The National Park of the Manu
The National Park of the Manu was established the 29 of May of 1973 by Supreme Decree Nº 0644-73-ag. It is located in the departments of Cuzco and Madre de God.
The National Park has been recognized like Natural Patrimony of the Humanity in 1987, and previously (1977), UNESCO recognized like zone nucleus of the Reserve of Biosfera.
The National Park of the Manu has a surface of 1 716 295.22 hectares and represents part of the great biological diversity that exists in the Amazonia. Due to the altitudinal variation, from the 200 to almost 4 000 m.s.n.m., has almost all the formation ecological subtropical of the Peruvian east. In this immense surface species and ecosystems of great scientific interest exist.
In the proximity of the rivers are characteristic trees, like the cetico (Cecropia sp.) and it runs into it (Ochroma sp). Also are trees like the cedar (Cedrela sp.), the screw (Cedrelinga catenaeformis), the chestnut (Bertholletia excelsa), lupuna (Chorisia sp.) and jebe (Hevea brasiliensis), among others, forming mosaic of tropical humid forest.
In this park a great variety of species is protected animals: more than 800 species of birds and 200 of mammals (between which they are more than 100 species of bats). They exist more than 120 species of fish and the reptiles also abundant and are varied, like the insects and other invertebrates that exceed the million species. In this region it is possible to observe birds very difficult to find in other places of the forest like the eagle harpia (Harpia harpyja), the jabiru (Jabiru mycteria) and the pink spatula (Ajaia ajaja). In the borders of the rivers, on the branches of the trees, is sacha duck (moschata Cairina), ancestro wild of the Creole duck. In addition species of wild fauna exist as they are ganso selvatico or ganso of the Orinoco (jubata Neochen), the gallito of rocks (peruviana Rupicola), the common monkey choro (Lagothrix lagotricha), maquisapa black (Ateles paniscus), the wolf of river (Pteronura brasiliensis), the jaguar (Panthera onça), tigrillo (Leopardus pardalis), the bear of eyeglasses (Tremarctos ornatus) and taruca (Hippocamelus antisensis).
In this zone, not only the fauna and flora or its beautiful landscapes are of interest. In their environs populations grouped in more live than 30 communities farmers who maintain quechua like their maternal language. Also there are amazonian native populations pertaining to different linguistic groups that they have occupied the zone ancestrally, as they are the ethnic groups Matsiguenka, Amahuaca, Yine, Amarakaeri, Huachipaire, Mashco-Piros and Nahua.
In addition, studied archaeological rest, as well as others very known, as they are the Petroglifos de Pusharo, in the region the Palotoa river exist not yet and the Ruins Mameria.
Between the objectives of creation of the National Park a representative sample of the biological diversity of the tropical forest of the Southeast of Peru is to conserve, thus to contribute to the regional development by means of the investigation and the monitoreo of the environmental parameters.
Also, one looks for to develop anthropological programs related to the communities seated in the park.
Manu, located in the southeast area of Peru, is one of the largest parks in South America. The area of the park encompasses parts of the Andean department of Cusco and the jungle department of Madre de Dios. Manu protects 2 million hectares (4.5 million acres) of a territory rich in flora and fauna species, and a variety of habitats including high Andes, cloud forests, and lowland tropical rain forests. UNESCO officially recognizes this natural paradise as a world heritage site. In 1977, they designated Manu as a World.
The landscapes that it involves are diverse and they are from the 365 mts. (1.200 ft.) of height in Manu Mouth, with amazonian plains; until the 4.020 mts. (13.200 ft.) in the Waskar hill, with steep and rustic mountains; the altitude difference determines a variety of climates from the warm one and humid amazonian forest until you cold and droughts Andean heights. The average of temperatures varies according to the height, thus in them low part is of 24º C. (75º F.) and in the high parts of 4º C. (39º F.); equally the annual pluvial precipitations in the cloudy forest surpass 4.000 mm (156 inches) whereas in the Andean desert they descend to 1.000 mm (39 inches). The hydrographic system is constituted by the rivers that descend from the $andes, torrentosos in their barren beginnings and in level the Amazonian one; their volumes considerably vary between the station of drought and the one of rains. The Manu has reddish coloration and their meanders with the successive change of numerous channel with time formed "cochas" or lagoons that are the main atmospheres of wild fauna.
