With an area of 18,812 km², the Manú National Park in Peru is the largest rainforest reserve in the world. Its core zone is strictly protected. The national park includes rainforest, mountain rainforest and high mountains up to about 4000 m altitude. Manú is one of the most important pristine ecosystems in the world and has around 1000 different plant species and 850 species of birds. It is also a retreat for numerous Indian tribes from the Amazon lowlands.
Manú National Park: facts
|Official title:||Manú National Park|
|Natural monument:||since 1973 national park with an area of 15,328.06 km²; Part of the National Park of the Manú and large parts of the Alto Madre de Dios; Habitat for four indigenous groups: the Machiguenga, the Mascho-Piro, the Yaminahua and the Amahuaca|
|Location:||Flanks of the Cordillera de Carabaya, north of Cuzco|
|Meaning:||the most exclusive and representative ecosystem of the Amazon basin and probably the protected area with the world’s most plant species|
|Flora and fauna:||tropical lowland rainforest, tropical mountain rainforest and puna; In the last few years 1147 different plant species have been identified on a study area of 5 km²; in the most recent surveys 1200 vascular plants of the lowland forest identified; Occurrence of tree species such as Swietenia macrophylla and Poulsenia armata as well as 18 species of ficus; more than 800 bird species known, including 500 from the lowland rainforest near the Cocha Cashur research station, the species native to the national park represent 25% of all South American species, including the scarlet macaw and red bugara; 13 species of monkeys such as Mustache tamarin; 12 reptile species such as black caiman and 77 amphibian species; also giant armadillo, ocelot, jaguar, short-eared fox, spectacled bear and giant anteater|
Natural paradise between the Andes and the Amazon
All over the world, tropical forests are burning and huge areas of rainforest are being cut down. The need to protect ecologically particularly valuable regions is therefore becoming increasingly urgent. According to thereligionfaqs, the Peruvian National Park Manú, which is considered to be one of the most species-rich rainforest reserves on earth, has a special position within these nature reserves. In the headwaters of the Río Madre de Dios there is an extremely diverse flora and fauna that is unparalleled anywhere in the world. The numbers are impressive: over ten percent of all bird species occurring worldwide have their habitat here; They are joined by 200 species of mammals, a dozen species of reptiles, and an estimated half a million arthropods. There are over 15,000 plant species here – that’s a world record.
The biosphere reserve, which takes up roughly the area of Saxony, consists of three areas: The Manú National Park has the largest share, which enjoys strict nature protection and can only be entered with a special permit, which is normally only granted to scientists. In the east there is an area for ecotourism as well as a smaller zone in which the indigenous residents are allowed, under strict conditions, agriculture, forestry and hunting. Although several organizers from Cuzco are now offering excursions to the reserve, so far only a few tourists have found their way into this jungle paradise. Because such a five- to eight-day trip can hardly be had for less than 600 dollars.
The journey of several days from Cuzco by bus, which leads over the Cordillera de Vilcanota, the easternmost mountain range of the Andes, is impressive. In the Puna or Páramo region, icy winds often prevail at altitudes over 3000 meters. Near the 3700 meter high Acjacuna Pass, the Tres Cruces viewpoint offers a magnificent panorama. On the eastern slopes of the Andes, the rain-rich cloud forest extends over 2000 meters with a humid and temperate climate, an ideal habitat for bromeliads, orchids and other epiphytes. Numerous species of birds live in the dense network of tree tops, including brightly colored hummingbirds, orange-black colored red rock cocks and the shy quetzal. Short-eared foxes and spectacled bears also have their home at these altitudes.
With the boat one crosses on the Río Alto Madre de Dios dense lowland rainforest, which covers about 90 percent of the protected area. With a bit of luck, you can spot the rare jaguar looking for prey on the banks of the river. The endangered black caimans lurk in the waters. The population of the giant otters, which can be up to 1.80 meters tall and were hunted mercilessly for their fur, is also at risk. These martens mostly live in small, sociable groups and hunt fish, waterfowl and small mammals from dawn to dusk. The best chances of observing these shy animals are in the lakes and lagoons around the Río Manú. The greatest representative of the local animal world, however, is the tapir, which moves in the slow cloister and looks strange because of its trunk-like nose.
Another highlight is a visit to a collpa, a place on the river bank where thousands of parrots eat the salty soil. The bright red-blue macaws form a striking color contrast to the uniformly green foliage of the jungle, which on the return flight to Cuzco seems to expand endlessly, only interrupted by the meandering course of the rivers.