This Manu experience takes you to a landscape that is unique of its kind: from the high-altitude Andes to the lower situated cloudforest and eventually down into the rainforest. Don’t miss this spectacular off-the-beaten-path tour!
Between Cusco and Manu, where the Andes and the Amazon meet, you will find an incredibly beautiful and interesting place of conservation for the countless local species that can be found here. The place is very unique, as it loses altitude quickly, thus giving place to various different habitats within a very short span of distance. For scientists, this is a heaven on earth for carrying out projects in the different altitude levels.
For visitors like you, it is not less interesting, as you will be able to discover different ecosystems and animal species in a short time. A great variety of birds can be found here, but also the Andean or Spectacled bear (locally called Ukuku). Get out those binoculars to go spot some bird species, go on a canopy walk and visit a biogarden. All while discovering both the cloudforest and the rainforest of Manu.
You will be picked up from your hotel in Cusco at 7 am to start your trip. First, you’ll head towards the Wayqecha Biological Station in Manu. On your way, you will visit the funerary towers or Chullpas of Ninamarca and the picturesque town of Paucartambo.
After a 2-hour drive, you will arrive in Paucartambo. The place, also known as the “Folklore Capital of Cusco”, is the venue for one of the most important festivals in the region: the Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen de Paucartambo.
The mythological character (half man, half spectacled bear) called “Ukuku”, is present in the dances of the festival, generating both mischief and fear. His status as a demigod gives him the power to ensure the good conduct of the people, helping and maintaining order in the places where the party takes place.
You will then arrive at the Wayqecha Biological Station, located in the cloud forest. This is an incredibly peaceful place in the cloudforest. The landscape here is mystical and filled with silence, as the clouds lay over the mountains.
In the afternoon you will have the opportunity to explore a 400-meter path of orchids just next to your accommodations. Depending on the time of year, you will be able to observe dozens of orchids in the flowering stage.
Also, at Wayqecha, spectacled bears are regularly seen by camera traps (set up to develop the reference conservation status of Andean bears in the upper Manu region). If you are interested in the work being done to protect this species, you can go and visit the the Andean Bear Interpretation Center. This is an important space of environmental education for locals and foreign visitors.
In the evening, one of the scientists working at the station can give you a small presentation about the place and the scientific projects carried out, if you are interested.
You will start the day by having breakfast in Wayqecha, and then you will have the opportunity to go on a Canopy Walkway. You will experience an unparalleled view of the treetops. You can also learn about an interesting scientific project being carried out just by the walkway.
Back at Wayquecha, you will have lunch before continuing your journey further into Manu. On your way, you will most probably spot the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, an iconic bird species with historical and emblematic value, which represents the diverse fauna of Peru.
Finally, it’s time to leave the cloudforest and make your way further down into the jungle (rainforest). Late in the afternoon, you will arrive at the Manu Biological Station (formerly called the Villa Carmen Biological Station), where you will spend the next two nights. The station is located within the spectacular Manu Biosphere Reserve and can already be considered rainforest (and not cloudforest anymore).
You will start the day by going on a medicinal plants walk. On this experience, you will appreciate plant species as well known as the Quina (used in treatments against malaria), the “Sangre de Grado” (ideal for curing ulcers), and a wide variety of “Uña de Gato”. You will also experiment with a natural repellent made from local plants.
Then, you will continue the path towards a river (río Piñi Piñi). On the way, you can see many butterflies, birds and insects. After crossing the river, you will arrive at an old plane that has been abandoned here in 1991; eery!
Back at the lodge, you will have lunch. Then, in the afternoon, you will go to the bamboo forest to learn some more about its uses.
Finally, you will head to the Piñi Piñi viewpoint to observe the landscape and the river below you. On the way back, you have the opportunity to spot some other birds like Tangaras and Aracaris.
After breakfast, you will visit the bio-garden, following a sustainable agriculture model. Local products like pineapples, peppers, cassava (manioc) and many others are grown here to sustain the lodge.
After spending the last hours in Manu Biolodge, we will take you back to Cusco, where you will arrive in the afternoon.
This tour is not very demanding, However, please keep in mind that the weather conditions in the jungle are not what most of us are used to: it gets hot and very humid and mosquitos love it here. So, don’t forget to stay hydrated, wear a hat or a cap and use insect repellent. Feel free to look at our general packing list for the jungle.
On the way to Manu you must be prepared for cold temperatures experienced in the mountain pass and in the cloud forest. Later on, hot and humid conditions are more or less the rule. But again, rainy days can lower the temperatures quite a lot. Extraordinary events called “friaje” or Antarctic winds can also occur. On these occasions, be prepared for the cold instaed of relying on the usual hot conditions of the tropics.
Find more info about climates in Peru in our blog “Best Time to Travel to Peru“.
Visit a travel doctor who can give you professional advice on what vaccinations may be necessary. If you go into the Amazon jungle, a yellow fever injection is obligatory and malaria recommended as well as a shot for the common flu might be requested by the local authorities.
Internet access is provided during certain hours of the day at certain areas of the lodges.
Creatures of all shapes and colors await you on your trip down the Manu road! Especially insects are abundant and present some very curious looks. This caterpillar has been captured by our founding director Guido, close to the Wayqecha Biological Station. To this date, we are fascinated by the beauty of the tiny little animal. Keep your eyes open on this tour and with a little luck, you will spot caterpillars and other little friends like this one.
But take care: The most colorful creatures also tend to be the most venemous ones. So, don’t touch anything you don’t know and you’ll be just fine 🙂