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Manu National Park Peru

Manu National Park Peru: A Complete Visitors Guide

This comprehensive reference to Manu National Park Peru provides background, planning tools, and details on the park’s many attractions and inhabitants.

Manu National Park, reachable from both Cusco and Puerto Maldonado, is an ideal destination for anyone seeking to reconnect with nature. Because of the park’s isolation and legal protections, you will get to see an exceptionally untouched section of the Peruvian Amazon. If you’re planning a vacation to Manu, read our guide for all the information you’ll need.

Please get in touch with us if visiting this stunning region of Peru is something you’re considering. We are more than happy to assist you in creating a schedule that will make your ideal vacation a reality. Our professional guides will arrange for all your travel needs, including flights, bus transfers, and accommodations.

Overview

Manu National Park Peru has a staggering variety of climates and a baffling amount of plant and animal species due to its height range of 150 m to 4,200 m. There are so many that, despite decades of study, scientists still learn about new species of plants and animals. Manu is reachable from both Cusco and Puerto Maldonado, and the area’s few lodges give visitors a chance to stay in a setting unlike anywhere else in Peru or the world.

History

Early Civilizations

These scattered archaeological sites in the Peruvian Amazon attest to the region’s long history of human occupancy. The Pusharo Petroglyphs are a collection of face and non-representational stone engravings. You can find this spot in Manu National Park, Peru, just next to the Palotoa River, which flows into the larger Madre de Dios. The glyphs’ true age and significance remain a mystery, however, they are estimated to be between 1,000 and 2,000 years old. They were initially described in 1921 by a Dominican priest. The engravings are depicted on one side of the Peruvian 1 Sol currency issued in 2015.

Colonial Era Records

The story of Paititi began with the Spanish colonization of Peru. Legend has it that the Inca imperial army was defeated by a pre-Columbian forest country known as Paititi in the 16th century. Another theory suggests that the Inca elite hid in the jungle with their precious metal artifacts after the last king was captured by Spanish soldiers. There were many searches for the lost city of gold during the colonial era. Typically, they simply encountered failure.

Paucartambo was established by Spanish colonists who followed an Inca trading route between the Andes and the Amazon to regulate the flow of coca leaves, gold, and textiles. To get from Cusco to the Manu cloud forest, you must now pass through Paucartambo.

Manu National Park Peru
Manu National Park Peru

Geography

The Manu rainforest is comprised of the following areas and is located to the north of Cusco in the southwestern portion of the Amazon:

High Andean puna, mountain cloud forests, and lowland rainforests can all be found within this region, which stretches from an elevation of 4,200 meters to just 150 meters above sea level. The resulting variety of ecosystems has allowed for the emergence of a wide variety of organisms.

The park is large and remote, with no roads, and requires some effort to get. Only boats can bring you where you need to go. The reserve is bounded on the south by the Manu River and on the east by the Madre de Dios River.

Facts About Manu National Park Peru

Attractions

The Protected Area of Manu

There are three distinct areas within the Manu Biosphere Reserve.

  1. TRES CRUCES VIEWPOINT

Mirador Tres Cruces, located an extra 60 kilometers from Paucartambo, provides a vantage point over the geographic intersection of the Andes and the Amazon. The pinnacle of the massif Ausangate can be seen all the way down into the jungle basin on clear days. From May through August, during the dry season, a natural occurrence creates the appearance of three rising suns that flash into cross forms, hence the name “tres cruces.” The moisture in the clouds evaporates as the sun rises, and its interaction with the light creates a prism. Tourists attending the Virgen del Carmen festival ride shared vehicles to the vantage point around dawn in order to witness the sun peeking out from behind a blanket of clouds.

2. KOSIPATA RIVER VALLEY

From Paucartambo, the road climbs into the stunning Kosipata Valley, passing over Acjanaco Pass (12,630 ft / 3,850 m) and the fork to Tres Cruces. Those interested in whitewater rafting or mountain biking excursions through Peru’s stunning cloud forests should head here. Paradise Lodge, Gallito de las Rocas Lodge, and Erika Lodge are just a few of the Manu rainforest resorts that may be reached by this trail. The dense fogs that blanket the eastern slopes of the Andes as they plunge to meet the Amazon are referred to as “places of smoke” in Quechua.

3. BOCA MANU

Boca Manu is a small community on the confluence of the Madre de Dios and the Manu rivers, and its airfield is equipped to handle charter flights. From Puerto Maldonado, you can take a boat or a bus to get here. Limonal, not far away, serves as the entry point to the rest of the park.

