The Amazon River is the longest, widest river, with the greatest volume of water, in the world. Forming part of Brazil’s mighty Amazon basin, Peru’s Amazonia is a maze of waterways and lagoons. The source of the Amazon lies in the Peruvian Andes, where it has a journey of some 6,762 km to the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean, where fresh water can still be tasted 100 km out to sea!
The first town the river passes on its 6,762 km journey to the Atlantic Ocean is Iquitos, a town that experienced exponential growth as well as a vast ostentation of wealth due to the rubber boom of the 19th century.
Today it is a bustling city with an excellent fish market, and the gateway to the northern Amazon region of Peru. From here the region is best explored by boat. A 3 night / 4 day cruise gives you a better understanding of the vastness of the place. Boats are air-conditioned with hot and cold water and allow for side excursions into some of the more remote waterways.
The Iquitos region is also better known for its high indigenous population giving you the opportunity to encounter and understand their way of life.
The Puerto Maldonado area, east of Cuzco, is the gateway to the southern Amazon region of Peru and is only short 45-minute flight from Cuzco. Known more for its animals and bird life than the northern region, this area is an untouched wilderness with some of the best wildlife viewing in the Amazon basin; there are over 1000 species of bird, while you may be lucky enough to see giant river otters and the elusive jaguar.
Accommodation is in basic yet comfortable eco-friendly lodges, which provide walking trails, nocturnal trips and indigenous encounters.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
The Peruvian Amazon can be split in two, with Iquitos in the north and Puerto Maldonado to the east of Cuzco. Iquitos offers boat rides down the Amazon in comfortable surroundings; whist Puerto Maldonado has more basic accommodation, coupled with walking trails and more diverse fauna.
Lake Sandoval. A 30-minute boat ride takes you to the Tambopata National Reserve, where wildlife surrounds you as you enjoy the one and a half hour walk along three kilometers of trails to reach Lake Sandoval. Glide in a wooden canoe, across a beautiful, mirror-like oxbow lake that is home to the endangered giant river otter, as well as red howler monkeys, macaws, prehistoric hoatzins, also called “shanshos”, anacondas, point-tailed palm creepers and side-neck turtles. You will spend two hours on the lake, looking at all is has to offer.
Gamitana Creek. Long walk following the Gamitana creek. 1 ½-hour walk through a narrow trail towards “Sanipanga”. 1-hour canoe ride down stream to the Gamitana Model Farm. Interpretation of creek ecosystems. Walk through the Model Farm. Return to the lodge by boat.
Wetlands. Visit the remarkable wetlands system in the 200-meter boardwalk over the Aguajales rainforest swamps. The wooden footbridge is elevated 1 meter from the ground to allow space when the water rises during the rainy months. See the transition of the forest eco system from dry to marshlands, and observe the various species of amphibians, reptiles, serpents, birds and mammals. Get to know the lush flora and trees, how they adapt to the wetland ecosystem, their benefits and uses. The excursion finishes by returning to the lodge
Recommended lodges in this area:
Inkaterra Reserva Amazonia offers a fantastic Peruvian Amazonian experience, with dozens of excursions which can be tailored to your needs, length of visit and weather conditions. Inspired by native Amazon design
Refugio Amazonas is built on a 200 hectare private reserve on the buffer zone of the Tambopata National Reserve. It is the newest of the Peru Nature lodges and comprises of a 32 guestroom lodge