Manu National Park is the largest and certainly the most diverse one of its kind in Peru. Thanks to the efforts of Peruvian conservationists and international scientists, its spectacular wildlife remains intact, thus it is a natural model of what the Amazon looked like thousands of years ago.
If we could see this region from outer space, we would see that it is an enormous altitudinal transect that runs down from mountain peaks surpassing 4000 m to the Amazonian plain, barely 200 meters above sea level. Manu’s jungles, a little more than one day’s travel by canoe on the meandering rivers in the department of Madre de Dios, are believed to be the best preserved on the planet since their forests shelter an extraordinary natural wealth: more than 1300 species of butterflies, 1000 species of birds, 2000 species of vascular plants, 13 species of primates, and more than 100 species of bats. There is also an unimaginable number of insect species (for instance, in one tree, scientists found more ant species than what live on the entirety of the British Isles). Likewise, the national park is a refuge for endangered species like the black caiman, giant otter, and even 7 different types of macaws.
Specialists cite that these jungles, vast and virgin, are the most diverse sector on Earth, reason why UNESCO placed them on the World Natural Heritage List. The Manu Biosphere Reserve sits upon nearly 2 million hectares – twice the size of Puerto Rico – and is made up of a group of territories that have been divided into different categories or systems of use, such as strict protection areas (the national park) and others of sustained use and resource management.