Peru: Manu National Park
No jungle destination in the world offers a greater abundance or variety of wildlife than Peru's Manu National Park. Manu, one of the largest nature preserves on earth, is an unlogged, old-growth rainforest situated on the western rim of the Amazon River basin. Remote and untrammeled, Manu has no roads, no settlements, and no human residents save for a few primitive, nomadic Indian tribes.
In this undisturbed ecosystem, countless species of birds and mammals make their home. Designated a Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations, Manu harbors more than 1000 species of birds, 15 monkey species, as well as jaguars, anacondas, and the giant otters, one of the world's rarest mammals, but still common in Manu. In many cases, Manu is one of the few localities where these species survive.
A trip to Manu is a unique opportunity to observe the richness of the jungle environment in its original state. In the tree-tops, macaws, toucans, parrots nest by the hundreds, joined by large numbers of capuchin and red howler monkeys. In the Park's undergrowth, peccary, tapir, ocelot, and jaguar prowl in search of food. In the rivers swim turtles, caiman (South American alligators), and the giant river otters. These unique animals, which grow up to six feet in length, are endemic to Manu.
The best guided tours in Manu Park are arranged by Manu Expeditions. Director Barry Walker is an trained ornithologist and veteran jungle guide. His knowledge of Manu is legendary and his operation works hard to minimize human impact on the environment. Manu Expeditions offers a variety of programs, both lodge-based and camping, starting at about US$880 per week. Participants make day and night trips into the jungle, allowing rare animal sightings.
Manu Expeditions offers one of our favorite trips in all of Latin America, a Mountain Bike expedition that begins high in the Andes in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. From there, the riders descend mountain trails all the way to Manu Park, where they spend a few days exploring the park on foot and by motor canoe.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication