Manu Nature Tours
Manu Nature Tours (Pardo 1046, Cusco, tel. 084/25-2721, www.manuperu.com, five days/four nights US$1,628 pp) has the most comfortable and expensive trips and the only lodge inside the Parque Nacional Manu (except for the rustic Casa Machiguenga at the Cocha Salvador). The company was launched in 1985 by Boris Gomez with funding from American biologist Charlie Munn, who has been a key force behind preservation of the Manu and other rainforests. It has been repeatedly voted the best Manu operator by Peru’s Ministry of Tourism.
The company was the first to build a lodge in the cloud forest, and all the other Manu agencies followed suit. The Manu Cloud Forest Lodge is a magnificent thatched structure with a glass atrium and view over a white-water creek. Guests can try a half- or one-day rafting trip down two rivers in the area, the Kosñipata and Tono, which are Class III or IV depending on the season.
In 1987 Manu Nature Tours also built the first lodge inside the Parque Nacional Manu. Manu Lodge is built of salvaged mahogany next to a lake where guests can see black caimans, brown capuchins, and giant otters.
Another Manu Nature Tours innovation is the Llama Taxi project with the Jajahuana community, in the high grasslands on the way to Manu. Guests take a 15-minute ride on a cart pulled by a llama, after which the villagers explain their medicinal plants, weaving, and natural dyes. The goal is to empower the Jajahuana people over the next several years to lead their own treks from the grasslands into the edge of the Manu rainforest.
In addition Manu Nature Tours offers trekking and mountain biking trips from the grasslands into the Manu, a brain-spinning descent of thousands of feet through the cloud forest.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition