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Manu nacional park: It is known for its rich biodiversity
Cusco

Manu National Park

Written by: Incatrailhikeperu May 7, 2022

Overview

Manu National Park is a National Park and Biosphere reserve in the region of Madre De Dios and Cusco in the southeastern part of Peru. It is across the highlands of the Andes, cloud forests, and the jungle of the plains. It saves a number of diverse ecosystems, with lowland rainforests, cloud forests, and Andean grasslands. Its vegetation starts as low as 150m in height to over 4 200m above sea level. The Manu River snakes its way through the lowland forests and finally joins the mighty Madre de Dios River. Visiting the Amazon Jungle is a dream for many, the Manu National Park gives that chance. There is many and a broad spectrum of many things to check like the altitude, microclimates, native people, flora, and fauna among other things.

How many zones are there in Manu National Park?

The “Cultural or Buffer Zone” encompasses around 120,000 hectares (300000 acres). It is the park’s starting point and the only area where visitors can enter unaccompanied. It begins at the national park’s southern boundary with the Madre de Dios River and the Andean highlands. There are tiny settlements, settlers, and native populations in this area engaged in productive activities like as agriculture, forestry, and cattle raising.

The “Reserved Zone” encompasses 257,000 hectares (635000 acres). It runs from Panagua River to Boca Manu and is located in the lower Manu River. This region has been designated for supervised scientific research as well as ecotourism. Tourists are permitted here, although admission is highly monitored, and visitors must visit with an authorized guide.

The environment, wildlife, and plants in this area of the park are quite diverse. The river bends create lagoons with diverse flora and animals.

The “Intangible Zone – Manu National Park” is the largest section of the park, comprising 1,532,806 hectares (3787000 acres). This section of the park is solely for the preservation of flora and animals, and only government-sponsored biologists and anthropologists are permitted to visit, with no right to tamper with the natural history of events. This area of Manu Park is home to the tropical ecological research site Cocha Cashu. Tourism is not authorized in this area, and admission is only permitted with a special permit.

Indigenous groups have lived on the Manu for a long time. These tribes have a population of around 1000 individuals. In this area of Manu National Park, there are also roughly 200 Quechua Indians.

Timeline: Important Events

  • 29 May 1973 – National Park was made
  • 1977– UNESCO recognizes it as a Biosphere Reserve
  • 1987 – UNESCO recognizes Manu National Park as a World Heritage Site
  • 2009 – The original site was to the current size of 1, 716, 295, 22 hectares/ 17,162, 95 km²

Demographics and Ecology

Demographics

There are a number of native tribes that have certain parts of Manu National Park. They have lived in isolation, mostly maintaining a nomadic hunter gatherer culture. However, it is unfortunate that some of these communities are under threat because of diseases, violence from illegal miners (oil extractors) and loggers, as well as ecological devastations.  Known tribes include The Yora, Mashco-Piro, Matsiguenka, Harakmbut and Yine. 

Manu National Park is home to the following species:

There are almost 1000 bird species.

1300 butterfly species.

200 mammal species.

13 different primates.

210 fish species.

650 different bee species.

20,000 plant species (10% of all vascular plant species on the planet!)

A single acre might include up to 250 different tree species!

Some examples are provided below

Flora   

The vegetation and plant life here is varied and spread out. If we had to name every species it would take up the whole blog.  Instead, we shall offer a brief summary. It really is hard to envision, we recommend you see it in person, it is amazing.  There are over 162 families of many vegetation, 119 genera, and 4385 identified species of plants and more than 1108 species of trees. The three different regions encourage the growth of the many plants found. The regions include the High Andean forests, cloud forests, and lowland Amazon forests.

Fauna

Manu National Park forms part of the Amazon Jungle. So in terms of the animals, look forward to the weird and amazing, from cute to menacing, furry to hairless, they have it all.  Whatever you find, be sure it won’t disappoint.  In the lowland forest expect some Jaguars, Giant Armadillo, Spider Monkeys and so much more. The mountains have animals like the spectacled bear, Andean fox, and mountain Guinea pigs (not sure it’s safe to eat these) among other species. The number of different species stands at 155 Amphibians, 132 reptiles (including the green anaconda), 210 fish, 300 ants, 650 beetles, 136 dragonflies and 1300 butterflies. Interesting fact:  The national bird of Peru is called the Andean Cock of the Rock.

Sloth

Sloths live in the tropical forests of Central and South America. There are two main species of sloth, identified by whether they have two or three claws on their front feet. The two species are quite similar in appearance, with roundish heads, sad-looking eyes, tiny ears, and stubby tails. Two-toed sloths are slightly bigger and tend to spend more time hanging upside-down than their three-toed cousins, who will often sit upright in the fork of a tree branch. Three-toed sloths have facial coloring that makes them look like they’re always smiling. They also have two extra neck vertebrae that allow them to turn their heads almost all the way around!

Collared Anteater

The southern tamandua, also called a collared anteater, or lesser anteater (Tamandua tetradactyla), is a species of anteaters from South America. It is a solitary animal, found in many habitats from mature to highly disturbed secondary forests and arid savannas. It feeds on ants, termites, and bees. Its very strong fore claws can be used to break insect nests or to defend itself.

Capybara

To call it, it is the largest living rodent in the world. It belongs to the Caviidae family and its scientific name is Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris, which in Greek means “water pig”. They are very friendly and sociable animals, something that has already been seen in interaction with numerous species. If you want to know more about the characteristics of the capybara, its habitat and diet.

Geography

Manu National Park covers a massive 1, 716, 295, 22 hectares/ 17, 162,95 km². It’s found in the North of Cusco. It’s at the meeting point of the Tropical Andes and the Amazon Basin in Southwestern Peru. The park is all under Peru, although it does share borders with Brazil and Bolivia. It covers the entire Manu River Basin. Because of its geographical location and climate, it makes it hard for planes to take off from here, and you have to use the many vehicle routes available.

Weather 

The weather in Manu National Park is typical rainforest weather. It’s plagued with heavy rains and showers during the wet season which is between December and April. However, during the dry season which is between May and November, there is only a scattering of rain showers.  But the rain is not usually as intense and frequent as it is in the wet season.

The wet season also brings cooler temperatures, although the difference in temperatures is not that significant. But when we put things in perspective, the temperature drop brings a welcome reprieve for the inhabitants of Manu National Park and its visitors. The average temperatures in the dry season are around 36°C/ 97F in day and 18°C/64F at night, with humidity at times exceeding 70%. The average temperatures in the wet season are around 30°C/ 86F during the day and 14°C/57F at night. In short dry season is scorching hot, but with less rain and the wet season is cooler, but is frequented by rain and drizzle. It is much more difficult to visit certain sections of the park because of possible landslides and road closers. 

How to get there?

There are a few options for transportation.

The easiest and probably most expensive way is taking a charter plane from Cusco to Boca Manu. They have an airstrip and it is possible to charter a plane. Chartering a plane is always easy and convenient, but it does come with a price tag. Another option is taking a domestic flight to Puerto Maldonado followed by a 6 hour boat ride.

The next option is to take one of the many local buses, it’s a long ride and they don’t make any stops unless its pick-ups and drop offs. Although inexpensive, the schedule can be unreliable and the logistics if you do not speak Spanish can prove challenging.

You could also consider driving there from Cusco. It’s 5 hours to Paucatambo, followed by a 25km descent to Pilcopata, then you continue for 55km to the river port of Itahuania, and finally take the boat to Boca Manu which will lead to Manu National Park. 

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