The reserve covers the entire watershed of the Manu River, running across an extraordinary range of altitudes, running from 4,300 masl in the high Andean plain down to 200 meters in the Amazon Basin. The area is home to dozens of tribes -Amahuaca, Huachipaire, Machiguenga, Piro, Yora and Yaminahua- as well as others that have yet to make contact with the outside world. The park is also a haven for more than 20,000 plant varieties, 1,200 butterfly species, 1,000 bird species, 200 species of mammals and an unknown quantity of reptiles, amphibians and insects.
The rainy season runs from December to March, although rain showers are common during the rest of the year as well. From May to August, when temperatures top 30°C, are the best time to visit.
A dirt road runs from Cuzco to the towns of Atalaya (9 hours) and Shintuya (12 hours), from where travelers can set out downriver (5-6 hours). There are also 30-minute flights from Cuzco and Boca Manu, from where the route continues by boat for 4-6 hours.
Tourist infrastructure is rustic and basic, and tourists can also choose to camp.
Visitors are advised to stay in the area for 7-8 days, the time needed to be able to get a good idea of the wildlife in the area.