The tour company had put "binoculars" at the no. 1 spot of the packing list. And indeed they proved to be essential, as the wildlife here is not easy to see with the naked eye. The rainforest is very thick, and many of the species have disguising colours.
We navigated the Manu River for hours, always being the only ones on the river. Both white and black caiman are a common sight here, lying around at the river's characteristic beaches. We saw one black caiman of about 4 meters long. Also we happened upon two tapirs scrambling upon the river bank. Tapir are a rare sighting, even more scarce than the jaguar. Unfortunately we missed out on the latter one during this trip.
On short hikes through the forest it was easy to spot monkeys. They live high in the tree tops, but are noisy and sometimes showing off. We saw brown capucins, squirrel monkeys, the very elastic spider monkeys (a joy to stare at), the impressively strong woolly monkeys. And in the jungle camp we were awoken each morning at 5 a.m. by the throat singing of the howler monkeys. We did get a good look at them too.
The Manu River has created a number of oxbow lakes. Lake Salvador and Lake Otorongo are the most notable ones. We visited Lake Salvador two times, once in the late afternoon and once in the early morning. The word "pristine" could have been invented just to describe this precious lake. The thing to do here is look for Giant Otter. The first day we were not lucky: they had moved away from the spot where the guide knew they lived. But on the second morning we saw three adults at their breakfast. One had caught a very large fish, almost half his own size. He was loudly eating it. A really fun thing to watch. They are called Giant Otter as they can get 2 meters tall (including tail), but they did not look that big to me. Birds we saw at the lake include the punky hoatzin and the wonderful green ibis. Groups can watch and look for the animals at this lake by using a wooden catamaran.
We were less lucky at Lake Otorongo, where there is only a viewing platform.
What I will most remember of this trip though is the enormous variety of trees and plants. I got bored by forests in Australia, but Manu NP is really extraordinary in its variety. It is fully packed with green leafs in all different sizes, shapes and colourshades.
Jarek Pokrzywnicki (Poland):
Only a 3 days trip organized from Cuzco through Manu Peru Amazon (November 2013). Not enough to see the real jungle but least enough to have imression how it is in Amazonia.
Road from Cuzco to Salvacion (via Paucartambo) crosses National Park borders at Acjanaco (there are signs of NP) and than continues to Pilcopata (and Salvacion) within so-called Cultural Zone of Manu (Zona de Amortiguamiento).
Even being aware of the lenghth of stay it is one of best jungle experience so far - variety (and diversity) of animals and plants to be observed there is enormous, I truelly recommend to go there for longer period (and probaly go further north to Manu River and so-called Zona Experimental).
Date posted: November 2013 Jorge Sanchez (Spain):
I arrived to Cusco via Tingo Maria, Jauja, Huancayo and Ayacucho, but instead of heading directly to Machu Picchu I boarded a truck to Puerto Maldonado, in Madre de Dios, near Bolivia, to work as a garimpeiro because I needed money for my travel plans in South America. I was accepted at once in a camp in Colorado, near the Manu National Park, park that we crossed several times to look for gold. It is inside where supposedly is hidden the legendary city of Paititi, searched by the English colonel Percy Fawcett and his son, who in 1925 disappeared in the jungle. I was brought there by canoe after a long journey.
I worked as a “cascajero” removing the stones from a wooden box called “tolba”. The work was hard but well paying in grams of gold every day. The worst were the thousands of mosquitoes. Some of my companions explained me that some patrons killed with a machete their employees while sleeping in their hammocks, to rob their gold. After hearing this I resolved to quit my job. Now, with all the grams of gold that I earned in one month of work I was ready to visit the Machu Picchu.
I caught a canoe along the Rio Madre de Dios with local people entering the Manu park and after about oine week I could acces to a road from where I hitchiked and a truck picked me up to civilization.
Date posted: July 2013 Marcelo Wieggers (Netherlands): I have been in the Manu National Park and must say is for sure one of the best places in the world to be visited. Due to the non easy access way, nature there remainded more untouched than in others Amazon reservations, that is mainly the reason why is easier to spot mammals and birds. Insekts species we saw there are unbeliveble, those that somebody could not imagine that exist.
Our guide was so knowledge and patience showing us useful plants, vines and teaching us how to live in the Amazon, we made fire and we bath us in beutiful rivers every day.
I stay volunteering on a campsite, helping to develope a project that protect the Cultural Zone of the Manu National Park, during this month I learnt a lot and I would never forget this experience.
For those interested you can visit the web page:
They offer affordable options to visit the Park
Date posted: August 2011
Have you been to Manu National Park? Share your experiences!