Tourist lodges are not allowed in the park itself. In 1980 a relatively small area to the east of the park was designated as the Tourist Reserve Zone, reserved for tourist and commercial activities.
The park is located in the provinces of Manu and Paucartambo (Departments of Madre de Dios and Cuzco respectively), comprising lands on the eastern slopes of the Andes and on the Peruvian Amazones. The limits to the north are the watershed separating the catchment basins of Manu and de las Piedras rivers (72° 01'W, 11° 17'S); to the south the area where the road from Paucartambo to the north-west turns to Tres Cruces (71° 30'W, 13° 11'S); to the east the region on the left margin of the Alto Madre de Dios River to the Pilcopata River, Department of Cuzco (71° 10'W, 12° 18'S); and to the west the watershed separating the catchment basins of the Manu and Camisea Rivers - also the limit between the Departments of Cuzco and Madre de Dios (72° 22'W, 11° 45'S)
From 365m (Manu River mouth) to 4,000m (Cerro Huascar)
The park is located on the eastern slopes of the Andes and extends down from precipitous mountains. The entire area is situated within the Amazon River basin and protects almost the entire watershed of the River Manu and most of the tributaries of the River Alto Madre de Dios. Alluvial plains are found along the rivers where sediments may be deposited on a seasonal basis. The hills occupy the lowlands between the rivers and are relatively small with slopes between 15% and 50%, forming an undulating topography, which covers much of the park. The alluvial plains and hills above 1,500m mainly comprise sedimentary rocks of the Superior Tertiary (1 to 111 million years old) and Recent Quaternary (less than 1 million years old). The mountainous area above 1,500m is formed of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks of the Precambrian and Palaeozoic era (more than 440 million years old). The adjacent reserved zone mainly comprises the flood plains of the lower Manu river, down to its confluence with the Rio Alto Madre de Dios, and over long periods of time the river has wandered over the plain leaving a number of ox-bow lakes.
The area has a wide range of climates, from the cold, dry Andes to the hot, humid Amazon forests. There are however, no long term records of rainfall or temperature in the park, and up to 1985 continuous records of rainfall were only available for two years (1976 and 1982). At the Biological Station of Cocha Cashu (400m), the rainfall between September 1976 and August 1977 was 2100mm. There is a rainy season from October to April with an average monthly rainfall of more than 200mm. From early May to late September rainfall decreases to less than 100mm per month. There is a slight variation of air temperature during the year. The coldest month is June with an average temperature of 11.1° C the hottest month is October with 25.4° C. There are virtually no records of rainfall within the park above 650m. At Pilcopata (650m) the mean annual rainfall (1971-1980) was 3929mm and all months have more than 100mm of rain. July is the driest month with an average rainfall of 188mm. Higher up into the Andes rainfall drops again, and temperatures fall significantly to average a few degrees above zero. Fog is common all year round in montane forest regions.
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