The scientific interest that wakes up the Manu is based on the great diversity of species of flora and fauna that is one of the greater ones of the world and that stays almost inalterable in million years of natural evolution. The greater point of investigation of the park is the biological station of Cocha Cashu that has the best ecological data base of all the South American tropic; that station was constructed in 1969 by professors and students of the Agrarian National University the Molina in agreement with Zoological Society of Frankfurt. The studies are many that have been made in the station that receives annually between 20 and 30 scientists worldwide; nevertheless, the made work is very small in comparison to the possibilities that the Park offers.
The variation in height found within the Park makes possible the existence of an impressive diversity of species and forms of plants; esteem that at least a 10% of the found vegetal species in the Manu are not known by science. Here it is possible to find three levels basically ecological: Low forest, Forest Alta and Altoandino. In the Low Forest is always green exuberante vegetation, gigantic trees that reach up to 60 mts. of height and 3 mts. of diameter, from whose glasses trepadoras plants hang lianas and that cause that the floor is relatively tenuous to total light of the day; among other arboreal species one is cedar, mahogany, lupuna, screw, renaco, cetico, palms, platanillos here, etc. In the High Forest the forests have trees of so large minor with twisted trunks but with still more dense vegetation and an extraordinary diversity of species; the fogs and rains favor the abundant existence of liquenes, mosses and ferns and a great selection of beautiful orquideas. The Altoandino level also has thinner forests on the basis of species like classic "queuña"; in addition to thick bushes of dwarfed reed and "ichu" the Andean graminea infaltable. Between the main species of flora of Park they are had:
Between the main species of flora of Park they are had:
Cetico (Cecropia spp.),
renaco (Ficus paraensis),
oje (Ficus insipida);
queuña (Polylepis incana);
shihuahuaco (Dipterix alata);
ipururo (Alchornes sp.);
cedro (Cedrela odorata),
requia (Guarea macrophylla),
caoba (Swietenia macrophylla),
uchumullaca (Trichilia septentrionalis);
lupuna (Ceiba pentandra),
sapote (Quararibea cordata);
yumanaza (Muntingia calabura),
cacao (Theobroma cacao);
capirona (Callycophyllum spruceanum);
pajaro bobo (Tessaria integrifolia);
lagarto caspi (Calophyllum brasiliense); etc.
Gramineas como el carricillo (Chusquea sp.),
cañabrava (Gynerium sagittatum),
ichu (Stipa ichu);
palmaceas como el huicungo (Astrocaryum murumuru),
pijuayo (Bactris gassipaes),
pona (Iriartea ventricosa),
ungurave (Jessenia bataua),
aguaje (Mauritia vinifera),
shapaja (Scheelea weberbaueri);
musaceas como el platanillo (Heliconia spp.); etc.
Within the three ecological levels of the park it is possible to find the greatest diversity of fauna in the world that as a whole are a valuable reserve of species, many of which still relatively are not known. Many of the investigations still are concentrated in the Biological Station of Cocha Cashu in the whose environs they have been registered more than 550 species of birds, being considered in more than the 1000 total of species in all the Park. Anywhere in the world the well-known species do not happen of 9000, of these in Peru are 1800, arriving at a true world-wide record, thus, the Manu lodges one of each nine species of birds, a matchless exuberance by any other Earth park. 200 species different from mammals were registered in addition; between that they emphasize primates of which 13 species exist, on the other hand, 100 species of bats exist. Here it is possible still to find easily animals in danger of extinction like the black lizard and the wolf of river; in addition, the fish are abundant in the rivers of the Park, like the insects and invertebrates of which it is considered must exist more of a million species; the investigations on the fauna in the region are still very little and insufficient.
Between the main species of fauna of the Park they are had:
Son Primates like:
musmuqui o mono nocturno (Aotus nigriceps),
tocon (Callicebus moloch),
cotomono o mono aullador (Alouatta seniculus),
machin blanco (Cebus albifrons),
fraile (Saimiri sciureus),
choro (Lagothrix lagotricha);
leoncito (Cebuela pygmaea),
pichico (Saguinus fuscicollis),
pichico emperador (Saguinus imperator),
maquisapa o mono araña negro (Ateles paniscus).
