Sunday, 2 September 2012

Manu National Park

The Manu river is in the upper reaches of the Amazon basin.
This is the largest national park in Peru at 1.8 million hectares. It is a UNESCO World Heritage listed biosphere.
About 500 visitors a year pass into the reserved zone. Most of the park is off limits, except to scientists, and the indigenous Machiguenga, who live as they have for hundreds of years.
Machiguenga were severely effected in 1984 after missionaries brought the flu; it is now forbidden to have contact with them.
The trip into the reserved zone is 11 hours over rough roads, followed by 2 full days in a motorized canoe. Then we spent 3 nights at a jungle camp.
The skill of the canoe captain, & his one crew, were awesome. The rivers are broad, very fast, and shallow at this time of year. Negotiating the numerous small rapids with an outboard motor on the back of a canoe was quite something - better than a fun park! We dropped 300 mts on the down river journey, then had to regain it again on return.
The heat, humidity and biting insects are difficult, but the rewards were great.
We saw -
4 jaguars, including a mother and juvenile. Two stayed around for nearly half an hour on the river bank while we watched from the canoe.
4 capibara - including one mother with 2 young ones
1 tapir - big!
Many species of monkeys
Many species of birds
White and black Cayman
Lots of tortoises
Piraña - red, white and yellow
Giant otters
Many beautiful butterflies, and large glowing fire flies at night.
We saw a lot of flowering plants,  amazing large trees, and vines.
The jaguar and the otter are listed as endangered so we feel privileged to have seen them at all, let alone so well - thanks to our guide. She had amazing sight, seeing things long before we could manage to focus on them. I doubt we would have seen much without her help.
Most of the animal spotting was done from the canoe. However we did some walks, and that was best for monkey spotting - they are such a hoot; very gregarious.
Michelle, David, Elly.

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