manu national park
"The largest reserve of Biodiversity in Peru"
Manu Biosphere Reserve is a sprawling national park in southeastern Peru, spanning Andean highlands, cloud forest and lowland jungle. It’s known for its rich biodiversity, notably hundreds of bird species, including macaws, which feed at clay licks at sites such as Blanquillo. Boats run along the Manu River, past dense Amazonian jungle that is home to jaguars, black caimans and spider monkeys.
Get to know the most important natural animal and plant sanctuary in Peru
Manú National Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional del Manú) is a national park and biosphere reserve located in the regions of Madre de Dios and Cusco in Peru. It protects diverse ecosystems such as lowland rainforests, cloud forests and Andean grasslands. The Manú Nature Reserve was established in 1968.
Manú National Park was established by decree on 29 May 1973; during the dictatorship of General Juan Velasco.
In 1977, UNESCO recognised it as a Biosphere Reserve and in 1987, as a World Heritage Site.
In 2002, the Peruvian government increased the extension of the park to its current area.
Manu National Park covers an area of 1,716,295.22 hectares (17,162.95 km2) which comprises mountainous areas (traversed by creeks and valleys) with elevations close to 4000 m above sea level and a portion of the Amazon Basin plains.
The park is divided into the following areas: the restricted use zone (with pristine forests and native communities, access is granted to researchers only); the reserved zone (for recreation and research); the recuperation zone (for the recovery of disturbed areas) and the cultural zone (for human settlement).
Climate in the park is highly variable, rainy and depends on the elevation. The southern section (mountainous) has an annual precipitation between 1500–2000 mm; while in the middle section it is between 3000–3500 mm and in the northwestern section the annual precipitation reaches 8000 mm or more. The less rainy season is from May to September, accompanied by lower temperatures.
In the park, the mean annual temperature in the lowland rainforest is 25.6 °C, while in the Andean zone it is 8 °C.
The High Andean Zone has also thinly scattered woodlands with some species like the classic “q’euña”; besides dense clumps of dwarf reeds and “ichu” the ever present Andean graminoid. Among the main flora species of the Park are:
- Cetico (Cecropia spp)
- Renaco (Ficus paraensis)
- Ojé (Ficus insipida)
- Q'euña (Polylepis incana)
- Shihuahuaco (Dipterix alata)
- Ipururo (Alchornes sp.)
- Cedar (Cedrela odorata)
- Requia (Guarea macrophylla)
- Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla)
- Uchumullaca (Trichilia septentrionalis)
- Lupuna (Ceiba pentandra)
- Sapote (Quararibea cordata)
- Yumanaza (Muntingia calabura)
- Cocoa (Theobroma cacao)
- Capirona (Callycophyllum spruceanum)
- Pajaro bobo (Tessaria integrifolia)
- Lagarto caspi (Calophyllum brasiliense); etc.
- Cetico (Cecropia spp)
- Graminoids such as Dwarf Reed (Chusquea sp.)
- Cañabrava (Gynerium sagittatum)
- Ichu (Stipa ichu)
- palmae such as Huicungo (Astrocaryum murumuru)
- Pijuayo (Bactris gassipaes)
- Pona (Iriartea ventricosa)
- Ungurave (Jessenia bataua)
- Aguaje (Mauritia vinifera)
- Shapaja (Scheelea weberbaueri)
- musaceae such as Platanillo (Heliconia spp.); etc.
Inside the Manu National Park three ecological levels, it is possible to find the biggest fauna diversity that constitutes a very valuable species reserve, many of which remain still relatively unknown. Most of the research is still concentrated in the Cocha Cashu Biological Station in which surroundings more than 550 bird species were registered.
It is estimated that the total of species in the Park is more than 1000; the known species all over the world are not more than 9000, and from these, in Peru there are 1800, this constituting a real world record.
Thus, the Manu Park shelters one of each nine bird species, exuberance unmatchable by any other Park in the earth. Moreover, 200 different mammal species were registered; among which stand out the primates with about 13 species. Besides; there are also approximately 100 types of bats.
Over here it is possible to easily find endangered animals such as the Black Caiman and the Giant Otter. Fishes are abundant in the Park Rivers, as well as insects and other invertebrates from which it is estimated that there may be over one million species. Researches about the fauna of the region are still very scarce and insufficient. Among the Park’s fauna species are:
Among the native peoples living inside the park are: Yora, Mashco-Piro, Matsiguenka, Harakmbut and Yine; plus other human groups living in voluntary isolation.
In the Manu and Alto Madre de Dios River basins there are native human settlements that are established possibly since millennia ago; their inhabitants enjoy of free traffic as well as freedom in order to practice activities such as hunting, fishing, gathering and farming. They are part of the Park’s natural balance and are allowed whenever their activities do not represent any danger for that balance. Among those groups are the Machiguengas, the Yora or Yaminahuas, the Mashco-Piros and the Amahuacas.
Today, the Park authorities got in touch just with Machiguengas and Yoras. The inhabitants of those human settlements have a very peculiar way of life with effective ancestral customs and beliefs; they live in wooden houses with palmtree-leaf roofs; they weave in cotton, make pottery, cultivate goods such as manihot, uncucha, maize, papaya, pineapple, banana, etc.
They hunt with arrows, spears, peashooters and stone axes. Today, some of those people live a slow process of westernization due to their approach to modern society and influence of education and communications.
On the other hand, people through the last centuries created the famous “Paititi” myth; that is, a “lost Incan City” in the Amazonian Forest, that according to many authors would be located in the Park’s area.
That city would be according to the myth, the place where the last Quechua emperors had sent their treasures in order to protect them from the Spanish destruction; however, there are no evidences of that. But, in the eastern flank of the Andes facing towards the Park there are cultural remains of past civilizations that were not seriously studied; among them are the “Pusharo petroglyphs” in the low Palotoa zone.
In Incan times, according to their territory expansion policies, the Madre de Dios River was discovered and named as “Amarumayo” (Snake-Dragon River). In colonial times, many expeditions went into the region moved by the gold fever; and during the first years of the present century some religious missions were established and all the area was broadly explored and exploited for extraction of rubber latex that is found in important amounts mainly in the lower Manu.
Thus, the movement of workers in the region determined the foundation of Puerto Maldonado in 1902 and later the creation of Madre de Dios in 1912 as one department of the country.
During the following decades and after the breakdown of the rubber industry in Peru and Brazil, hundreds of hunters went into the zone looking for animal furs highly demanded in the international market, with emphasis in the chase of jaguars, ocelots, giant otters and black caimans.
Since the 1960s, the exploitation of valuable timber such as mahogany and cedar was started; that prosperous extractive activity led to the construction of an airfield in Boca Manu.
Peru Travel information
When to travel to Peru? Considering that Peru is categorized as one of the 17 megadiverse countries on earth, you have a variety of climates and seasons to consider. That being said, you can visit Peru year-round depending on where you would like to visit. However, if you are looking to explore the Amazonian rainforest or traverse through the Andes Mountains, many travelers choose to avoid the rainy season which runs from November to March with its peak between January and February. Visiting from April through October lands you in the generally dry winter season, which is an excellent time to visit Machu Picchu, experience a world-class trek, traverse the exotic Amazon Rain forest not to mention the other amazing destinations Peru has to offer. Speak with a Qosqo Expeditions Designer today to discover the best time for you to experience a luxury tour of Peru.
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Official Languages: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara
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