Manu National Park

If you love animals, then you might consider heading to the Manu rainforest in Peru, where the fascinating Manu National Park is found. Arguably the richest experience that one could have in the Peruvian Amazon, Manu National Park boasts what just might be the world’s greatest collection of animal species. Throw in the extensive variety of plants, and you have more to look at than a full year’s time could likely cover. Of the some 9,700 species of birds found on earth, Manu National Park Peru boasts around 1,000 of them. There are over 200 species of mammals lurking about in this extensive region, which stretches from the Andes Mountains highlands near Cusco on down to the Amazon forest lowlands. If you have never seen a 600 pound Lowland Tapir, or a mustache-sporting Emperor Tamarin, then maybe it’s high time you get online and book one of the intriguing Manu tours that take you safely into the Peruvian jungle.

Specifically, Manu National Park Peru is found both in the Madre de Dios and Cusco departments. Thanks to the existence of this huge park, wildlands such as the Andean grasslands and parts of the Amazon rainforest are protected from development. If you are wondering how to dress for a trip to Manu Peru, you will find that it is predominantly cool in the highlands, and quite hot in the jungle. Makes sense, huh? Bringing layers for the trip is certainly in your best interest, and if you come between December and March, better bring that slicker, because it’s the rainy season. Manu National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is a recognized biosphere reserve. It is a place where you will always want to have your camera ready, especially if you come across the park’s Giant Otters, who tend to be hams for the lens. Though the rates for Manu tours tend to be higher than other rainforest destinations in Latin America, it is hard to beat the bang for your buck. With all it has to offer, you will still come away thinking that you got the deal of a lifetime.

There are only a couple licensed companies that provide Manu tours, with the bulk of the trips starting and ending in Cusco. If you have more than a couple days in Cusco, adding a trip to the Manu rainforest is a most excellent compliment to visiting the Inca ruins at Machu Picchu, and those found at Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Throw in a visit to Arequipa and a stop at Colca Canyon, and you truly have the vacation of a lifetime. At least one of the tour companies brings its guests from Cusco to Boca Manu by way of a safe 12-passenger Cessna. Other tour operators have you taking either buses or boats through Puerto Maldonado. For accommodations in Manu National Park Peru, there are some main lodges to choose from. The Manu Wildlife Center can be reached by taking a 35 minute flight, which is followed by a 90 minute ride down the Manu River. If you book a package here, all the ins and outs are taken care of, from transportation, to your meals and jungle visits. It costs good money to stay here, but the service and the overall experience are well worth it.

The Cock of the Rock Lodge is another option for Manu rainforest accommodations. This lodge is reached by car, and along the 100 or so mile drive, you will have the chance to stop in Andean mountain towns. The cloud forest along the way also encourages stops, offering wonderful views and great birdwatching opportunities. The Cock of the Rock Lodge has 12 private bungalows, each with private bathrooms and plenty of room. Though the lodge is situated at 5,000 feet, you still might need the screen windows and mosquito nets that the bungalows feature, if not some warm clothes. If you have special diet needs, you can arrange for meals that take that into consideration. You might opt, however, to forego the lodges for a stay at the more rustic Manu Wildlife Tented Camps. These tents aren’t exactly roughing it, though. They are pretty nice actually, with locking doors and nice wooden floors. Each “tent” is sealed with a screen that gives way to a lower tarp cover, and they are raised off of the ground. Two twin beds provide good comfort, and if you are too scared to use the shared bathrooms at night, each tent has its own camping toilet. Other lodges you might consider in the Manu rainforest are the Manu Cloud Forest Lodge, and the Manu Lodge, which is the only one located within the park. The Manu tour company that you choose to go with will greatly influence where you end up staying. Extensive 5 and 7 day Manu tours can be arranged, and at little over a thousand dollars, they are truly well-priced when you consider the experience.

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