The lung of the planet, the Amazon, extends throughout much of the South American continent, covering with its green mantle a good part of Peru among other countries. If Machu Picchu is the jewel in the crown of the Andean country in terms of Inca culture, the Manu National Park is number one in the category of jungle and wild nature. It is a magical place, isolated and one of the last bastions of this fragile ecosystem that still remains practically intact.
If there is a dream that I remember since I have reason to use it, it is to visit the Amazon jungle through all the countries where it is present. After this trip through South America, we have not achieved the purpuse yet, but we are getting closer. After our Little experience in the Amazon of Brazil, we decided to go to a fixed shot and explore one of the places that we had seen in so many reports of nature reaching the most conserved place of the Peruvian Amazon. There are other places such as the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve in the north of the country and close to Iquitos or the Tambopata Reserve, bordering Bolivia and much more touristic, but our goal was only one.
What is the Manu National Park
This National Park of almost 2 million hectares was created in 1973 and is located in the southeast of Peru, specifically in the departments of Madre de Dios and Cuzco. The biodiversity in this place is one of the highest in the planet and as a result it was declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1977 and a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1987.
It is made up of a variety of landscapes that range from the Andes mountain range at almost 4000 meters above sea level, to the Amazon basin at 300 meters above sea level, passing through the cloud forest at around 1500 – 2000 meters above sea level. In fact, it is the only park in Latin America that has the entire range of ecosystems in the Amazon: from the tropical lowland forest at 35 degrees to the cold mountains of the Andean puna at 10 degrees.
Although it can be visited throughout the year, the dry season is recommended between May and September, which does not mean that it does not rain, but it does rain less and the journey along the roads becomes a little easier. We are not going to cheat, it rains in the jungle and much, even stronger in the rainy season from January to March. To part it is necessary to count on the humidity and the heat that can get to be extreme and the mosquitoes and infinity of insects a bit annoying It is that enjoying this wonder has its discomforts!
These jungles are home of native indigenous communities such as the Matsiguenka and the Amarakaeri, deep connoisseurs of the area, as well as tribes in voluntary isolation called “uncontacted” and completely isolated from our frantic 21st century life.
The Manu Biosphere Reserve is divided into several areas that should be understood to avoid misunderstandings. These are the Manu National Park and the Manu Cultural Zone.
Manu National Park is the largest area with 100% protection and in turn it is also divided into two more zones.
The intangible zone is where the tribes of “uncontacted” live in voluntary isolation and where one of the world-renowned biological stations, called Cocha Cashu, is located. As a tourist, it is not allowed to access this area since it is dedicated only to research and a special permit is required. It is located from the control post of Pakitza, the Manu river and from the left part of the Alto Madre de Dios river.
The reserved area where tourism has access only through the agencies that have special permission. It goes from the confluence of the Alto Madre de Dios and Manu rivers, called Boca Manu to the Pakitza checkpoint.
Cultural area of Manu, is located on the right side of the Alto Madre de Dios and some of its tributaries. Matsiguenka communities live here and the level of protection is not as high as in the National Park area. Tourism is also allowed here although, as its name indicates, it is based more on knowing local cultures than on wildlife sightings.