An Amazon Jungle visit is the perfect extension to your Machu Picchu and Sacred Valley trip, or can also be a great main destination in Peru. It can work great both at the front or back end of your trip as a time to decompress and just relax in the jungle. You can either lie in a hammock on the edge of the Madre de Dios River in the Southern Amazon Basin, or cruise along the Amazon River in a luxurious boat as you look for the infamous pink dolphin. Deciding where to go in the Peruvian Amazon can be a difficult decision, but fret no longer, we are here to help guide you through that decision!
We’re regional specialists here at Knowmad Adventures and pride ourselves in building custom and private trips to South America. If you’re interested in planning an Amazon jungle visit and want to chat with a travel expert, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our Trip Specialists at 612-394-2894 or [email protected]. Keep reading for detailed information about where to go in the Peruvian Amazon, how to get there, accommodation suggestions and more.
An Amazon Jungle Visit: WHERE TO go in THE PERUVIAN AMAZON?
The three main Amazonia destinations in Peru are the Tambopata Reserve in the Southern Amazon Basin, the Manu National Park in the Southern Amazon Basin a bit to the north, and of course, the Amazon River outside of Iquitos in the northern jungle. All three are great destinations and have their advantages and disadvantages. Where the best destination for you or your group is will depend entirely on your time span, what the main focus of your Peru trip is, what type of accommodations you would like, and of course, your budget.
As a rule of thumb the harder the destination is to get to, the more expensive it may be. Because of this, trips to Manu and Iquitos, which will take a full travel day or more to get to, are going to take up a larger portion of your trip budget than staying outside of Puerto Maldonado at the Tambopata Reserve. If you are looking to add three to four days on to the end of your trip in order to see the Amazon, 9 times out of 10, the Tambopata Reserve is the perfect spot for you. It is very easy to get to from Cusco and you will not need to devote too much of your exploring time to travel. More importantly, the site is beautiful, relaxing, romantic and not to disappoint.
The Tambopata Reserve, located just south of the Madre de Dios River, is one of most bio diverse spots in the world. Knowmad has visited many special lodges and accommodations in this area, but due to its unique canopy walkway system and private bungalows nestled alongside the river, Reserva Amazonica is one of our favorites. At this truly ecologically friendly jungle lodge, you will have countless options of excursions to choose from each day, from exploring the Amazon’s most extensive canopy walkway system, to searching for wildlife on a twilight river excursion, bird watching, learning about the uses of native Amazonian plants, and much more! After your days of exploring the jungle, come back and relax in a hammock as you watch the river go by or enjoy happy hour at the lodge. All excursions and meals are included in your stay. Some excellent alternatives to Reserva Amazonica are Rainforest Expeditions’ three different Tambopata lodges – also a great spot to stay!
For those looking to make an Amazon Jungle visit the chief focus of their Peru trip, it is certainly worth considering taking the travel time to get to either Manu or Iquitos. The biggest deciding factor between these two spots will be the type of accommodations you would like. If you are looking to cruise down the Amazon River on a luxury “5-star” boat, then Iquitos is the spot for you.
Iquitos is in the Northeastern part of Peru and the point to fly into for Amazon River cruises. Delfin Amazon River Cruises are a Knowmad favorite as they are not as well known, and therefore made to feel really personal. After arriving in Iquitos you will make your way to the small town of Nauta to board your riverboat, where you may relax and look out over the river from your private balcony. While cruising through the mighty Amazon River, explore the black-water lakes of the flooded forest of Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, meet local tribes people indigenous to the Amazon, spot wildlife in the waters and on shore, and much more! Wildlife sightings may include the mysterious pink and gray dolphins, various monkey species, piranhas, caimans, and scarlet macaws. End the trip with a visit to the Manatee Rescue Center.
The final option we have laid out here is Manu, which is the largest tropical rainforest reserve in the world. Manu is much more difficult and time consuming to get to, however can be great for those whose main purpose of their Amazon trip is to go deep into the jungle, and see some wildlife. Here you also have the opportunity to stay at an actual Amazon research center as well as two other authentic jungle lodges!
There are several ways to get to Manu, but we generally like to split the journey up, which also allows you to see different parts of the cloud rainforest, and different species of wildlife. The first stop is at the Cock of the Rock Lodge, a great spot for nature lovers and bird-watchers really looking to get off the map and into the remote jungle. This lodge is the best spot to see the beautiful, bright red-and-black, cock-of-the-rock national bird. Right near the lodge is a “lek”, or display site, where the males will attempt to attract the females through various calls and a beautiful display of their colorful feathers. After Cock of the Rock lodge, continue by car to the Atalaya Port to catch a boat to the Romero Lodge, located on the banks of the Manu River. Here you can explore the oxbow lakes, and hopefully see some giant river otters, black caiman, and many more species of birds. Your final destination is the Manu Wildlife center. Thanks to the presence of a forest clay lick here, you have a much higher chance of seeing the elusive Lowland Tapirs than elsewhere in the rainforest. End your tour through the Manu Reserve by taking a two to three hour boat ride to Puerto Maldonado, where you can fly out to your next destination.
If you are still unsure of which destination is the best for you, take a look at our easy-to-read “Where should I go in the Amazon?” graph below!
**A final word to the wise: The Amazon Jungle is not an African Safari
It is said that the Amazon holds more biodiversity than any other place on the planet. It is truly a unique place; home to jaguars, anacondas, giant river otters, giant armadillo, pink dolphins, monkeys, piranhas, macaws, osprey and about 400 other species of mammals, 2,000 species of fish, 300 types of reptiles, 1,700 birds and more than 50,000 plants. Despite its great biodiversity, the Amazon’s rare creatures are great at hiding in the expansive depths of the jungle, and some are even close to extinction. It is important to go into your Amazon adventure knowing what to expect, and it should not be to see most of the wildlife that does exist in the jungle. Jaguar sightings for example are extremely rare, as are many other creatures. Having said that, the Amazon is an extraordinary place, and a must-see for many Peru travelers. It doesn’t get much better than falling asleep to the sound of the river and wildlife symphony from within the trees after an adventurous day of exploring the depths of the jungle.
Still unsure about which destination is the perfect fit for you? Not to worry! We have Peruvian Amazon experts ready to talk you through it and help plan out your perfect Amazon vacation. Simply give us a call at 612-315-2894 or shoot us an email at [email protected]. We would love to hear from you and make sure you get the best price available at both jungle lodges and Amazon cruises!
Renee is a Trip Specialist at Knowmad Adventures, a company dedicated to creating unique, private and custom trips in South America. She lived in Mexico for over 3 years and is excited to help Knowmad travelers discover the wonderful impact not just travel, but really experiencing a different country and culture can have on your life. Read Renee’s biography and more about the Knowmad team.