Manu Biosphere Reserve:South-East Peru

Photographer: Judith Adams

From the ancient Inca Capital of Cusco through the Andes and Cloud forests to the lowland Amazon


The Manu Biosphere Reserve has the highest diversity of life on Earth and is one of the most important conservation units in the world. If you were to choose THE best birding trip in the world, this must surely be in the top ten! The beauty of this trip is the variety of habitats visited, ranging from orchid-laden cloud-forest where Spectacled Bears and Cock-of-the-Rocks still live unmolested, to untouched Amazon rainforest where 13 species of monkey abound and Giant Otters still exist in the ox-bow lakes.

A trip to Manu is a trip to one of the world's great wilderness areas where wildlife is still plentiful and over 1,000 species of birds have been recorded. We regularly record 600 species on this tour and often see Jaguar. Imagine birding on forest trails with mixed species flocks that might contain over 50 species and bumping into a troop of Peruvian Spider Monkeys around the corner, or quietly paddling on a catamaran on an ox-bow lake with Giant Otters and teeming lakeside birdlife!

Day 1:Arriving in Lima our staff will transfer you to our selected hotel in Lima or connect to Cusco. The hotel chosen will vary depending on flight arrival times.
Day 2:We will take an early morning flight from Lima to Cusco or if already in Cusco pick you up at your Cusco hotel. Your tour leader will greet you and we will then head out south of town to Huarcapay Lakes. The lakes are surrounded by Inca and pre-Inca ruins. Here we will see a variety of high Andean waterfowl including Puna, Yellow-billed and Cinnamon Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail, Andean Duck and other wetland-associated birds. White-tufted Grebe and Andean Coot will be here too. Depending on the time of year migrant North American shorebirds (waders) may also be present. We will be specifically on the look-out for Wren-like Rushbird, Many-colored Rush-tyrant, Yellow-winged Blackbird, Puna Ibis, Plumbeous Rail and Andean Negrito. Birds of prey we may see include Aplomado Falcon, Cinereous Harrier, Variable Hawk and Black-chested Buzzard-eagle. We’ll enjoy a leisurely picnic lunch by the lake and in the surrounding arid scrub we will look for the endemic Rufous-fronted Canastero and Streak-fronted Thornbird. We should find the endemic Bearded Mountaineer feeding in the tree tobacco (Nicotania sp.), along with Giant Hummingbird and Trainbearers. Peruvian, Ash-breasted and Mourning Sierra-finches will also be here, as well as Greenish Yellow-finch, Golden billed Saltator and Blue and Yellow Tanager. In the afternoon we will drive long the Vilcanota River with some stops for the night in Pisac below the megalithic Inca terraces. B: L: D
Day 3: We will make an early start in our expedition bus. We will make our first stop as the sun hits the inter-andean slopes and colorful Quechua peasant farmers and their livestock pass by. Our target bird here is the endemic Chestnut-breasted Mountain-finch. We should also see Andean Hillstar, Andean Flicker, Black-throated Flowerpiercer and Chuiguanco Thrush and other high Andean birds including ground-tyrants and canasteros. Our next stop will be to look for the endemic Creamy-crested Spinetail. Traveling on we will arrive at the last Andean pass, Ajcanacu, and if the weather is clear we will be able to look out over the Amazon basin as it stretches into the distance, just as the Incas did when they would worship the sun rising over the endless rainforest. A further stop along the Tres Cruces road may find us Scribble-tailed and Line-fronted Canasteros, the newly described Puna Wren and maybe both Puna and Diademed Tapaculos. In the afternoon we will bird our way down the eastern slope of the Andes, as the forest becomes more continuous. Possibilities are many but we hope to encounter mixed species flocks comprising tanagers, flycatchers and ovenbirds. Gray-breasted Mountain-toucan, Collared Jay and Mountain Cacique are some of the many species we may find. In the evening we may go to a favorite spot where we have had luck calling in Swallow-tailed Nightjar.
Night at the Wayquecha Lodge at an altitude of 2,800 meters. B: L: D
