Caiman Tours (Garcilaso 210, of. 207, Cusco, tel. 084/25-4041, www.manucaiman.com , five days/four nights US$850 pp) is run by Manu pioneer Hugo Pepper and is best known for custom-designed, creative adventure trips in and around the Manu. Hugo took the first tourists to the Manu  in the early 1980s; they camped on beaches and boiled water from the river.
Caiman is famous for its five-day Cusco–Manu mountain-biking trips, which pass through Pisac  and include a 3,100-meter descent from Tres Cruces, which overlooks the Amazon, to the edge of the Río Madre de Dios at Atalaya. These trips include a cook and a support vehicle that follows the bikers.
Upon request, Hugo can dream up an extraordinary range of Manu adventures. A recent brainstorm included a two-day hike from Salvación, on the banks of Río Madre de Dios, over the jungle into the headwaters of the remote Río Chilive.
From here, a crew of expert native guides helped the adventurers assemble a flotilla of balsa wood rafts, held together with hardwood nails and tethered with bark fiber. The descent of the river ended up taking only eight days, thanks to a series of storms that dramatically quickened the river current!
After reaching the Río Manu, the crew took a peke-peke boat to the gold-mining town of Colorado and a truck onward to Puerto Maldonado . Hugo is planning on offering these trips in the future, which can easily be combined with a night’s stay at the Tambo Blanquillo Lodge and a visit to the large macaw clay lick.
Hugo has not lost sight of the original Manu experience—his most successful ventures are rugged camping trips throughout the Manu . Before venturing into the wild, however, groups stay at the brand-new and highly comfortable Manu Paradise Lodge (www.manuparadiselodge.com ). The lodge has screened rooms, spring beds, full bathrooms, a gorgeous dining area, and a rooftop library with views over the jungle. Once in Manu’s Reserved Zone, Caiman’s groups stay at a safari camp on Cocha Salvador.