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  • Writer's pictureSimon & Lorraine Freeden

6 weeks in Peru - Part 5

Updated: Jan 13, 2023

Day 27

Manu Road

The Manu National Park is famous around the world for its biodiversity, in fact it has the highest. This biodiversity has created a huge range of different tree species, many beautiful birds, butterflies and insect species. The rain forested mountains have not been disturbed, other than building the road, as the terrain is so steep and the trees are not large enough to make it worthwhile logging it. The biodiversity is a result of the different altitude changes which offers so many different habitats. It is amazing that the road is there considering the terrain. It is an engineering feat and must be constantly maintained. It connects the Andes and Cusco with the top end of the mighty Amazon basin.

The Cusco side of the Andes is much drier with only Eucalyptus trees and potato farms and corn and other crops in the valleys.

The lunch stop was at Wayquecha Research Station and lodge. It is in the cloud forest just below the summit and we were fortunate to have relative clear skies, so the view was stunning. The bird life was amazing, and we knew we would be back in 2 days’ time to stay the night.

We were about halfway down the Manu Rd spotting different birds, when the vehicle ahead of us waved us down because there were woolly monkeys near the road. They live in family groups and were jumping across the road where the gap between the trees was narrowest. All was good until a mother and baby was trying to cross the road following the rest of the family.

The problem was the humans were so busy taking photos they were either not aware or did not care that they were unsettling the mother and baby monkey and stopping her from crossing. I could feel the animal’s distress and walked well away. I got upset as I am here to enjoy nature, all of it, and I want to have minimal impact on the environment including the wildlife.

Hopefully she crossed after we humans were gone. We are extremely concerned with the way we humans think that we are the only thing that is important.

True ecotourism does not do things like this!

The Manu National Park is very important for the whole planet. They already have big powerlines running to the Amazon and the road is being improved. This can only be for development that will really stuff the place up. We were lucky to experience it before it’s stuffed up. We would love our grandkids and anyone interested to have this experience in a sustainable way.

The first night we stayed at Cock of the Rock lodge about 6 hrs from Cusco at an altitude of about 2000m. It has simple but nice cabins, and the food was great. Plenty of wildlife and birds in the gardens.

Day 28

We got up at 5.15am to visit the ley of the Cock of the Rock which is a beautiful bird that has a bright red head and it is the unofficial bird of Peru.

The males come out at dawn to dance and make calls to attract a female which is not brightly coloured. There is only 3 of these special places on the Manu Road. The lodge had a ley but a landslide destroyed it about 8 yrs ago. The ley must have the right mix of fruiting trees. This bird is so specialised that it is very vulnerable.

The lodge has bird feeders in their garden which attracts lots of different species of hummingbirds. Most have amazing colouring. We also saw an Agouti (a giant rat) and a Tayra which is part of the weasel family.

We left the lodge at about 11am to travel further down the famous Manu Road to Villa Carmen, another lodge at about 600m. We were birding enroute with our great guide Juan Jose and a driver. Juan Jose is an amazing birder and is probably one of the best on the Manu Road. I found his lack of general knowledge about the environment a bit strange but that is what birders are like.

Day 29

Villa Carman is a really nice lodge, and the gardens are beautiful. We did some birding around the lodge and left about 10am and travelled about 0.5 hrs to 2 special bird gardens where saw a great range of species. It started raining as we drove to the second garden and was pouring rain by the time we left. Surprisingly this didn’t stop the hummingbirds feeding.

The area is a major producer of coca leaf which is used by the locals all over Peru, so it is legal as a medicinal plant.

Drinking coca tea, chewing the leaf and eating coca lollies all work really well for altitude sickness. Lorraine and I have found it difficult to breath at altitude, particularly walking up hill and at night.

On the way back up the Manu Road we arrived at Wayquecha lodge after heavy rain and it was cold and totally cloudy.

Day 30

Wayquecha lodge and research station is at about 3100m and is in the cloud forest, which has stunted forests and is damp all the time. It was cold and wet but the research station lodge is very comfortable with great food.

We meet some young students and they had been camped out for 6 days in cold wet conditions, searching for a special bird that is really rare. The students were stoked as they had seen it and photographed it, but cold wet and exhausted and the lodge took great care of them.

We left the lodge at about 10am and crossed a mountain pass at 4,100m which is highest we have been. We spent the night in Pisac, which is a large town in the Sacred Valley with good shopping.

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