Day 4:After an early hot breakfast we will start birding near the Biological Station. A full day exploring the humid temperate forest from tree line down for such species as Moustached Flowerpiercer, Tit-like Dacnis, Golden-collared Tanager and Puna Thistletail. We will then spend the rest of the day birding downhill through the forest, looking for mixed feeding flocks that will contain Grass-green Tanager, Hooded Mountain-tanager, Black-throated Tody-flycatcher, Barred Fruiteater, White-banded and White-throated Tyrannulets and many more. If we are lucky we may see Peruvian Treehunter, Golden-plumed Parakeet or even Greater Scythebill. We will then return for a second night spent at the Wayquecha Lodge. B: L: D
DAY 5 :At breakfast we will again be greeted with a varied dawn chorus, with both Red and White Antpitta and the occabambae race of Rufous (Urubamba) Antpitta calling. We will then leave the Biological Station and spend the whole day birding down a little-travelled road, bordered with pristine forest, until we reach our next lodge. Some of the special birds which we will look for today include: Black and Chestnut Eagle, Andean Guan, Scaly-naped Parrot, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Bar-bellied Woodpecker, the endemic Marcapata Spinetail, Barred and Band-tailed Fruiteaters, Ochraceous-breasted Flycatcher, Barred Becard, Pale-footed Swallow and many tanagers. We will also encounter a wide variety of hummingbirds including Collared Inca, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Violet-throated Startfrontlet, Amethyst-throated Sunangel, Purple-backed Thornbill, Scaled Metaltail and White-bellied Woodstar. We will then spend the night at the comfortable Lodge at an altitude of 1,300 meters at San Pedro. B: L: D
Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Bar-bellied Woodpecker, the endemic MarcapataSpinetail, White-throated Antpitta, Barred and Band-tailed Fruiteaters, White-throated Tyrannulet, Ochraceous-breasted Flycatcher, Barred Becard, Pale-footed Swallow, Mountain Wren, Citrine Warbler and many Tanagers. Night at the comfortable Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge near Union at 1300 meters. B: L: D {NOTE: If no space is available at Cock of the Rock Lodge we'll stay at the nearby comfortable Paradise Lodge}
Day 6 to 8: We will spend the next 3 days based at the comfortable Lodge, situated in the pristine cloud-forest of the mountains of Manu.
The lodge has 12 private, en-suite, bungalows, each with its own balcony. The rooms have hot and cold running water, flush toilets and two single beds in each room. Lighting is by candle and lantern but there is a small generator available for charging batteries. There is a large dining area and lounge, overlooking a feeding station for Large-headed Capuchin Monkeys and Tayras (a large mustellid related to the martens). Hummingbird feeders in the lodge garden attract several species including Wire-crested Thorntail and Peruvian Piedtail. The lodge sits just a few minutes’ drive away from a spectacular Cock-of-the-Rock lek, where one morning we will observe these colorful birds during their dawn mating rituals from the comfort of a blind (hide).
There is trail system behind the lodge that enables us to explore the cloud-forest understory. He we can find species not likely seen from the road, such as Chestnut-breasted Wren, Scaled Antpitta, Rufous-breasted and Short-tailed Antthrushes, Slaty Gnateater and the endemic Cerulean-capped Manakin.
One of our days here will be devoted to the 2,500-meter altitude zone, with another day being dedicated to the 1,500-meter zone. Possible species include Solitary Eagle, Rufous-capped Thornbill, Crested Quetzal, Golden-headed Quetzal, Highland Motmot, Black-streaked Puffbird, Blue-banded Toucanet, Spotted Barbtail, Montane Foliage-gleaner, Amazonian Umbrellabird, Uniform and Variable Antshrikes, Slaty Gnateater, Chestnut-crested Cotinga, Scaled Fruiteater, Bolivian Tyrannulet, Inca Flycatcher (endemic), Yungas Mankin, Uniform Antshrike, White-throated Spadebill, Fulvous-breasted Flatbill, Saffron-crowned Tanager, Yellow-rumped and Slaty Antwrens amongst others. We will also do some night birding whilst staying here and we have been lucky previously with Foothill and Rufescent Screech-owls, Rufous-banded Owl, Lyre-tailed Nightjar and Andean Potoo. All nights at our Cloud Forest Lodge. B: L: D.
Day 9:After a dawn breakfast, accompanied by the singing of Andean Solitaires and Paradise Tanagers, we will leave Cock-of-the-Rock lodge and spend the day birding slowly down the road until we reach our next lodge. We will pay particular attention today to the stretch of upper tropical zone forest between 1,500- and 800-meters altitude. This upper tropical zone forest has disappeared on much of the Andean slopes in South America because of its suitability for cash crops such as tea, coffee and coca. Fortunately, in this part of Peru this forest remains untouched.
