An honest review of visiting Manu National Park
Updated: Jul 20, 2020
Visiting Manu National Park is an important milestone in my Peru Travel. While planning for Peru, I wanted to experience Peruvian Amazon.
Amazon rainforest is the world's largest tropical rainforest covering Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana and famous for its biodiversity. It is said, the health of Amazon and the health of the planet are interlinked because rain forest helps to stabilize our climate. And I did not want to miss the opportunity of visiting the Amazon rain forest when I am so close to it. Therefore, we added 3 days short trip to Manu National Park from Cusco.
There are other areas in Peru such as Iquitos, Chanchamayo where you can also experience the Amazon rain forest. But considering our budget and accessibility, the trip to Manu National Park was only doable for us.
Where is Manu National Park?
Manu National Park is a biosphere reserve situated at the meeting point of the Tropical Andes and the Amazon Basin in Southwestern Peru. The national park comprises of the mountain, the valley with an elevation approximate 4200 m from sea level, and a portion of Amazon. The landscape varies from Andean grassland, cloud forest to lush lowland rain forest. Manu River flows through the national park and joins Madre de Dios river. The park comprises diverse vegetation ranging from 1000 to 5000, about 200 different species of mammals, more than 800 different birds, 132 different reptiles, around 210 freshwater fish, and so on.
In this blog, I have not shared any itinerary because you will get a well-written itinerary from any agency.
Most of the cases, it is available on their websites. Rather I would like to provide some insights and help any traveler like us who wants to visit Amazon Rain Forest in a budget-friendly way.
We researched and contacted several tour agencies before booking our trip. From all of them, we got a fast response and detailed explanation regarding the itinerary. Here is the list:
Why did we choose Wild Watch Peru?
Our first concern was the price. Amazon rain forest trip is expensive irrespective of any agencies. If you choose a cruise trip, your budget goes up again. Every agency we contacted, have a nice itinerary. But it simply did not fit into our budget. Especially the plan with Delfin was really tempting. Since we planned to visit many other places, we did not want to spend so much money on a single trip. And if I am honest, the Manu National Park trip was the most expensive trip for us in Peru (around 365 USD per person). The second concern was no of days. Most of them have a bit lengthy plan. But we were looking for a short 3 days trips. And, Wild Watch Peru fulfilled all the criteria. It has a 3 days tour costing around 365 USD (kind of our maximum limit). The tour was the cheapest one we could find. They have a predefined activity list for every day which I liked comparing to others. The company has also good reviews in trip advisor. So, we booked our trip with them.
In the end, visiting the Amazon rain forest depends on the season, the number of days you want to spend, your budget, and what activity you want to do. If you are only visiting Amazon, and money is not a concern, then it is worth spending more.
You can find the full itinerary here.
My Own Experience in Manu National Park:
I was super excited about this trip from the very beginning before even reaching Peru. So, I plan to divide my experience with some positive points and negative points.
It was super exciting to stay amidst rain forest
We traveled over a beautiful landscape and cute remote villages.
Wild Watch Peru took care of everything, once we joined them.
Early morning boat ride before watching macaw clay lick along with sunrise was spectacular. It was amazing to see the first blink of daylight with a moving cloud in the rain forest
While hiking inside the jungle we came across many exotic plants including medicinal plants
Birdwatching was quite an experience. We spotted beautiful butterflies, macaw, Andean cock of the rock, woodpeckers, harpy eagle, Sapphire spangled emerald, hoatzin, heron, torrent duck, sloth, Peruvian spider monkey, caiman, squirrel monkey, etc
I never felt rushed in between any activity. The lodge we stayed had an amazing view. Our guide Ricardo was very knowledgeable and explained everything whenever needed.
I ate Peruvian Juane : which is a not-to-be-missed dish (typically consists of chicken, rice, olives, hard-boiled egg and turmeric all tightly wrapped in banana leaves)
It was also three days of cultural experience, knowing Amazon.
Though I was super excited, on our very first day, after sunset, I completely freaked out. There was no problem in terms of accommodation, food, security. But as soon as it became dark, I could not control my fear. I could not sleep as well. My eyes were not getting accustomed to the darkness outside. Our lodge was covered with mosquito net, but you can see outside. It did not have any sort of curtain. Along with that, I was hearing all sorts of sounds which are supposed to be in the jungle (insects and reptiles are very common). Maybe because I am so accustomed to city life or maybe because of my lack of experience I could not get rid of the terrible thoughts. It caused a lot of stress for me personally. But there is nothing life-threatening I could find. Of course, safety measures are always there. For me personally, apart from my sleeping issue at night and my own fear, everything was perfect.
Visiting Manu National Park, was indeed adventurous. I survived because I was with my friend. But as a suggestion, if you are just like me (maybe traveling alone), think twice before investing on such a trip. My suggestion would be reading more about the stay, what to expect beforehand to avoid problems. In the end, if you overcome your fear, everything will be perfect.
Most of the lodges are a bit far from the locality. Once you reach there, it is hard to find any transportation to go back, even you want it badly. Also, in most cases, you will be traveling in a group and it would be problematic to arrange something separate.
Spotting wildlife is not always easy. Maybe there will be days, you will not see anything.
Some people also have the misconception that they will get to see anaconda or jaguar very easily. But this is not really true. You might see it or maybe you need to spend more time
taking a longer trip which leads deep into the jungle. You must consider all the situations and then plan for such a trip and invest your money.
Trip to Manu National Park is an exotic experience. If you are interested in wildlife, you will be enjoying it a lot.
Before I complete this blog, I made a list of things to carry while visiting the Amazon rain forest. Here it goes:
Things to carry while visiting Amazon Rain Forest:
Pack light. Carry light backpack for everyday trips.
Wear earth tone colored cloths because it helps the best to spot wildlife. Also, choose slightly loose-fitting clothes made of breathable material. If you wear tight clothes, mosquitoes can bite through thin fabric. Do not opt for something which takes ages to dry.
Carry a good mix of short sleeve and long sleeve shirts to avoid bug bite or mosquito bite. Avoid wearing shorts, try to wear long bottoms.
Carry raincoat or poncho
Wear good quality hiking shoes.
Carry mosquito repellent of 40% DEET and sunscreen
Take rubber boots. Most of the company provides rubber boots.
Carry a torch or headlamp. Most of the lodges work on solar power. Often at night, there is no electricity. It is hard to move around in the dark.
Carry hat for sun protection
Carry binocular for bird watching
Carry a good zoom camera for photography
Carry a first aid kit. The jungle is anyway remote. One must carry all the basic medicines.
Carry toiletries, wet wipes. Soap is available in the lodge. But if you are camping outside, it becomes handy. Also, you will most probably not going to use makeup. But Amazon is very humid. You will be probably sweating 24 hours. So wet wipes help to freshen up quickly and also to remove dirt and remaining of the sunscreen and insect repellent.