A Glimpse into Peruvian Heritage and a Dive into Manu National Jungle!
Our five-day Cultural Expedition is for the lucky few who are able to be in the Cusco Region during the St. Carmen Festival and also those who want to experience the Peruvian high jungle. We time our tour to spend the first day in the city of Paucartambo, the center of the celebrations. We will be immersed in a colorful expression of the history of the Inca and Pre-Inca peoples, watching comparsas tell vivid stories about their history with lively music and coordinated dances. A morning mass will be held, with marching bands of the Cusco region showing off their talents, and costumed characters dancing until the procession of St. Carmen in the afternoon. This is an experience like no other, and only the start of the journey!
After the wild festival, prepare to witness a spectacle on the edge of the rain-forest! Paucartambo takes us close to Tres Cruces, where we will travel to spend the night. This sets us up to experience the scenery of the jungle first thing in the morning! The beauty of pure nature will surround and astound you as you witness the sun rising over the clouds and jungle trees. Trees that go for miles surrounded by plants and flowers, and a huge amount of diverse animals that call this place their home. Fresh air and beautiful sounds will relax you to an unbelievable degree while you experience an adventure that you will talk about for the rest of your life.
You will venture into the cultural zone, one of the three zones of the Manu National Park, that will award you with high mountains, breathtaking cloud forests, and the stunning rainforest. While exploring this zone, you will have the chance to experience the culture of some of the local, original communities that have endured in the wild jungle through creative agriculture and sustainable forestry. Farming and lumbering is closely controlled by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Authorities of the Manu National Park (SERNANP). The cultural zone contains a vast expanse of cloud forest that is home to more than 8000 species of flora, 400 species of birds, and 10 different mammals.
We enter into the low jungle via a soothing boat ride where wind will brush swiftly against your face as your eyes take in an incredible vista of the Madre de Dios river. This tour also offers the chance to float on the serene Machuwasi lake on handmade crafts of local balsa wood where you will get to see and hear some of the gorgeous birds that live nearby. Enjoy a pleasant hike through a forest of giant Ceiba trees, where you will see a tree that is more than 400 years old. You are guaranteed to experience the wonders of the Manu forest with this remarkable tour.
Minimum number of participants: 3
Day 2: TRES CRUCES - BAMBU LODGE
Day 1: CUSCO - NINAMARCA - PAUCARTAMBO FESTIVAL - TRES CRUCES
The first day of the tour starts early in the morning, leaving from the beautiful city of Cusco before sunrise. We drive about 2-2.5 hours to catch the sun rising over the ancient cemetery of Ninamarca. We will witness this beautiful site and explore the 30 pre-Inca chullpas, small towers constructed to hold and honor the mummies of deceased nobles. From there, we continue a short while to the town of Paucartambo. This will be on the 16th, which is the main day of the festival of St. Carmen and the most popular day to visit. We will observe the mass of St. Carmen, and all the colorful characters proceeding into the church, watch choreographed dances to lively music, and taste the best food the festival has to offer. Be ready to see things you’ve never seen before, in the beautiful town of Paucartambo! After our time at the festival, we will head to the axis of the high jungle, Tres Cruces. Here we will spend the night and get ready for a beautiful sunrise.
Max altitude: 11811 ft (3600 m) above sea level Overnight stay at Tres Cruces
We start the morning at Tres Cruces, our passage point into the cloud forest of Manu. Luckily, by waking up here, we will be able to see a magnificent view of the sun rising over the rainforest. After we finish breakfast we start our adventure into Manu National Park. We will stop along the road and do short treks were we will watch birds and hopefully see monkeys climbing the trees! You will be amazed by the endless sea of green the forest will offer.
At around 1:30 we will arrive at the peaceful Bambu Lodge where we will have electricity and, therefore, a chance to recharge any equipment like cameras you might have brought. After enjoying a short break we be served dinner at about 6:00 pm. If you are feeling adventurous, when the night settles in we will go for a walk nearby the lodge. The nightlife of the jungle brings out animals you are unlikely to see during the day, if we are “lucky” we might even find a tarantula or two.
We will rest at the lodge for the night and enjoy the pleasant sounds of the wild while we drift off to a replenishing sleep.
