The Manu National Park is one of the most important natural areas of Peru due to its size and rich biodiversity. Manu is situated between Cusco and Madre de Dios, east of the Cordillera Oriental and encompasses many different ecosystems from up to 4,000 m.a.s.l. in the puna to 250 m.a.s.l. in the jungle, in an area of 1’716,295 hectares. Created in 1973, the park is also recognized by the UNESCO as a biosphere reserve, including the buffer zone to the protected area.
The biological megadiversity of the Manu National Park makes it one of the most important natural areas in the world. Scientists from around the world come to investigate the more than 20,000 plant species, 1,000 bird species, 222 mammal species and numbers to be defined of species of reptiles, amphibians, fish and insects that inhabit the diverse ecosystems. In the cloud forest the spectacled bear, the puma and the cock of the rock are dominating, and in the lowland the black caiman, the giant otter, the harpy eagle and the jaguar.
The Manu National Park was for centuries home to numerous ethnic groups, such as the Amahuaca, the Huachipaeri, the Machiguenga, the Mashco Piros, the Yora and Yaminahua, as well as nomadic tribes with nearly no contact to civilization. Some of these Amazonian cultures nowadays have chosen to improve their quality of life and protect their culture and environment through sustainable tourism. This is the case for the ethnicities Machiguenga and Huachipaeri which own the Hostel Pankotsi and Casa Matsiguenka, as well as the Native Community of Queros.
To get to the Manu National Park you must leave Cusco in direction of Paucartambo on an asphalt road which later turns into a gravel road. After more or less 3 hours, you arrive to the village in the valley of the river Mapacho, the last place where you have phone signal and the moment to stock up on water and food. The road continues ascending for 1 to 2 hours through the last mountains of the mountain range till the Acjanaco pass at 3,650 m.a.s.l., which is the entry point to the Manu National Park. From this point on the way descends through the cloud forest for 3 hours till the port of Atalaya, where you take a motor boat in order to continue exploring the Manu Park now on the river.
Hopefully, soon, more native communities in Manu will get engaged in sustainable practices preserving its culture and natural resources, so the natives are able to protect their heritage by themselves. For the fans of adventure and nature travel, the experience offered by these communities shows travelers the incalculable diversity of their jungle and should be lived at least once in a lifetime. At RESPONSible Travel Peru we will help you to build the perfect itinerary according to your taste , just email us at english @ responsibletravelperu.com or even better if you fill out our brief questionnaire and that way one of our travel designers will get in direct contact with you.
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