The Manu National Park is one of the most biodiverse areas in the world. For this reason, the Peruvian government created this park in 1973 and, later, it was recognized as a Biosphere Reserve and Natural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

The Manu National Park is a protected nature reserve located in southeastern Peru , in the provinces of Paucartambo, in Cusco, and Manú, in Madre de Dios. It has an extension of more than 1,700,000 hectares that include landscapes of low jungle, jungle and mountain range.

We want to show you what the wonders of the Manu National Park are, those that make it the most protected nature reserve in Peru. We will also write down some practical information, in case you want to visit the park . Can you come with us?The National Park was created on May 29, 1973. Five years later, UNESCO recognized it as a Biosphere Reserve and in 1987 declared it a Natural Heritage Site. Within its territory are the territorial reserve of the Kugapalori and Nahua ethnic groups, the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve and the Megantoni National Sanctuary.

The Manu region, unknown space

The Manu region has been an impenetrable region. The Incas, in their expansive desire, tried to enter it without success. The only thing they managed to do was maintain commercial relations with the warrior inhabitants of the region to obtain colorful feathers, hallucinogens and medicinal plants.

With the arrival of the Castilians, the myth of El Dorado was built around this territory . It was thought that, after the assassination of the Inca Atahualpa, huge amounts of gold and silver had been buried in the region. This encouraged several explorations to be carried out. All of them ended tragically.

Thus, during the three centuries of colonial rule, the jungles of Manu remained unknown. In the 19th century, the rubber fever attracted thousands of adventurers to the region, who exploited the region for more than 20 years. But, once the rubber boom ended, they abandoned the territory.Until the 70s of the last century, the region was again forgotten, until other activities began to become popular . Hunting, fur trading and the exploitation of different woods made this place the center of operations for new adventurers.

This new impulse also aroused interest in the biological resources of the Manu region . For this reason, in 1968 the Peruvian authorities organized an expedition through the Manu River basin. After the reports derived from this expedition, the government decided to declare Manu a national park.

Natural wonders of the Manu

The Manu region is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. There are 16 natural ecosystems that can be found in the park, all practically intact. To give an example of this richness, in the tropical forest, in a perimeter of four km², 1200 vascular plants have been detected.

Until now, 10% of the plant species in the reserve had not been registered and, therefore, are a novelty for science.

In a single hectare of humid forest, 41,000 species of insects were recorded . 223 species of mammals and 1005 birds have also been counted. Along with this, the Manu National Park holds the world record for diversity of amphibian and reptile species in a protected area.

What are the goals of the park?

The objectives that were set to be carried out with the establishment of the park were several . In general, the following stand out:

  • Conserve representative samples of biological diversity of the tropical forest of southeastern Peru.
  • Contribute to regional development through research.
  • Promote tourism based on ecological and culturally compatible criteria.
  • Promote and facilitate research, education and recreation.
  • Contribute to the preservation of the archaeological heritage.

The existence of the park also contributes to the recognition and protection of cultural diversity and the self-determination of indigenous peoples. Most of the park is indigenous territory. The Yora, Mashko-Piro, Matsiguenka, Harakmbut, Wachipaeri and Yine communities reside there. There are also 30 Quechua communities and uncontacted indigenous populations.

The National Park areas

To meet these objectives, the park is divided into three large zones : the national park, the reserved zone and the transition or cultural zone.

The National Park

This area is intended exclusively for protection and only biological and anthropological research and observation activities are allowed. To carry out this research, the Cocha Cashu biological station was built, a world reference center for tropical forest research.

The reserved area

In this area, located in the lower part of the Manu River, both tourist activities and research with minimal manipulation are allowed. Of course, tourist visits can only be made through authorized agencies and are highly controlled. The reserved area extends from the Panagua River to Boca Manu.

The cultural or buffer zone

The banks of the Madre de Dios River and the high Andean territories that border the south of the reserve are the so-called cultural zone. In it there are populations of settlers who carry out activities necessary for life: agriculture, livestock and forestry. In addition, there are basic health and education centers.

The visit to the Manu National Park

The clay licks, habitat of flocks of guayamayos and other species, are one of the biggest attractions. It is advisable to go to the Tres Cruces viewpoint to appreciate the sunrise . The position of the viewpoint allows you to see two completely different landscapes: the Andean mountains and the cloud forest.

Inside the park there is a metal tower of about 18 meters that allows you to more easily observe the birds and the immensity of the forest from the tops of its trees. There is also an interpretation post at the Limonal surveillance post.

Visits to the park cannot be made on your own, the services of authorized agencies must be contracted for it. They offer various packages and services. If you want to take pictures or record videos, it will be an additional cost.

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