Manu Expeditions (Calle Clorinda Matto de Turner #330, Urbanización Magisterial Primero Etapa, Cusco, tel. 084/22-4135, www.manuexpeditions.com, five days/four nights US$1,489 pp) is run by English ornithologist Barry Walker and has a solid reputation for high-quality tours and world-class bird guides.
On their way to Manu, guests first stay at the Cock of the Rock Lodge, a wood building in the cloud forest with cozy, simple rooms lit by candles and kerosene lamps. Once in the rainforest, guests typically stay nights at a Madre de Dios lodge near Boca Manu and the company’s own safari camp near Cocha Salvador in the Parque Nacional Manu.
Manu Expeditions is also owner of the new Manu Rainforest Lodge, which is about a 45-minute boat ride from Boca Manu at the old park station of Romero.
Manu Expeditions also sends guests to the Manu Wildlife Center (www.manuwildlifecenter.com), which it owns along with Peru Verde, a nonprofit Peruvian conservation group. The 44-bed wooden lodge is 90 minutes downriver from Boca Manu in a section of rainforest adjacent to the Manu Biosphere Reserve. There are 35 kilometers of trails through mature forest, two 35-meter-tall canopy platforms, and oxbow lakes with giant otters and floating observation platforms.
A natural clay lick near the lodge offers the best chances in Manu for seeing the tapir, a 250-kilogram cousin of the hippopotamus. Because tapirs mainly forage at night, guests camp out in a comfortable nearby blind, which is outfitted with mosquito netting, snacks, and mattresses.
The lodge is also 20 minutes from Manu’s largest macaw lick. In April 2008, Manu Expeditions opened the area’s most upscale lodge, Manu Rainforest Lodge.
Barry personally leads private birding tours to Manu and all over Peru and Bolivia, which are described on the website www.birding-in-peru.com. An 18-day odyssey around the Marañón Valley, including Chiclayo, Jaén, Abra Patricia, Tarapoto, and Celendín costs US$3,600.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition