Kur (High land bamboo). Whilst its accessibility appears at least for us daunting, it is a veritable playground for the vast number of birds. Here flocks of tanagers, warblers, toucans and hummingbirds dart though the impenetrable forest overhead of the Spectacled Bears, Pumas and Woolly Monkeys that roam through the forest. We arrive at our Manu Cloud Forest Lodge at 4 p.m. and after a relaxed look around the facilities we head of to explore the wonders of the Cloud Forest. After a delicious meal, we can enjoy the beautiful surroundings before turning in for the evening.

DAY 02: PILCOPATA – BOCA MANU

At daybreak, we make our way to an observation post where with a little luck we will be able to watch the fascinating dance of Peru’s National Bird the Cock-of-the-Rock and hopefully spy the Woolly Monkey. We return to the lodge where a hearty breakfast awaits us before we continue our descent of nearly 1,000 metres, emerging from the moist jungle canyons into a swampy plain. With the mountains fading into the background, we pass through the small linear villages in the Kosñipata region. Continuing through the valley we make our way to the fluvial port of Atalaya, at the headwaters of the Alto Madre de Dios River. Accessibility to the lowland jungle from Atalaya must be made in improvised canoes with powerful outboard motors. From Atalaya we have a short journey downstream to Maskoitania Lodge. Arriving at Maskoitania Lodge, it is time to relax and take in the beautiful surrounding. At dusk we will take a short walk into the jungle in order to spot the more elusive nocturnal animals such as the Night Monkey. Returning to Maskoitania Lodge for dinner, we are lulled into a peaceful sleep by the jungle orchestra.

DAY 03: BOCA MANU – CASA MATSIGUENKA.

From Maskoitania Lodge we set sail down the Madre de Dios Alto River. Once on the river Macaws, Raptor, Jays and Oropendolas constantly pass overhead whilst Herons, Egrets and the Amazonian King Fisher perch along the shore. We will pass Shintuya, a Dominican mission community of acculturated Huachipaeri and Amarakaere Indians as well as the native communities of Shipitiari (Machiguenga Indians) and Diamante (Piro Indians). We make a short stop for lunch, which provides the opportunity to cool off in the river, before continuing down to Aguajal Lodge. Here we have a delicious dinner before climbing into bed.

DAY 04: CASA MATSIGUENKA.

After breakfast we head down the Madre de Dios River, making for the jungle walkway to the Mammal Clay Lick. It is here in the lowland rainforest clay licks that we will encounter the Black Spider Monkey and Collared Peccary. Returning to the Madre de Dios River, we have a refreshing swim before heading back to the lodge for lunch. After lunch we will walk beneath the regal Kapok “lupuna” trees, looking up through the canopy to see the blue and yellow macaws pass overhead. We will also get to watch the Giant Otters “lobo de rio” playing amongst the driftwood. After a light dinner we head out to find the largest caiman in the entire Amazonian rainforest, the Black Caiman

DAY 05: CASA MATSIGUENKA – BLANQUILLO.

From Maskoitania Lodge we set sail down the Madre de Dios Alto River. Once on the river Macaws, Raptor, Jays and Oropendolas constantly pass overhead whilst Herons, Egrets and the Amazonian King Fisher perch along the shore. We will pass Shintuya, a Dominican mission community of acculturated Huachipaeri and Amarakaere Indians as well as the native communities of Shipitiari (Machiguenga Indians) and Diamante (Piro Indians). We make a short stop for lunch, which provides the opportunity to cool off in the river, before continuing down to Aguajal Lodge. Here we have a delicious dinner before climbing into bed.

DAY 06: BLANQUILLO – CUSCO.

Waking up early we head to the Parrot Clay Lick in Blanquillo, to see the dazzling colors of the large Scarlet Macaws and the hundreds of smaller Parakeets. From here we head upstream to the airport in Boca Manu. Rising above the mossy green carpet we bid farewell to the Amazonian jungle and return to Inca capital, Cusco. When we arrive in Cusco a shuttle service is provided to your hotels where we will wish you a warm good-bye.