Manu National Park is an extensive park in southeastern Peru, which stretches across the highlands of the Andes, cloud forests and the jungle of the plains. It is known for its rich biodiversity, especially for its hundreds of bird species, such as macaws, which feed on clay deposits in sites such as Blanquillo. The boats navigate the Manu River and the dense Amazon rainforest, which is home to jaguars, black alligators and spider monkeys.
How to get there?
From Cusco you travel on a road with spectacular views through the mountains and jungle that eventually reaches the Manu National Park. Ideally, it is best to start the route early in the morning to see the breathtaking landscapes along this journey that first runs along a paved road that then becomes a rough dirt road and finally ends at a point from where you must continue traveling by river. Although the ideal is to make the trip with private transportation, there are also different public transport options. It take at least six hours to get you to one of the most diverse natural protected areas on the planet.
The route departs from the city of Cusco towards Paucartambo, in the valley of the Mapacho river. Here you arrive after 2 hours of travel going south and then taking a detour that climbs a mountain with switchbacks where it eventually becomes a dirt road. From here, you can see the snowy Pitusiray of the Sacred Valley and Mount Ausangate, the sacred mountain of Cusco. On the left side of the road, these mountains stand out between the mountain range to the right of the road. Throughout this section there is no telephone signal or places to buy supplies until reaching Paucartambo, where there is also a National Bank. For these reasons, this beautiful town with a colonial bridge and beautiful houses is ideal to resupply and get a phone signal before continuing the journey on a remote route. This is the last valley before climbing the last mountains of the Eastern Cordillera mountain range from where you begin descending to the Amazon.
After 1 hour of ascent, you arrive at the entrance of the Manu National Park at Abra Ajanaco (3560 masl), with a spectacular view of the cloud forest of Kosñipata, which in Quechua means “place where there is smoke”. You will see how apt name is when you look over the clouds covering the low jungle and mixing with the mountains that sometimes peek out but are usually lost in the clouds. Thus begins the magical descent to Manu. Very close to Ajanaco is the Wayqecha Biological Station, of the NGO ACCA (Association for the Conservation of the Amazon Basin), a research lodge that also welcomes tourists with an unbeatable view of the cloud forest and an amazing diversity of birds and orchids .
Leaving Wayqecha, you continue the descent and the forest is increasingly bushy and with taller trees. You will feel the temperature rise as you continue to go down. From here begins the habitat of the Gallito de las Rocas, the national bird. To reach Pilcopata, the capital of Kosñipata and the largest town in Manu, it is 2 to 3 hours more along the main road. From this town, with some restaurants and accommodations, several interesting routes depart. One of them goes to the Villa Carmen Biological Station. Another is the route that leads to the communities Huachipaeris de Queros and Huacaria, where it is possible to visit the community members, learn about their customs and their great wisdom about the forest that surrounds them.