For the truly adventurous a trip to the remote Manu Wildlife Centre offers one of the most intense Amazon experiences in Peru. The overland Bio Trip, travelling from Cuzco to Manu, is a wonderful way to experience Peru’s diverse ecosystems. Delve deeper into the forest and spend a few nights at the Manu Tented Camp for the ultimate jungle experience!
Manu is in the Amazon region in Peru. This area boasts the highest bird, mammal, and plant diversity of any park on Earth, including 1,000 of the world’s 9,700 bird species. There are also 200 species of mammals and 15,000 species of flowering plants.
The most iconic and photogenic spectacles are frolicking Giant Otters, dancing Cock-of-the-Rock, 1,000 parrots and macaws at a riverbank clay lick, habituated monkeys, and huge Lowland Tapirs at a forest clay lick.
Manu Wildlife Centre Lodge is located east of the Manu River on the north bank of the Madre de Dios River. The lodge is famous for its abundant and varied wildlife, with its own tapir clay lick, a nearby macaw clay lick project, two nearby oxbow lakes and two tall canopy viewing towers among its impressive highlights. The private bungalows have ensuite bathrooms and hot water showers.
Best season to travel: Late March through December.
On arrival to Puerto Maldonado’s airport, you will be met by representatives from Manu Wildlife Centre and transferred by van to Santa Rosa Village, you will get there in about two and a half hours. You will cross the Inambari River for a 10 minutes’ boat trip to Puerto Carlos. Here, you will start your overland journey to Boca Colorado for 45 minutes by car, followed by four hours motorised boat journey ride upstream the Madre de Dios river. You will have lunch on the way. Dinner will be served at Manu Wildlife Centre.
The Macaw Clay lick project, Canopy Tower & Tapir Clay lick.
After a delicious breakfast, follow the trails around the lodge and enjoy a walk through the rainforest. During your walk, you will be able to see some of the 12 species of monkeys, including the Spider Monkey and Emperor Tamarin. Walk through the forest some minutes, and you will find the Macaw Lick project. In groups of two and three the Scarlet Macaws come flapping in, landing in the treetops as they eye the main stage below. After lunch, visit the 34 meters high canopy tower. On its platform, you will be able to witness the frantic rush-hour activity of twilight in the rainforest.
Set off along the “Collpa trail”, which will take you to the lodge’s famous Tapir Clay lick. Here, at the most active tapir lick known in the entire Amazon, research has identified from 8 to 12 Tapirs who come to this lick to eat clay from under the tree roots around the edge. This unlikely snack absorbs and neutralises toxins in the vegetarian diet of the Tapir, the largest land animal of Latin America. The lick features an observation platform 5 metres above the forest floor. The platform is equipped with cosy couches and pillows.
This Tapir Experience is unique and exciting because they are normally timid creatures. The hard part is to remain still and silent anywhere from 30 minutes to two or more hours. Many prefer to nap until the first Tapir arrives, at which point your guide gently awakens you to watch the Tapir below the platform. Most people feel that the wait is well worth it to have such a high probability of observing the rare and elusive Tapir in its rainforest home.
Today you will set off early for an old oxbow lake full of water lilies (Nuphar lutea) and sunken logs. As you circle the lake on your catamaran, you may encounter the resident Giant Otter family on a fishing expedition, or troops of monkeys crashing noisily through the trees. Wattled Jacanas step lightly on the lily pads, Dainty Sun Grebe paddle across the water, Supple necked Anhinga air-dry their wide, black wings, and perhaps an Osprey scans for fish from a high branch. Among the bushes near the waterline, Hoatzins, which look like rust coloured, punk chickens, announce their presence with distinctive, bizarre wheezing and grunts. Woodpeckers, Tanagers, Macaws, Toucans, and Parakeets all finally come swooping into trees surrounding the lake. Many of them roost around the lake for the night.
After lunch at the lodge, your guide will be ready to take you on a freewheeling expedition in search of further wildlife encounters, or you can always choose to take one of the lodge’s many trails. This evening, from the late afternoon until after dinner, you can search for caimans and other nocturnal life along the riverbank by boat (if the level of river allows it).
After breakfast, you will explore the trails surrounding the lodge with your naturalist guide. You will find more species of monkeys and lots of different kinds of amazon birds. Before or after the dinner, you will have the second opportunity to visit the Observation Tower as well as the mammals or tapir clay lick.
Depart this morning on your trip back to Puerto Maldonado for your ongoing flight.