Down in the Amazon basin, off the edge of the tourist map, lies Manu — arguably the most biodiverse area in the world. Trek off the beaten track and into the land of tapirs, parrots, and jungle rivers — a place without luxury hotels, hot showers, or 24/7 WiFi.

Highlights

  • Hike from the high-altitude Andes down into the Amazon basin
  • Float down the river in jungle boats for glimpses of caimans and other wildlife
  • Spend a night on a tapir lookout
  • Watch parrots and macaws visit a clay lick
  • Travel deep into the Amazon, where few have gone before

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Over the edge of the Andes Manu
Day 2 Boat to Boca Manu Boca Manu
Day 3 River journey through the heart of the jungle Manu Buffer Zone
Day 4 Get close to parrots, tapirs, and more Manu 
Day 5 Back to Cusco  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Over the Edge of the Andes

The Hammerhead Gallito de las Rocas is Peru's national bird

Rise early in charming, cobblestoned Cusco, lace up your hiking boots, and make your way past Incan ruins and historic colonial highland towns to Tres Cruces, where the high altitude Andes suddenly give way to the lush Amazon basin. From here, descend along the Pacific slope to a high-rainforest lodge on the edge of Manu. Leave your bag and grab your flashlight for a night walk through the jungle in search of nocturnal frogs, tarantulas, and exotic insects.

Day 2: Boat to Boca Manu

A crocodile keeps a wary eye out

Wake to the sound of jungle birds, strap on your backpack, and make your way deeper into the Amazon, where famous birds like the Hammerhead Gallito de las Rocas (Peru's national bird) abound. Today, your first destination is the frontier town of Atalaya, where an outboard canoe waits to take you into the waters of the Rio Madre de Dios (the "Mother of God River"). Keep your eyes (and your camera lens) peeled for herons, vultures, and crocodiles. When you arrive at your lodge in the evening, another night hike is the perfect time to spot capybaras and caimans (crocodiles). 

Day 3: River Journey Through the Heart of the Jungle

A monkey peeks out from behind the foliage

Now deep in the Manu Buffer Zone, keep an eye out for diverse wildlife — from caimans, capybaras, and herons, to macaws and even jaguars. Spend the day traveling downriver by boat to another lodge even deeper in the zone. Keep your camera handy!

Day 4: Get Close to Parrots, Tapirs, and More

Macaws in Manu

On your fourth day in the Amazon, rise early, lace up those hiking boots once again, and make your way on foot and by boat through the jungle to a clay lick and a nearby camouflaged lookout. From here, you'll have an excellent view of parrots, macaws, sloths, and other creatures that come to lick the clay for its mineral content. Take a rest in the hottest part of the day, then take to the trails again in the afternoon, hiking to a tapir lookout where you'll settle down in sleeping bags and mosquito nets to watch for these shy, nocturnal creatures late into the night. 

Day 5: Back to Cusco

An Amazonian jaguar

It's time to bid Manu "adios" and make your way out of the jungle and back home. Spend your day journeying by boat to the jungle outpost of Colorado, then continuing by vehicle back to Cusco. Keep your eyes trained on the surrounding jungle — there are plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting along the way! Herons, flycatchers, and hummingbirds are all common here.