Read our expert travel advice and tips for planning your holiday to the Peru Amazon rainforest.
Peru is an Amazonian country.
For quantity and diversity of flora and fauna, the Peruvian Amazon – which covers 50% of its territory – is one of the most important tropical wilderness regions on earth.
There are three main Amazon areas to consider:
We offer a range of programmes which aim to suit a variety of comfort, style and budget requirements.
Depending on the itinerary chosen, accommodation ranges from a tent to a comfortable lodge.
All trips are accompanied by an English-speaking natural history guide and you with your sense of adventure.
There several well located Amazon rainforest eco-lodges to suit all tastes, times and budgets.
The majestic Amazon, the world’s greatest river, rises in the Peruvian Andes and flows across Peru and Brazil to the Atlantic. With no roads connecting it to the outside world, the only way in is by river or air, or for the more active, we have a route in by mountain bike.
Travelling in the Amazon
Navigating on the Amazon is an amazing experience; you know you’re on a river, yet at times the far bank can’t be made out.
Flora, fauna, indigenous tribes and adventure await you.
Tambopata Rainforest Lodges in Peru
In Peru’s southeast lies one of the world’s most extensive tracts of tropical reserve.
An extraordinary region comprising the Tambopata National Reserve and the Bahuaja Sonene and Manu National Parks, it boasts the greatest animal and plant diversity anywhere in the world, including 1,300 bird species, 200 mammal species and 15,000 species of flowering plants.
Tambopata and Bahuaja Sonene adjoin Bolivia’s Madidi National Park to the south and together cover a wilderness area two-thirds the size of Costa Rica.
Lodges offer extensive forest trails and access to cochas (ox-bow lakes), where wildlife, including monkeys and giant otters, is more easily spotted. Many programmes also feature a visit to a macaw clay lick.
Despite Puerto Maldonado’s remoteness, scheduled flights from Cusco get there in 30 minutes (2 hrs from Lima, flights via Cusco). At Maldonado you board a motorized canoe for the journey to your lodge; depending on its location, it’ll take you either up the Tambopata or down the Madre de Dios River for 1-5 hours.
Sandoval Lake Lodge is a short boat ride upstream then a gentle trek and canoe ride to an oxbow lake bursting with wildlife.
Posadas and Refugios Amazonas are further upriver and provides a fantastic rainforest location on the banks of the Madre de Dios river. These lodges also offer trips tailored specifically to families with young children and teenagers.
If you stay at either of the Amazonas lodges, you can then venture as far upstream as is permitted and stay at their sister lodge, the Tambopata Research Centre, deep in the very heart of the rainforest and with luxury cabins.
Heath River Wildlife Centre stands on the border of Peru and Bolivia, the only eco-lodge in the region, offering rainforest and lowland savannah and therefore a bounty of wildlife and variety of fauna.
Tambopata seen from the air
More information about Tambopata National Reserve
The Tambopata National Reserve is a 275,000 hectare conservation area created in 1990 by the Peruvian government, its aim to protect the watersheds of the Tambopata and Candamo rivers (formerly known as the Tambopata-Candamo Reserved Zone) and with an underlying philosophy of sustainable resource use.
The Reserve contains 600 bird species, 32 parrot species (10% of the world’s total), 200 mammal species, 1,200 butterfly species and over 10,000 species of vascular plants.
Less than 5,000 people inhabit the Tambopata National Reserve, in the northern part. They make a living of slash and burn agriculture, small scale gold mining, timber extraction, and hunting and fishing.
One thousand Ese’ejas live in four titled communities within this area of influence. This lifestyle is coming under threat from roads being built to connect South America’s Brasilian east coast with Peru’s west coast which will encourage exports.
Tambopata National Reserve lies next to the enormous one million hectare Bahuaja Sonene National Park, which was created with the purpose of wholeheartedly protecting the Amazon forests within. Both the Reserve and the Park protect some of the last untouched lowland and premontane tropical humid forests in the Amazon.
In turn, Tambopata and Bahuaja form part of the titanic 30 million hectare Vilcabamba-Amboro Conservation Corridor. The corridor is formed by 16 protected areas ranging from the Vilcabamba mountain range west of Cusco to the Amboro National Park in central Bolivia, and include Manu National Park, the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary and the Madidi National Park, among others.
This corridor protects more than 40 ethnic groups. Its objective is to minimise loss of biodiversity while still planning and developing sustainable lifestyles and forestry businesses for these groups.
Capybara on a riverbank
Manu Rainforest Lodges
The Manu National Park itself offers a few well situated lodges, but the Manu River itself – located within the Manu Reserved Zone – has no lodges as such. Accommodation here is limited to permanent tented camps and wild camps on river beaches.
But because the park houses two distinct eco-systems – cloud forest and rainforest – there are a wide variety of lodges and programmes to choose from.
The Wildlife Tented Camps are at Cocha Salvador in the Reserved Zone, with walk-in tents with hinged doors, raised wooden floors, beds and mosquito nets. There is a dining room and shared hot-water showers, and out most adventurous and value tour is our Camping Adventure.
