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.

Submit a testimonial


I was on the Northern Peru Birding tour your company organized and I need to say I was blown away by the quality of the ground crew supplied for us, as was everyone else in our group. They went far above and beyond the call of duty.

Barry - Kathy and I wanted to thank all of you for a great October trip to Tumbes and Northern Peru. Besides great birds (Lemon-rumped Tanager, Marvelous Spatuletail Plain-tailed Warbling Finch,etc), interesting habitats and spectacular landscapes (view of the Maranon from Abra Barra Negro), the trip was made even more special by your staff. Guillermo, Hilmar, Ramiro, Raul, and Fortunato were wonderful; they were always courteous, helpful and supportive in addition to providing great food and excellent driving. Having had my own business now for 25 years, I know I am only as good as the staff representing me and you are fortunate to have such staff!

I just got back from the Barbet camp...and from a great experience there! The birding there was excellent, and I got a number of barbets, pictures of barbets, and recordings of barbets. Other interesting things include: Andean Laniisoma, Roraimain Fly, Jet Manakin, many Scarlet-breasted Fruiteaters, Yungas type Manakins (lots of Ocellated WC and some Long-tailed WC, and in general excellent flock birding. Again, a huge thanks for all your help with this! That was a dream bird for me, and I'm so happy to have finally caught up with it.

Manu Expeditions excelled in getting us “out there” to maximize wildlife and in providing an outstanding guide, David. They take the “expedition” part in Manu Expeditions seriously and gave us every opportunity to enjoy and appreciate what Manu had to offer. No napping at the jungle lodge! A few little things that added to the trip: Our first meeting together at Cock of the Rock lodge we had mini Pisco Sours, a nice, authentic touch. Our chef prepared many delicious lunches on the boat where the captain just slowed down a little so we could eat, but we did not pull over or stop, so we could cover more ground and improve our timing. One day David forgot his water bottle, and we did not even know it until our morning outing had ended at almost noon. The final day when we had an early afternoon plane to catch, the importance of Manu Expeditions’s outstanding coordination was evident as we made many flawless connections of various modes of transport with drivers/boat captains waiting for every leg of the journey over the course of about 6 hours. Bing, bing, bing and we arrived at the airport about an hour earlier than planned. Manu Expeditions's drivers were also excellent, whether it was the van driver or boat captain. That second motor provided confidence too, should anything go wrong with motor #1. Nothing did. I think Manu Expeditions attracts fun and interesting people who like the outdoors, just by the type of trips the company offers. It was an outstanding trip. Hi again to David! Muchas Gracias,

I just wanted to let you all know that I really enjoyed my trip to Manu Wildlife Center. As I think back on the trip I realize now more than when I was there how many monkeys and macaws there are around the MWC, not to mention the Oropendolas. The people running the lodging do a great job. Also, Waldo is very patient with a pretty diverse group as well as very knowledgeable and sharp-eyed. Please say "Hi" and convey my thanks to him

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.