Manu is the reason we came to Peru. (Kim and me with our fabulous guide Nicolas at the park entrance.)
Nearly 7000 square miles of some of the most remote and diverse land on the globe. Manu begins in the highlands of the Andes mountains, descending into the cloud forest, and ending in some of the densest Amazon jungle of all.
We had watched a National Geographic special on Manu a couple of years ago, and ever since we've had a hankering to visit this magical destination.
Our cast of characters for the Manu adventure...our very own personal entourage of driver, guide Nicolas, Cook (never did find out his name...Nico always called him Cook and Cook no speak English...), Kim and me, and later we would add our own boatman and his assistant. We brought in everything we would need for a few days in Manu. There are no stores for hundreds of kilometers.....
Slowly making our way down the mountainside, there were literally waterfalls at every curve.
So much lush greenness...and every so often an unexpected pop of color.
We'd drive along for a short while, until Nico spotted something he wanted to investigate. Then we'd get out and walk down the road a little ways, looking for interesting things along the way.
Nico's trained eyes could spot things we could barely see even with our binoculars. Like this two-toed sloth high in the treetop.
Nico took us to an area where, every afternoon, the colorful males of Peru's national bird the Andean Cock-of-the-rocks would congregate and call out their flirting calls to the nearby females.
The trees were full of these odd-headed but beautiful birds. They stay in this area for about an hour, then fly off until the next day. No one knows why...another one of God's mysteries.
While Kim and Nicolas forged ahead...
...looking for birds and wildlife,...
...I was just as mesmerized by the roadside beauty.
Wild orchids growing along the road!
We would see lots and lots of these crested oropendola birds and their hanging nests during the next several days. As common in Peru as sparrows are in Indiana...
This photo was taken by my iPhone through Nico's scope. Amazing clarity! A good technique when my zoom lens didn't quite have enough reach.
Cook and Nico taking photos with my phone through the scope. Cook is an avid birder as well, but no speak English...smiles a lot and is a great chef!
With the sun setting at 6 pm. and in the shadow of the mountains, darkness falls quickly and completely in the cloud forest. At dusk we arrived at our "lodge" for the night. "Rustic" is the description we received in our pre-trip itinerary...that was being very generous...
In the near-darkness we walked down the steps into a little valley...
...to our home-away-from-home for the night.
Posada San Pedro Lodge.
The bathroom facilities were a short walk away.
A far cry from the Lima Airport hotel where we had stayed the night before.
The cabin was cold and damp and dark (limited power for lights and battery charging, from 6-9 pm...but lights attract bugs, so we used them sparingly as the screens were holey). But it was clean, as far as we could see (which wasn't far and we didn't go exploring.)
We were exhausted and fell asleep in our clothes. I'm not doing that shower.
Kim wondered if we even needed the mosquito netting since we'd not seen a mosquito all day. I told him it's not just about mosquitoes...it's also about critters that may be hanging around in the rafters that we thankfully couldn't see. We both agreed to sleep inside the netting.
As the rainforest insects' songs lulled me to sleep (it didn't take long!), I laid there in the darkness hardly able to believe we were actually here.
Living our dream.
We were sleeping in...