The Manu Wildlife Centre is downstream from Boca Manu on the Madre de Dios River. While there you visit Blanquillo macaw lick (get to 20 metres from lick) to see hundreds of parrots and macaws. There’s also the largest known tapir lick. The blind – 4 metres up – allows close-up viewing of this huge mammal. A 35m-high canopy tower allows viewing of monkeys and canopy birds.
Posada San Pedro is a small eco-lodge in the Manu cloudforest with double and triple rooms with comfortable beds and mosquito netting. There are shared hot water showers and toilets and a dining area.
Pantiacolla Lodge is a beautiful eco-lodge with double rooms with beds and mosquito nets and shared showers and toilets. It has an extensive trail system, taking you through eight different habitats.
Yine Lodge is another small eco-lodge with double and triple rooms. This lodge is part of an eco-touristic Yine Project with Manu’s Yine Indians. Manu Yine Lodge is an eco-tourism project which offers a chance to interact with the native Yine community while staying in the village.
Tambo Blanquillo is a long platform close to the macaw licks with divisions to make double rooms, there are shared hot water showers and toilets and a dining area.
Monkeys in Manu National Park
More information about Manu
Manu houses the highest bird, mammal, and plant diversity of any park on Earth, including 1,000 of the world’s 9,700 bird species, 200 species of mammals, and 15,000 species of flowering plants.
It is widely regarded as offering the most rewarding tropical rainforest experience there is.
Manu is even more isolated than Tambopata with no large population centres at all and some uncontacted tribes. Consequently access is less direct, the choice being either a light aircraft (Cessna) from Cusco to the Boca Manu airstrip or a beautiful two-day road and river journey, featuring a drive across the Andean watershed. Bikers can mountain bike down the Andes into Manu in four to five days.
The two day trip from Cusco to the entrance of the Manu Reserved Zone carries you over the Peruvian Andes mountains to an elevation of 4,000m/13,123ft, past pre-inca ruins and down through the cloud forest on the eastern side of the Andes, and finally into lush, lowland rainforest. Roads remain largely unpaved and wind their way precariously past cascading waterfalls, deep gorges, and precipices.
The park retains healthy populations of jaguar, tapir, anteater, black caiman and giant otter. Among the 13 species of monkey in this UNESCO Biosphere, lives the unique pigmy marmoset, the smallest monkey in the world, and the nocturnal night monkey.
Because of Manu’s low human population and their continued use of traditional hunting techniques, the animals in the park show little fear of man and are more readily approachable than in many other rainforest locations, offering unparalleled animal watching opportunities.
Manu rainforest itself also boasts the biggest clay lick of the continent’s largest land animal, the 250-kilo lowland tapir, and Peru’s most ‘photographable’ macaw clay lick. Now on the World Heritage List.
Besides rainforest, the park has two other highly distinct ecosystems: cloud forest and high altitude paramo andTherefore has a wide range of climates : from the cold in the highlands to the hot in Amazon rainforest.
Not all lodges open year round, as there is a rainy season from December to March when many close.
Cock-of-the-rock in Manu
Iquitos and the Amazon river
In the north of Peru lies access to the Amazon from Iquitos, where the mighty Amazon is already several kilometres wide in places.
The Amazon River is many kilometres wide by the time it reaches Iquitos, a fascinating city in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest.
With no roads connecting it to the outside world, the only way in is by river or air. Its airport is the usual point of access to the rainforest of Northern Peru, and boats leave from its river ports for the various lodges.
Once you are far enough from Iquitos, abundant primary forest is found. Upstream, near the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, the variety of fauna and flora is impressive. Likewise, turning up the Napo, some 100km downstream.
Some excellent tributary lodges in these areas provide a complete Amazon experience.
River life on the Amazon
Year-round, weather conditions are hot and humid, although the lowland rainforests of Tambopata and Manu lie far enough south of the equator to provide a ‘cooler’, drier winter season between May and October.
During this ‘dry season’, the average daytime high temperature is between 25°C and 34°C and the average nighttime low is between 16°C and 22°C. In the dry season, heavy downpours typically occur every few days.
Note that around 80% of annual average rainfall – approx 2,000 mm in Manu and Tambopata and 1,400 mm in Iquitos – occurs in the wet season (Nov to April).
On rare occasions, between May and September, cold fronts from Argentina – ‘friajes’ – can sweep into southwest Amazonia and push temperatures down to 9° C. (Friajes usually last between 1 and 3 days).
Amazon Inoculations Recommended
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Students Study Food Insecurity & Climate Change in Peru University of Edinburgh students and teachers report back from Peru, where they learned how traditional farming techniques could help prevent climate change and reduce food insecurity. The team visited coastal Lima, the Cusco Highlands, and the cloud forest. For Andean Trails and our local team, it was a chance to showcase a side of Peru that many visitors may not see when passing through. It went so well that the University has already signed up its team to another Food Security tour in the spring of 2024. Learning About …
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