Located in the isolated region of Madre de Dios, the Manu National Park is a national park and biosphere reserve covering 1,716,295.22 hectares. It is home to an unequaled variety of animal and plant species.
The plant diversity is estimated to range between 2,000 and 5,000. It boasts over 1000 vertebrate species which include more than 850 species of birds and at least 200 species of mammals with the Giant Otter, the Peruvian spider monkey, the Mexican free-tailed bat, the jaguarundi, Hoffmann's two-toed sloth being among them. There are 13 different species of primates. About 155 amphibian species and 132 species of reptiles can be found in the park. There have even been sightings of jaguars, pumas and the elusive Andean Mountain Cat.
Manu National Park is divided into three zones:
- The core zone is only accessible to scientists and researchers.
- The reserved zone is for tourism and is only accessible to a limited number of tour operators and their tours groups.
- The cultural zone is more accessible, and it is where local Amazonian peoples live in small communities. There are native communities in the cultural zone which operate tourism projects:
Palotoa-Teparo is a Matsiguenka community close to Salvacion. Tourist are attracted to this community because of their homestays and banana plantations. This is also where you can find the Petroglyphs of Pusharo.
Isla de los Valles is a Yine community next to the town of Boca Manú. Here you can visit the Cocha Isla de los Valles, home to giant river otters.
Shipetiari is a Matsiguenka community which provides cultural immersion activities, hikes, and Ayahuasca ceremonies.
How To Get There : Manu National Park
You can take a commercial airplane from Lima or Cusco to Puerto Maldonado. It will be followed by a 3-hour journey by land and another 4-hour motorized canoe ride up the Madre de Dios River to reach the Manu lowlands and Natural Protected Areas.