Amazon Manu Field Guide

Amazon Manu Field Guide

Field Guide /Flora & Fauna of Kosñipata Valley


  • Introduction of theAmazon .
  • How to use this guide to -Amazon .
  • Ecosystems of the Amazon .
  • Tourist attractions to jungle Amazon .
  • Flora and Fauna Amazon Wild.
  • Mammals of the Amazon .
  • Birds of Peru Amazon .
  • Amphibians to the Amazon .
  • Reptiles of the Amazon .
  • Arthropods in the Amazon .
  • Plants Amazon .



Introduction of the Amazon Wild Manu Park .

The Kosñipata Valley is located along the high and intermediate zones within the Manu Biosphere Reserve, which is considered one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet. The biodiversity in this region is largely due to the range of ecosystems and climates found within it. The presence of its beautiful landscapes, colorful flora and fauna, and its cultural heritage, makes this unique geographic area highly suitable for the development of nature tourism in the amazon .
This field guide will serve as a tool to identify a wide range of plant and animal species distributed along the road between the Abra de Acjanaco and the Atalaya pier (Buffer Zone of Manu National). It also includes information on the main tourist attractions of the area, culture, natural habitats and landscapes, thus providing visitors a simple yet comprehensive source of information.
This guide is part of the project “Promotion of Sustainable Tourism in the Key Biodiversity Area KosñipataCarabaya, Peru”, which purpose is to contribute to the education and training of local tourist guides and transfer of information to others local actors from the Kosñipata district. The guide presents more than 240 full-color images, which include several taxonomic groups such as birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, insects, arachnids and plants, as well as landscapes, cultural manifestations, and tourist maps.

Ecosystems of the Amazon

On the route from Acjanaco to Atalaya, the visitors can appreciate several types of ecosystems, from the grassland in the high Andes to the humid forests that descend to the Amazon basin. For the purposes of this guide, the fourlandscapes that characterize the Kosñipata Valley are mentioned in a simplified manner: the puna, elfin forest, cloud forest, and rainforest, however, change occurs gradually through a complex transition of ecosystems. Finally, the Atalaya port (at 500 meters) is the access to the Alto Madre de Dios River and the Amazonian plain. The climate varies rapidly from a cold and dry environment in the highlands to warm and humid climate at the lower altitudes. This geographical and environmental variability is the reason why this sector has one of the greatest biodiversity on the planet, where the flora and fauna of Andean and Amazonian origin are mixed.

Puna grassland – Manu Park Amazon .

Altitudinal range: 3500 — 4050 m.
The highest areas of the Kosñipata Valley correspond to the Puna ecoregion and is generally located above 3500 – 3600 m of altitude. This area is dominated largely by grasslands with rolling hills. All visitors arriving in Kosñipata Valley must first pass through the “Abra de Acjanaco” (Acjanaco Pass), located at 3500 m above the sea level, which is the gateway to the valley and the Manu National Park. This is also where the SERNANP ranger station is located and where this type of landscape can be appreciated. In some areas of the puna, there are also small patches of shrub-like vegetation and even some smaller trees (up to 7-8 m high), particularly in areas near the streams. Some small lagoons, streams and swamps are also part of the puna landscape. The highest point of the entire of Kosñipata Valley and Manu National Park is the Apu Kaajhuay peak, which reaches an altitude of 4050 m.
The most abundant and characteristic plant of the puna is the “ichu” (Stipa ichu), which is a grass of up to 40—50 cm in height. Ichu grows in dense mats and is the natural habitat of many species of animals, such as small rodents, birds, amphibians, reptiles and many insects and arachnids. The climate of the Puna is cold, although temperatures can vary with of up to 30˚C between day and night. Rainfall is varied, with the rainy season between Novenber and April. The atmospheric humidity is also high, and is influenced by fog that is generated in the lower areas of the valley.
Both plants and animals have adapted to live in these adverse environments and although the biological diversity is not high as in the lowlands, many species are endemic and exclusively inhabits this ecoregion.