Hormigueros como el serafin (Cyclopes dydactilus),
tamandua (Tamandua tetradactyla),
oso hormiguero (Myrmecophaga tridactyla);
perezosos como el perezoso de tres dedos (Bradypus variegatus),
perezoso de dos dedos (Choloepus hoffmanni);
armadillos como el carachupa (Dasypus novemcinctus)
arachupa maman (Priodontes maximus);
raposas como el pericote (Philander opossum),
muca (Micoureus cinereus),
raposa (Marmosops noctivagus);
un leporidaceo que es el conejo (Sylvilagus brasiliensis);
roedores como la ardilla colorada (Sciurus spadiceus);
puerco espin (Coendu bicolor);
ronsoco (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris);
majaz o picuro (Agouti paca),
añuje (Dasyprocta variegata),
añuje menor (Myoprocta pratti);
pacarana o machatero (Dinomys branickii);
vizcacha (Lagidium peruanum);
coati (Nasua nasua), chosna (Potos flavus);
mustelidos como el huron o lobito de rio (Eira barbara),
nutria (Lutra incarum),
lobo de rio (Pteronura brasiliensis);
felinos como el tigrillo (Felis pardalis),
puma (Felis concolor),
yaguarundi (Felis yagouaroundi),
jaguar u otorongo (Panthera onca).
tapir (Tapirus terrestris);
sajino (Tayassu tajacu),
huangana (Tayassu pecari);
cervidos como el venado colorado (Mazama americana),
venado cenizo (Mazama gouazoubira),
taruca (Hippocamelus antisensis); etc.
Panguana pequeña (Crypturellus undulatus),
pisacca (Nothoprocta ornata),
perdiz grande (Tinamus major);
sharara o pato culebra (Anhinga anhinga);
garza blanca grande (Casmerodius alba),
garza tumuy-tumuy (Phiherodias pileatus),
pumagarza (Tigrisoma lineatum);
machaco (Mycteria americana),
jabiru (Jabiru mycteria);
espatula rosada (Ajaia ajaia);
camungo (Anhima cornuta);
ganzo selvatico o ganzo del orinoco (Neochen jubata),
pato criollo (Cairina moschata);
condor de selva (Sarcoramphus papa),
gallinazo cabeza negra (Coragyps atratus);
gavilan del camino (Buteo magnirostris),
aguila harpia (Harpia harpyja),
aguila real (Spizaetus ornatus),
aguila crestada (Morphnus guianensis);
chiguango negro o caracara negra (Daptrius ater),
halcon de murcielaguero (Falco rufigularis);
pukakunga (Penelope jacquacu),
paujil (Crax mitu);
shansho (Opisthocomus hoatzin);
trompetero (Psophia leucoptera);
tuqui-tuqui (Jacana jacana);
gaviotin de pico grande (Phaetusa simplex),
gaviotin pico amarillo (Sterna superciliaris);
rayador (Rynchops nigra);
guacamayo azul-amarillo (Ara ararauna),
guacamayo bandera (Ara macao),
maracano (Ara severa),
pihuicho (Brotogeris sanctithomae),
chunkuchui (Pionus menstruus),
aurora de frente amarilla (Amazona achrocephala);
buho crestado (Lophostrix cristata);
martin pescador grande (Chloroceryle amazona);
carpintero lineado (Dryocopus lineatus);
tucan o pinsha (Ramphastos cuvieri);
cardinal (Paroaria gularis);
paucar chico (Cacicus cela);
gallito de las rocas (Rupicola peruviana), etc.
Taricaya (Podocnemis unifilis);
motelo (Geochelone denticulata);
lagarto blanco (Caiman crocodylus),
lagarto negro (Melanosuchus niger);
boa amarilla (Boa constrictor);
jergon (Bothrops atrox), shushupe (Lachesis muta); etc.
Raya (Potamotrygon hystrix);
anguila (Electrophorus electricus);
carachama (Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus);
bagre (Sorubin spp.),
zungaro (Pseudoprimelodus spp.);
boquichico (Prochilodus magdalenae),
piraña (Serrasalmus spp.); etc.
Manu is a Biosphere Reserve because it contains the best existing example of biodiversity in protected areas of rain forest, as well as endemic areas of cloud forest. Humans have altered the majority of forests in the world. Fortunately, Manu has remained intact and untouched by civilization.
In The Manu, we can observe a variety of animals in their natural habitats, including: Giant Otters (Pteronura brasilensis), Black Caiman (Melanosuchus niger), the majestic Jaguar (Panthera onca), the strange Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus), the Tapir (Tapirus terrestris), the Ocelot (Felis pardalis), 13 species of primates, and an estimated of one thousand species of birds including species of seven Macaws (Ara sp.).
