A Quick Tour of Peru’s Biodiverse Parks – Closest Rainforest from Cusco

31 March, 2023by Codigo5_20221

Discover the Closest Rainforest from Cusco

Manu Reserved Zone on Time Record

If you’re on a budget and want to see the closest rainforest from Cusco in a short time, head to Manu National Park. This wildlife park is home to some of the most diverse and abundant wildlife in the neotropics, including jaguars, harpy eagles, giant river otters, caymans, anacondas, and 14 species of monkeys. You can also find a variety of plant life, including many rare and endangered species. And the best part is that it doesn’t have to be expensive – in this article, we’ll show you how to visit the best Manu National Park (Reserved Zone) on a budget.

How Manu Park has become more accessible?

Manu National Park, located in Peru‘s southeastern Amazon region, has become even more accessible to visitors due to the recent construction of a partial asphalt road that stretches from the Andes Mountains to the lowland rainforest. Manu National Park (Reserved Zone) went from being a destination so isolated to one with greater accessibility to one of the areas with the greatest biodiversity on the planet and generating an opportunity for greater insertion of local communities into tourism along the new road section  ( Atalaya – Boca Manu)

peruvian amazon rainforest

What About the Flights from Cusco to Boca Manu?

In the past, tour operators relied on airstrips in Boca Manu and small aircraft (12 passengers) to fly from Cusco to Boca Manu. This posed a challenge for travelers and tour agencies, as the airstrips were often unmaintained its was controlled by the Diamante Native Community (not officially by Corpap), on top of that the bureaucratic mess to obtain a license for flight operations ( It is conjectured by locals that the Peruvian government obstructed flight licenses for this destination after Boca Manu had served as a base for cocaine trafficking in the 1990s.)

Road Connectivity to Manu National Park

Today, there are road connections that have made traveling to Boca Manu much easier and safer. These road connections have been constructed during the pandemics time, allowing tourists to access Boca Manu by overland transport with greater convenience and comfort and able to observe spectacular flora and fauna and visit native communities.

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Conservations groups versus Local Interest.

The road construction project was met with controversy, pitting conservationists against local interests. Conservationists argued that the construction of the road would lead to the destruction of a nearby nature preserve, and thus the destruction of local wildlife in the surroundings of the park.

They argued that any development in that area should be done in an environmentally responsible way. Local interests, on the other hand, argued that the construction of the road was essential for the growth and development of the local communities along the Madre De Dios river shores.

As mentioned by local leaders the construction of the road would create better living conditions, access to government assistance, and improve transportation for local products (Timber, Agricultural Products). Ultimately, the construction of the road was approved but with a set of strict regulations that would ensure the protection of the environment.

The argument over the road construction project was a reminder of the need for balanced development that satisfies both conservationists and local interests. As the population of the local communities grows, it is essential that development is done in a way that respects the environment and the local economy.

The Negative Impact

The construction of a new road section (Nuevo Eden to Boca Manu) can lead to increased colonization and habitat fragmentation in an area that once held a diverse range of flora and fauna. For this reason, this project should be carefully planned and monitored for the long term, to ensure that the environmental impact is minimized. In addition to the direct impact of the construction itself, there are also numerous other issues to consider. Increased access can lead to an influx of settlers (colonos), which can have a detrimental effect on the local environment and land use of territories adjacent to native communities.

How the controversial road favors tourism?

The benefits of tourism accessibility were probably not much expected during the peak of the debate. However, the road has also opened up Manu to tourism. With relying only on boat transportation, it’s been difficult to offer shorter tours at lower cost that goes straight to Manu Reserved Zone (Casa Matsiguenka) Now, tourists can easily travel to the area on a 5 days basis tour and experience the unique flora and fauna of Manu National Park.  The road will also create economic opportunities for the local communities that want to get immersed. 

Advantages of the road extension to Boca Manu

Atalaya river port had served as the gateway to Manu National Park for many years so most of the journeys into the Reserved Zone of Manu departed from this point.