Elfin forest – Amazon Wild Manu

Altitudinal range: 2500 — 3500 m

Starting from Acjanaco, and descending in altitude, is an area of ecotone or transition between the puna and the tropical humid forests where the Andes meets the Amazon. These forests, called by the ancient Peruvians as “yungas”, correspond to the ‘Montane forest Ecoregion’ and are below 3500 m in altitude. Here there are several levels of changing vegetation; the first of them is the elfin forest that is characterized by mixed elements of flora and fauna, and where species of grassland and forest coexist. The trees are small in size (12—15 m), mixed with shrub vegetation (e.g. Melastomataceae, Asteraceae, Ericaceae) and many species of orchids. The “Ericson trail”, that begin in Acjanaco, is ideal to observe many orchid species. This area is also a preferential habitat for animals such as the Peruvian white-tailed deer, Spectacled bear, and puma. There are also birds, such as the Eared-dove, Yungas pygmy-owl, hummingbirds (e.g. Sapphire-vented-puffleg or the impressive Sword-billed hummingbird), Masked flower-piercer and the Hooded mountain-tanager, among others. It is also habitat to several endemic species of amphibians, such as the marsupial frog Gastrotheca antoniiochoai or the semi-aquatic frog Telmatobius mendelsoni. The climate of this region is humid and cold, and while not having the extreme variability in temperature as the puna, it can vary with 0 to 15 ˚C between day and night. The humidity can reach 100% due the cloudiness in the area, and has a clear rainy and dry season, with the dry season being between May and September.

Altitudinal Range Amazon Manu : 1300 — 2500 m.

One of the most impressive regions in the Kosñipata Valley is the “cloud forest” which is located between 1300 to 2500 m altitude. The name of this type of forest comes from the presence of abundant and constant mist throughout the day, often limiting the visibility to 2—3 meters. The humidity and mist is also source of persistent rainfall. The topography is quite jagged, often having slopes with more than 30 degree inclination which forms numerous streams and in some places even impressive waterfalls. The famous Mirador of Unión is located in this area, as are the dwellings in San Pedro. The trees in this region are higher, often exceeding 20 meters, with the trunks and branches covered by epiphytes, mosses, and ferns. The orchids are very diverse in this region, as are the bromeliads of the genus Tillandsia. These bromeliads are epiphytic plants with rosette like leaves that store water, which form micro-habitats of some amphibians, insects, and other invertebrates. The area also harbours tree ferns of the genus Cyathea and large areas of bamboo forest called “carrizales”.
The cloud forest is habitat to hundreds of birds and one of the few places where one still can observe the cock of the rock, Highland motmot, Booted racket-tail, Masked trogon, and the Crested quetzal, among others. Two species of monkeys can be seen in this region, as can Jaguarundi, Dwarf-brocket, South American coati, tayra and several species of marsupials, rodents and bats. The climate is temperate and wet, with yearly rainfall that can exceed 2,500 mm. The peak rainy season is between December and March, while temperatures vary between 16 and 25 ˚C.

Rainforest Tropical Amazon Wild .

Altitudinal range: 500—600 to 1300 m

This region covers the lower part of the Kosñipata Valley, where the villages Pillcopata, Patria, Chontachaca and Asunción are located. The region has moderate slope, and is – due the topography and prevailing climate – the area with the greatest agricultural activity since the time of the Incas. Currently the agriculture is very diverse, with the most important crops being cassava, chili peppers, and fruits such as bananas, papaya and pineapple. The main rivers in this region are the Piñi Piñi, Tono and Kosñipata rivers, which together form the Alto Madre de Dios River. Visitors to the region can navigate in small canoes from the Atalaya port to the Manu River, which is the entrance to the greater Amazonian plain and the heart of the Manu National Park.
The Amazon influence on the flora and fauna is very evident in this region and it’s also here where the greatest biodiversity of the Kosñipata Valley is found. The primary forests include several layers of vegetation: the forest canopy with trees over 30 m, the middle stratum between 15 to 20 m, with young trees and palms that are very frequent, and the lower part of the forest that corresponds to the understory where seedlings, shrubs and herbs abound. At ground level there is a layer of leaf litter. In all these layers, there is enormous variability of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and especially arthropods. Many species have adapted to live exclusively in the canopy, such as monkeys, eagles, toucans and thousands of insects, while other species of birds, amphibians and arthropods are found only at the understory level. In other areas in this region there are secondary forests, especially in the vicinity of agricultural areas, as well as patches of bamboo forest (Guadua sp.) and small plant associations dominated by Mauritia flexuosa palm. The rainforest is characterized by a warm climate with average temperatures of 25˚C, with more than 5,000 mm of annual rainfall, and is as such the rainiest area of the valley.


Manu National Park – Amazon  ( Tres Cruces Viewpoint ) .

The Tres Cruces viewpoint is located in the Tourist and Recreational Zone of Manu National Park (MNP) in the Andean region. From the town of Paucartambo you must travel 45 kilometers to the Acjanaco pass (3800 m altitude) and from there follow a trail to the viewpoint of Tres Cruces. The viewpoint faces the Amazon, from where you can appreciate the rainforest of the Kosñipata Valley, the gateway to the MNP. From the viewpoint you can appreciate a unique visual spectacle: the sunrise here, thanks to a natural effect, seems to place the visitors in between the Andes and the Amazon. Also, thanks to another natural phenomenon, “three suns” can be seen at the same time illuminating the summit of the mountain called Apu Kañajhuay, located at more than 3800 m altitude in this área amazon .

