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GRAND MANU and THE MANU SPLIT - Manu road and Manu Biosphere reserve. 12 or 22 days


Our most extensive Manu tour for those that do not want to rush through this greatest biodiversity hotspot on earth. Manu road and Manu lowlands have received well worth attention in the past years. Around 1000 species of birds have been recorded in this area. While the possibilities are that many, we have chosen to centre this itinerary on those species that are difficult or impossible to see elsewhere in tropical or subtropical America. The endemic and restricted range species are the priority. However, we have noticed that two weeks is not enough to sample this diversity. We often miss important local species because we run out of time. Also it is frustrating that for many birds you only have one shot to see it. So in the end of the trip you will have a hard time remembering what you seen because you never had long enough views. Therefore we have expanded this trip to 22 days, and we do it one way so you will waste as little time as possible on traveling. We should be able to tally over 600 species on this trip and we do have enough time to try for the endemics and the restricted range species. We did a similar trip in 2005, but with only 18 days. Read Roger Ahlman's trip report here.

22 days may be too long for some people, especially if you also want to include for example Machu Picchu, therefore we give the option to split the trip into two a Manu road part and a Manu lowland part ? hence the name Manu Split. If you only have around 2 weeks available a good first trip and good intro to Peru is doing the first 11 days finishing at Amazonia Lodge, stay a night in Pilcopata and then head back to Cusco the following day to combine with Machu Picchu and Abra Malaga. The remaining 11 lowland days can be combined with for example days in Lima the following year.

In November 2005 a nesting pair of Harpy Eagle was found about three hours downriver from Manu Camping Lodge. There shall be great chance of seeing a Harpy Eagle for the next 12 months or so. Only on the Grand Manu or the Manu split program can you include the Harpy.

No Departures for this Tour

If the departure dates don't fit you, please suggest another date.

Day 1. We shall opt for a start well before dawn to get on our way and reach the humid temperate zone while it is still early. The journey goes over the Andes and we shall look out for species such as Puna Hawk, Spot-winged Pigeon, Andean Flicker and Andean Lapwing. In the mid morning we shall check out the scrub near Paucartambo for the endemic Creamy-crested Spinetail as well as Tufted Tit-Tyrant, White-winged Black-Tyrant, Shining Sunbeam and Rust-and-Yellow Tanager. Birding the temperate woodland near Tres Cruces we will specifically look for Puna Thistletail, Diademed Tapaculo and Scribble-tailed and Junin Canasteros. Overnight in the basic cloud forest research station nearby.

Day 2. Primary target is the endemic Red-and-White Antpitta in the morning. Many times we also encounter Undulated and Stripe-headed Antpitta. Yungas Pygmy-Owl and species like Marcapata Spinetail, Rufous-capped Thornbill, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Grey-breasted Mountain Toucan, Blue-banded Toucanet, Hooded, Grass-Green and Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager can be seen near Pillahuata. When dusk sets in we shall be looking out for Swallow-tailed and Band-winged Nightjars. Overnight in the Cloud Forest research station.

Day 3. We will bird down the road towards Rocotal, situated just at the upper limit of the subtropical zone. Birds include Red & White Antpitta, White-throated Antpitta, Crimson-backed Woodpecker, Blue-banded Toucanet, White-eared and Andean Solitaires, Pearled Treerunner, Streaked Tuftedcheek, Golden-plumed Parakeet, Scaly-naped Parrot, Amethyst-throated Sunangel and many more. Recently, the rare Great-billed Scythebill has been seen here. We will camp on a roofed platform near Union close to the Cock of the Rock lek, which we will visit the following afternoon. Upgrade to private cabins with hot water showers possible.

