In total, the Manu Biosphere Reserve is home to almost 2 million hectares of nature. It is located on the western edge of the Amazon basin, in the departments of Cusco and Madre de Dios and since 1977 it has the status of a Biosphere Reserve granted by UNESCO. The Manu tropical forests have allowed ecological and evolutionary processes to be carried out almost without the presence of man, however, in the area there is also an enormous cultural wealth, represented by the current indigenous populations with different levels of contact with the outside.
In the Manu Biosphere Reserve there are 222 species of mammals, 1005 species of birds, 155 species of amphibians and 132 species of reptiles. Here it is possible to find all the variety of ecological floors that exist in the Amazon, from the low jungle, the Amazon plain and even the cloud forests of the high jungle. All this on a scene of impressive diversity of vegetation, and it is that in a single hectare of the Manu they have come to find up to 250 species of trees.
Climate in Manu National Park
The climate in Manu National Park israiny from December to March, but throughout the year there may be unexpected rains; temperatures in low-lying areas vary between 35 ° C during the day and 20 ° C at night.
The best time to visit the Manu is in the dry season of Cusco; May to October is when you can avoid the rainiest days.
How to get to the Manu Biosphere Reserve?
Hiring a tour: The safest option to get there is hiring a tour to the Manu National Park from Cusco. Apart from not having to worry about where to go and having adequate vehicles to travel the difficult roads into the jungle, the tours work with multi-day itineraries that include accommodation, meals and activities such as zipline, canopy, walks and rides in boat. In addition, the tours stop at specific places on the route where urban transport does not. One of these stops is in the cloud forest, where it is possible to observe the fascinating courtship dance of the Gallito de las Rocas.
Arrive on your own: To arrive on your own you must go to the San Jerónimo control in Cusco, from here combis leave at 11 in the morning or at 5 in the afternoon to Pilcopata, within the cultural zone of Manu. The trip takes about 7 hours. You can also take the combi directly to Salvación, which is one hour further in from Pilcopata. The first trip has a cost of 30 soles per person, and up to Salvation of 40 soles per person. An accommodation option in Pilcopata is the Gallito de las Rocas Lodge, with a cost of 15USD per night.
Plants in Manu National Park
With regard to the plants in Manu National Park, the number of plant species is very high. The various records indicate that there are at least 162 families; 1,191 genera and 4,385 species identified. In a single hectare, up to 250 varieties of trees were found.
The aguajales forests are one of the most outstanding ecosystems, where the aguaje (Mauritia flexuosa) and huasaí (Euterpe precatoria) palms are the dominant ones. They develop on almost permanently flooded areas, especially on the right bank of the Manu River.
It also highlights the presence of cedar (Cedrela sp.), Cetic (Cecropia sp.), Screw (Cedrelinga catenaeformis), chestnut (Bertholletia excelsa), lupuna (Chorisia sp.) And jebe (Hevea brasiliensis).
Birds in Manu National Park
The Manu National Park, in Peru, is a privileged area by nature, which is home to more than 1000 species of birds, representing 25% of the total number of birds in America and 10% of the birds in the World. There are endemic species such as parrots and others that we will present later.
In Manu National Park there are endemic species birds such as the lowland macaws, with species such as Ara ararauna, A. chloptera, A. macao, A. severa, A. manilata
The Manu River set the world record for the most bird species seen in one day in one location with a staggering 331 species, recorded by Ted Parker and Scott Robinson. In a 10 to 14 day trip you can observe more than 600 species of birds.
The collpas (clay deposits) are places on the banks of rivers, where many species of macaws and parrots gather to consume the clay in the mornings (Manu is home to 27 species).
Mixed-species flocks of tanagers, swamps, anteaters, warblers and others move noisily through the forest canopy. The composition of these impressive bird congregations varies with altitude and habitat, and each flock introduces new species.
The relationship of the anteaters and the swarms of the warrior ants allows the birds to take advantage to feed on the flying insects.
Cock-of-the-rock and manakin leks are places where males display their bright colors to attract a mate.
On a routine visit to Manu you can find other species such as the harpy eagle, agami heron, hoatzin and camungo. Anyway, anywhere and at any time of the day, Manu is surprising because of what it offers the traveler.
Cultural Zone and Reserved Zone of Manu
The Manu is divided into two categories of tourist management: the cultural zone and the reserved zone. There is also the intangible zone, but this is only enabled for scientific expeditions.
Cultural zone of the Manu National Park
The cultural zone acts as a buffer area for the National Park, in this area there are settlements, towns and in general a greater human presence. If you want to go to Manu on your own, and without hiring a tourist service, then you can only access the cultural area. Although this space does not possess the richness in biodiversity of the reserved area or the intangible, it is a great way to save money and still experience the power of the jungle.
From the port of Atalaya you can hire boat rides and walks through the jungle.
What to do in the cultural zone:
From Pilcopata you can walk to the Santa Rosa de Huacaria community. The walk lasts approximately two hours and in Santa Rosa you can have lunch and then bathe in a river surrounded by vegetation. 100% recommended is to take a transport to Atalaya, located in front of the Madre de Dios River and from where you can hire boat rides and take walks through the jungle. You can get to Atalaya from Pilcopata in a shared taxi (10 soles per person) or in a private moto-taxi (60 soles).
Beyond Atalaya is Salvación, a charming town within the cultural area of Manu, where you can find rich Amazonian food, such as the famous chicken broth, in local restaurants. In Salvación there is also the Cocha Machuwasi, a small lake surrounded by swampy vegetation and a natural refuge for more than a thousand species of birds. You can cross the lake on wooden rafts and then walk for a couple of hours on the nearby trails.
Reserved area of the Manu National Park
The reserved zone is where the real magic happens. To get here you can only do it by hiring a tour with an authorized tourism agency, in Denomades we have a tour to the reserved area of the Manu National Park. The pristine state of nature in the reserved area allows the existence of extreme biodiversity, where its lush forests hide species in danger of extinction such as: the black caiman, the spectacled bear and the giant river otter.
What to do in the reserved area of Manu:
The Denomades tour includes extensive navigations on the Madre de Dios River, where it is possible to observe birds such as the heron, the kingfisher and the jungle condor. From the boat it is very likely to observe the jaguars bathing on the river bank, as well as groups of turtles, white alligators and the giant river otter. There are also night and afternoon hikes, with explanations from an expert guide about the tropical forest. The tour lasts 6 days and includes transfers, accommodation and meals.