Manu Explorer - Cusco, Peru
What to Expect
The Peruvian jungle is a completely different world to the coast or the Andes. This is not just a matter of the topography and climate; the whole way of life preserves a different relationship with nature and people. The general lack of commercialism is wonderfully refreshing. However, to see the rainforest at its most pristine, it is necessary to make substantial river journeys once you arrive. These are actually a very pleasant option. Protected from the sun under a permanent roof you also enjoy the benefits of any river breeze and a reduction of insect activity.
The people of the rainforest are mostly indigenous though there are also those who have come from the highlands to share in the peaceful existence. In major urban conurbations such as Iquitos or Puerto Maldonado, they will make up the majority of the population. However, our boats will soon take you deep into the rainforest habitat to see the bountiful produce that the climate produces.
There are excesses of fruit and vegetables, whilst the rivers team with fish. The main source of meat is from wild animals hunted with traditional weapons. There is a respect for nature and its sustainability, as the fish and meat are not pursued for export. Fortunately, most people now speak Spanish, as a second language, so it possible to converse with the local people, who are willing to sit and share some Yuca beer with interested and respectful visitors.
The jungle is hot and humid and this can be tiring, so it is necessary to change down a gear or two when arriving into the rainforest. Generally the temperatures are between 210 and 350 Centigrade (720 to 880 Fahrenheit). There is often cloud cover and this reduces the temperature to a more comfortable level. But the direct sun is uncompromisingly hot and will seriously burn unprotected skin and give sunstroke to people without hats. The humidity is always high and this saps the strength. However, the wildlife doesn’t like the heat of the day either, and maximum activity happily coincides with the early and later parts of the day.
At all times of the year, rain is possible. Localised thunderstorms can be heavy and spectacular. Many such storms are at night providing illuminating viewing from afar. Of course, it is not like the cold rain of temperate latitudes but protective clothing is still useful and necessary. But this should not be too heavy as this will be uncomfortably hot. Generally, jungle clothing should be light and functional with as much ventilation as possible. The rainy season for the rainforest tends to be around November time but the rivers are passable all year round. However, seasonal conditions can lead to changes in itineraries.
Surprisingly, the mosquito issue is not as extreme as everyone expects. With repellent and good clothing, there is no need to be worried about this aspect of the Peruvian jungle. In the main areas for wildlife tourism, snakes are seldom seen. But those that are present are venomous. So, when it is necessary, you should pay close attention to your guide who is used to seeing these slippery customers basking in the afternoon sun on damp pathways. Swimming in the main rivers is often permissible at safe points of entry. However, under no circumstances should anyone ever enter the water in the ox-bow lakes. Here, lie caiman up to six metres in length, quite capable of snacking on an adult.
We will strive to help you enjoy your visit to the jungle by building your relationship with nature. Day by day you should be able to feel more at home in this most wonderful of worlds. Adjustment to the style and nature of life here is usually rapid, though obviously the longer the trip the better. Unless you are on a very strict time schedule, Manu Explorer recommends that even the casual visitor consider a six-day trip. This will make it feel like less of a flying visit and allow you to benefit from the first few days of acclimatisation, as well as ensuring a fair chance of seeing everything that you want to see. Inevitably, we find the vast majority of our short trip customers wishing they had allowed more time for the rainforest. This is understandable because it is their first visit and no amount of information can prepare you for what you will find.
Naturally, the more time spent in the rainforest, the more potential to see the more elusive species, or return to locations to make sure you have that perfect photograph. Certain viewings, such as the Macaw lick provide guaranteed photographic opportunities under controlled conditions; others, require more patience and effort. For example, although monkeys are never far away, and sightings are frequent, it is not always possible to find them on demand. But the longer your stay the more you will see. However, whatever duration or schedule you choose for you visit, our skilled guides will do everything in their power to help you find what you are looking for, and plenty else besides.
When to Go
Trips are possible all year round, though the rainy season (November to January) generally increases insect activity and can lead to temporary transport difficulties (airplanes mainly). In addition, the heavy rain in Cusco from February to April can affect flying. Some animal and bird activity is seasonally affected (e.g. the fruiting of many trees is in the rainy season and this provides food for many animals. In contrast, the dry season forces many otherwise retiring species down to the river to drink. So, on balance, there is never a shortage, just different opportunities. Most clients choose to visit during the period June to October as this coincides with the best weather in the highlands, but we can accommodate visitors at any time of the year, including Christmas and other holiday periods.
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