06:00 bus or van departure from our Cuzco office. Our destination is Manu Nature Tour's 1,300 Ha. Private
Reserve in the cloud forests near the southeastern boundary of the Manu Park, nested between the grasslands and the lowlands of the Upper Madre de Dios River. We travel south-east towards small Andean villages while we observe cameloid shepherds and native peasants in their colorful attires.
Our itinerary allows us to travel at leisure, using most of the day, making several stops along the way, including many photo opportunities as we wind our way up, across an 11,000 feet pass. After a few hours we reach the colonial town of Paucartambo, a traditional Andean outpost to the rainforest since pre-Inca times. As we reach the second Andean pass called Acjanaco, near the southern-most tip of the Manu Park, a delicious lunch is the perfect complement to the magnificent views of the elfin forest, cloud forest, and the lowland Amazon Basin below.
Llama Taxis: As we reach the southern-most point of Manu National Park, in the grasslands, you will have the chance to ride a Llama Taxi. Led by local peasants and pulled by a couple of these intelligent cameloids you will have a chance to get off the bus, and ride from the Andean grasslands to the elfin forests as you watch the Amazon basin on the far horizon, 11,000 ft. below. This is an opportunity to learn about the Andean culture, their way of life and the use of cameloids to participate in ecotourism, while preserving these wild ecosystems. The Llama Taxi initiative has been started in an effort to include local villagers in the benefits of ecotourism. You may ride a Llama Taxi for segments of 30´minutes. If you want to bird watch, these vehicles are ideal. At a speed of 5 km/hour, they are slow, silent, and patient.
Mountain biking: For those with the energy and a sense of adventure we will offer the choice to use a sturdy mountain bike to descend effortlessly the most scenic and beautiful part of the single-lane dirt road into the heart of the cloud forests. For your security, and since this is not a competition but a chance to enjoy nature, you will have to ride behind our ground transport. If taking this option you should bring a well-padded pair of mountain bike gloves.
We reach the Manu Cloud Forest Lodge and our Cloud Forest Tented Platforms at 5,000 Ft. to enjoy a relaxing evening. The sounds of the cloud forest and the rushing Union River by the tented platforms or a visit to the Manu Cloud Forest Lodge's sauna will prepare us for a pleasant sleep.
The lush and misty cloud forest is perhaps the most fragile and threatened type of rainforest. This forest which starts from 11,000 feet, and continue down to about 5,000 feet of elevation, cover the eastern slopes of the Andes, before yielding to the vast lowland forest of the Amazon. This is a kingdom of moss, lichens, ferns, and orchids, hundreds of brightly-colored butterflies, fruit-eating colorful birds, pumas, and the endangered Spectacled Bear, the only South American Bear.
Early excursion to a nearby platform and blind strategically located to see a "lek" where the brightly red-colored Cock-of-the Rock displays daily for the females. We return to our lodge for a hearty breakfast. Afterwards we offer a hiking excursion to the Waterfall Trail, walking through dense and exuberant cloud forest and crossing rushing streams, which originate in the towering Andes high above the forest. Overnight: Manu Cloud Forest Tented Platform or a comfortable Manu Cloud Forest Lodge Bungalow.
White-water rafting on the Qosñipata River: Visitors of all ages can enjoy three hours of exciting class II and III rapids in the beautiful setting of the tropical rainforest. Lunch is served during a river-rafting stop. We return to the Manu Cloud Forest Lodge and Tented Platforms early in the afternoon. A minimum of two clients is required to run this white-water adventure. Must be reserved in Cuzco well in advance.
After breakfast, we bus towards Atalaya, the first navigable port along the Upper Madre de Dios River. The bus ride will take us through small villages of Andean colonists and indigenous people whose main economic activities are subsistence agriculture and selective logging. Once at Atalaya we board our motorized dugout canoes, equipped with individual cushioned seats, and tarps to provide shelter from the baking tropical sun, or the sudden tropical downpour. River journeys are long in Manu and visitors have rated our boats as the most comfortable in the entire region. We will boat down the fast-flowing, braided, clear water, Upper Madre de Dios River for about five hours to the confluence with the meandering, Manu River, where we will camp near the isolated Boca Manu settlement.
Today we boat upstream by the Manu River. As soon as we enter the great Manu Wilderness, every river bend will bring us a vista of unspoiled beauty. We may see Black Caiman, White Caiman, toucans, parrots, scores of wild macaws, several species of raptors, and maybe even a magnificent Jaguar. The best proof of the presence of Jaguars and the possibility of many of our tour groups to see these great cats, are many wonderful amateur photographs that our customers sent back to our company.
After about six hours, we arrive at the Salvador Lake surroundings, and then we hike 50 meters from the boat landing to reach our safari style camp.
We may rise to the roaring territorial call of Howler Monkeys. Today we will quietly explore the Salvador Trail system in search of wildlife. Manu is famous for its abundance of primate species. In a typical tour to Manu you may be able to see up to nine of the 13 species of monkeys that occur in Manu: 70-member-troops of Squirrel Monkeys, Brown Capuchins, and White-Fronted Capuchins. Several bird species might also be spotted, which includes: Black-Tailed Tityra, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Golden-bellied Euphonia, Palm Tanager, Silver-beaked Tanager, and Masked-crimson Tanager. After lunch we will have the opportunity to paddle on the Salvador Lake to observe the Bizarre Hoatzin, Striated Heron, Wattled Jaçana, Yellow-billed Tern, White-winged Swallows, Black-capped Donacobius, and Red-capped Cardinal.
The five-kilometer long Salvador Lake is the largest and most beautiful lake on the lower Manu River. Four lake piers, several trail circuits and a small catamaran will offer us a chance to look for fauna and to observe the serene beauty of this marvelous place. Without any doubt, one of the highlights of the Salvador Lake is the family of Giant Otters. You will be able to see these playful and gregarious carnivores from the catamaran or even better from one of the piers without causing any disturbance of their daily activities. We will make a visit to Lake Otorongo in hopes to see a troop of Woolly Monkeys and to climb a 100-Ft. observation tower near the lakeshore. If we are lucky, while on this tower, we might see a group of Giant Otters playing and fishing on the waters below.
Today we boat back to the confluence of the Manu and the Madre de Dios River to our rendezvous with a twin-engine, pressurized twin-engine plane. The boat journey back to the airstrip is our last chance to spot a Capybara, the world's largest rodent, or a Tapir, a relative of horses and the rainforest's largest land mammal. The small airstrip will almost certainly make you wonder of the possibility of any aircraft landing in the small grassy airstrip. Nevertheless, the expert bush pilots will make it look easy as you take-off over the meandering river. The flight to Cuzco is an experience in itself as it provides a totally different perspective of the forest. As the plane gently climbs towards the towering Andes you will have a great view of huge stands of Mauritia palms, the braided Upper Madre de Dios River, smaller meandering tributaries, small native settlements, and the glaciers of the Carabaya range, as well as the Urubamba glaciers near Machu Picchu. Weather conditions, airport traffic in Cuzco, and other factors may cause frequent, several hour-delays at either, Cuzco or Boca Manu runways. Thus, you should consider flight schedules provided only as a reference. Upon arrival in Cuzco our staff will transfer you to the shocking experience of our world.