Whatever you do dont go into Manu National Park with a company called MANU ADVENTURES.
They provide appalling service which is dangerous, and completely careless of the tourist/holiday maker/ traveller.
My 3 friends and I booked a 2 night visit to Manu with them in April 2013 at the cost of 330 English Pounds each for lodging and travel. Unfortunately one friend broke her ankle on the Inka Trail and her partner stayed behind with her. We asked Manu Adventures if we could postpone our trip for a few days in the circumstances but we were told unless we went the following day we would lose all our money, which had to be paid up front. So the two of us set off in a mini van at 7 am the following day. We had a very friendly guide who was charming, but totally ignorant of the history, inhabitants and wildlife of the park, which was frustrating as we could overhear some of the other guides speaking about these which sounded really interesting. It was impossible to give an honest review as the guide stood over us when we completed the feedback form.
At 15.00 we arrived at the scene of a landslide where the road had completely collapsed, and it was impossible for a pedestrian to pass. There were two JCBs digging and shovelling earth in the pouring rain, and several miserable looking locals each side of the chasm eyeing the hole gloomily. The tour operators knew very well that the road had collapsed BUT STILL FORCED US TO GO ON THE TRIP. We were then locked in the van for 8 hours while the driver and the guide went off to give advice and suggestions to those digging the earth and the various bystanders. It was difficult being locked in the van because we were desperate for a wee. Luckily we were tired after walking the inka trail the day before so we slept some of the time.
We were then forced to leave the mini van and walk along the edge of a precipice carrying our overnight bag and any other luggage. We then squeezed through two long pitch black tunnels, rubbing up against the dripping wet filthy walls, past the massive lorries that were parked in them. We walked for about a mile then got into another mini van, again with no safety belts. We drove through the night skidding on the muddy wet road, but luckily not slipping over the edge although it felt like a near thing. We reached a rundown dusty lodge. We had some trouble rousing the resident caretaker. We were fed on a rather greasy omelette and chips then taken for a night walk. We saw a stick insect and a thumb nail sized greenish frog as we brushed past wet foliage, peering around with the guides only torch. Luckily there was loads of insect life in our bedroom. Cold orangey brown water provided the showers.
That was the end of Day One. A VERY different experience from that on the brochure.
Day Two was supposed to start with a viewing of birds and monkeys. Our guide resorted to naming the vegetation - as that was not able to move - and occasionally hazarding a guess at the name of a distant bird, and then checking in the three bird books he had bought along with him. After walking up the road for 5 minutes we turned round and went back to the 'lodge' for breakfast.
Another mini bus with no seat belts took us to the next town. Thank goodness for the driver who knew about monkeys and spotted some en route. Lovely to see them in the distance swinging in the trees.
Next stop a dismal rainy town where we hung around getting wet for an hour, left to our own devices while we waited to change driver and van. Again, no seat belts. We were then taken to the river where we caught a boat to another lodge. The boat was locally made and lovely. The lodge was again run down and bleak with a large chunk of the garden dropping into the river. We went on a walk to do the zip wire slide through the tree canopy. Unfortunately we had to wait until 15.00 with nothing to do, as the guide who know how to operate the zip wire had not arrived. Eventually, when that guide did not show our guide said not to worry he knew how it worked. He produced a rusty bit of kit and some climbing harnesses with the straps rusted to the buckles. They straps were quite frayed. Luckily my sons have taken me rock climbing and I know what the kit should look like. Funnily enough we decided not to do the trip wire on this rubbish equipment. We agreed to go and look at the viewing platform and the wildlife. We walked for 3 hours and saw nothing but trees. There is no wildlife here. Its an old sugar plantation with undergrowth and trees and lots and lots of mud.
We climbed up the wooden viewing platform, but as we went up two of the steps snapped completely. Pleased we had decided against the zip wires.
AS we returned a massive storm started with thunder and lightening. Very dramatic. We were disconcerted by the guides approach which was to rush headlong back the way we had come, letting us fend for ourselves, stumbling after him as best we could in the pitch dark. His courtesy and helpfulness had vanished, and unfortunately so had his sense of direction. We ended up on the wrong route. I slipped in the deep mud and broke my glasses.
Thus ended the second day - no wild life, no zip wire, no nothing, However the staff at the lodge were getting quite excited because a big group of french tourists were coming in by plane- not via the non existant road and perilous walk. Shame they had not been so pleased to see us the day before, in fact they were no where to be seen when we finally pitched up there.
The final day was supposed to be a trip to see parrots at the salt lick but this was cancelled because of the weather.
So a very miserable expensive trip, given that Manu Adventures kept the payment from all 4 of us and only 2 went. The guide was totally untrained and ignorant. The only adventure was nearly toppling into a chasm where the road had fallen in. We decided to go into the office and explain that we had not had the trip that we had paid for. The 10 hours locked in a stationary vehicle could have easily been avoided by postponing the trip slightly, for example.
Unbelievably Manu Adventures did not offer us a penny compensation.