We will be keeping a keen eye out for a spectacular, yet to be described, new species of tanager, which we have seen on several of our tours. Other birds which we may see on this stretch of road include: Rufous-breasted Wood-quail, Speckle-faced Parrot, Yungas and Three-banded Warblers, Long-tailed Sylph, Lanceolated Monklet, Versicolored Barbet, Russet Antshrike, Rufous-lored Tyrranulet, Marble-faced Bristle-tyrant, Fulvous-breasted Flatbill, Golden-collared Honeycreeeper, White-winged Tanager, Yellow-throated Bush-tanager and the endemic Black-backed Tody-flycatcher. We plan to arrive at the comfortable Villa Carmen Lodge in time for some birding in the lodge grounds. Night at Villa Carmen Lodge, at an altitude of 500 meters. B: L: D
Day 10: The area around Villa Carmen lodge is characterized by large stands of Chusquea bamboo and we will spend the morning looking for some specialties of this micro-habitat, such as White-cheeked and Flammulated Tody-tyrants, Large-headed Flatbill, Dusky-cheeked Foliage-gleaner, Rufous-headed Woodpecker, Manu, White-lined and Goeldi’s Antbirds, Red-billed Scythebill, Bamboo Antshrike, Ornate and Dot-winged Antwrens. Scarlet-hooded Barbet is here too, along with a wide variety of foothill species. There are feeders where Amazonian Antpitta and Tinamous attend. There is much to see here at this comfortable lodge. Night Villa Carmen Lodge.B:L:D
Days 11:After an early breakfast at Villa Carmen we will bird the road to Atalaya where from look-outs we often see Blue-headed and Military Macaws. As the day warms up we’ll cross the Madre de Dios River for a late lunch at the comfortable Amazonia Lodge, our base for the next 2 nights. Night at Amazonia Lodge. B: L: D
Days 12:We will spend this day working the birdy garden at Amazonia Lodge. The lodge has a bird list of around 650 species.There are butterfly bushes in the lodge garden that attract various hummingbird species, including the pretty Rufous-crested Coquette, Golden-tailed Sapphire, Blue-tailed Emerald, Black-eared Fairy and Wire-crested Thorntail.
The possibilities around Amazonia Lodge are enormous and we will bird a variety of habitats, including floodplain and hill forest. Some of the many species that we will be on the look-out for include: Wattled Guan, Military and Blue-headed Macaws, Pheasant Cuckoo, the endemic Koepcke’s Hermit, Chestnut-capped Puffbird, Fine-barred Piculet, Red-billed Scythbill, Thrush-like Antpittas, Rusty-belted Tapaculo, Mottle-backed Elaenia, Red-billed Tyrranulet, Johannis’ and Yellow-browed Tody-tyrant, Ornate Flycatcher, Band-tailed, Fiery-capped and Round-tailed Manakins, White-thighed Swallow. We will also have the possibility of night birding whilst staying here and in the past we have seen Mottled Owl, Black-banded Owl, Tawny-bellied Screech-owl, Great, Long-tailed and Common Potoos. Night at Amazonia Lodge. B: L: D
Day 13:We will spend the early morning birding near Amazonia Lodge in search of any species that we might we have missed. As the day begins to warm, we will head down the Alto Madre de Dios river in our motorized canoes for about 4 hours until we reach its confluence with the Manu river. The river trip is a pleasure as we leave the last foothills and enter the Amazon proper. Our boats are roofed and fitted with comfortable padded bucket seats. Upon reaching the Manu river we will then continue on for another two hours until we reach the very comfortable Manu Wildlife Center. On the river journey, we will have the opportunity to see some of the typical riverside species such as Pied Lapwing, Collared Plover, Fasciated Tiger-heron, Orinoco Goose and Large-billed and Yellow-billed Terns. Fly-overs will include many species of macaw and parrot, as well as some bird of prey observations.
We will aim to arrive at the Manu Wildlife Center in the late afternoon. Accommodations here are first class, with spacious dining and bar complexes. The bungalows have en-suite bathrooms and hot water. Night at Manu Wildlife Center. B: L: D
