Experience Manu Wildlife with

Experience Manu Wildlife with

Amazon Trails Peru Manu & Trekking Tour Operator

Visit the best rainforest destination in the Amazon from Cusco! with Amazon Trails Peru – your Specialized Manu Tour Operator since 2002!

Giant River Otter
Giant River Otter

Come with us on a trip to the Manu rainforest, a hotspot of biodiversity. Manu offers ideal conditions to observe wildlife such as Giant otters, Caimans, Tapirs, Monkeys, Macaws, Toucans and on some occasions our groups spot Jaguars!

We offer 5-day to 8-day tours from Cusco to Manu National Park and to the Manu Biosphere Reserve. Short tours to the Cultural Zone of Manu are also available.

In Cusco, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Machu Picchu, hike the famous Inka Trail, or try one of the equally spectacular alternative Andean Treks that we offer.

Why choose Manu ?

  • Manu is one of the few places with pristine rainforest and ideal conditions to observe wildlife including rare and endangered species. You can observe Giant River Otters, Tapirs, 6 species of Macaws, 13 species of monkeys, Toucans, Caimans, Sloths, 3 species of Anteaters and even the Jaguar! Manu holds a record in high biodiversity: 200 mammal species and more than 15000 species of flowering plants have been identified. Over 1000 bird species also make the region a great destination for birdwatchers.
  • Manu National Park protects different ecosystems from 4000m all the way down to 250m : Andean Grasslands (Puna), Elfin and Cloud Forest (on the Manu road) and Lowland Rainforest The overland journey from Cusco gives you a comprehensive experience of the rainforest ecosystems – an awesome and unique trip.
  • Manu is home to various indigenous tribes; some of which live in isolation and have no contact with ‘civilisation’. On some of our tours you will have the opportunity to meet the Machiguenga Indians.
  • Manu gives you the best chances to see a big variety of animals within a reasonable amount of time and money. If you are looking for a real rainforest experience Manu is your best choice.

Amazon Trails Peru - what we offer :

  • Amazon Trails Peru has over 10 years of experience organizing reliable and quality Manu tours. ATP is authorized to operate tours to the Manu Biosphere and to the Manu National Park (Reserved Zone). We offer small groups of maximum 8 visitors per guide and itineraries are designed to maximize your chances to see animals.
  • We have a team of experienced & enthusiastic, professional English-speaking guides, all equipped with powerful spotting scopes and animal identification books on the tours. An excellent guide is essential to a rewarding Manu experience!
  • Our Manu tours utilize our own vehicles, boats and lodges. Lodges are located at strategic points in Manu, which is essential for successful wildlife observation, One of them is the Maquisapayoj Private Reserve, which has its own tapir clay lick.
  • We focus on environmentally friendly practices when organizing our tours and work with local people for all tours (Manu and treks). We also stay at Casa Matsiguenka in Manu, a lodge run by the Machiguenga Indians to support their communities.
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17 May 2016

Joseph Arena (USA)

Pictures from this trip can be seen on Flickr, at: https:[email protected]/albums/72157665346351444

My brother, sister-in-law and I recently returned from an incredible tour of the Manu Reserved Zone in southern Peru. The Manu portion of our Peru trip was run by AmazonTrailsPeru (amazontrailsperu.com). The choice was wonderful. AmazonTrailsPeru was professional, helpful, knowledgeable and just plain great to be with.

Our guide, Wilfredo Arizabal was incredible. He has a Masters degree in herpetology. His knowledge of the flora & fauna seemed to have no end. Meals were wonderful (and very filling). I was amazed at the ability of our cook to prepare such delicious food in such difficult conditions.

The day before our departure to Manu, we had a meeting at the AmazonTrailsPeru office, just up the street from our hotel in San Blas. They explained what we would expect and all of the logistics. We were picked up at the Casa San Blas at 4:30 am the next morning. In addition to myself, my brother, my sister-in-law, there were three other guests on our tour, two charming women from Duesseldorf and an attorney from San Francisco. All three were very, very nice.

We were headed for the Reserved Zone of the Manu Rain Forest. Manu is composed of three zones – The Cultural Zone allows small farming, hunting and eco-logging. The Reserved Zone is more pristine, and is only inhabited by some indigenous tribes who run eco-friendly lodges for visitors. The last zone, the Biological Zone is home to many uncontacted tribes, and is off-limits to all tourists. We knew that it was going to take 2 ½ days to reach the Reserved Zone, from Cusco.