Max altitude: 11811 ft (3600 m) above sea level Overnight stay at the Bambu Lodge
Day 3: BAMBU LODGE - ATALAYA - SOGA DE ORO & MACHUWASI LAKE
We wake up bright and early today for a delicious 5:00 am breakfast! At 5:30 am we depart from the Bambu Lodge and begin traveling to the small port town of Atalaya. On our way their we will stop at a local market were you can by some food and drink. You can even cut your own coconut, if you can manage it! Arriving In Atalaya we will unpack our things and load them up on a long boat.
A local will take us by boat along the sublime Madre De Dios river for about 40 minutes. We will arrive at the Soga de Oro lodge and unpack and take a brief rest before we get back on the boat. From the lodge we will travel over to another part of the jungle where will will hike for about 2 hours. During the hike we will come upon the lagoon of Machuwasi lake. Stepping onto a flat raft made of balsa wood obtained from the local jungle trees, we gently float along the lake and take in the calm nature that surrounds us. Several birds should be perched along the lake, making calls and sounds while we watch them. Don’t forget your binoculars!
After enjoying Machuwasi, we will be served lunch at around 1:30 pm. Once we have digested our delectable lunch, we will make take a short walk to the river where we can swim and rinse off. The river will feel incredible after you have been in the heat and humidity that is a natural part the jungle.
Fully refreshed, we venture into the jungle in search of more animals, in particular the tapir. The tapir is a very unique looking animal that looks similar in some ways to a pig and has a small, flexible trunk. These herbivores enjoy the water and are excellent swimmers, just be sure to approach them slowly as they can easily scare and run away.
At around 7:00 pm we will enjoy dinner and then have free time to explore before we call it a night and go to bed.
Max altitude: 2130 ft (650 m) above sea level Overnight stay at Soga de Oro
Day 4: SOGA DE ORO - CEIBA FOREST - ATALAYA - BAMBU LODGE
An early morning adventure starting at 5:00 takes us by boat to the Chuncho Macaw Clay Lick! Here we should find a variety of Macaws (parrots) that are clinging to a cliff of clay that contains several minerals thought to be important to the bird’s digestion and health. Flocks of these birds will fly here in the early morning for reasons that researchers are still studying.
Arriving back at the lodge, we will have lunch at around 7:30 am. Afterwards, we journey to a forest of giant Ceiba Trees that will tower over you. These trees are ancient and some have been around for more than 400 years. The center of our 2 hour hike will present us with one of the oldest trees in the jungle, which has a trunk that is several feet thick with roots swelling above the ground, so that when you stand in between them they will come above your waist. The vastness and ancient nature of the jungle will provide you with a truly humbling experience.
We arrive back a the Soga de Oro lodge at about 1:00 pm where we are served lunch. Then we travel by boat for 40 minutes back to Atalaya and drive for approx. 40 minutes to an animal sanctuary. Monkeys, macaws, and other animals will be living here happily under the care of some very kind people. You will have the chance to see these wonderful animals up close and even get to interact with them! From here we will proceed towards a small community where we will meet locals and have the opportunity to do some shopping for textiles and clothes made from materials obtained from the surrounding jungle!
Finally, we will arrive back at the Bambu lodge at about 5:30 pm. After a short break we will have dinner at around 7:00 pm. The rest of the night is yours to explore or rest before the last day of the tour.
Max altitude: 2130 ft (650 m) above sea level Overnight stay at the Bambu Lodge
Day 5: BAMBU LODGE - CUSCO
On the final day of our tour, we will have breakfast at 6:00 am before we start our trip back to Cusco. Along the road to Tres Cruces we will take a few stops to do some short treks and try to see even more animals. We will be keeping a sharp eye out for anything that moves, so have your camera ready!
We will stop on the road around 12:00 pm for lunch and arrive back in Cusco between 3:00 to 4:00 pm.
Max altitude: 11811 ft (3600 m) above sea level
Your “Manu Cultural Zone Expedition” tour will end this day in Cusco. If you would like to stay in the Cusco region or Peru longer and explore more, feel free to contact us. We are happy to modify our tours so that they meet your tastes and expectations.