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'The Complete Manu Biosphere Experience'

What makes this trip special?

Mega-diversity

Mega-diversity

Manu National Park

Manu National Park is among the world's most pristine and undisturbed areas of rainforest. It protects a huge area with UNESCO status with 'a biodiversity that exceeds that of any other place on Earth'. Inner regions of the park, well away from the area open to visitors, are home to uncontacted tribes.

Tapirs in the night

Tapirs in the night

Manu Wildlife Centre

One of the strangest wildlife encounters. As darkness falls you trek into the forest for an hour to an isolated spot where discrete viewing platforms look over a clay lick often used by tapirs. If your luck is in, these wonderful beasts arrive for long sessions of intent munching. A jaguar crossed the trail ahead of us on the night we were there.

Macaw clay lick

Macaw clay lick

Manu Wildlife Centre

The Blanquillo Macaw Clay Lick offers one of the world's great wildlife spectacles as hundreds of parrots and macaws congregate in squawking fluttering throngs waiting their turn to drop on to cliffs of mineral-rich clay to aid their digestion of forest fruits.

Monkey madness

Monkey madness

Manu Wildlife Centre

The area around Manu Wildlife Centre is especially good for monkeys. 14 species have so far been recorded in the national park and you can expect to see several of these on excusrions from the wildlife centre. Apart from plentiful black spider monkeys and cappuchins, crane your neck for several tamarins, including Emperor Tamarin, plus howler, woolly and squirrel monkey species.

Itinerary map for Peru 'The Complete Manu Biosphere Experience' holiday

Itinerary

  • Starts and ends in Cusco
  • Day      Overnight
  • 1 Manu Cloudforest
  • 2 Manu NP
  • 3 Manu NP
  • 4 Manu NP
  • 5 Manu NP
  • 6 Manu NP
  • 7 Manu NP
  • 8 Manu NP
  • You return to Cusco on Day 9. You might choose to stay longer in Cusco, or return to Lima for your international flight home, or continue your journey in Peru.
  • For the detail of each day click the ‘Day-by-day’ tab above.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'The Complete Manu Biosphere Experience'

DAY 1
LD

Andes to Amazon

Leaving Cusco after an early breakfast, you join a rugged ‘all terrain’ bus for the journey to the Amazon. On the long ascent of the spectacular eastern ranges of the Andes, you pass many traditional Quechua communities, with views of snow-capped mountains and high plains dotted with small farmsteads, to reach the picturesque Andean village of Paucartambo. You have time to look around the village, with its colonial stone bridge and handsome plaza. The road then ascends to its last mountain pass, with the Amazon beyond. You begin the breath-taking descent into the Manu Biosphere Reserve from 3560m to 1600m, from rugged mountain scenery to orchid-laden cloud forest. It’s a spectacular journey through changing eco-zones, past cascading waterfalls, with stops along the way. In the late afternoon, you walk into the lodge to the sounds of quetzals, trogons and Gray-breasted Wood-wren. Overnight at either Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge or the nearby Paradise Lodge in the reserve.

DAY 2
BLD

Romero Rainforest Lodge

A spot of pre-breakfast birding at a nearby Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek in the cloud forest. It’s a wonderful sight, with up to 25 very smart males, bright red on dapper grey and black, dancing and singing, attempting to attract the favours of the very dull females. After breakfast at the lodge the road continues its descent, passing through the small town of Pillcopata in the ‘cultural zone’ of the Manu Biosphere Reserve (opportunity to buy rubber boots, Manu Learning Centre is near here), then over the last of the Andean foothills and eventually into lowland rainforest. A while further and we arrive at a small dock on the Alto Madre de Dios river where a sturdy river launch waits. Navigating downstream you pass riverbank communities and the settlement of Diamante, the largest in the area and predominantly from the Piro community, to reach the confluence of the Madre de Dios with the Manu River, and the start of Manu National Park itself. The boatman turns up the Manu River, leaving the relatively clear water of the Madre de Dios, as we enter its clay-laden waters. We present our permit at the park ranger station at Limonal, and may visit an overgrown oxbow lake where groups of parrots and macaws come to roost in the late afternoon. It is another hour by river to Romero Rainforest Lodge, a workmanlike structure of wooden rooms and walkways in the forest close to the river bank. You are now deep inside the Manu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site whose protected areas cover nearly 6,600 square miles. Overnight at the lodge.

