Manu Short and Sweet

The Andes and Cloud Forests, the Madre de Dios River and Ox-Bow Lakes

Hoatzin by Alex Durand

Photographer: Alex Durand

This trip is a short and sweet visit to the mountains and foothills of Manu with a boat trip along the Madre de Dios River and a visit to a wildlife filled Ox-bow Lake and an orchid laden river canyon.

What we include at a glance:

  • Pick and drop off at your Cusco hotel
  • Private bus to and from Cusco
  • Private boat on the Madre de Dios River
  • Private bungalows with en suite bath at all Lodgings
  • All meals and Snacks from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on Day 4
  • Potable drinking water throughout.
  • Bilingual experienced rainforest wildlife tour leaders
  • Raft excursion on Machuwasi oxbow Lake and wildlife trail excursions, visit to the Cock of the Rock Lek.

Day 1: Cusco to the Mountains of Manu Cloud ForestsLeaving Cusco after breakfast around 6:00 am we travel through traditional Quechua communities and through the spectacular eastern ranges of the Andes to the village of Paucartambo, passing snow-peaks and small Andean farmsteads, Inca terraces and old colonial haciendas. We will have time here to look around this picturesque village with its colonial stone bridge and handsome plaza. We then ascend to the last pass overlooking the Amazon Basin (Ajcanacu) and begin the breath taking descent from 3500 meters to 1600 meters above sea-level to our comfortable lodge in the orchid laden Cloud Forest. This is a spectacular journey passing cascading waterfalls and multicolored birds along the way. In the late afternoon, we'll walk into the lodge to the sounds of Quetzals, Trogons and Gray-breasted Wood-Wrens. Night at our selected Cloud Forest Lodge (Cock of the Rock or Paradise Lodge) L: D.

Day 2: The Cloud Forest to Villa Carmen Biological Station and Reserve A pre- breakfast short drive to a nearby spot in the Cloud Forest, where the strange and beautiful Cock-of-the-Rock’s displays at dawn. This is a wonderful sight, as up to 25 bright red-orange males dance and sing, attempting to attract the favors of the duller, burgundy colored females. We may bump into a troop of Gray Wooly Monkey’s. After visiting this lek we return to the Lodge for a leisurely breakfast (often accompanied by large-headed Capuchin Monkeys in the garden and Bolivian Squirrels) and continue in our bus to the Villa Carmen Biological Station located on over 7,500 acres of land within the spectacular Manu Biosphere Reserve in Southern Peru. Spanning an elevation gradient of 1,600 to 4,000 feet above sea level, Villa Carmen hosts an incredible array of species found in a variety of habitats, ranging from cloud forest to montane and lowland rainforest. We’ll settle into our spacious rooms with one glass wall overlooking overgrown ox-bow lakes. Currently there are five double cabins with private bathrooms. The Villa Carmen campus also includes a laboratory, a multipurpose meeting space, 24-hour electricity, hot water, and Internet access. The station neighbors several indigenous Wachiperi and Machiguenga communities as well as The Wachiperi Haramba Queros Conservation Concession, established with assistance from ACA as the first conservation concession in Peru run by an indigenous community. Villa Carmen Biological Station and the Villa Carmen reserve serve to promote sustainable agroforestry and aquaculture, host educational programs, serve as a biological research station, and further incorporate local communities into conservation efforts. The station and reserve supports a wide variety of habitats including old-growth rainforest, lower mountain forest, secondary forests, streams, rivers, waterfalls, and a highly diverse flora and fauna. Dotted with sparkling streams, rivers, and waterfalls, Villa Carmen is an ideal place to discover the beauty and bounty of nature. B: L: D
Day 3: Villa Carmen Biological Station and Reserve and and Machuwasi Ox-bow lakeAfter an early breakfast we‘ll drive through the village of Pilcopata to the Madre de Dios River. On route there is spectacular natural look out point of our upcoming journey. Here we embark on a half hour journey in a 15-meter motorized canoe down the Alto Madre de Dios River. We have the opportunity to see wildlife along the rocky banks of the river, such as Fasciated Tiger Herons, Purplish Jays, Skimmers and some of the primate species that live in Manu. We’ll visit Machuwasi Lake. We’ll use a balsa raft to explore the lake and observe the wildlife including the bizarre Hoatzin. After this lake excursion we return to Villa Carmen stopping to cruise the incredible beautiful orchid and waterfall-laden canyon, see a Coca Plantation and relax in our luxurious accommodation’s before an optional night walk in the forest. B: L: D
Day 4: Villa Carmen Biological Station and Reserve to CuscoA pre breakfast walk in the pristine forest, maybe take a look at the Antanov abandoned plane at the old airstrip home to two species of Bat and after a leisurely breakfast climb the east slope of the Andes back to the Inca capital Cusco and drop off at your hotel B: L

Customer Testimonials

Harry Mount

We had a wonderful time - Manu is a brilliant place!, best wishes, and good luck with your company in the future

Diane Heimlich / Peter Lobel and Family USA

The Manu Biosphere Reserve Adventure was fantastic. I think we managed to see every animal/bird mentioned and pictured in the description, thanks to our expert and wonderful guide, David. Among other things, he sighted two very camouflaged jaguars - we watched them for almost an hour. David made the trip informative, fascinating and fun. The food was fabulous and the drivers/boatmen were exceedingly skilled, very reassuring. A very memorable trip; thank you all.”

Beth + Joe Volk - USA

My husband and I (and cousins) were on the trip - Complete Manu Biosphere Reserve Experience July 11th 2016 - and thought we should take a moment to say a big thanks for such a great trip! We learned a lot; thrilled to see so many birds and animals, too; and enjoyed the food and accommodations. The whole crew was great and we felt well taken care of. We write a blog,, and will be doing six posts about our trip to Manu. The first will post Aug 10 and the last Aug 20. I’ll do some links to your company. Thanks again, Barry, to you and all the members of your team who did such a great job to make it a memorable trip.

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Folks are still asking about my trip. Having the pictures of some of the stars of that we saw are definite a plus when telling them about what we saw. Barry thanks for providing seamless transportation logistics. I fully appreciate how you "trained" the drivers to be on time.

Sue Toland, BHS Inca Challenge 2010 I am writing to thank Juan Carlos for his excellent guiding of our recent British Horse Society Inca Ride. Truly an amazing experience. Carlo's local knowledge, medical knowledge, general good humour and encouragement got us through a challenge, which I will never forget. The rest of the team were excellent also, highly organized and very efficient. The meals the cook prepared on his 2 gas rings were simply fantastic. Thank you all very much.

The view in the Andes, the horses, the guide, the camping, the food, everything was great. It was a trip of a lifetime. I would go back anytime. These horses are amazing they can climb anywhere! Then we had that typical Peruvian meal, lamb cooked in very hot stone. It was one of the best things I ever tasted.

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