Traipse Through the Treetops in the Peruvian Amazon
An easy 25-minute flight from Cuzco and you can be in the river town of Puerto Maldonado, the start of a truly unforgettable experience in the Peruvian Amazon. A stay at the amazing Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica ecolodge was my first jungle experience and one of our best memories from a trip to Peru. You'll begin your Ikaterra stay with a relaxing 45-minute boat ride down the Madre de Dios River to the ecolodge. The lodge offers plush accommodations, delicious food, and a wide range of activities for all interests and fitness levels: guided rainforest tours, either by day or by night; a relaxing canoe ride to the one-of-a-kind Lake Sandoval, with its howler monkeys, anacondas, macaws, and giant river otters; a day trip to a traditional Peruvian Ese Eja village; or a twilight boat ride to watch the daytime animals head to bed and the nighttime ones come alive. But by far my favorite activity at the Inkaterra was a canopy walk through the treetops 100 feet off the ground. Never one to fear heights, I found the climb to the top of the first 100-foot tower exhilarating. As I traipsed through the canopy on gently swaying bridges, I couldn't believe I was eye to eye with howler monkeys and exotic birds, seeing them first-hand in their natural habitat. If you visit the Peruvian Amazon, I highly recommend a stay at the Inkaterra, and if you do nothing else while you're there, make time for the unforgettable canopy tour.
By Joan Wharton, AFAR Local Expert
When thinking about the Amazon Jungle, Brazil may first come to mind—and rightly so, as the largest portion of the rain forest is indeed in that country. However, the Amazon also makes up 60 percent of Peru’s land. Experience this fantastic landscape at Manu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve. Try to spend a minimum of five days in the park, keeping in mind that the farther into the jungle you go, the more likely you are to see a wide variety of wildlife. Given that the park encompasses microclimates that range from more than 13,000 feet above sea level down to 984 feet, you will find a great diversity of vegetation, birds (800 species), and mammals (200 species) here. Not to mention butterflies—an incredible 1,300 butterfly species live in the jungle.
By Maureen Santucci, AFAR Local Expert
Manu National Park
Manu National Park is globally renowned for its rich reserve of biodiversity . It is located in Southwestern Peru at the meeting point between the Tropical Andes and the Amazon Basin. The reserve's isolation has spared it from most human impact, and to this day it is still difficult to access the more remote corners. The park protects several ecological zones, and it features one of the highest levels of biodiversity of any park in the world. It's worth your while to spend at least two nights exploring nature here. Almost every local tour operator offers a tour packages, and it is relatively easy to get here from Cusco: around eight hours by bus.
By Ana Paula Bedoya, AFAR Local Expert
Trekking in the Manu along the Alto Madre de Dios
Traveling down the Alto Madre de Dios River through the Manu Valley jungle, thunder rolling in the distance, we stopped to trek along the perimeter of an Oxbow lake, sighting the pre-historic looking Hoatzin (aka Stink Bird), with small claws on the bend of each wing, spiky yellow and red head crested punkish-looking feathers that overshadow its small head, a blue face, maroon eyes, a couple of feet in length, with a hoarse and unmelodic call, some of them engaging in suggestive activity atop tree branches across the lake. We encountered Bullet ants, one inch long, whose bites can induce a 24 hour fever and were were followed by a caiman, whose head barely broke the lake’s surface, eyes on us, his broad menacing head staring at us, gliding alongside us. At 4:15 a.m. one morning. we boated downriver to the Trocha Gaucamayo Macaw Lick and its blind, allowing for viewing of the squawking Scarlet Macaws and the more cheerful, but still loud, chirping of the green feathered Orange-Cheeked Parakeets and the brilliant green Mealy Amazon Parrots, all of them digging their bills into the clay to gather sodium not available in their normal diet. A later visit at night to a tapir lick proved unsuccessful due to a torrential downpour, dissuading the tapirs from showing up. The highlight of another Oxbow lake was Piranha fishing from a simple, open, wooden raft afloat with pontoons, sporting benches for our benefit and oared by two locals. Several of us caught and released a number of these sharp-toothed fish. However, we failed to see the elusive Giant Otter, only 250 left in all of Peru, down from 40,000 60 years ago. A grand time in all!
By S.A. Moffett
Peace and quiet on the Tambopata River in Peru
By Todd Ennis
Wildlife Photography Wonder.
The Inn is located within the 274,690-hectare Tambopata National Reserve, one of the world’s most species-richbiodiverse natural protected areas and the meeting point of three distinct biomes: lowland tropical rainforest, cloudforest and humid tropical savannah and extensive palm swamps. The scene of numerous biodiversity world records —including the sighting of 620 bird species around the Inn — the reserve provides unrivalled opportunities to observe Amazonian wildlife up close and personal. Whether you are an experienced research scientist or simply want to experience tropical rainforest for the first time, the Explorer's Inn is the place for you. Visit us and wake to the roars of howler monkeys and the numerous melodies of the resident caciques that nest in the palms beside the bungalows. Spend the day walking jungle trails and paddling across oxbow lakes as tiny saddleback tamarin monkeys leap through the forest canopy, and precocious giant river otters fish for their breakfastand black caimans bask by the banks. Relax and watch the sun set over the swirling waters of the Tambopata River as brightly-colored macaws and oropendolas fly overhead on route to their roosting sites
By Paulo Burneo
The jungle wild!
My daughter had that bedeviled look in her eye as we sat in our room in Cusco. “Mom, are you ready for an adventure? How about the Amazon?” My stomach lurched….Amazon means jungle, rivers and wilderness. But the question was rhetorical and by 6 o’clock the next morning we were on our way. Once over the Andes we descended into the Cloud forest of thick jungle vines, belly palm trees, and exotic birdcalls. Our guide was knowledgeable, personal, fun and knew the rain forest inside out. From the cloud forest we continued to the Amazon basin at the Madre de Dios River. We traveled by small boats sitting almost at river level. The boatmen could even navigate in the dark. We saw giant river otters, caymans, and six inch hummingbirds. We climbed a ladder up a kapok tree so big that we had to use our guide’s binoculars to see a large bird known as a pootoo sitting on a branch on the other side of the tree! Our overnight stops were at Cock of the Rock, Amazonia and Manu Reserve lodges. They were lit by candlelight, had great meals and adventures planned around the site. I had a few heart palpitations thinking about being so far from civilization, and wondered if the sometimes torrential rain would swamp our boat. After experiencing up close incredible jungle life I can close my eyes and still see Vanessa the Tapir, the leaf cutter ants, the squawking macaws, fungus and frogs. Inside my head the sounds of the jungle will resonate for a lifetime. What an adventure!
Manú National Park
Meandering rivers, cloud forest, and lowland jungle make up the diverse biological wonder of Manú National Park, which spans about 4.2 million acres across southeastern Peru. Every corner teems with wildlife, including jaguars, giant otters, and macaws—one of the roughly 1,000 bird species. Naturally, eco-tourists and adventurers flock here, too. The park is also indigenous territory: 30 farmer communities based here speak Quechua as their first language, and there are various native Amazonians living in voluntary isolation.
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