DAY 3
BLD

Cocha Salvador

You head upriver to Cocha Salvador–a lake that is as deep into the park as is allowed. Beaches, especially in the dry season, are loaded with nesting birds and feeding herons, egrets, Orinoco Geese, terns and skimmers. Some will host sunning White and Black Caimans and breeding Side-necked Turtles. Hundreds of Sand-coloured Nightjars roost during the day on logs and beaches and there is a chance of encountering a sunning Jaguar–the world’s third largest cat. You will see several species of primate on this river trip, such as Colombian Red Howler Monkey and the Black-headed Squirrel Monkey. Once at Cocha Salvador some of the time will be spent on floating catamarans slowly manoeuvring to see the animal life of an ox-bow lake from the water. You may encounter Agami Heron or Sungrebe stalking the bank, and Shock-headed and Large-headed Capuchin monkey are usually feeding on fruiting trees nearby. Specially constructed piers that jut out into the lake enable you to look for a family of Giant Otters that live here. These, the largest freshwater mammalian carnivores, remain common only in Manu, having been hunted to extinction throughout most of their former range. Each animal consumes 4-5 kilos of fish daily and often they can be seen tearing lustily into large fish on logs by the lake’s edge. Overnight at Aguaje Tented Camp or Casa Machiguenka.

DAY 4
BLD

Cocha Otorongo

This morning you explore the rainforest on extensive trails, getting to know this near-pristine environment, stopping to see plants, insects, spiders, frogs, turtles, and a great many forest birds. At Cocha Otorongo lake there are observation piers into the lake, and a 20 meter tower in the forest canopy. The plant and tree life is astounding and you’ll take a look at some of the medicinal plants used by indigenous peoples in the area. There is a large family of Giant Otters in this lake too. In the afternoon you’ll boat back to Romero Rainforest Lodge, to a refreshing shower, snacks, iced drinks and dinner. Overnight at the lodge.

DAY 5
BLD

Manu Wildlife Centre, Tapir Lick

You explore forest trails from the lodge in the morning and then head down river to Manu Wildlife Centre. You should arrive at the lodge in time for lunch and a shower (with hot water). The afternoon is set aside to relax or to explore a trail through the untouched forest to a canopy platform and an observation tower. The canopy platform is accessible via a spiral staircase so everyone can enjoy the rainforest canopy. You can choose to go on a night walk with your guide to a tapir lick. Tapirs, the largest South American land mammal, are frequent visitors to the lick with up to 12 animals appearing in one night. You wait and watch from the comfort of a special blind with mosquito nets and mattresses. You stay at Manu Wildlife Centre for the next 4 nights. The activities for each day are chosen to suit the conditions and guests’ preferences, with a leisurely lunch at the lodge and time to swing in hammocks or watch hummingbirds coming to the butterfly bushes and feeders in the garden.

DAY 6
BLD

Macaw Clay Lick

An early start to visit the Blanquillo Macaw Clay Lick. This is truly one of the world’s great wildlife spectacles as hundreds of parrots, parakeets and macaws congregate to eat the mineral rich clay that is essential to their digestion of forest fruits. A comfortable spacious blind opposite the shallow clay cliffs gets you close to the birds and breakfast will be served. The noise is incredible and the sight of so many brightly coloured birds at the lick is not to be forgotten. Activity at the lick slows down by mid-morning and you head back to the lodge for lunch and a siesta. En route you should watch for Gray’s Bald-faced Saki, a rarely-seen monkey of the terra firme forest that is occasionally sighted here.

DAY 7
B

An early morning start for the journey to Puerto Maldonado. Motoring along the river to Boca Colorado, flocks of birds fly over the boat and you look out for Capybara, the world’s largest rodent, along the river banks. From Boca Colorado, a frontier gold rush town, you take local transport for an hour to the Inambari river, and then by road to Puerto Maldonado in time to catch an afternoon flight to Cusco, with onward connections to Lima a possibility. The expeditionary nature of this trip means its itinerary and timings are flexible and may change

Guide prices for 'The Complete Manu Biosphere Experience'

Starts and ends in Cusco. This tour must start in Cusco (any Monday April - December) but for a modest extra charge it can end with a flight to Lima.

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Manu Wildlife Centre 2 people sharing
Tambo Blanquillo 2 people sharing £2,100
Prices are per person and include:
  • all transport except Cusco
  • all accommodation in private rooms (ensuite bathrooms on all but one night, shared bathrooms facilities at the tented camp)
  • all excursions described and relevant entry fees
  • meals as indicated (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=Dinner)
  • bilingual naturalist guides shared with other guests
  • drinking water
Prices do not include:
  • international flights
  • travel insurance
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc

Customer reviews for 'The Complete Manu Biosphere Experience'

Recent reviews are shown here from holidays based on this initial design. In each case the itinerary may have been modified (a little or a lot) to suit the individual traveller.

Average

Seasonal information for 'The Complete Manu Biosphere Experience'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall
1 Manu Cloudforest 18°C rainfall 109mm
2 Manu NP 30°C rainfall 283mm
3 Manu NP 30°C rainfall 283mm
4 Manu NP 30°C rainfall 283mm
5 Manu NP 30°C rainfall 283mm
6 Manu NP 30°C rainfall 283mm
7 Manu NP 30°C rainfall 283mm
8 Manu NP 30°C rainfall 283mm

Typical weather for January

rainchart

Max °C figures are the average daily maximum temperatures for the month. Rainfall is the average precipitation for the month.