Day 4-6. The private reserve around here holds a number of good birds such as Lyre-tailed Nightjar, Rufescent Screech-Owl, Long-tailed Antbird, Dusky-Green Oropendula, Yungas Manakin, Black-throated Brilliant, Black-billed Treehunter, Orange-eared Tanager, Versicolored Barbet and Black-and-Chestnut and Solitary Eagles. The permanent mixed species flock around the camp holds species like Yellow-rumped Antwren and Bolivian Tyrannulet. A nearby trail often treat us with Slaty Gnateater and Rufous-breasted Antthrush. If the feeders are active here we have a good chance to see Peruvian Piedtail. Other birds include Lemon-browed Flycatcher, Crested Quetzal, Uniform Antshrike and Golden-collared Tanager. At the lodge clearing there are feeders and blue vervain flowers where hummingbirds like Violet-fronted Brilliant, Many-spotted Hummingbird, Booted Raquet-tail and Wire-crested Thorntail. There is also an apparently new form of Otus to look out for - something in between Black-and-White and Black-banded Owl ? the same that is known from San Isidro in Ecuador.

Day 7. Continued birding in the vicinity of Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge in the morning. Specifically, we shall be looking for a new soon to be described tanager that lives in the bamboo. In the afternoon we will continue to Pilcopata at 1000m and look for specialties such as Amazonian Umbrellabird, Peruvian Piedtail, Cerulean-capped Manakin, Black-streaked Puffbird, Russet Antshrike, Lanceolated Monklet and Black-backed Tody-Flycatcher. The bamboo holds species like Ornate Antwren, Bamboo Antshrike and White-cheeked Tody-Tyrant. In Pilcopata we will stay at a basic but clean hostel with communal showers.

Day 8. We will return up road to the bamboo patches near Quitacalzones bridge. Other birds here include the endemic and recently described Cinnamon-faced Tyrannulet, Chestnut-breasted Wren, Russet Antshrike, Chestnut-backed Antshrike and Rufous-webbed Brilliant. Another night in Pilcopata.

Day 9. The road between Pilcopata and Atalaya has produced a number of very good species in the past, such as Military and Blue-headed Macaw, Wattled Guan, Orange-fronted Plushcrown, Manu Antbird and Pheasant Cuckoo, Rufous-crested Coquette, Spangled Cotinga, Yellow-billed Nunbird and Fine-barred Piculet. In the afternoon we will start to explore Amazonia Lodge, where we will also spend the night.

Day 10. At Amazonia lodge the specialties include Koepcke´s Hermit, Rufous-vented Ground- Cuckoo, Black-spotted Bare-eye, Long-tailed Potoo, Amazonian and Thrush-like Antpitta, Red-billed Tyrannulet, Fiery-capped Manakin and many more. Special features at Amazonia Lodge include a good canopy tower up the ridge trail and the famous jeep-track, which is very good for crossing Tinamous (including Black-capped Tinamou). Night at Amazonia Lodge.

We will bird Amazonia to midday and move down river with motorized canoes to Pantiacolla Lodge. The access to the Pantiacolla ridge makes this lodge special. At our arrival at around 3 PM we will start checking out the bamboo for species like White-cheeked Tody-Tyrant, Bamboo Antshrike and Manu Antbird. Some night birding may reward us with Spectacled, Crested, Amazonian Pygmy- or Tawny-bellied Screech-Owls.

Day 12. Pantiacolla has a very good trail system. Frequently groups of Pale-winged Trumpeters are found. On the terra firme trail one can often localize a canopy flock. In the afternoon we shall hike up to the view-point where to camp here overnight. You may opt out if you do not feel like hiking and sleep in the lodge.

Day 13. Before dawn we will be out looking for Band-bellied Owl - a very seldom seen upper tropical replacement of Spectacled Owl which is quite common here. The sun-rise from the view-point will prove to us that our hike up the slope in the dark was not in vain. This is one of the most spectacular sights in Peru. You will virtually have the whole Amazon beneath you. Our prime goal is to encounter the rare Black Tinamou. This is practically the only place on earth where one has a chance of seeing one. Other species here include Chestnut-tipped Toucanet, Orange-breasted Falcon, Black-and-White Hawk Eagle, Pavonine Quetzal, Koepcke?s Hermit, Scaly-breasted Woodpecker and a foothill form of Thrush-like Manakin that sings differently from the lowland form and that may prove to be a separate species. We will be down at the lodge again around lunch for our afternoon birding or a well deserved nap.

