NATIONAL PARK ZONES
* CULTURAL ZONE
The Cultural Zone is one of the three zones from Manu National Park which covers high mountains, cloud forest and low jungle. In this area, there are small villages, settlers and native communities working in productive activities such as agriculture and lumber at a low scale, since the Ministry of Agriculture and Park Authorities control these activities. One of the purposes of this controlled area is to act as a buffer zone to the Reserved and Intangible Zones.
* CLOUD FOREST
Crossing over the eastern edge of the Andes, travelers to Manu National Park, often encounters a thick blanket of clouds. This is the beginning of the Cloud Forest, the mysterious and ghostly forest where we can find the spectacular Cook of the Rock, Spectacle bear and scores of dripping tree ferns, bromeliads and Orchids. Ranging in elevation from 11,500 to 4,500 feet (3,500 to 1,500m.a.s.l.), the Cloud Forest is one of the least studied environments, at least 50% of its plant species are found nowhere else on earth. Heavy mists and frequent rains (up to 23 feet, or 6 meters annually) support the cloud forest's dense, stunted canopy of evergreen trees. In a process called "cloud stripping", the leaves cause the condensation of the moisture from the clouds. Water is therefore continually forming on the plant surfaces and dripping towards the ground. The perpetual humidity of the cloud forest makes an ideal home for epiphytes - plants that live on other plants and take their moisture and nutrients from their surroundings, not the ground. As dirt accumulates on branches, lichens and mosses, a colonization process begins and is promptly followed on ferns, bromeliads and orchids.
* RESERVED ZONE
This zone which runs along both sides of Manu River, covers a vast extension of primary forest and it is dedicated to only two activities: Tourism and Research. Being the river the only possible access to this area, it is relatively easy to control and protect from no authorized visitors and poachers. Scientists consider this area as a living laboratory because of the mega-diversity in flora and fauna.
* INTANGIBLE ZONE
This is the biggest part of the Park, covering an extension of 1'800, 000 hectares of pristine forest. A few protected areas in the world are as large as this Intangible Zone and none of them is as pristine and rich in wildlife species. In this area, tourism is not permitted and for that matter nor any other activity, except Scientific research at the Biological Station of Cocha Cashu where for the last 25 years Peruvian and international scientists have been conducting investigation projects of flora and fauna.
There are several ethnic groups such as Matshiguenkas / Kugapacoris, Yoras / Yaminahuas, Mashco Piros, Amahuacas and others; some of these groups do not have any contact with the outside world.