Hotels for 'The Complete Manu Biosphere Experience'

Day 1

Cock of Rock Lodge

Manu

Situated in the Manu Cloudforest, on the eastern slopes of the Andes, Cock of the Rock Lodge is in the Kosnipata Valley in its own 12,500 acre reserve, close by to the Cusco-Shintuya Highway.

All 12 bungalows are on stilts with private bathrooms and glass windows.  

There is no electricity in the rooms, but candles are provided for lighting.  A generator is in the dining room, where you can charge batteries etc. from 6-9pm.

Remember to pack a torch (best to pack two).

Cock of Rock Lodge
Bungalow
Day 2

Romero Lodge

Manu

Located in the Manu National Park and owned by the Crees foundation, this Amazon lodge is for nature enthusiasts and not for the bug phobic.  A raised walkway links the main dining/lounge area to the bedrooms. The bedrooms are constructed of wood in groups of four, all are nestled under the same high thatched roof. Each bedroom has a  private bathroom, with hot water gas showers but the rooms do not have their own ceilings, therefore you will hear every conversation and sound of ablutions your surounding neighbours make. Beds are comfy with cozy thick coverlets (surprisingly necessary in the dry season during the intermittent cold snaps). There is a generator and re-charging station in the communal lounge which has power from 6-8pm.  Policy of taking outdoor shoes off in the communal living/dining and bedroom areas, perhaps bring some kind of slippers. Remember to pack a torch (best to pack two).

Romero Lodge
Cabin exterior
Day 3

Aguaje Tented Camp

Restricted area Manu

In a restricted part of the Manu Reserve, this tented camp has individual canvas tents placed upon raised wooden platforms beneath thatched roofs. There are two single beds, each with a simple army-style blanket (bring leggings and a fleece to sleep in during the cold dry season friages). The tented rooms are full head height and have large mosquito netted windows for cross ventilation. The only light is from a poor solar desk lamp.

You must walk 50m from your cabin along a stepping stone path to reach the communal bathroom block situated on another stilted platform. There are two showers and two toilets (one male, one female). The cold water sinks are outside and shared by all. Candle for lighting at the washblock.

There is no electricity. Remember to pack a torch (best to pack two).

Aguaje Tented Camp
Day 4

Romero Lodge

Manu

Located in the Manu National Park and owned by the Crees foundation, this Amazon lodge is for nature enthusiasts and not for the bug phobic.  A raised walkway links the main dining/lounge area to the bedrooms. The bedrooms are constructed of wood in groups of four, all are nestled under the same high thatched roof. Each bedroom has a  private bathroom, with hot water gas showers but the rooms do not have their own ceilings, therefore you will hear every conversation and sound of ablutions your surounding neighbours make. Beds are comfy with cozy thick coverlets (surprisingly necessary in the dry season during the intermittent cold snaps). There is a generator and re-charging station in the communal lounge which has power from 6-8pm.  Policy of taking outdoor shoes off in the communal living/dining and bedroom areas, perhaps bring some kind of slippers. Remember to pack a torch (best to pack two).

Romero Lodge
Cabin exterior
Days 5 - 6

Manu Wildlife Centre

Madre de Dios river

The very well run Manu Wildlife Centre (MWC) lodge comprises 22 bungalows each with en suite bathroom, (curtain for bathroom door) flush toilet and hot water, whilst there is a turndown service of mosquito nets in the evenings. There is no electricty but a generator provides power at noon and evenings for charging batteries in the communal lounge. It exudes a great "sense of place" you feel you are staying in a special, remote location and the guides keep guests busy on the trails maximising their natural history experiences.

  

There are 30 miles of forest trails surrounding the centre through both terra firma and transitional flood plain forest. Here you can search for the 10 species of resident monkeys, including Black Spider Monkey, Emperor Tamarin and Monk Saki. For birders over 560 species of birds have been recorded here. There are two canopy platforms which offer tree-top vantage points and there is a tapir lick with a hide.

 

It is 2 hrs by boat from Boca Manu landing strip and the Center supports the preservation of a 50-square-mile private, pristine rainforest reserve. It is staffed principally by members of local communities, and there are usually resident researchers and scientists who are happy to discuss their work on site. There is Wi-Fi in some parts of the lodge, but this can be unreliable due to the remote location.

 

Bring your own wellington boots (these can be purchased in Cusco or at a village en route to Manu) and there is a policy of taking outdoor shoes off before entering the communal living/dining room.

Manu Wildlife Centre
Bungalow