Beginning in the historic city of Cusco, this program offers a range of activities as it takes you through colonial towns and jungle villages and into the incredible biological diversity of the Amazon basin. You can also opt to tailor your experience according to your preferences. For the adventurous, there is the chance to take part in mountain biking or white water rafting activities, while those who prefer to relax might choose to enjoy forest walks and study the life of the forest. Whatever you preference, the incredible biological diversity of the cloud forest is sure to delight you, with its abundant plant, animal and bird life.
We will make an early start from Cusco and head through Andean scenery composed of fertile valleys, high altitude grasslands and farming and herding communities. Birdlife on this route includes the mountain caracara, Puna ibis and Andean flicker. We will pass pre-Inca Lupaca culture burial towers before arriving at the colonial-era village of Paucartambo, which has been the gateway to the forests of Manu for centuries. Here there will be time to visit the local church and view and photograph the historic Carlos V Bridge. Leaving Paucartambo, we will continue to Acjanaco Pass (3,850 meters / 12,630 feet), the entrance to Manu National Park, with its fine views of the Amazon basin, far below. From here, the road takes us down through Andean grasslands and into the cloud forest. This ecosystem is rich in flora and fauna: it is the habitat of the cock-of-the-rock, crested and golden quetzals, blue-crowned motmots, gray breasted mountain toucans and many species of butterflies, ferns and orchids. After this magnificent trip, you will spend your first night in our comfortable Paradise Lodge, in the heart of the cloud forest (1,470 meters / 4,821 feet).
Driving distance: 181 km / 113 miles (6 to 8 hours, including a 3-hour hike)
Included: Lunch & evening meal
After a relaxing night in our cloud forest lodge, before breakfast we will venture into the forests surrounding the lodge to observe the cock-of-the-rock as the males of the species perform their daily courtship ritual. After a good breakfast at the lodge, we will spend the rest of the day exploring the surrounding forest at a leisurely pace, visiting local farmers on their pineapple and coca leaf plantations and enjoying plenty of bird watching, as we look out for quetzals and motmots, green jays, paradise tanagers, bay-headed tanagers, orange-eared tanagers and golden tanagers. All the while, your naturalist guide will assist you in learning more about this unique ecosystem. The road to Pillcopata is ideal for birders, facilitating short hikes into the forest. Our bus will be available to you at any time to take you to the area’s main attractions. And those seeking more adventure can opt to experience mountain biking through the cloud forest and white water rafting (Class II and III rapids) on the Kosñipata River. The night will be spent at our Paradise Lodge.
Included: Breakfast, lunch & evening meal
This will be your final day in the forest. After an excellent breakfast you will have time to continue relaxing at the lodge or to explore the surrounding area, before boarding our private bus for the return trip to Cusco. We will retrace our route to Paucartambo, from where we will take the road that follows the course of the Quencomayo River as far as Colquepata and over the high pass at Apacheta (4,100 meters / 13,448 feet). From here the road descends into the Sacred Valley of the Incas, where we will stop along the way to enjoy the scenery and experience the way of life of local villagers. After passing the impressive Inca archaeological site at Pisac, we will continue to Cusco, where you will be transferred to your hotel.
Driving distance: 192 km / 120 miles (6 hours)
Included: Breakfast & lunch
During this exhilarating downhill ride along the dirt road to Pillcopata you will pass through the heart of the cloud forest. Because cycling does not disturb wildlife in the way that traveling by car does, this is a unique opportunity to enjoy the biological diversity and fine scenery of these mountain forests.
Biking distance: 30 km / 18 miles
This trip includes Class II and III rapids, on a river surrounded by dense forest vegetation. The river trip begins with a relaxed boat ride along the Kosñipata River. Expert river guides will then take you further down the Kosñipata over white water. After about an hour’s rafting we will arrive at Pillcopata in time for a delicious lunch, after which we will continue our rafting trip on the Upper Madre de Dios River, as far as the confluence with the Tono and Piñi Piñi Rivers. Here you will have the opportunity to raft and swim through the Coñac Cañon, before returning to the Paradise Lodge in the afternoon.
Duration: 3 to 4 hours