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Stop #3 - Welcome to the Jungle - Peru

PERU | Wednesday, 20 August 2014 | Views [943]


Welcome to the Jungle – Manu National Park, Peru



Pre-Inca Ruins


Day 1 –

We had a long drive from Cusco to the edge of Manu National Park. On the way we stopped to see some pre-Incan ruins. They were burial columns used to entomb the leaders. We we're atop the Andes and I was so amazed by the vivid blue of the sky. It was magnificent. In the afternoon we descended from the Andes into the cloud forest. The clouds engulfed us as the desert turned to green. It was a mystical sight watching the clouds billowing upwards and then disappearing into nothing. After searching for quite some time and almost admitting defeat, we finally saw the Peruvian National bird, the Cock of the Rock. It is a beautiful bright red bird with, puffed crest on its head and a black tail. We also saw a Mot-mot, which was coloured in beautiful greens and blues. After another dodgy looking wire river crossing, similar to the one we took on the Inca Jungle Trek, we arrived at our lodge and were greeted by a gigantic highway of leaf cutter ants. It was as if the whole forest floor, and all of the leaves within in, was shifting. After a nice dinner we had a good night sleep.

cock of the rock

Cock of the Rock

Day 2 –

We saw a lot of animals up close today. However, we saw them at an animal sanctuary. It was more like someone’s backyard, but the animals weren’t in cages or anything so that was good to see. We saw a tapir, a capybara (the world’s biggest rodent), a woolly monkey (Rosita), a squirrel monkey, a brown capuchin monkey, a very friendly peccary (wild pig) and 2 beautiful macaws – both the blue and yellow macaw and the scarlet macaw. Rosita was the cutest baby monkey and I got to hold her. She was so sweet and she fell asleep nuzzled into my arms. Every time I tried to pass her to someone she would push them away and nuzzle further into my arms. I just wanted to cuddle her forever! After sadly leaving Rosita behind we embarked on a short trek through the outskirts of the jungle. We saw some black spider monkeys and a chestnut-eared Aracari (toucan). We then finally reached the river and headed downstream to an oxbow lake. At the lake we saw a white caiman, a whole troop of tiny squirrel monkeys and many beautiful birds. We saw a hoatzin (crazy, prehistoric looking bird), a horned screamer, an owl, and some beautiful tiny hummingbirds (these were my favourites). Once again we too the boat (we were about to spend a whole lot of time here) to our new lodge perched high on the river bank.


Day 3 –

I was very excited to be going to the parrot’s clay lick that I had heard so much about. However, after getting up at 5am it was very disappointing. There were barely any parrots. Whilst eating our pancakes further up the river we saw some red howler monkeys and I managed to spot an otter as it quickly dashed across one of the rocky islands. After breakfast we hiked through the foothills at the edge of the jungle. It was an amazing sight to be completed surrounded by green everywhere you looked. We saw some saddle-backed tamarins (monkeys) and some more black spider monkeys. In the afternoon we zip-lined through the canopy and perched, rather precariously, on tree platforms. Lastly, we began our night walk and strolled through the forest whilst being watched by twinkling eyes. We saw a few frogs and the huge scorpion spider which looks like the one that Mad-Eye Moody puts the unforgivable curses on in Harry potter. :)

spider        frog 

Scorpion Spider                                                             Tree Frog        

Day 4 –

Today we were headed for the restricted zone of the amazon. Hunting, logging, housing and agriculture are heavily restricted here and there are only a handful of tourism companies with small lodges allowed. This is where the trees get thick, the animals are numerous and the forest floor is flat, all the way to the Atlantic ocean of Brazil. This was certainly the high point of our animal spotting, which made the approximately 12 hours of sitting in the boat more bearable. We headed off at 5:30 am and putted along the meandering river. After a few hours Matt’s jungle eyes spotted a family of capybaras on the banks – very cool. There were birds always darting in and out of the river and we spotted a beautiful kingfisher having his morning feed. After being barely 10 minutes into the reserved zone our boatman spotted a sole jaguar pacing along the banks. We were all excited and amazed as we were sure that we wouldn't see such a brilliant and rare animal. It was beautiful and we were able to observe it from a pretty close distance from the safety of our boat. We also saw heaps of turtles and even a huge black caiman catching some rays on the sandy bank. We camped at the furthest point allowed before the park is completed closed to tourist. We had to camp at the scientist head-quarters at Pakitza because the actual camp of our company had been attacked by a native tribe two months earlier. Our guide told us a very vivid tale of how this happened and were were mesmerised. Due to this the government had closed that entire side of the river and many companies lost their lodges. It is so hard to believe that, within this ever-globalising world, there are still tribes of people in the Amazon who have had almost no contact with the outside world. Amazing.


Jaguar - Orotongo



Day 5

We took a boat to Salvador Lake where we slowly made our way around on another boat. From the boat we spotted a family of giant river otters. We were able to get very close to the otters and even watch and listen to them feeding (a very distinct bone-crunching sound). On our arrival back at the small jetty we had some some black howler monkeys feeding in the trees just above us and a caiman lying silently next to the jetty. Next we walked to Casa Machegenga and on the way saw some monkeys and heard a large rustle and running in the forest which sounded like a jaguar. We we arrived back at our camp and had a pollo feast. Matt required a siesta after and Daniela and I took on the boys in a football match (our crew and a group of Peruvian biologists). As we approached dusk we headed to the mammals clay lick, but were unlucky and didn’t spot anything. We saw many spiders and some monkeys on our walk back to camp. Matt was lucky enough to witness the tarantula grab an easy meal when a bullet ant came too close to its web.



Giant Otter

Day 6

We prepared ourselves to leave this beautiful park of the jungle and our day consisted mostly of a long boat trip to Boca Manu. We stopped once to take a walk on the closed side of the river (not sure if this was allowed or not), but we saw over 30 monkeys. There were the squirrels, howlers, black spiders, capuchins and the woolly which was an amazing sight. Matt is still talking about it. Back on the boat heading downstream we came across a red howler monkey struggling to swim across the river. Our guide said it must have been a young male who had been ousted from his troop. He finally made it but was extremely exhausted from fighting the current. On arrival in Boca Manu we enjoyed our first cold drink in days and had a few beers with our crew. Our sleep was rudely interrupted by some rats running rampant around our lodge and darting across the beams of the roof.


Red Howler Monkey

Day 7 –

Day 7 involved a long slow struggle up stream to Patiti Lodge against the current. This resulted in the boys having to abandoning ship on a few occasions to push the boat against the strong current as we hit the shallow river bed. The day was mostly uneventful and we arrived in our lodge in the late afternoon and played some cards with our guide and boatman. Young Breydi was so intrigued when we showed him out phrase book and he spend the night practicing his English with us. He definitely picked it up fast and has a natural talent for speaking in English. When we returned to Cusco we even bought him is very own phrase book and he was very grateful.


Pushing the Boat

Day 8 –

We drove the 8 hrs or so back over the Andes to the cold of Cusco and enjoyed a nice dinner with Daniela. Overall we had a fantastic experience in the jungle. Daniela was the best tour buddy we could ask for as we all held a mutual respect for the jungle and its serenity. We would definitely recommend Vilca Expeditions for anyone travelling to Manu National Park.


Hasta luego,

Signing out for now,


Rach :)



Extra Info / memory enhancer
Manu tour. Vilca expeditions People- Thomas (Denmark), Uda (Norway), (first 4 days) Daniela (England / Australia) ( last 4 days) Guide: German, cook: Hilario, Boatman: Breydi


Tags: amazon, jungle, laselva, manu, manunationalpark, nature, peru, selva, theamazon, trekking


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