A visit to the best protected rainforests in the Amazon

There are very few spots left on our planet that can offer you that raw and off the beaten track feel  like the Manu National-park. Visiting the Park becomes an immersive experience into nature and sounds of age old forests and immense rivers that wind their way towards the Atlantic Ocean some 4000 km away. Untouched and primeval nature every step you take. Even the indigenous communities give you the feel of a wisdom disconnected from our over stimulated intellectual minds and our day to day orientation on material values. 

Manu trips are an adventure, an exploration into a raw, untouched and natural world. A world that leaves you spellbound and fulfilled. The mosquito bites, the simplicity of shelter and food do not matter, too impressive are the land- and river scapes with their sounds and life forms. 

A great adventure into one of the last untouched remnants of our planet.


Day 1. Cusco / Sacred Valley - Cloud forest

Early morning (3 am!) departure to see the sunrise at Tres Cruces, said to be one of the most spectacular worldwide.  At Tres Cruces the mountains drop away into the vastness of the Amazon Basin. From this high altitude vantage point (3800 M) you can witness the rising sun drenching the hills and valleys into an amazing array of lights, colours and shades. Tres Cruces is within the borders of the Manu National park and just a short diversion from the road between Cusco and the rainforest. 

Around noon we reach our lodge, a Reseach station in the upper region of the cloud forest. Afternoon excursion into the cloud forest, home to the world's greatest diversity of epiphytes, mosses, ferns, lichens and orchids and, in turn, a large number of birds and animals that feed on these organisms or use the forests as a habitat. Cloud forests have shrunk to just 1% of the global woodlands, however it is estimated that they harbour the greatest concentration of species anywhere on land.


Day 2. Cloud forest - Boca Manu

Before breakfast time to observe the numerous species of hummingbirds dancing in the morning light in the gardens of the Lodge. After breakfast slow travel trough a spectacular road down to the plains and the shores of the Madre de Dios River. During the drive stops to look out for the colourful Cock of the Rock and the even more beautiful Quetzal. At noon we board the boat in Atalaya and journey down the clear waters of the Madre de Dios River to Boca Manu. The river offers first sights of the Amazon forest and many birds. 


Day 3. Boca Manu - Casa Machiguenga Lodge

Today we leave the clear glacial waters of the Madre de Dios River and enter the world of the sediment laden and seemingly endless winding and slow meandering Manu River. The last remnants of human settlements are left behind and we enter the untouched world of the primary rainforests. The Manu River is home to the huge black and the smaller grey Caiman, the equivalent of the crocodiles in the Amazon. There are great chances to see them bask in the sun on the river banks. Primates, turtles covered with clouds of butterflies, Capybara and maybe even the Tapir and Jaguar can be spotted. 

Early afternoon arrival in the Casa Machiguenga Lodge, after settling in we take a short walk into the nearby forest.  


Day 4. Excursion Chocha Salvador

Early morning excursion to the oxbow Lake Cocha Salvador, a calm waterbody that was formed, when the river changed course.

The Lake offers an abundance of birds, like the Hoatzin, egrets, blue egrets, king fisher, weaver birds, great herons, macaws, toucans and eagles, among others. Spider and Tamarind monkeys can be seen in the trees and the lake is home to a large family of giant otters. Cocha Salvador is one of the most beautiful spots open to visitors in the Manu National park. 

Afternoon forest walk and after dinner we take our flashlights and follow our guide into the world of nocturnal creatures, like three types of poison dart frogs, colourful small snakes and other mostly small citizens of the forest. 

Day 5. Macaw sightings and Cocha Otorongo

Morning visit to the Macaw clay lick. Be prepared to spend some time there, the shy and very vocal Macaws are suspicious citizens that warn each other with loud voices if they feel their territory disturbed. But once they settle down on the clay wall, they bring along many more species of their colourful friends, like blue headed parrots, white eyed parakeets, blue headed macaws, etc.  Afternoon visit of the Oxbow Lake Otorongo with its watchtower, ideal to observe black Caiman and giant otters. The forest is home to wooly monkeys, spider monkeys and Tamarind monkeys, besides birds and forest mammals, like deer, jaguar and tapir. 


Day 6. Casa Machiguenga - Shipetiari

Today we use the early morning to scout the river banks for jaguars, ocelot, capybara and tapir. Picnic lunch on the boat. Later in the afternoon we arrive at the indigenous rainforest community of the Machiguenga at Shipetiari. Since a few years, the Machiguenga have opened their village to tourism. Since individual ownership of “things” does not really exist in their world, they built as a lodge, which offers simple and clean stay.


Day 7. Shipetiari Machiguenga Community

The community equally share the guest activities  between the families, like learning how to make and use bow and arrow, or brew their local beer, called Masato. By the village elders we are invited to listen to stories about their faith and vast knowledge on plant based medicines. The indigenous Machiguenga community consists of only about 7000 people, all living in the region of the Manu National park. They are incredibly kind and lighthearted and we find it a wonderful and enriching experience to spend a day or two with them. 


Day 8. Shipetiari - Cloud forest

With a little heavy heart we leave the Machiguanga to make our way back to Cusco. Overnight on the way in the upper region of the cloud forest. 


Day 9. Cloud forest - Cusco / Sacred Valley

Return to Cusco or the sacred valley. 



Program inclusive Palatoa River extension

It’s not easy to say why this extension is probably the most amazing part of the trip. Maybe because its taxing and rough, a kind of last frontier expedition for true adventurers. 

Day 8. Shipetiari - Palatoa River valley

We visit the only indigenous community of the Machiguenga residing in the Palatoa River Valley. To get there is an adventure. To tackle the river we need a crew with a PekePeke Canoe equipped with a special shallow water capable outboard motor that looks much like an exhaust fan on an enormously long stick. To make progress, everybody becomes part of the crew, ready to jump into the happily dancing often hip deep white water currents and help to pull, push and shove the boat across rough patches. Without our experienced Machiguenga crew, there would be no mastering this wild and untamed river. As a result we might end up wet from head to toe. But every step is worth it, the untouched landscape, the crystal clear water and the togetherness with the Machiguenga indigenous river folks. 


Day 9. Palatoa River valley

Together with our 3 man local crew we explore the valley, up to the famed Pusharo petroglyphs and back. Because of its remoteness and difficulty to get there, the glyphs have been hardly researched. Various shapes of geometrical designs mixed with figures and abstract drawings. To the native and indigenous communities Pusharo seems to have a spiritual significance, but when asked, they prefer not to talk about it. The physically challenging journey takes you into a completely untouched land. In the crystal clear river pools we see large trouts, catfish and even rays. Birds and butterflies can be observed throughout the day and the riverbed is dotted with footprints, of jaguar, tapir and deer. 

The petroglyphs are not accessible by boat, so we take off with our guide, while the other two of our crew stays back to fish the ponds. For the Machiguenga the upper valley is rarely travelled and our excursions turns into a welcome opportunity to fish these untouched and fish rich waters. NO wonder then that the catch is rich and on return to the village the fish  is shared between all the families.

Dinner of course is fresh fish and manioc, the staple diet of the Machiguenga, prepared by the local village chef Erika. 


Day 10. Palatoa river valley - Cloud forest

The next morning we push our pekepeke back onto the river and leave these friendly folks back into their own world once more. Overnight on the way in the upper region of the cloud forest. 



Day 11. Cloud forest - Cusco / Sacred valley

Return to Cusco or the sacred valley. 


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Salvador Lake
Salvador Lake

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