Day 14. In this in depth program to the Peruvian Amazon we have added an additional morning on the trails at Pantiacolla. One of the best things about Pantiacolla Lodge is the birder?s note-book (incidentally started by Kolibri Expeditions), where the birders leave their best observations. Thus we can get up-to-date info on special birds that have been seen lately.
At midday we will leave with a box-lunch on the river to Boca Manu. We shall be staying in the community lodge. It is a bit basic, but we will be practicing true eco-tourism by making sure that also the local community gets a share of the tourist dollar. Because of eco-tourism, Boca Manu has been able to protect a nearby ox-bow lake that now holds Giant Otters and a number of good birds. Also nearby is a very good site for the local Rufous-fronted Antthrush.

Day 15. On the lake we will be able to spot Pale-eyed Blackbird, Snail Kite, Horned Screamer, Sungrebe and Limpkin and many more can be seen. We shall travel another hour and a half to reach Manu Camping Lodge, but on the way we shall also check out the area where our 2005 groups saw Crested Eagle. Lodging at is either comfortable cabins with private hot water showers for a 40 dollar surcharge/night or in good roomy tents with thick mattresses with communal showers (rain-forest temperatures).
In the afternoon we shall be able to check the surroundings of the camp lodge. In the vicinity a hide has been made at a clay-lick for Tapirs. Sometimes Red-brocket dear and Ocelots are also seen near the lick. On the way to the clay-lick we last year saw the rare Red-billed Pied-Tanager. At MCL it is not uncommon however!
Day 16-18. Three full days at the trails of Manu Camping Lodge. There is a great trail system at the camp which includes both terra firme and varzea like forest, heliconia thickets, aguajales (palm swamps) and extensive bamboo with all the specialists including Long-crested Pygmy-Tyrant, White-cheeked Tody-Tyrant, Pheasant Cuckoo, Rufous-headed Woodpecker and Rufous-vented Ground Cuckoo. Monkeys are plentiful including Black Spider Monkey, Monk Saki and Emperor Tamarin. Pale-winged Trumpeters and Razor-billed Curassows are often seen.

Day 19. Early morning start to reach the famous Macaw lick. One of the true natural wonders where Blue-headed and Mealy Parrots and White-eyed Parakeet later are replaced by large raucous Red-and-Green Macaws. The rest of the day we will spend time at the tower of Cocha Camungo for canopy species and walk the trails. The trails are good for Banded Antbird, Semi-collared Puffbird, Pale-winged Trumpeter and Rufous-fronted Antthrush. After an additional morning at Manu camping Lodge we will go down the Madre de Dios river to Cocha Blanquillo to see the local Giant Otter colony and additional marsh birds. We stay the night in Blanquillo Lodge.

Day 20. Break of dawn at the Canopy tower again with breakfast served 40 meters up in the air with a splendid view over the awakening Amazonian rain forest. Toucans, parrots, raptors, cotingas and woodpeckers are best appreciated from up here. More birding on the floodplain forest near Cocha Camungo, before we leave for the small settlement of Colorado two hours down river. Basic lodging with mosquito netting.
Day 21. Three reasons why we want to stay in the basic hostel in Colorado.
The river trip to Laberinto and the bus to Puerto Maldonado took 11 hours last year. It is a good idea to break the trip.
Near Colorado there is a very nice creek one can paddle up early in the morning and get that true rain-forest experience on a slow floating creek.
A Harpy Eagle nest was active here in November 2005. It should hold almost guaranteed Harpy Eagle through-out 2006. Now that is a good reason!
We shall most certainly still get to Puerto Maldonado late ? but it should be worth it. Nice comfortable hotel in Puerto Maldonado.

Day 22. Near Puerto Maldonado there are some pastures and marshes where Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Red-breasted, White-browed and Pale-eyed Blackbirds, Chestnut Jacamar, Pearl Kite, Sulphury Flycatcher and Point-tailed Palmcreeper may be seen before the flight back to Cusco or Lima.



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