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When you first enter the rainforest, your senses are overwhelmed by the lush greenery all around you. But spend a few days at a lodge in Peru and you will begin to regard this incredible ecosystem with new eyes and ears. These days, eco-lodges come with comforts that make a full Amazon immersion all the more incredible.

Walk in the shadow of giant trees, climb to the top of canopy towers, hop into a canoe and glide across mirror-like lagoons where caimans and otters bask in the sun while colorful parrots and macaws soar overhead. Travel to the Peruvian Amazon and marvel at nature’s boundless wonders.

    Geography and weather conditions will affect how you get around and what wildlife you see.

    The Peruvian Amazon has two major climate zones:

    • Lowland jungle (Selva Baja) with elevations up to 3,280 ft (1,000 m)
    • Highland jungle (Selva Alta) with elevation ranging from 3,280 ft (1,000 m) to 9,840 ft (3,000 m) on the eastern slopes of the Andes

    Instead of dry and wet, the seasons might be more accurately described as wet and wetter. It’s called the rainforest for a reason.

    Two major hubs have been developed for research and tourism: Puerto Maldonado in the south and Iquitos in the north.

    Puerto Maldonado & Tambopata National Reserve

  • Elevation 600 ft (180 m) at Puerto Maldonado
  • Temperature Highs: 84 to 90 F (29 to 32 C) Lows: 62 to 70 F (17 to 21 C) *From May to September, occasional cold fronts from Argentina can drop temperatures to 50 F (9 C) during the day and 43 F (5 C) at night.
  • Dry Season From May to October
    Drier trails, more macaws and parrots on the clay licks, hotter weather, fewer amphibians and longer travel time due to low water levels.
  • Wet Season From November to April
    Afternoon rains bring cooler temperatures and more bird activity. Ponds and wetlands form and attract reptiles and amphibians. Fruiting trees attract black spider monkeys and other animals.

    Iquitos & Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve

  • Elevation 300 ft (90 m) at Iquitos
  • Temperature Highs: 87 to 90 F (30 to 32 C) Lows: 69 to 74 F (20 to 23 C)
  • Dry Season From June to August
    Days are sunny and clear. Less rain and fewer mosquitos. Lowest water levels in October. Perfect time for fishing. Wildlife, water- or land-based, are slightly less visible during the high water season.
  • Wet Season From November to May
    Days are rainy and humid. Highest water levels in May. Creeks and streams become accessible. Pink dolphins, giant river otters, turtles, monkeys and other species are found in or near the rivers. Birds come out in a colorful spectacle.
The central hub of the southern Amazon and gateway to the Madre de Dios River with easy access to the Tambopata National Reserve and a large number of eco-lodges.
North of Tambopata, Manu National Park’s remote location and protected status means you’ll experience a gorgeously pristine corner of Peruvian Amazon.
Gateway to the northern Amazon and home to an array of attractions as eclectic as the city’s history and its people, Iquitos is a remarkable city — and not just because the only way to get there is by boat or by plane.
Take a look at rainforest conservation projects in action, including community-owned and operated lodges that use proceeds to preserve the incredible ecosystem around them.
Located throughout the Tambopata Reserve, clay licks are exposed sections of riverbeds that attract large flocks of macaws and parrots. The colorful spectacle is a wonder to behold.
Marvel at Brazil nut, Ceiba (Kapok), and Ficus trees that grow up to 160 ft (48 m) tall and host their own complex habitats from roots to canopy top.
These lakes are formed as bends in the river are slowly cut off from the main water flow. Explore the lake waters aboard a paddle-driven boat and keep your eyes open for river otter, caimans and birds.


The best lodges in the Amazon allow you to experience the rainforest’s wonders while also working to preserve the natural setting and benefit local indigenous communities.
For the ultimate rainforest experience, book the canopy treehouse at Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica. With room for 2 guests, it sits on a private platform 90 ft (27 m) above the ground.
The Tambopata Research Center is the premier lodge for travelers seeking to witness the early morning congregation of macaws and parrots on a riverside clay lick.
Canopy towers, hanging bridges, and ziplines let you glimpse the extreme biodiversity of the canopy and the diverse habitats that can be found on and around a single massive tree.
The Ese-eja near Puerto Maldonado, the Matsigenga near Manu, and the Yaguas and Bora near Iquitos are just a few of the hundreds of indigenous communities that live in the Amazon. Visiting these communities is an invaluable opportunity for cultural exchange.
Wildlife flock to this sanctuary close to the Madre de Dios River. Get in a wooden canoe and glide across the mirror-like surface to spot hoatzins, herons, ospreys, and river otter.


Venture to the Iquitos Plaza de Armas with the Matriz Church as its centerpiece and let yourself be swept up by the vibrant energy of the jungle city.
Belen is a labyrinth of stalls piled high with exotic fruits, freshly caught fish, and rainforest herbs, roots, and seeds.
Discover the Amazon aboard a luxurious cruise ship. Wake up to an ever-shifting panoramic view of the rainforest, enjoy hikes and boat rides during the day, and relax aboard your ship at night.
Your lodge or cruise ship may offer the chance to try piranha catch and release fishing using traditional techniques.
Feed rescued manatees and learn about efforts to protect this endangered species around Iquitos.

