The Amazon Jungle covers a huge area of more than 5,500,000 square kilometres so naturally it offers a large degree of variation in what you may see. 13% of the jungle lies in Peru but that 13% covers a massive 60% of Peru’s total area!
Whether you opt for a visit to the highland Amazon Jungle in Iquitos or the lowland Amazon Jungle in Puerto Maldonado you’re in for a fantastic experience.
The highland Amazon Jungle, Northern Peru
To explore the highland Amazon jungle of Northern Peru you’ll need to head to Iquitos. Iquitos can only be reached by plane or boat and is on one of the narrowest points along the Amazon River. Here the Napo River feeds in to the Amazon River from Ecuador. Established in 1757, it was the first river port on the Amazon. Progress in Iquitos took off in the 1880s because of rubber exploitation and in the 1930s the town started exporting oil. Today there is considerable focus on these important oil reserves and how to best minimise the environmental impacts of oil extraction on the rainforest.
The Amazon River has many villages along its banks and all the trade and transport is done by boat. When going deeper into the Jungle it is more lush and there are many medicinal plants growing. These are used by the local Indians for all sorts of ailments. It is common for the local villagers to go to a shaman or a medicine man before going to a doctor.
The shamans and medicine men understand the medicinal value of the various plants and trees utilising their leaves, flowers and roots. It is possible to visit some of the local villages to gain a greater insight in to the Amazon way of life.
In Yagua Village you have the opportunity to witness a blow gun demonstration which some of the Yagua elders still use for hunting to this day.
Many animals in the Jungle are nocturnal and hide in the rainforest. This can cause disappointment as often people expect to see more. The jungle is not a zoo and this can mean that, dependent on the times of day and year that you visit, some of the species are not so easy to see.
Most of the time you can expect to see monkeys, snakes, tarantula spiders, pink dolphins and it is possible to go piranha fishing.
Where We Stay
Our small groups stay at the Ceiba Lodge, part of the Explorama Lodges, and located approximately 45 minutes from Iquitos. The Explorama Lodges were built by the late Peter Jensen, an American who has been acknowledged for his commitment to the Amazon rainforest and the education of scientists, students, environmentalists and travellers. A Canopy Walk was constructed in order to study the rainforest at a height. If heights are no problem to you the Canopy Walkway offers you an entirely new perspective of the rainforest.
The lowland Amazon Jungle, Central Peru
Reaching Puerto Maldonado requires a short flight from Lima and a forty minute boat trip up the Madre de Dios River. Puerto Maldonado is the gateway to some of the Amazon Jungle’s most pristine primary rainforest.
The Madre de Dios River flows into Brazil and changes its name to the Madeira River when it joins together with the Rio Mamore on the border with Bolivia & Brazil, before it reaches the Amazon closer to Manaus City. The other river in this area is the Tambopata River, where you can find the Tambopata Research Centre, this will take a good 4 hours by boat to reach and it is located in the Tambopata National Park.
You should allow for at least 3 nights in the rainforest to ensure you have enough time to appreciate the many forest walks and boat trips that are on offer.
This part of the Amazon is beautiful to visit and experience how the local villages live on the banks of the river. You may also choose to spend some time visiting the local community at Gamatida Island, downriver. Here you can visit an Amazonian farm, sample tropical fruits and local produce.
In this area of the rainforest you can expect to spot white caiman, parrots, capybara, monkeys and, if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the endangered giant river otter. Your best chance of seeing one is on Lake Sandoval in the Tambopata Candama National Reserve. This reserve is home to a range of climates including subtropical, tropical and semi-flooded rainforests and cloud forests.
Where We Stay
There are many lodges set in the jungle and it is highly recommended to take good walking shoes. Most lodges will also supply rubber boots. In contrast to the Amazon Jungle Lodge in Iquitos, the lodges near Puerto Maldonado have limited electricity. Most electricity is supplied via a generator, meaning that a couple of hours in the morning and evening are required to recharge the batteries. In some lodges there is no warm water, resulting in refreshing cold water showers. This part of the Amazon is more rustic but this can provide a wonderful experience of the jungle.
Our 28-day South American Explorer tour visits the lowland Amazon Jungle.