Amazon Rainforest: Manu National Park, Peru

Amazon Rainforest: Manu National Park, Peru

As with many wildlife destinations, to have the best chance of some incredible encounters you often need to go a little further off the beaten path to reach places less affected by human presence. Manu is no exception to this rule.

Manu National Park

The biological diversity found in Manu National Park exceeds that of any other place on earth. The park is 5-6 hours upriver from Manu Wildlife Centre, itself some 6 hours from your starting point at the port town of Puerto Maldonado. A small lodge affords access into the pristine rainforest found in Manu National Park.


As I mentioned, the journey to get to Manu is quite considerable but equally it is quite amazing, as you first head northwest up the Madre de Dios River and then along the Manu River. On entering the park the riverscape changes, the wildlife seems to understand it is safe here and is more relaxed and tolerant of human company. You might find herons, storks, egrets, skimmers, ducks and terns, macaws, toucans, hawks and vultures feeding or resting along the edges of the meandering river, as well as caimans (both black and white), turtles, capybaras and, for the really fortunate, jaguars – on my recent trip I was lucky to see two of these magnificent animals.


From the lodge trips can be taken to nearby oxbow lakes where you may see one of the families of giant river otters, known locally as ‘river wolves’ – I was treated to a display of the (10) otters’ impressive ability to catch darting piranhas. Numerous species of monkey are also found in the surrounding forest: Woolly (1), Night (2), Dusky titi (3), Monk saki (4), Bolivian squirrel (5), Black spider (8) and Red howler (9) monkeys, Brown (6) and White-fronted Capuchins (7), along with Saddle-back (10) and Emperor (11) Tamarins, and finally the Pygmy marmoset monkey (12).

Monkey Amazon

Add to this a stay at Manu Wildlife Centre, with its macaw and tapir clay licks, and anyone passionate about wildlife will not only accept the challenges of getting there but will thoroughly enjoy their trip. And, instead of flying from Cuzco to Puerto Maldonado, there is also an option to travel by road and visit an active Cock-of-the-Rock ‘lek’ before continuing to Manu by boat. This is a truly amazing wildlife adventure – perhaps not for everyone – and I certainly hope to go back there one day!

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