The first day was a long one, about 10 hours long in the comfortable van. In addition to us and our luggage, the van contained all of the food for our 7 nights in the rain forest, our cook and our guide for the week. Along the way, we stopped at an interesting burial ground in the Andes called Ninamarca. Our guide, Wilfredo discussed the history of the site and the reasons that the graves were built with open windows. We took several breaks along the way and were able (with Wilfredo’s help) to see some beautiful birds including the Patoo and the Cock of the Rock (the national bird of Peru). We had a nice picnic lunch along the way, on the side of the road. Past sunset, we arrived at our first lodge, the Bambu Lodge.

In the morning, before heading onto the road, we took a nice walk to see some early rising birds, including the speckled chachalaca and some brilliant emerald hummingbirds. We also learned about the legal coca farming techniques used in the cultural zone. Coca has long been used by locals to combat the altitude of the Andes.

Back in the van for another five hours until we reached the town of Atalaya where we were able to purchase some snacks and beer. We were also fitted with gum boots in this town. Soon, everything from the van was loaded onto a wooden boat, with bench seats and a wooden roof. We traveled up the Rio Alto Madre de Dios river for about 5 hours. Parts of the river were fairly choppy, but never uncomfortable. On that ride, we saw our first Manu wildlife, including some spoon-billed herons and our first capybara.

We arrived late in the afternoon at the Hummingbird Lodge. This lodge was also very clean and comfortable. Our camera batteries were charged in the kitchen area that evening. Our cook, Luis, made a wonderful dinner for us that night. We took our first night walk that evening, seeing a green poison dart frog wolf spider, anoles, geckos and tree frogs.

The next morning we were back on the boat at 5:15 am, headed up the Madre Dios River, towards the junction with the Manu River. On that leg, we encountered black capped herons, large bill terns, capuchin monkeys, turtles, squirrel monkeys, motmot birds, black spider monkeys and black skimmer birds. We also saw our first horned screamer birds, very interesting looking animals with horns on their heads and ‘spears’ on their wing-elbows. We checked into the Reserve Zone ranger station in the afternoon. Soon afterwards, we arrived at the Machiguenga Lodge, where we would spend three evenings. Rustic but clean. Bathrooms and cold showers were shared, and housed in a building a short walk from our rooms. That afternoon, we went, for the first (of two) times to Concha Salvadore, looking for giant river otters. Wilfredo had scheduled two visits to the Concha, to maximize our possibility of seeing these very endangered animals. We didn’t see the otters on this visit (we did see many of them, the next day), but we saw troops of squirrel, white fronted capuchin, brown fronted capuchin and howler monkeys in the trees. We also saw our first hoazin and comorants here. On the lake, we were ferried around on a man-powered (our guides rowed) platform with benches. Engines are not allowed on the lake, for fear of scaring the otters.

The next morning, we headed back to the Concha Salvadore at 5:30 am, to look for the giant river otters. This time, we were successful, and were able to watch an extended family of 7 or 8 otters feed, swim and play in the water. It was incredible. Per Wilfredo, there are only about 200 known giant river otters left in the wild in Peru. They weighed anywhere from 40-70 pounds, and ate 8-10 large fish each day. We could see (and hear) them chomping away at these fish, just 10s of yards away from our float. We also saw and photographed chestnut macaws, cocoii herons, and greater ani birds. All were absolutely breathtaking, but the highlight was definitely the giant river otters. We were so glad that Wilfredo booked two visits to the Concha to see these animals.

Back to the lodge, we took a night walk where we saw a small tree boa and our first tarantula.

The next morning, we took a walk thru the rainforest with Wilfredo where he described the many plants and insects that we saw. We also saw some recent jaguar scratches on a tree, where a cat may have marked his/her territory within the past week. Wilfredo showed us ‘walking palms’ and described the process that some scientists believe the tree uses to ‘walk’ thru the rainforest in search of sunlight. Later in the day, we took a boat ride up the Manu where we saw more herons, macaws and a grey black hawk eating a whipped tailed snake (per Wilfredo).