If you are going to the Amazon, chances are you will stay at a lodge or on a cruise ship. If this is the case, all meals are provided during your stay.

Meal style varies at each lodge, from buffet-style to a la carte service. Amazonian ingredients including fresh fruits, river-caught fish, and locally-grown plants and herbs add flavor and variety to standard menus of Peruvian and international cuisine. Vegetarian and other dietary options are often available upon request.

Flights and transfers are usually arranged so that you don’t have to wait too long to get to/from your destination, but if you find yourself with time to spare, here are some eating options.

Burgo’s Restaurant
Amazonian specialties, classic Peruvian dishes, and international fare with vegetarian and vegan options. Great place to take lunch on the terrace surrounded by lush greenery.
Av. 26 de Diciembre 195, Puerto Maldonado
La Semilla Cafe
Vegan pizza, sandwiches, salads, empanadas, pastries, smoothies, beer, coffee, wine and more is on the menu of this relaxed cafe with a great location on a 3rd floor terrace overlooking the Plaza de Armas.
Jiron Arequipa 281, Puerto Maldonado
Carrion 322 Restaurante
Deliciously prepared Peruvian and international dishes with local ingredients. A real treat after coming back from a jungle lodge.
Ca. Daniel Alcides Carrion 322, Puerto Maldonado
ZAl Frio y Al Fuego
A classy restaurant floating in the middle of the Itaya River with a pool and bar. Enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Menu highlights are the regional-style ceviche and fillets of doncella, a tasty local catfish, prepared in a variety of ways.
Short, but scenic riverboat from Avenida La Marina N 123 to the restaurant, Iquitos
Dawn of the Amazon Cafe
Popular cafe on the city’s riverfront malecon. Order an iced beverage or fresh juice and enjoy the free Wi-Fi . Light appetizers include guacamole served with toasted ciabatta bread and hummus. The extensive menu includes Peruvian, Mexican, American, and vegetarian options, all generously portioned.
Malecon Maldonado 185, Iquitos
Amazon Bistro
French-Peruvian cuisine in a restored mansion on the edge of the river. Serves hot and cold sandwiches as well as a variety of pasta, meat and fish dishes. Open for breakfast and serves a “menu del dia” daily set menu for a reasonable price.
Malecon Tarapaca 268, Iquitos
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Amazon Travel Tips

Speak to your doctor or a travel medicine specialist several weeks before traveling to clear up any concerns.

  • Yellow fever: Peru does not require proof of yellow fever vaccination for entry. However, the CDC recommends vaccination for yellow fever for travel to areas below 7,546 ft (2,300 m) of elevation including Madre de Dios and Loreto.
  • Malaria: In general, the risk of malaria in travelers visiting Peru is low. There are less than 5 cases reported in the United States each year that were acquired in Peru. Chemoprophylaxis (anti-malarial medication) is recommended for visits to regions below 2,000 m (6,561 ft), including the cities of Iquitos and Puerto Maldonado.
  • Mosquitos: Wear long and loose clothing to protect yourself from itchy bites. Apply insect repellent with Deet and use the mosquito net hanging over your bed.
  • Drinking water: The lodges we work with provide bottled water and filtered water that is safe for drinking. Bring a reusable water bottle to fill up as needed.

On rainforest trails, the best way to avoid stings and bites is to keep to the center of the trail. Don’t touch trees or branches and be careful not to stand in the middle of a path of marching ants. During excursions, stick close to the group. You’ll have a better chance at spotting critters with the help of the guide and you don’t want to get lost in the vast rainforest.

Wildlife: Nearly every rainforest lodge program includes guided excursions to spot unique animals. Naturalist guides point out unique wildlife and teach you how to observe them without disturbing them or possibly endangering yourself. Stay on designated footpaths and do not get separated from your tour group. Turn off the flash on your camera when photographing.

Puerto Maldonado and Tambopata

  • By air: The Puerto Maldonado airport is small and a short drive from the town plaza and the ports where river boats dock. Compared to overland travel, a flight to Puerto Maldonado is more expensive but saves a lot of time. LAN Airlines, Star Perú and TACA offer daily service to Puerto Maldonado. Non-stop flights usually take 1 hour 30 minutes from Lima and 55 minutes from Cusco.
  • By road: The Transoceanic Highway now connects Cusco to Puerto Maldonado. What was once an arduous 15-hour drive has been shaved down to about 10 hours. Taking the bus from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado is a good option for travelers with a more flexible travel itinerary.
  • By boat: Once in Puerto Maldonado, lodge staff meets guests at the airport or bus station and takes you to the dock where motorized boats wait to go to the lodge. River boats are typically open-air with a covering, much like a pontoon boat. Most lodges are located between 45 minutes to 3 hours away. The very remote Tambopata Research Center lodge is about a 1-hour bus and 3.5-hour boat ride along the river.


Vast and geographically isolated, Manu National Park has no roads and requires some effort to access. The only way to get around is by boat. The Manu River and the Madre de Dios River form the southern and eastern borders of the reserve.