DAYS 14 to 18: We will spend the next five days based at the Manu Wildlife Center. The area around this lodge has the most forest types of anywhere in the Manu area, and thus the highest biodiversity, which means the most species of birds! Over 600 bird species have been recorded here. One morning we will visit the Blanquillo macaw clay-lick which is just down-river from the Manu Wildlife Centre. Here at close quarters we will observe the spectacle of hundreds of parrots and macaws from our comfortable blind (hide) as they visit the lick. Here we will see the beautiful Orange-cheeked Parrot, hundreds of Blue-headed Parrots and both Mealy and Yellow-crowned Parrots. Smaller visitors include White-eyed, Cobalt-winged and Dusky-billed Parrotlets. On another morning we will spend time at a canopy observation tower, accessed by a spiral metal stairway, watching canopy flocks which include Sclater’s Antwren, Chestnut-winged and Lineated Foliage-gleaners, Three-striped Flycatcher, Red-billed Pied-tanager, Yellow-shouldered Grosbeak and a multitude of tanagers, dacnis’ and honeycreepers. We will also visit two nearby ox-bow lakes where we will see lakeside birds including Hoatzin, Sungrebe, Agami Heron, Black-billed Seed-finch, Silvered and Band-tailed Antbirds, Amazonian Streaked Antwren and Rufous-sided and Gray-breasted Crakes. We may also be lucky and see one of the two Giant Otter families that live in the area. There is also a large mammal lick in the forest which we will visit. Apart from attracting tapirs, peccaries and maybe even a jaguar, the mammal lick also attracts guans, curassows, chachalacas as well as Rose-fronted and Rock Parakeets and Dusky-billed Parrotlets. The rest of our time will be spent birding the extensive trail systems around the Center which have been designed to visit different forest types. Varzea, Terra Firma and Mature Transitional Floodplain Forest, as well as large stands of bamboo, are all to be found here. Some of the more interesting and unusual species we will be searching for in the bamboo include Rufous-headed Woodpecker, Peruvian Recurvebill, Dusky-cheeked and Brown-rumped Foliage-gleaners, Ihring's (Bamboo) and Ornate Antwrens and White-lined and Striated Antbirds. We will certainly also look for the Rufous-fronted Antthrush which we have located on territory here. Some of the scarcer forest species we will be on the lookout for, that we have seen here previously, will include: Bartlett’s Tinamou, Razor-billed Curassow, Pale-winged Trumpeter, Sunbittern, Pavonine Quetzal, Purus Jacamar, Striolated Puffbird, Gray-cheeked Nunlet, Cream-colored Woodpecker, Ocellated Woodcreeper, Collared Puffbird, Ruddy Spinetail, Plain Softail, Striped Woodhaunter, Banded Antbird, Ash-throated Gnateater, White-throated Antbird, Black-spotted Bare-eye, Black-faced Cotinga, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, White-bellied Tody-tyrant, Royal Flycatcher, Musician (Ferruginous) Wren, Pale-eyed Blackbird and Yellow-shouldered Grosbeak. Night birding may produce Long-tailed, Great and Gray Potoos, Amazonian Pygmy-owl, Spectacled Owl, Ocellated Poorwill and Silky-tailed Nightjar, amongst others. All nights spent at the Manu Wildlife Centre. B: L: D.
DAY 19:We will make an early start in our comfortable boats, taking a last look at early morning parrot flocks. Our two-hour boat journey down the Madre de Dios river will take us past pristine forest until we reach the town of Boca Colorado, giving us another great chance to observe riverside birds and raptors as we go. Leaving our boats, we will next take a one-hour ride in local transport to the Inambari river. After crossing this river using local transport we will climb aboard our waiting bus which will drive us (two hours non-stop), birding along the way, to the bustling frontier town of Puerto Maldonado. Night in a comfortable hotel in Puerto Maldonado. B: L: D
DAY 20:We will do some early morning birding around the airport and the road to Cusco. We should pick up a lot of new species in these few hours, including seedeaters, Red-breasted Blackbird and White-tailed Kite. Other birds we will be on the look-out for include Black-banded and Gray-breasted Crakes, Grassland Sparrow, Black-faced Tanager, Barred Antshrike, Southern-Crested Caracara, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Small–billed Tinamou and Rusty-margined and Sulphury Flycatchers. Point-tailed Palmcreeper is common here. We will also make a special effort to find the range-restricted White-throated Jacamar.
We will then take the morning departure of the Lan Peru Airbus 319 flight to either Lima or Cusco and then on to connecting international flights. B.
Does not include air Lima - Cusco & Puerto Maldonado – Lima but we will purchase these on request – the price depends on when we get your full name, deposit and passport numbers – you can check current prices at www.LATAM.com, www.StarPeru.com and www.AVIANCA.com

