Bio Trip - From de Andes to the jungle
6 Days / 5 Nights
This five-night program provides a complete overview of the habitats and wildlife of all elevations along the road-and-river route from Cusco to the Manu lowlands. We travel in our expedition bus down the orchid-festooned cloud forest road to Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge, which offers the world's finest viewing of these blazing scarlet birds. The following day, we drive and boat to Pantiacolla Lodge in the foothills of the Andes. On day three, we boat to Manu Wildlife Center and spend three nights there exploring the vast Manu lowlands.
1: Cusco to Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge
Our overland journey begins at 3,400m/11,150 ft, with an early departure from the highland city of Cusco. Todays destination is the lush cloud forest region where the Andes fall away to the Amazon basin. This is a day of scenic drama and striking contrasts. We first visit a mountain wetland habitat teeming with migrant and local waterfowl, before crossing two mountain ranges between the Cusco valley and the Paucartambo valley, to a maximum altitude of 3,900m/12,790ft. Finally we follow a sinuous ribbon of highway on its plunge through an extraordinary world of forested cliffs, waterfalls and gorges. We take leisurely stops to see mountain villages, a hilltop necropolis of chullpas (pre-Inca burial chambers), and the abrupt ridgetop of Ajanaco, which marks the final high point where the Andes begin their swoop into the Amazon basin. In clear weather we will see a breathtaking panorama of cloud forest and mountain giving way to the lowland rainforest plains far below us.
After a picinic lunch near here we descend through the startling and rapid environmental transformations characteristic of the tropical Andes, passing from grassland and stunted trees through elfin forest, until we wind through a lush and magical world of overhanging trees, giant ferns, monster begonias, countless orchids and bromeliads, and a diverse and teeming birdlife.
We make frequent spontaneous stops, perhaps spotting a brilliantly feathered quetzal, a trogon, or the wild turkey-like Guan. We reach the comfortable Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge in the late afternoon, the best hour to visit the nearby viewing platform for the display ground, or lek. This is usually the highlight of a long, full day, a chance to see Perus dazzling national bird, the Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola peruviana) in full, raucous courting display.
2: Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge to Pantiacolla Lodge (Wed.) or Amazonía
Rising early, we have a second chance to view the the Cock-of-the-Rock display, and then scout for birds, and perhaps Brown Capuchin or Woolly monkeys along the nearby road. Or we can take a secluded nature walk on a short trail loop to the river and back. After breakfast we continue our drive, as mountains give way to low rolling hills and farmland. At Patria we visit a plantation of coca grown legitimately for the Peruvian coca leaf market.
At midday we reach Atalaya, a tiny port where the Piñipiñi River meets the Alto Madre de Dios. Now the lowland rainforest part of our journey begins. Rivers are the highways of the rainforest, and henceforth we will travel in large, comfortable dugout canoes shaded by canopy roofs and driven by powerful outboard motors.
During normal river conditions we arrive at our lodge in time for exploration and wildlife viewing which may include toucans, kingfishers, a rare endemic hummingbird, the endangered Monk Saki Monkey, and a multitude of butterflies -- along one of its many forest trails.
3: Amazonia Lodge or Pantiacolla Lodge to Manu Wildlife Center
There is time for another short morning hike on the lodge trails before leaving early for Manu Wildlife Center.
As we follow the broad, rushing course of the Alto Madre de Dios river past the last foothills of the Andes, our ever-changing route offers sightings of new birds -- terns, cormorants, White-winged Swallows, and flocks of nighthawks flushed from their daytime lairs by the sound of our engine. Splashes of brilliant yellow, pink and red foliage dot the forest-clad slopes around us, and the breeze is laden with the heady perfumes of the tropical forest.
We pause during our journey to stretch our legs and visit an indigenous Piro Indian village where we may buy forest handcrafts such as bracelets, necklaces, bags and baskets. Later we pass the mouth of the Manu river, the gateway to the reserved zone of the Manu National Park. Taking another break at Boca Manu, the village a short way downriver, we visit the boatyards where local people build the dugout boats so essential to life on the river.
After a boat journey of approximately 6 hours, we arrive at Manu Wildlife Center, one of the worlds top ten wildlife lodges. After a reception and orientation we move into our private bungalow and rest to escape the midday heat.
Later, we make our first acquaintance with the lowland rainforest, learning about the plants and forest ecology as we explore some of the 30 miles of trails that surround the lodge. We have an excellent chance of encountering some of the 12 species of monkeys, including the Monk Saki and Emperor Tamarin, which inhabit the surrounding forest.
4: Manu Wildlife Center: the Macaw Claylick, Canopy Tower &
5: Manu Wildlife Center: Cocha Blanco and the Wildlife trails
We set off early for Cocha Blanco, an old oxbow lake full of water lilies and sunken logs. As we circle the lake on our catamaran we might encounter the resident Giant Otter family on a fishing expedition, or troops of monkeys crashing noisily through the trees. Wattled Jacanas step lightly on the lily pads, dainty Sun Grebes paddle across the water, supple-necked Anhingas air-dry their wide, black wings, and perhaps an Osprey scans for fish from a high branch.
Amongt the bushes near the waterline, Hoatzins, which look like rust-colored, punk chickens, announce their presence with distinctive, bizarre wheezing and grunts. Woodpeckers, tanagers, macaws, toucans and parakeets all finally come swooping in to trees surrounding the lake. Many of them roost around the lake for the night.
After lunch at the lodge our guide is available to lead us on freewheeling expeditions in search of further wildlife encounters, or we may take one of the lodges many trails on private and personal excursions to commune with the spirits of the rainforest.
This evening, from late afternoon until after dinner, we can take a boat ride in search of caiman (alligator-like reptiles), and other nocturnal wildlife along the riverbank
6: Manu Wildlife Center to Cusco
After an early breakfast, we leave on the two-hour boat trip to the Boca Manu airfield, enjoying early morning wildlife activity as we go. From here we fly to Cusco, where our rainforest adventure ends with a pickup and transfer to our hotel.
|Departures from Cusco: Wednesday and Saturday.|
meals, accommodations, local guide and the transport by boat.
- Bus and boat transportation
- Airfare from Boca Manu to Cusco in new aircraft (Read more)
- Transfers from Cusco airport to hotel.
- Private bungalows with private bathrooms in Manu Wildlife center and Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge
- All meals and snacks
- Purified drinking water and juices
- Bilingual naturalist guide
- Visits to macaw and tapir clay licks, oxbow lake, canopy platforms and trail hikes.
Not included: International airfares, airfares Lima-Cusco-Puerto Maldonado and Puerto Maldonado-Cusco-Lima
|2012 Rates per person in US$: $1639 in double room. Single Supplement: $415|