  • From Cusco: Travel by car to Paucartambo, through the Kosnipata Valley to the Manu River.
  • From Puerto Maldonado: Fly or bus to Puerto Maldonado and then continue by car to Santa Rosa Village 2.5 hours. Cross the Inambari River to Puerto Carlos then to Boca Colorado 45 minutes, and up Madre de Dios river.
  • To Boca Manu: Charter flights land at a small airstrip and then take river transport to the lodge.

Iquitos and Pacaya-Samiria

Iquitos is the 5th largest city in Peru. However, the difficult terrain makes road-building impossible, which means Iquitos is only accessible by air or by boat.

  • By air: Flights to Iquitos touch down at the Coronel FAP Francisco Secada Vignetta International Airport. The airport is located on the outskirts of the city, about 6 miles (10 km) southwest of the Plaza de Armas. Facilities include tourist shops, eateries, and ATM machines. LAN, Star Perú, and Peruvian Airlines offer daily flights to Iquitos. By plane, nonstop service from Lima to Iquitos takes 1 hour and 40 minutes.
  • By boat: The Amazon River and its waterways connect the city of Iquitos to jungle lodges and other small port towns in Peru’s northern Loreto region.

Amazon cruise ships are like floating boutique hotels with ever-changing views over one of the most majestic natural landscapes in the world. For travelers seeking to pair a rainforest adventure with luxurious comforts, a cruise ship is an excellent alternative to a lodge. Imagine yourself gliding down the Amazon River while soaking in a Jacuzzi on your ship’s observation deck. Or dining on a gourmet menu designed by one of Peru’s most exciting chefs Pedro Miguel Schiaffino. Inquire with to your travel advisor for more details about a Peruvian Amazon cruise.

General packing list for the Peruvian Amazon:

  • Long pants and long-sleeved shirts to keep insects off. Lightweight, quick-dry material is preferable.
  • Rain gear including a lightweight, breathable jacket or a poncho
  • Water resistant and/or closed shoes especially during the wet season
  • Dry bag or ziplock bag to keep your important documents dry and protected against the intense humidity
  • Swimsuit (for Iquitos)
  • Head lamp or flashlight with extra batteries
  • Insect repellant
  • Sun protection including hat, sunblock, sunglasses
  • Camera
  • Binoculars for better wildlife viewing
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Local currency for small purchases and tips

Space on the river boat to your lodge is limited. This means guests are allowed to transport a maximum amount of luggage to and from the lodge. Any excess luggage can be stored at the lodge offices either at the airport or in Puerto Maldonado.

Where you spend your Amazon getaway depends on how much time you have and your preferences.

  • For short itineraries (2 to 3 days) and smaller budgets, Puerto Maldonado/Tambopata has the most accessible wildlife-viewing and a range of lodges at various price points.
  • For longer itineraries and larger budgets, Iquitos offers the unique chance to cruise the Amazon River or to stay at one of the only lodges with a swimming pool, Ceiba Top Lodge.
  • For travelers with more time, a deep interest in wildlife, and who don’t mind basic accommodation, Manu offers a truly remarkable experience of bird life, active clay licks, and unique habitats that few people ever get to see.

The Amazon is a year-round destination. There are pros and cons to visiting during each season. The “best time” to visit really depends on your preferences or interests.

  • Mud: Visit during the dry season to avoid walking on muddy trails.
  • Heat: The rainy season is a bit cooler than the dry season.
  • Wildlife: Activity varies throughout the year and is a good way to narrow down specific travel dates for your jungle adventure. For example, the dry season is a better time to see macaws and parrots at the clay licks.

Jungle lodge tour packages typically include transportation to and from the lodge, park entrance fees, three meals a day, and guided excursions. Some activities may require additional fees.

  • Amenities: Lodges vary widely in style and amenities. Some resorts such as Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica verge on the luxurious (by rainforest standards) while other wildlife-focused lodges are remote and rustic. Many lodges are eco-friendly, which means no electricity or electricity provided by a generator during certain set hours. Kerosene lamps provide nighttime illumination. WiFi, if available, is usually spotty and slow. A surprising number of jungle lodges actually have hot water for showering.
  • Activities: Generally, days begin early and are filled with different activities. Excursions vary from lodge to lodge and vary in levels of physical excursion. Expert guides are always there for your safety, to answer questions, and to point out unique plants and animals you might otherwise miss. In the evenings you can relax in a hammock and listen to the sounds of the jungle. Browse our recommended Amazon lodges and ask your travel advisor for details about a specific jungle lodge.

You will have to be super vigilant to avoid getting mosquitos bites. Some might say that it’s impossible, but there are measures you can take to minimize the possibility.

  • Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight pants and long sleeve shirts. Wear shoes instead of sandals.
  • Apply insect repellent containing DEET to areas of exposed skin. For extra measure, spray it on your clothing.
  • Note that insect repellents with a high concentration of DEET should not be applied to children under the age of two because of the increased risk of neurologic toxicity.
  • Before you travel, soak your clothes in repellent solution, usually good for a few weeks and several washings.
  • At night, sleep under a mosquito net provided by the jungle lodge and make sure the edges are tucked under the mattress.


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