CAN BE COMBINED WITH THE TRIPSLima to Cusco Overland: The Pacific Coast, West Slope and Apurimac Endemics, Andean Condors
Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu and Abra Malaga

Customer Testimonials

Huw Buck - Scotland

I thoroughly enjoyed Manu and the extension and claimed nearly 60 lifers. I thought Silverio the sharpest eared / eyed and most dedicated guide I have ever encountered.

David G. Davis Arlington, Virginia USA

I am writing to express our appreciation and commendations for the outstanding job performed by Manu Expeditions during our recent 2-week tour in Manu Peru. Manu Expeditions made the lodging and other accommodations, provided transportation and drivers, provided birding guides and handled all the other on-the-ground tasks that make for a successful tour. We could not have been pleased more in any aspect of the support provided by Manu. Our guide was absolutely excellent, both in terms of bird finding and identification skills, in handling necessary logistical support, and in dealing with 5 sometimes tired and overwhelmed travelers. Our drivers were both competent and cool-headed, the latter of which is a true survival skill on the treacherous mountain roads of the Manu Highway.

Our vehicles, including our boat and its crew on the Madre de Dios, were first-rate.

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Comments

I am writing to express our appreciation and commendations for the outstanding job performed by Manu Expeditions during our recent 2-week tour in Manu Peru. Manu Expeditions made the lodging and other accommodations, provided transportation and drivers, provided birding guides and handled all the other on-the-ground tasks that make for a successful tour. We could not have been pleased more in any aspect of the support provided by Manu. Our guide was absolutely excellent, both in terms of bird finding and identification skills, in handling necessary logistical support, and in dealing with 5 sometimes tired and overwhelmed travelers. Our drivers were both competent and cool-headed, the latter of which is a true survival skill on the treacherous mountain roads of the Manu Highway.

Our vehicles, including our boat and its crew on the Madre de Dios, were first-rate.

I thoroughly enjoyed Manu and the extension and claimed nearly 60 lifers. I thought Silverio the sharpest eared / eyed and most dedicated guide I have ever encountered.

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