Manu also contains 10% of the world plant species, including several species of figs and palms, as well as countless species of medicinal plants that scientists are currently cataloguing. A single hectare of forest in Manu can have up to 220 species of trees, while a hectare of temperate forest in Europe or North America may only have 20 species of trees. The Manu National Park is probably the most biological diverse and protected park on the planet.
There are two main access routes to the Reserve Zone in the Manu National Park:
1.- From Cusco city, approx. 12 hours overland trip and then approx. 6 hours motorboat ride along the Upper Madre de Dios and Manu rivers.
2.- From Cusco, 30 minutes flight to Boca Manu town and then approx. 4 hours motorboat ride along the Manu River.
Because of the inaccessibility and high cost, the minimum duration of a trip to Manu is four days, but we highly recommend to take a seven-day trip.
The shorter option is visiting only the Cultural Zone, in a three days trip long.
In both cases, the one day journey to Ericka Lodge is really a beatiful trip, passing by Paycartambo and after that going down the Andes making mountain biking and rafting along the way.
Weather and Seasons
This area has a dry and a wet season with some sudden cold weather fronts throughout the year.
The bulk of the Biosphere Reserve lies within the watershed of the 250 km long Manu River, one of the many small rivers that flow out of the Andes and unite to form the mighty Amazon River.
Most of the lowland sections of the park (at 400 mts above sea level) receive about two meters of rain annually, which is only twice as much as New York City. Most of this rain falls from October or November through April or May. The dry months of the year are from June to September.
Daytime high temperature average in the lowland sections is 35°C (90°F), while night time low temperature average is 25ºC (79° F).
In any month of the year, however, unexpected Cold Fronts from the South can bring one or two days of heavy rain with daytime high temperatures of 18ºC (65° F) and night-time low temperatures of 10ºC (50° F).
HIGH SEASON: APRIL– DECEMBER
LOW SEASON: JANUARY - MARCH
Vias de acceso
La visita al Parque Nacional no esta permitida. Sin embargo, las adyacentes Zona Reservada y Zona Cultural cuentan con los mismos atractivos y varios albergues para turistas. Existen varias rutas para acceder al Manu.
Las principales parten de la ciudad del Cusco:
Via terrestre (12 hr. aprox.) hasta Atalaya o Shintuya, luego por via fuvial (6 hr. aprox.) a traves de los rios Alto Madre de Dios y Manu
Via aerea (30 minutos aprox.) hasta la localidad de Boca Manu luego, remontando por el rio Manu (4 hr. aprox.)
Para llegar a la Zona Reservada Tambopata-Candamo se debe navegar en canoa a motor durante tres horas por el rio Tambopata, Malinowski, La Torre, Tavara y Candamo.
En su casi millon y medio de hectareas el parque guarda una biodiversidad incomparable en el mundo y su territorio abarca desde las alturas de la puna, el bosque humedo y tropical y el llano amazonico. Luego de descender e iniciar la navegacion por el rio Alto Madre de Dios, se pasa por el punto denominado Salvacion, para descender a la zona baja del parque, apreciando bellas playas y la abundante vegetacion. Luego se encuentran las aguas rojizas del rio Manu con las aguas cristalinas del Alto Madre de Dios, para llegar a la reserva de la Biosfera del Manu y recorrer luego el tramo Boca Manu-Pakitza y apreciar diversos animales.
MAPA POR ZONAS EN EL MANU
Tropical Rain Forest, which in Columbus's tima covered most of the West Indian islands, is today rapidly decreasing in area, but not long ago stretched over almost all of the equatorial lowlands of South America, Africa and southeastern Asia.
It is the charcteristic vegetation of the humid tropics and occupies (or formerly occupied) all land surfaces with a sufficiently hot climate, and a sufficiently heavy and well-distributed rainfall, except for the small areas where the ground is so swamphy, is otherwise unsuitable for trees to grow, or where as in young volcanic lava, there has not been time for it to develop.
In ecological terms, evergreen forest is the climax, or potential natural vegetation, of humid equatorial climates.
The Cultural Zone is one of the three zones from Manu National Park which covers high mountains, cloud forest amd low jungle.
In this area there are small villages, setlers and native comunities working in productive activieties such as agriculture and lumber at a low scale, since this activities are controled by the Ministery of Agriculture and Park Authorities.
One of the porpouses of this controled area is to act as a buffer zone to the Reserved and Intangible Zones.
Crossing over the eastern edge of the Andes, travelers to Manu National Park, often encounters a thick blanket of clouds.