Ecotourism

When looking for a place to go for jungle ecotourism in Peru, go no further than Manu. The natural environment in its unspoiled state is the main draw, and a comprehensive conservation strategy is in place to ensure that it remains that way. When you visit Manu, you’ll find a wide range of microclimates, each supporting a unique collection of plants and animals.

Animal Spotting – The rainforest is a great place to see monkeys, bugs, and reptiles. The Otorongo (jaguar), the black panther, the tapir, the collared peccary, the deer, and the capybara are also possible sightings. The best places to see wildlife and learn about rainforest culture, medicinal plants, and cuisine may be found along forest trails and cochas (secluded lagoons).

Many visitors to Manu come for bird-watching opportunities. Manu justifies such specialized attention as it has one of the world’s largest bird lists. Birds such as the harpy eagle, jabiru, roseate spoonbill, and cock of the rock called the air above their homes their home.

Macaws, parrots, and parakeets, in the thousands, gather at the morning clay licks in Manu, a special attraction for tourists.

Canopy towers allow visitors to experience the rainforest from the height at which many animals and plants thrive. Tree towers in Manu can be anything from 30 meters (100 feet) to 40 meters (130 feet) in height. You can see more of the action in the rainforest from up here on the platform than you would if you were standing on the ground.

Weather

Due to its highly irregular terrain, Manu has a wide range of microclimates. Temperatures are around 35 degrees Celsius during the day and 25 degrees Celsius at night in the lower elevation locations. Temperatures are typically lower in Manu’s higher elevation zones. Daytime highs will be in the 70s, with cold overnight lows.

After a rainstorm, the temperature might drop to as low as 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit). Polar winds from Patagonia can also cause a weather phenomenon known as a “surazo” or “friaje,” which can be felt all the way up in the highlands and into the rainforest. It can go as cold as 8 degrees Celsius (46 degrees Fahrenheit).

Remember that you are in a jungle, where rain can fall at any time. The official wet season is between the months of December and March. It’s warmer and drier between May and August.

Light, easily washed garments are recommended. Synthetic materials are preferable since the high humidity prevents cotton from drying out.

Getting to Manu

To reach Manu, you can take one of three ways:

Travel Gear to Manu National Park Peru

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FAQs about Manu National Park Peru

1 The Amazon Lodges in Manu: What Should I Expect?

In Manu, ecotourism is strongly encouraged, and many hotels and travel companies operate in accordance with these principles. The accommodations available to guests are simple yet adequate. Bug netting is available. The buildings will be in keeping with regional styles and will be constructed with native materials. The food is basic, yet tasty. Fruits and vegetables grown in the area are frequently used in cooking. When contacted in advance, lodge kitchens can accommodate vegetarian and other special diets. Having said that, the adage that “you get what you pay for” is usually correct. It’s possible that “extras” like a hot shower and power are included in the higher-priced tour packages. See what’s included by calling the tour company ahead of time.

2. What are the camping sites and lodges conditions? Are there showers? What about toilets? How are we going to sleep?
Tourism sites are located in the zone of Tourist and Recreational use of the Manu River sector. In these spaces, each concession holder has built adequate and comfortable camping sites and lodges with local materials. They offer services: a dining room, toilets, showers, and some short connecting trails between all the structures. All beds have covering mosquito nets to avoid bites when sleeping. The details of each lodge or camp vary – please consult your tour operator for details.

3. Where does the drinking water come from?
Your tour operator will provide safe drinking water. Some use bottled water is brought in from the nearest towns and others filter, boil and/or purify water from small creeks or the river to make it fit for human consumption. Consult your tour operator for more information.

4. Do I need to be in good physical condition to travel?
It is not a requirement, but one should be able to walk a trail of several kilometers to fully enjoy what Manu has to offer.

5. Are there a lot of mosquitoes?
The amount will depend on the time of day, but as in any Amazon region, there will be mosquitoes. We suggest wearing repellent if needed and long-sleeved shirts and long trousers.

6. What kind of tropical diseases are there?
In Southern Peru, there have been reported yellow fever, malaria, and leishmaniasis, but so far no tourists who visited Manu have reported getting any tropical diseases. However, there is always a possibility, so we recommend following the instructions of your doctor.

7. Is Manu Park open the whole year?
Yes, it is open the whole year. The best time to visit is from April to November during the dry season. The heavy rainy season is from February to March, when access by both road and air becomes more difficult and when trails in the forest can become flooded.

8. Will I see native people?
The native communities in the Park are not accessible to tourists. The chances of seeing nomadic people living in isolation are very low as the tourism zones are established to avoid areas they use, but in case you come across them, you should leave the area and avoid any contact with them and immediately report the incident to the Park staff.

9. Should I bring biodegradable shampoo and soap?
If possible, yes, please. You will be helping protect the environment.