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1. The Travel Time (Atalaya Port to Boca Manu)

The great time-saving occurs from Atalaya Port to Boca Manu town, located right at the confluence between the Alto Madre de Dios and Manu River (near Limonal ranger station) traveling by ground transport reduces most of the day so technically by boat would take 8 hours (one way, it can take longer navigating against the current).

The travel pace by motorboat is likely more lethargic during the low water period so the Alto Madre de Dios River navigation from June to September is slower and this river has rapids due to proximity to the mountains that make it a bit difficult to navigate.
Contrary, the travel time by overland vehicle (Atalaya – Boca Manu) it’s only about 3 hours. This is a great difference saving time on the second day of most tour programs and making it possible to arrive at Casa Matsiguenka (The furthest stopover that tourists can stay inside the pàrk) on the same date. Having the same impact on the day of exiting the Park

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2. Tour Cost Reduction

The high cost of gasoline in the Amazon is a major factor in the high cost of tour packages for Manu National Park and probably most rainforest destinations. By reducing the gasoline consumption of motorboat engines or replacing travel modes. Tour Operators can fit the tour prices at a lower cost. The difference in consuming fuel of ground vehicles versus powerful motorboats is remarkable.

3. Number of days reduction (Reserved Zone)

The information was misleading on some traveler’s platforms, (on purpose by traveler agents) saying that for visiting the Manu National Park (reserved zone) you better have more than a week however this has been gradually reduced to only 5 days without sacrificing your stay inside the reserved zone ( booking a 5 days tour you get 2 nights at Casa Matsigenka the core of the park) without rushing out the pace of the tour and still having the greater possibilities to encounter wildlife and navigate the Manu river basin that offers much wildlife observation than Tambopata or Iquitos together.

4. Tour Activities “Optimization”

The motorboat rides are quite enjoyable along the Amazonian rivers if you do it at certain hours and depending on the wildlife encounters you have. Traveling long periods sounds lethargic if you do it for hours and hours and not seeing much wildlife, which mostly happens with navigation along the Alto Madre de Dios River it’s a much wider and channeled river that makes it hard to spot wildlife from one side to another. The travel transect from Atalaya to Boca Manu town it’s still outside of the reserved zone of Manu so wildlife exists but it’s not abundant.

 Best Amazon rainforest tour motor travel along the Madre de Dios river

Contrary to going by ground transport (Atalaya – Boca Manu road), tourists can enjoy some wildlife viewing along the road, wild pigs, macaws, monkeys even tapirs  (the new road traversed a pristine forest patch at some locations)

5. Reducing fuel consumption (carbon footprint)

When planning a vacation to the Amazon jungle, there are many things to consider – where to stay, what to pack, transportation mode, and how to get there. But one of the most important things to think about is how you can reduce your carbon footprint while on vacation and practically how the tour would be operated considering that this journey involves long distances to one of the most isolated and large parks in Peru. There are a number of ways to do this, but one of the most effective is to consume less fuel. This can be done by reducing the time in traveling by motorized embarkation.

Conclusions – Closest Rainforest from Cusco

In conclusion, road connectivity has made this Manu National Park (Reserved Zone) more accessible and provided a great opportunity for tourists to explore and appreciate the wonders of nature.

Having this updated information, be careful of the travel agent at Trip Advisor Forums, polarizing certain destinations and  suggesting that Manu National  Park is too far and too expensive for tourists to visit. However, this is not the case. With updated travel recommendations, it is possible to reach Manu Reserved Zone in a shorter time (5 days) from Cusco and for a more affordable price. Travelers can enjoy all that Manu National Park has to offer without breaking the bank. With the right preparation, tourists can make the most of their visit to Manu Park and take in all of its natural beauty and biodiversity.

If you want to get immersed into the Manu Reserved Zone in just 5 days / 4 nights, click below for more information.

manu_national_park_operator

 

 

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One comment

  • Jordan Brown

    26 July, 2023 at 11:50 am

    Phenomenal, thanks so sharing that useful info , I was afraid that Manu Park was inaccesible for my time frame, having in mind these tips I am planning to visit it in the near future. Thanks !

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