This is the beginning of the Cloud Forest, this mysterious, ghostlylit forest live the spectacular Cook of the Rock, Spectacle bear and scores of dripping tree ferns, bromeliads and Orchids. Ranging in elevation from 11,500 to 4,500 feet (3,500 to 1,500m.a.s.l.), the Cloud Forest is one of the least studied of environments, at least 50% of its plant species are found nowhere else on earth.
Heavy mists and frequent rains (up to 23 feet, or 6 meters annually) support the cloud forest's dense, stunted canopy of evergreen trees. In a process called "cloud stripping", the leaves cause the condensation of the moisture from the clouds. Water is therefore continually forming on the plant surfaces and dripping towards the ground.
The perpetual humidity of the Cloud forest makes an ideal home for epiphytes - plants that live on other plants and take their moisture and nutrients from their surroundings, not the ground. As a dirt accumulate on branches, lichens and mosses begin a colonization process that soon followed by ferns, bromeliads and orchids.
This zone which runs along both sides of the Manu River, covers a vast extension of primary forest is dedicated for only two activities: tourism and research.
Being the river the only possible access to this area it is relatively easy to control and protect it from no authorized visitors and poachers. Scientists consider this area as a living laboratory because of the mega-diversity in flora and fauna.
This warm and chocolate color river has its origins in the eastern chain of the Andes at the Fitzcarald pass and ends at Boca Manu where it joins the Alto Madre de Dios River, forming at this point the Madre de Dios River, which is the main water way of the South-Eastern peruvian jungle.
One of the most important characteristics of the river is that on its turns ox-bow lakes have formed along the time.
Ox-bow lakes are old remnant river courses, cut-off from the main river by the effects of erosion and the constant shifting of river canals. On the Manu river we can find several ox-bow lakes, two of them are frequently visited by us: Salvador being the largest one and Otorongo; which allow a relaxing view of the forest and marshland from a catamaran.
A lot of interesting animals live in and around these lakes: Black Caiman, Boa, a multitude of bird life, monkeys and the endangered Giant Otter. Beneath the surface live many hundreds of fish species, many small and colorful, others large and whiskered. Several species of piranhas also live in these lakes.
Giant Otter: Occupying a top position in the food pyramid among Manu's lakes is the Giant Otter (Pteronura brasilensis), an aquatic mammal that can measure up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) in length and weight up to 70 pounds (32 Kilos). Giant otters are highly social animals, living in closely-knit family groups. They often hunt communally using their whiskers to detect fish in the murky lake depths. Adult otters commonly eat up to 10 pounds (4 kilos) of fish a day.
Giant Otters have been heavily hunted in the last decades, for that reason is an endangered specie with not many individuals left in the world. Nevertheless on the Manu River and the Ox-bow lakes of the Reserved Zone we have the biggest population of otters in the rainforest.
Giant Otters are a very territorial animal, specially if their habitat is a fairly extended lake such as Salvador and Otorongo, for that reason the chances of spotting them are quite high.
If a group is spotted try not to make any noise or hasty movements. They are usually very inquisitive creatures and will often approach the catamaran to within 30 or 40 meters. Please do not pursue them.
There is a trail system around Salvador Lake, which also allows to do night treks, and it is usually combined with the catamaran observation of the lake.
Crossing the Manu River and along it there is another trail that leads to Otorongo Lake, where there is an observation tower.
One of the special features of these trails is the observation of gigantic trees.
This is the biggest part of the Park, covering an extension of 1'800, 000 hectares of pristine forest.
A few protected areas in the world are as large as this Intangible Zone and non of them is as pristine as rich in wildlife species.
In this area tourism is not permitted and for that matter any other activity, except Scientific research at the Biological Station of Cocha Cashu where for the last 25 years peruvian and international scientists have been conducting investigation projects on flora and fauna.
There are serveral ethnic groups such as Matshiguenkas/Kugapacoris, Yoras/Yaminahuas, Mashco Piros, Amahuacas and others, some of this groups don't have any contact with the outside world.
On the Madre de Dios River about two and a half hours going down stream from Boca Manu town, can be founded the macaw clay-lick in the world hosting daily one of the most spectacular natural phenomenon in Amazonia.
After the first morning sun begin to hit the eroded river bank (actually a cliff face) hundreds of parrots and macaws belonging to ten or more species arrive and alight in nearby trees.
They arrive in discrete pairs or in flocks hundreds strong, depending on the species.