Declared World Heritage Site by
Location: Departments of Cusco and Madre de Dios
Area: 1'532,806 hectares.
Considered as one of the biggest and
richest natural reserves in the world, the one that allows having intimate
contact with nature in its most primitive and wildest state.
The park is located in the provinces of Manu and Paucartambo (Departments of
Madre de Dios and Cusco respectively), comprising lands on the eastern slopes of
the Andes and on the Peruvian Amazones.
The limits to the north are the watershed separating the catchments basins of
Manu and de las Piedras rivers (72° 01'W, 11° 17'S); to the south the area
where the road from Paucartambo to the north-west turns to Tres Cruces (71°
30'W, 13° 11'S); to the east the region on the left margin of the Alto Madre de
Dios River to the Pilcopata River, Department of Cuzco (71° 10'W, 12° 18'S);
and to the west the watershed separating the catchment basins of the Manu and
Camisea Rivers - also the limit between the Departments of Cusco and Madre de
Dios (72° 22'W, 11° 45'S).
Intangible area, protection of the fauna and flora, and of the Andean
oriental and Amazon scenic beauties, it embraces territories from the Andean
puna and yunga in the department of Cusco to the low jungle in the
department of Madre de Dios, furrowed by the Manu river, high
part of Madre de Dios river and affluent.
Most of its extension is located in the area of low jungle, between the 200
and 400 meters above sea level (656 and 1312 feet). The rivers of the wild area
can be navigated in small crafts in any time of the year.
It integrates elements of exceptional beauty and scientific interest,
harboring more than 5,000 species of mammals and more than 1 million species of
insects and spineless.
With a park the size of Manu, with a wide range of altitude, vegetation varies
widely, however the most widespread vegetation types found are tropical lowland
rainforest, tropical montane rainforest and Puna vegetation (grasslands). The
lowland forests occur on the alluvial plains and the interfluvial hills. Those
on the hills may experience seasonal water supply, given the monthly variation
in rainfall, while the forests on the alluvial plains are likely to be
seasonally flooded. The montane forests experience less variation in the water
supply and are exposed to lower temperatures. The management plan (La Molina,
1986) maps 14 forest types using the Holdridge system (after Tosi, 1960),
although, given the lack of rainfall data, this must be to some extent
speculative. Despite the high diversity of plant species in this region, the
flora of Manu is still poorly known and floristic inventories must be considered
as preliminary (Gentry, 1985). The few collections of plants are those of Foster
(1985) and Gentry (1985) made in the alluvial plains near the Biological
Station, and in the Tres Cruces region of the uplands. Other collections have
been made by Terborgh (1985) and Janson (1985) on trees where birds and primates
obtain food. Despite this, in the last ten years, 1147 plant species have been
identified in the park within quite a small area (500 ha), and it is likely that
the number of species to be found within the park is well over this figure. More
recent data (Saavedra, 1989) indicate 1,200 lowland vascular species and a
single one hectare plot near the Cocha Cashu research station supported more
than 200 tree species.
In a hectare plot on the alluvial plains, 17 trees with a diameter of more
than 70 cm were found (4 to 11 trees with such a diameter would be more usual).
The biggest tree was a Ceiba pentandra (120 cm), while others included
the locally rare Poulsenia armata (110 cm) and Calycophyllum sp.
(117 cm), and locally endangered Swietenia macrophylla (105 cm) and Dipteryx
odorata (100 cm). The most common tree in the plot was Otoba parviflora
(IK), and other highly abundant species included palms of the genera Astrocaryum,
Iriartea and Scheelea, two species of Quararibea (Bombacaceae),
Guarea and Trichilia (both Meliaceae from the subcanopy), one Pouteria
(Sapotaceae), Pseudolmedia laevis (Moraceae) and Theobroma cacao (Sterculiaceae).
Another striking feature of these forests is the high abundance of Ficus sp.,
of which there are at least 18 species - only 15 Ficus species are mentioned in
the Flora of Peru (Standley, 1937). Lianas are common, and 79 lianas of 43
species were found within 1,000 sq.m. With the current knowledge of the flora of
the park it is not possible to give a detailed account of threatened, endemic or
potentially economically important species. Swietenia macrophylla and Cedrela
odorata which grow in almost pure stands, are two of the species
economically important for their wood, while Theobroma cacao and Quararibea
cordata (IK) are both cultivated for their fruits outside the park.
A total of more than 800 bird species (Saavedra, 1989) and 200 species of
mammals has been identified, 500 birds alone from the lowland forests around
Cocha Cashu Biological Station, and the check lists of Terborgh, Janson and
Brecht (1984) give habitats, foraging position, activity (sociability) and
abundance for all birds and mammals found up to 1982. The bird species found in
Manu represent 25% of all the birds known in South America and 10% of all the
species in the world and it is thought that there may be as many 1,000 bird
species in total. According to Renton (1990), six species of macaw occur in the
lowland forest, Ara ararauna, A. chloroptera, A. macao, A.
severa, and A. manilata.
Three Endemic Bird Areas are represented within the park, the South-east
Peruvian lowlands (B30), home to 15 restricted range species, the Eastern Andes
of Peru (B29), with 11 restricted range species, and the Western Andes of Peru
(B27) with 30 restricted range species (ICBP, 1992).
There are 13 species of monkey, and it is estimated that there are over 100
species of bat. There are also 12 species of reptiles within 7 families (UNA-CEPID,
1986), and 77 species of Amphibian from fire families are known for the Cocha
Cashu area (Rodriguez, in press). There are no check lists available for
invertebrates, although it has been estimated that the park contains around
500,000 species of arthropod. Again, most of the information has been gathered
in the lowlands, and little detailed information is available on mountain fauna.
Species known to be globally threatened which occur in the park include woolly
monkey Lagothrix lagotricha, Emperor tamarin Saguinus imperator, giant
otter Pteronura brasiliensis (VU), giant anteater Myrmecophaga
tridactyla (VU), giant armadillo Priodontes maximus (EN), ocelot Felis
pardalis, Andean cat Oreailurus jacobita (VU), jaguar Panthera
onca, small-eared zorro Atelocynus microtis (DD), bush dog Speothos
venaticus (VU), North Andean Huemul Hippocamelus antisensis (DD),
spectacled bear Tremarctos ornatus (VU), crocodile Crocodilus
crocodilus, and black caiman Melanosuchus niger (EN).
Fish species identified by Groenendijk and Hajek (1995) which are eaten by the
local poplulation include gamitana Colossoma macroponum, paco Piaratus
brachypomus, red-tailed sabalo Brycon erythropterum, boquichico Prochilodus
nigricans, lisa Leporinus trifasciatus and lisa Schizodon
Visit and travel
Inside the park, areas enabled for tourists and visitors exist, and other
areas are only restricted for the entrance of investigators. In the area for
tourists, exist lodging facilities.
Beside lodging, these lodges offer guided excursions for the tourists as well
as housing facilities and work for investigators and scientific.
To visit the National Park of the Manu, you have two alternatives:
The first one is to carry out a terrestrial trip or flight rental from Cusco, via Paucartambo, until arriving to
the area of the park and then continue with the excursion by river. The journey
is full of beautiful Andean landscapes and the entrance to the forest area is of
indescribable beauty. This highway is in a bad condition. It is the most
The second is to arrive by air to Puerto Maldonado, and then by river to the
enabled area for tourists and visitors inside the Park.
In both possibilities we consider indispensable to coordinate your expedition
with expert guides.
Protected Areas Programme
UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre
219 Huntingdon Road