Manu National Park, located in southeastern Peru, is one of the largest parks in South America. The area of the park encompasses parts of the Andean department of Cusco and the jungle department of Madre de Dios. Manu protects over 2 million hectares (4.5 million acres) of territory rich in flora and fauna species in a variety of habitats including high Andes, cloud forests, and lowland tropical rain forests.
UNESCO officially recognizes this natural paradise as a world heritage site. In 1977 they designated Manu as a World Biosphere Reserve because it contains the best existing example of biodiversity in protected areas of rain forest, as well as endemic areas of cloud forest.
Humans have altered the majority of forests in the world. Fortunately, Manu has remained intact and untouched by civilization. Thus, we can observe a variety of animals in their natural habitats, including: Giant Otters (Pteronura brasiliensis), Black Caiman (Melanosuchus Niger), the majestic Jaguar (Panthera onca), the strange Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus), the Tapir (Tapirus terrestris), the Ocelot (Felis pardalis), 13 species of primates, and an estimated one thousand species of birds including seven species of Macaws (Ara sp.).
Manu also contains 10% of the world’s vascular plant species, including several species of figs and palms, as well as countless species of medicinal plants that scientists are currently cataloguing. A single hectare of forest in Manu can have up to 220 species of trees, while a hectare of temperate forest in Europe or North America may only have 20 tree species.
Manu National Park may be the most biologically diverse and protected park on the planet.