In the afternoon, we met with a Machiguenga native who answered (thru Wilfredo) our questions about their tribe’s lifestyle. We also tried our hand at shooting a Machiguenga bow & arrow, pointing at a mango fruit on the ground. (none of us came close to the fruit, but the Machiguenga shot an arrow right through it). To celebrate, my brother and I purchased a Machiguenga bow/ arrow set while the ladies purchased some bags made from native materials. (The bow/ arrows cost us 60 nuevo soles. The bags were 20 soles and up).

At night, we took another night walk where we saw a small boa and an very large black tarantula.

Back to the lodge that evening where we ate and packed everything up.

The next morning we rode the boat back down the Manu and onto the Rio Madre de Dios river to our last lodge, the ‘Manu Birding Lodge’. Each room had a private bath room with hot showers !!!!!! We would spend two evenings at the Manu Birding Lodge.

During our first day, we took a long walk into the rain forest where Wilfredo explained much more about the local vegetation, insects and birds. It was very interesting.

That evening, we took our first walk to the mammal clay lick, about an hour’s walk from the lodge. We arrived at 4:30 pm and stayed until 8:30 pm. We ate dinner in the blind above the clay lick. We had hoped to see tapirs and/or peccaries, but (unfortunately), none of the animals showed up that evening. We returned to the lodge by 9:30, very tired.

The next morning brought with it torrential rains for a couple of hours, delaying our trip to the Macaw Clay Lick. As it turned out, that delay was a gift from the Manu gods. When we finally got underway, we were lucky enough to see a Harpy Eagle (the largest eagle in the world), perched in a tree about 40 yards away from our boat. We all were able to take some great pictures of this majestic animal. Wilfredo told us that he hadn’t seen a Harpy in over 2 years !!! Near the Harpy were two three-toed sloths in trees, an adult and a juvenile. We also saw a family of four capybara and a lone coati on the shore. We arrived at the Macaw Clay Lick blind around noon. Slowly, two-by-two, Macaws began to arrive. They need to eat the clay each day to counter the acidity from the seeds that they consume. Very slowly, the macaws began to go lower and lower on the trees, just above the clay lick. Then, a hawk flew by and all of the macaws took off, squeaking and squawking away. Wilfredo told us that we would wait another hour, and he believed that the macaws would return. They did just that, and after a long time, they finally descended onto the clay lick, eating the minerals in the soil. The clay lick was about 100 yards away from the blind. A long lens (I used a 100-400 mm) was necessary for good pictures.

On our way back to the lodge, Wilfredo spotted an immature black caiman, about 10 feet long, swimming near shore. A fully grown adult caiman can grow to over 20 feet long !!

We had the option to go back to the mammal clay lick that night, for a 2nd try at seeing peccaries and/or tapirs, but we were all too tired to venture out. The lodge had a generator-supplied freezer that I used to cool down some of the beers that we bought in Atalaya. They went down very easily through dinner and packing that night.

The next day involved a very long day of transport, a total of about 11 hours ‘on the road’. We started with a boat ride to the small town of Colorado. We left our boats and our boat driver in Colorado. We took pre-paid taxis for about an hour to another small town on the Rio Inambari, called Santa Rosa. There, we took a small boat, just across the river, to where our van was waiting for us. We traveled on a bumpy road for about an hour and then hit the highway. We took the highway for about 6 hours back to Cusco, stopping for a picnic lunch on the side of the road.

Tired, happy, satisfied, we said goodbye to our fellow travelers as we were all dropped off at our individual hotels in Cusco.

I’ve been to three different locations in the Amazon – Iquitos, in northern Peru, Cuyabeno, in Ecuador, and now Manu in southern Peru. Without question, the animal life in Manu was the absolute best. Quantity, diversity could not be matched in the other two areas. It took a bit of time to get there and back, but it was well, well worth it.

I would strongly encourage anyone with a zest for the Amazon to take the 8 day/7 night tour to the Reserved Zone of the Manu. You will be hot, you’ll be sweaty, you’ll be tired, but you will be, most of all, incredibly satisfied. No one can guarantee what animals you may see. The rain forest shows her secrets at her pace. But, you will definitely see more wildlife in this pristine reserve than you will probably see in any other.

I highly suggest this tour, and suggest that you arrange your visit to the park with AmazonTrailsPeru (amazontrailsperu.com). You won’t be disappointed.

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