The Pristine Preserves of the Amazon Forest
At nearly 4½ million acres, Manu National Park is one of South America’s largest wilderness preserves and perhaps the most important tropical park in the world. Protecting an entire virgin watershed, the park encompasses radically different ecological zones, ranging from Andean peaks of more than 13,000 feet down through the cloud forest and into the endless lowland rain forests below 1,000 feet. No other reserve on earth can compare to it in terms of sheer biodiversity. There are an estimated 20,000 plant species, more than 1,000 species of birds (more than in all of the United States and Canada), and 13 species of monkeys, from capuchin and spider to mustachioed emperor tamarin.
The park’s unlogged, unhunted, nearly untouched state has left the animal inhabitants remarkably unafraid of human beings; visitors here find excellent wildlife and bird viewing of species that have vanished elsewhere in the Amazon.
Admittedly, Manu is difficult to get to; tours involve limited and rustic accommodations, some camping, and travel by motorized dugout canoe. Visitors need to obtain permission to enter the park, and reputable, experienced guides are a must. Manu is not for the unadventurous, but what an adventure it is!