In 1901, the Peruvian Government created a committee to explore the nation’s rainforest. Don Juan Villalta led an expedition along the Tambopata River, departing from Sandia.Villata founded Puerto Maldonado on July 10, 1902 as a station where the Tambopata met the Madre de Dios. He named the port after Faustino Maldonado, of Tarapoto, who had explored the Madre de Dios in 1861 and drowned in the rapids of the Mamoré River. The Madre de Dios region was created by law on Dec. 26, 1912 with Puerto Maldonado as its capital.
Starting early from Cusco we begin our 8 hour journey by private minibus ascending to the high mountain area at 3900 m (13,000 ft). After a short stop in Ninamarca, to see the pre-Inca cemetery, and the colonial village of Paucartambo, we descend the eastern slopes of the Andes through cloud forest with lush vegetation (ferns, orchids, bromeliads etc.) We enjoy spectacular views of the Andes and can see wildlife such as our national bird: the bright red Cock of the Rocks (Rupicola peruviana) showing his mating dance. Brilliantly colored Tanagers, Quetzals, Trogons and Hummingbirds can be seen and possibly the first monkeys, such as Woolly Monkeys. In the afternoon we arrive at Mirador Lodge (700m), where we spend the night (double rooms & private bathroom). After dinner your guide will brief you about the activities of the next day.
After an early breakfast we continue with our minibus to the port of Atalaya (600 m). On the way we stop at an animal rescue station and to look for orchids. We also go on a walk along the road to look for monkeys and birds. From Atalaya we navigate for about 8 hours in a 15-meter motorized canoe down the Alto Madre de Dios River to get to the lowland rainforest. Today we enjoy the changing landscape and have the opportunity to see wildlife along the rocky banks of the river, such as Fasciated Tiger Herons, Kingfishers, Skimmers, Vultures, caimans and some of the 13 species of monkeys that live in Manu. On the way we visit Diamante, a Piro Indian village with its typical houses. In the afternoon we arrive at Maquisapayoj Lodge (“Place of the Black Spider Monkey”; double rooms with private bathroom). Evening night walk to see insects, frogs, snakes etc.
At daybreak we take the boat to the big macaw clay lick in Blanquillo. From a platform we have an excellent view to observe flocks of colorful macaws (Ara chloroptera, Ara macao), parrots and parakeets congregating to eat the clay, which is essential for their digestion. Looking through our spotting scope we can see every detail of the birds. Breakfast at the blind. Later we explore some of the trails in Blanquillo to see more species of monkeys and birds. After lunch we visit Camungo oxbow lake: here we take a wooden catamaran to observe Giant River Otters (Pteronura brasiliensis) and different varieties of birds. Nearby we have the opportunity to climb a 42 m observation tower to get a great canopy view and observe birds, such as toucans. In the afternoon we travel upstream to return to Maquisapayoj. After a short break at the lodge we walk about 1 ½ hours through primary rainforest to the mammal salt lick of the reserve. To have the best chance to observe animals - especially the tapir - we spend the night on an elevated platform (with mats and mosquito nets). Your guide will help spotting the tapir with a light. If you prefer you can stay in double rooms at the lodge.
At dawn we return to the lodge to have breakfast. Afterwards we travel downriver to visit ´Cocha Blanco` (Blanco lake). After a short hike we reach the oxbow-lake which we explore by catamaran to look for the family of Giant River Otters that lives here. We enjoy the beautiful setting at the lake and we look for monkeys (e.g. Red Howler Monkey), caimans and different varieties of birds. Back in Maquisapayoj we have the chance to hike on other trails looking for Emperor and Saddle backed Tamarin monkeys, Monk Saki monkey and birds such as Pavonine Quetzal, Hoatzin and Manakins. We can also visit the salt lick in the afternoon to look for monkeys, guans or deer and you can spend another night on the tapir platform. Otherwise we spend the night at Maquisapayoj Lodge and can go for a night walk.
If you are keen on seeing more animals we can go for a walk at first light and then have breakfast . Later we explore some trails to look for Black Spider and Red Howler Monkeys, White and Brown Capuchin and birds. The guide also explains about important plants, ants etc. In the afternoon we travel upriver for about 3 hours to Hummingbird Lodge. On the way we stop in Boca Manu, or Fitzcarrald, the main village of Manu. Here we can meet people form different ethnic groups and also see boat builders. Later we walk on some of the trails near Hummingbird Lodge and also go on a night walk. It’s a good area to see birds, especially hummingbirds. Night at the lodge.(June to august we can drive back 7 hours by boat to soga de oro lodge depending of the river level)
Today we aboard our boat early to travel upriver making our way back towards Cusco. During our boat ride we always look for animals like capybara, turtles or caimans on the shore. If time allows we can make a stop at Aguas Calientes (hot waters) to have a swim or we can visit Machuwasi lake, to see some more animals. In the afternoon we arrive at Soga de Oro Lodge, where we spend the night (double rooms & private bathroom). We also go for a night walk after dinner.
Very early in the morning . We take the boat for aproximaly 25 minutes to the parrots lick , where we can see the green parrots and also some birds or small animals .after to see parrots we will come back to the lake Machuhuasi where there are balsa rafts to go a long the lake for 2 hours. Where you can see other species of bird like hoatzin, then we will walk one hour inside the jungle. Nigh in Lodge.
After breakfast we take the boat back to Atalaya. Here our bus is waiting for us for our return trip through the cloud forest and over the Andes back to Cusco. Travelling through the cloud forest we can look for birds, insects and butterflies along the roadside and can stop whenever we spot animals. We reach Cusco around 6 pm, transfer to your hotel. Optional zip line & river rafting class III 30 usd each activity.