Manu National Park (Acjanaco Sector) – Amazon Wild .

The Acjanaco area stretches from the Acjanaco Surveillance and Control Post (SCP) to the Tres Cruces viewpoint. It includes two trails for hikers and one for research.

_ The interpretation trail, which goes from the Sven Erickson Obelisk (who built the Paucartambo – Pillcopata road) to the Acjanaco SCP and the Yanayacu Lake. Although its route is short, it serves as a viewpoint and interpretation point for tourists who enter the national park for the first time.
The Erikson Trail, which is 5.3 km long. It stretches from the SCP Acjanaco to the Pillahuata State, at kilometer 126 of the Paucartambo – Pillcopata Road. It is the trail that receives the greatest number of visitors because it is possible to appreciate the transition from the grassland and queuñas forest (Polylepis pauta) to the cloud forest tropical amazon .

The Union Trail, almost exclusively for research purposes, is 13 kilometers long, from the Tres Cruces viewpoint to the Union Creek, at kilometer 150 on the Paucartambo-Pillcopata Road. On the way you can observe ecosystems of the puna, bogs and cloud forest in manu park Amazon .

Amazon – The leks of the Cock-of-the-Rocks in the cloud forest Manu Park.
The Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicula peruvianus), famous for being one of the emblematic birds of the forest, is also the national bird of Peru amazon . It is a relatively large bird belonging to the Cotingidae family, known for its courtship and colorful plumage. Males are predominantly orange-red in colour, while females are darker, orange-brown in color. Males congregate among the trees where the undergrowth ends, in mating places called leks. Each male defends his perch as his display territory. In a lek there are usually many males very close to each other, waiting for a female to approach. Once the female is near, the males begin the mating courtship accompanied by loud grunting and cackling and particularly theatrical leaps. The aim of such an extravagant show is to win the attention of the female.

Harakbut People Amazon .

This is an indigenous group comprised by people from different areas of the Manu Biosphere Reserve. Two major groups are found in Manu: the Amarakaeri and the Wachiperi. The Amarakaeri ethnic group can be found in the Shintuya community, which is located on the right side of the Alto Madre de Dios River and the Shintuya River, and is accessed is by waterway and also by road from Pillcopata. The Wachiperi ethnic group can be found in the Queros community, located upstream of the Pillcomayo River, 11 km from Pillcopata. In addition, Wachiperi also form the Santa Rosa de Huacaria community, which is located in the Piñi Piñi River basin, 7 kilometers from Pillcopata. These villagers have been involved in tourism for several years, including initiatives of experienced-based tourism, production of handicrafts, and traditional medicine.

Jungle Ultra Marathon – Amazon .

The Jungle Ultra Marathon from the Andes to the Amazon is considered by the organizers as an extreme sport. It takes place in the district of Kosñipata in the Manu Biosphere Reserve. Its route is 230 kilometers long, where physical activity is combined with adventure. Athletes must traverse trails, rivers and forests with an impressive biodiversity. The route starts at Wayqecha Biological Station and continues through San Pedro, the Tono sector, the native community of Santa Rosa de Huacaria, the Villa Carmen Biological Station, the native community of Queros and ends in Pillcopata.

Coñec Narrow Gorge Manu Park Amazon .

The Alto Madre de Dios river is formed by the union of the Pillcopata and Piñi Piñi rivers, close to the town of Pillcopata. There, an impressive flow of water crosses one of the last Andean tributaries that enter from the Region of Cusco towards the region of Madre de Dios, giving rise to the Coñec Narrow Gorge (pongo in Spanish). The pongo is formed by rocky walls, which in the narrowest part do not exceed 50 meters in width. The water that flows with force forms swirls and rapids. The 300-meters route around the pongo is dangerous during the rainy season (November – April) but quiet during the dry season (May – October ).

Gastronomy and local resources of Peru .

The kosñipaco is one of the new representative dishes of the Cusco gastronomy from the Amazonian area. It is a delicious stew served throughout the year in the district of Kosñipata and is made of local ingredients, including paco (fish from the area), fried plantains, local chili, cocona (an Amazon fruit) and a wild type of coriander. Also, the pacamoto is a traditional Amazonian dish prepared by the indigenous Wachiperi and Matchiguenga. The main ingredient is fish and the connoisseurs prepare it by placing the fish inside young bamboo stalks and cooking it on a bonfire. It is served with boiled plantains and cassava. Visiting Kosñipata is an unforgettable experience. It is an ideal place for hiking, bird watching, boating, horseback riding, fishing, and cultural experiences by visiting the native communities. The road here is also considered one of the most wonderful routes of the southeastern Amazon.