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Parque Nacional Manu

Amazon Basin

This vast national park in the Amazon Basin covers almost 20,000 sq km and is one of the best places in South America to see a stunning variety of tropical wildlife. Progressive in its emphasis on preservation, Unesco declared Manu a Biosphere Reserve in 1977 and a World Natural Heritage Site in 1987. Entry is only with guide and permit.

One reason the park is so successful in preserving such a large tract of virgin jungle and its wildlife is that it's remote and relatively inaccessible to people, and therefore has not been exploited by rubber tappers, loggers, oil companies or hunters.

At Cocha Salvador, one of the park's largest and most beautiful lakes, you'll find guided hiking possibilities, as well as wonderful wildlife viewing.

With patience, wildlife is seen in most areas. During a one-week trip, you can reasonably expect to see scores of different bird species, several kinds of monkey and a few other mammals.

The best time to go is during the dry season (June to November); much of Manu may be inaccessible or closed during the rainiest months (January to April). Going with an organized group is best arranged in Cuzco, from where trips depart almost daily, or with international tour operators.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Amazon Basin attractions

1. Cocha Otorongo

20.34 MILES

A lovely lake enfolded within Parque Nacional Manu, with an observation tower to aid wildlife-watching.

2. Cocha Juárez

22.03 MILES

Giant river otters are often seen on wildlife-replete Cocha Juárez, although tours rarely stop here these days.

3. Cocha Salvador

22.94 MILES

Probably Parque Nacional Manu's loveliest lake, at least amongst the part of the park visited by tourists, with camping and hiking possibilities.

4. Cocha Brashco

23.47 MILES

Preferred over Cocha Juárez these days as a lake to spy wildlife such as the giant river otter.

5. Boca Manu

28.97 MILES

The long boat journey down the Río Alto Madre de Dios from Atalaya to Boca Manu, at the junction with the Río Manu, can take almost a day. Boca Manu…