Estimada Carmen Maria,
Here is a brief narrative of our visit to Manu.
On 25 May 2017, my wife, Hilda Whitman, and I visited Tambo Blanquillo with our guide, Pepe Cerwall.
A dozen red and green macaws had been perched above the Tambo Blanquillo clay lick, a short boat ride from the Manu Wildlife Center, for more than an hour. Many more blue-headed parrots were perched there as well. Why were the macaws so shy? Finally, one ventured down onto the clay lick and began to nibble. We observed from a blind not more than 100 meters away.
Within seconds, we had the wildlife thrill of a lifetime. An ocelot leaped out from an opening in the lick and captured the macaw. Clinging to the wall of the lick, the ocelot secured its grasp of the macaw, which was nearly as large as the cat, and wrestled it to the ground. Our guide, Pepe Cerwall -- using an iPhone camera and binoculars -- took photos and a video of the ocelot subduing the macaw and dragging it into the vegetation.
Not all visitors are so fortunate as we were. But the scene we witnessed was just one highlight of a five-day, four-night stay at the Manu Wildlife Center in May 2017, arranged by InkaNatura Travel. The wildlife center and the Manu reserve have an unsurpassed variety of wildlife. Thanks to Pepe's keen senses, we saw more than 50 species of birds. These included 30 scarlet macaws at the Manu Wildlife Center's macaw clay lick project, which has painstakingly reintroduced macaws to this formerly logged area. We saw 6 species of monkeys, ranging in size from black spiders to saddleback tamarins. We glimpsed a massive tapir at the wildlife center's tapir clay lick, which is outfitted with comfortable beds for evening viewing. Then there were capybara and roseate spoonbills on the Madre de Dios River, crested hoatzin at an oxbow lake, a cream-colored woodpecker at the center's canopy tower, scorpion spiders and army ants on the trails.... not to mention the huge variety of flora, from lichen to tall kapok trees.
The Manu Wildlife Center is not easy to get to. It required an 8-hour trip from Puerto Maldonado by boat and four-wheel vehicle. But once there, the center is welcoming and well appointed. It offers bungalows with comfortable beds and hot showers, a huge dining room and bar with excellent food, and friendly and attentive staff who met our every need.
The Manu Wildlife Center is partly owned -- and InkaNatura Travel is wholly owned -- by Peru Verde, a nongovernmental organization dedicated to rainforest conservation. Peru Verde invests its income from ecotourism in reforestation, wildlife restoration, research projects, internships, and other activities to conserve and expand the rainforest. It was gratifying to see the results of these efforts and to know that by visiting and enjoying Manu, we were contributing to this worthy cause.