Day 01 : Cusco/Paucartambo
We leave Cusco early in the morning in our specialized overland vehicles. Approximately mid-morning we visit the interesting tombs of Ninamarca, commonly known as "Chullpas". We continue to Paucartambo, a picturesque Spanish colonial town, and then to the Acjanacu pass, which marks the beginning of the Cultural Zone of Manu Biosphere Reserve. Here, a thick cloak of clouds provides perpetual humidity and makes an ideal habitat for epiphytic plants such as bromeliads.
This varied and fascinating world is home of the Cock of the Rock, the Spectacled Bear, Orchids, Tree Ferns (one of the oldest living plants), mosses and lichens. This cloud forest exists between 2000 and 3500 meters above sea level, and at least 50% of the plant species found here are endemic to this region. Overnight in our open air lodge "San Pedro".
Day 02 : Pilcopata/Madre de Dios
Today we wake up very early to observe the Cock of the Rock (Rupicola peruviana), Peru's national bird. At about 5:00AM as many as several dozen come together for an exhibition of a mating ritual dance in a place called Lek. The males of vibrant reddish orange feathers, display their crest showing off and posturing for the females. The females, fewer in number, watch to select the most suitable males. After breakfast we continue in our overland transport*1 down the narrow road between waterfalls and canyons toward the town of Pilcopata *2 and the Atalaya Port.
Here, we board our covered, outboard motor boat and head down the Alto Madre de Dios River for approximately 15 minutes toward our private reserve of "Erika" where we will hike through an interesting trail system in the transitional area (between high jungle and low jungle). Overnight in the lodge.
Day 03 : Alto Madre de Dios/Manu Reserved Zone
After breakfast we board our canoe for a three-hours trip down the Alto Madre de Dios River to Boca Manu's airstrip ( where optional flights coming from Cusco may bring new members to join our group. The plane flies over the Andes to a narrow gravel landing strip in the jungle. Flight takes approximately 45 minutes) Boca Manu village, located at short distance from the confluence of the Manu River and the Alto Madre de Dios River, is the last place to buy your fresh supplies and cold drinks before setting off again in the canoe. Now we enter the Manu River and the Reserved Zone, stopping in a white sand beach where we camp along the riverbank. Short walk around the area.
Day 04 : Salvador Lake
After registering in the official tourist logbook at Limonal, the Park Rangers Headquarters and having an early breakfast, we follow the Manu River until we arrive Salvador Lake, our base campsite (screened dining room, bathrooms, radio communication is available). This canoe ride gives us the opportunity to observe the immensity of the rainforest and the diversity of bird life, reptiles and mammals. You will often see animals sunning on beaches, or foraging for food in the trees lining the riverbanks.
We arrive early in the afternoon and have lunch before setting off on a jungle trail. Here, we will be on the lookout for wildlife inside the rainforest and on Salvador Oxbow Lake, until the sun goes down and we return to the camp. We explore Salvador Lake by paddling quietly along on a catamaran to observe unique species of birds, monkeys, caimans and with luck, the Giant Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis). This endangered species can be seen swimming, fishing, feeding and playing.
Day 05 : Otorongo Lake
We wake up early in the morning, as the forest is awakened by the Red Howler monkey (Aloatta seniculus) declaring its territory. A morning walk before breakfast is a great chance to catch wildlife in the pursuit of food and temperature is very pleasant at this time of day. After relaxing and swimming in the river we enjoy lunch along the riverbank. Afterwards, we cross the river to walk an 8-km trail to another oxbow lake called Otorongo.
A strategically located observation tower rises 15 meters above the rainforest canopy overlooking the lake, giving us more chances to observe wildlife including the Giant Otter. Late in the afternoon we will use the catamaran (optional)and with the help of flashlights we can observe the black caimans rising from the depths of the lake and beginning their search for prey. Return to the campsite.
Day 06 : Manu River/Blanco Private Reserve
Once again we wake up early, enjoy a brief morning walk, have a relaxing breakfast, then pack up the camp and descend the Manu River until Boca Manu. This village is at a short distance from the confluence of the Manu River and the Alto Madre de Dios River, from here we descend the Madre de Dios River arriving early in the afternoon after three hours ride to Blanco Private reserve. Camp and spend one more night in this magical Amazon jungle.
Day 07 : Enjoying Nature
After a very early wake up, we use a special camouflaged catamaran in front of the "Collpa" macaw lick. We quietly observe the various parrots feeding on the clay for mineral and salt, supplements to their diet of seeds and fruits. The brightly colored macaws usually wait patiently in the surrounding trees until the smaller parrot species have left the area. Slowly, the macaws come down to the clay wall to feed.
We need a lot of patience and silence on the catamaran so as not to disturb them while feeding. Around mid morning we board our canoe to return to the airstrip at Boca Manu. At this point, those who are returning to Cusco by plane will catch their flight. This optional flight from Boca Manu to Cusco offers spectacular views of the surrounding jungle and the area's meandering rivers. The rest of the group continues up the Alto Madre de Dios River to camp on an appropriate beach in the Cultural Zone and enjoys the sites and sounds of the jungle for one more night.
Day 08 : Atalaya/Cusco
Waking up very early, we continue the trip by boat to Atalaya, where the bus will be waiting for us and drive back up and out of Manu, arriving in Cusco very late this night or the next early morning. End of Services.