Manu National Park and Tambopata National Reserve can both be accessed from Puerto Maldonado in southern Peru, but do you choose Manu or Tambopata? Manu National Park is the largest park in Peru and here you can experience both the Manu cloud forest and lowland jungle. In the jungle lowlands you can visit the famous clay licks of the Amazon Rainforest where brightly coloured macaws and parrots flock to their river pharmacies.
Manu contains a cloud forest lodge in the Andes where you can search for an entirely different set of flora and fauna like spectacled bears and the national bird of Peru, the Cock of the Rock. You can get a unique perspective on the Amazon by looking down over the canopy.
The most recommended lodge for Manu lowlands is the Manu Wildlife Center, situated among the highest level of biodiversity in the entire Manu area. If you actually want to stay in Manu National Park, you can visit the Manu Tented Camps, a low impact lodge located inside the park itself.
Tambopata National Reserve contains the largest known macaw clay lick in the entire Amazon Rainforest. This is located just 500 yards from the Tambopata Research Center, one of the Amazon’s most remote lodges. There are several quality tour lodges located around Tambopata National Reserve each with its own air of uniquity. For a deep experience in the Amazon, the best choice would be Tambopata Research Center where you can visit five different habitats, including close and easy hikes to bamboo, flood plain, terra firma, palm and riverine rainforest. Another lodge worth mentioning is the Heath River Wildlife Center, offering a similar experience to the T.R.C and located right between the Tambopata National Reserve and the Madidi National Park.
If you’re a fantastic family and are thinking of letting your kids see the world’s largest container of wildlife then you may wish to visit the Refugio Amazonas Lodge, home to the only children’s trail in the Amazon Basin. The lodge also has a wellness center to enjoy relaxation treatments after your kids have been running around picking up bugs or have been adopted by a troop of squirrel monkeys.
For those wanting a quick visit to the Amazon Rainforest safely knowing you are only 45 minutes from civilization then the Posada Amazonas Lodge is for you. If you want to be close to town and stand the best chance of seeing giant river otters, you may wish to see the Sandoval Lake Lodge.
If you’re arriving in Puerto Maldonado, which will give you access to both reserves, remember it will take a little longer to get to Manu as Tambopata is the closest reserved area. If you still can’t decide between Manu or Tambopata, you won’t be disappointed with either. What matters is the quality of guides and the location of the lodge. All of the lodges mentioned will give you a fantastic experience of the Amazon Rainforest.