MANU WILDLIFE CENTER
with Tapir Clay Lick and Macaw Clay Lick Project
5 days/4 nights
This lodge is located east of the Manu River on the north bank of the Madre de Dios River. It is accessed from Puerto Maldonado via van, car and motorized canoe (an interesting and exciting journey of seven and one-half hours) and offers the Amazon’s finest short, in-depth wildlife safari. The lodge is famous for its abundant and varied wildlife, with its own Tapir claylick, a nearby macaw and parrot claylick, two nearby oxbow lakes and two tall canopy viewing towers among its impressive highlights.
Day 0: Flight from Lima or Cusco to Puerto Maldonado
Recent travel restrictions along the rivers in the Manu region require you arrive to Puerto Maldonado the day before your trip starts and overnight in a hotel. Departure from Puerto Maldonado to the Manu Wildlife Center is at 6:00 AM on Thursday morning.
Day 1: Puerto Maldonado to Manu Wildlife Center
Early morning pickup from your Puerto Maldonado hotel. Transfer by van to Santa Rosa Village. We will get there in about two and a half hours. We cross the Inambari river for a 15 minute boat trip to Puerto Carlos. Here you will start your overland journey to Boca Colorado, 45 minutes by car, followed by four and half hours motorized boat journey up the Madre de Dios river. We have a delicious boxed lunch at the beginning of the boat journey to Manu Wildlife Center. Upon arrival to the lodge we check-in to our rooms. Later we make our first acquaintance with the rainforest, exploring some of the 30 miles of forest trails that surround the lodge. We have an excellent chance of encountering some of the 12 species of monkeys, including the Spider Monkey and Emperor Tamarin, which inhabit the surrounding forest.
After dinner there will be an enchanting night walk along the trails, in search of the nocturnal birds and animals of the rainforest. (Box Lunch, D)
Day 2: Manu Wildlife Center: the Macaw Claylick Project, Canopy Tower & Tapir Claylick
Another early start (inevitable on wildlife expeditions), after a delicious breakfast is followed by a short boat ride downstream. We walk through the forest for some minutes, where we find the Macaw Lick project. The hide provided with individual chairs and a convenient place for cameras and binoculars is our ringside seat for what is usually a spectacular show. In groups of twos and threes the scarlet Macaws come flapping in, landing in the treetops as they eye the main stage below -- the eroded clay banks of the river and the occasional villain, a menacing and unwelcome Great Black Hawk. The drama plays out in first in tentative and then bolder approaches to the lick, until finally nearly all the macaws form a colorful and noisy spectacle on the bare banks, squabbling as they scrape clay from the hard surface. After this we continue walking and exploring on the network of trails surrounding the lodge then we return to the lodge for lunch.
Later, we continue to explore and discover the rainforest, its lore and plant life, on the network of trails surrounding the lodge, arriving in the late afternoon at our 34m/112ft Canopy Tower. On its platform we witness the frantic rush-hour activity of twilight in the rainforest canopy, before night closes in. Then we set off along the “collpa trail”, which will take us to the lodge’s famous Tapir Claylick. Here at the most active tapir lick known in all the Amazon, our research has identified from 8-12 individual 600-pound Tapirs who come to this lick to eat clay from under the tree roots around the edge. This unlikely snack absorbs and neutralizes toxins in the vegetarian diet of the Tapir, the largest land animal of Latin America. The lick features a roomy, elevated observation platform 5m/17ft above the forest floor. The platform is equipped with freshly-made-up mattresses with pillows. Each mattress is covered by a roomy mosquito net. The 10-m-long, elevated walkway to the platform is covered with sound-absorbing padding to prevent our footsteps from making noise. This Tapir Experience is unique and exciting because these normally very shy creatures are visible up close, and flash photography is not just permitted, but encouraged.
The hard part for modern city dwellers is to remain still and silent anywhere from 30 minutes to two or more hours. Many prefer to nap until the first Tapir arrives, at which point your guide gently awakens you to watch the Tapir 10-20m/33-66ft) away below the platform. Most people feel that the wait is well worth it in order to have such a high probability of observing the rare and elusive Tapir in its rainforest home. (B/L/D)
Day 3: Manu Wildlife Center: Hike to an Oxbow Lake and the Wildlife Trails.
We set off early for an old oxbow lake full of water lilies (Nuphar lutea) and sunken logs. As we circle the lake on our catamaran we might encounter the resident Giant Otter family on a fishing expedition, or troops of monkeys crashing noisily through the trees. Wattled Jacanas step lightly on the lily pads, dainty Sun Grebes paddle across the water, supple-necked Anhingas air-dry their wide, black wings, and perhaps an Osprey scans for fish from a high branch. Among the bushes near the waterline, Hoatzins, which look like rust-colored, punk chickens, announce their presence with distinctive, bizarre wheezing and grunts. Woodpeckers, tanagers, macaws, toucans and parakeets all finally come swooping in to trees surrounding the lake. Many of them roost around the lake for the night.
After lunch at the lodge our guide is available to lead us on freewheeling expeditions in search of further wildlife encounters, or we may take one of the lodge’s many trails on private and personal excursions to commune with the spirits of the rainforest. This evening, from the late afternoon until after Dinner, we offer an opportunity to search for caiman and other nocturnal life along the riverbank by boat, (if the level of river allows it). (B/L/D)
Day 4: Manu Wildlife Center: Observation tower and trail system.
After breakfast we will explore on the network of trails, having more emphasis in visiting trees that are with flowers and fruits, this thanks to the information of our resident and naturalist guides. Here we expect to find more species of monkeys, as well as also numerous species of birds. Before or after the dinner, the passengers who have energy and want more experience, they will have the second opportunity to visit the Observation Tower as well as the mammal or tapir clay lick (Collpa de mamiferos). (B/L/D)
Day 5: Manu Wildlife Center to Puerto Maldonado and Cuzco or Lima
We leave our lodge very early on the two hour and half return boat trip downstream to the Colorado Village, the breakfast will be serve on the boat while you enjoying early morning wildlife activity as we go, of course this is a perfect time to take advantage of valuable early morning wildlife activity along the river, in additions this journey allows us to see several lowland native settlements and gold miners digging and panning gold along the banks of the Madre de Dios River. We will stop in the old-west type gold-mining town of Colorado to start our overland journey to Puerto Carlos for 45 minutes, then you will cross the Inambari River for 15 minutes boat trip to Santa Rosa, finally a van or bus will drive us in approximately two-hours to the airport in Puerto Maldonado City, here you fly by a commercial airplane to Cusco or Lima. (B)
• Please note that the program may vary slightly so as to maximize your wildlife sightings, depending on the reports of our researchers and experienced naturalist guides based at the lodge.