4 ways to experience the Amazon rainforest
With its mighty trees, menacing jaguars and majestic hummingbirds, the Amazon needs no introduction. But when you’re talking about a swath of land that encompasses nine different nations, generalization can be very dangerous. Depending and where and how you decide to visit the Amazon your experience can vary greatly. Here are four of our favorites in Peru, Brazil and Ecuador…
Puerto Maldonado, Peru
Puerto Maldonado offers a classic lodge-based experience in an especially pristine section of the rainforest. Located near the Manú National Park, Tambopata National Reserve, and Bahuaja-Sonene National Park, its famous for its clay leks (clay patches where macaws and cocks of the rock gather) and bewitching U-shaped oxbow lakes.
Puerto Maldonado is accessed via a short flight from either Lima or Cusco, making it a wonderful add-on to any Machu Picchu itinerary. With a range of charming lodges to choose from, you are sure to enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep. Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion is an eco-luxury lodge in the thick of the forest that’s also conveniently situated near the town and its sister lodge, the Inkatera Reserva Amazonica, is a slightly more luxurious and down-river option. If you’re looking for more rustic and even more remote lodgings, we recommend the Refugio Amazonas or Posadas Amazonas lodges, while the Tambopata Research Center offers an immersive experience that’s suitable for longer stays.
It doesn’t get more luxurious or romantic than floating down a mile-wide river in an opulent, floating air-conditioned hotel. Reached by air from Lima, Iquitos gives you the chance to spot pink river dolphins and manatees in addition to the birds and mammals you’d expect to see in Puerto Maldonado. Daily excursions in a smaller vessel will give you a chance to visit indigenous villages and to explore the forest’s diverse wildlife. Exclusive cruises include the Delfin I, II or III, as well as the Aria Amazon or the brand-new Aqua Nera which took its maiden voyage in July 2021.
Located in the heart of the Brazilian rainforest, Manaus is reached by air from Rio (4 hours) or Miami (5.5 hours). The remoteness of this region offers you an authentic experience where you can visit indigenous villages and explore the Teatro Amazonas an iconic 19th century opera theatre (if you time your visit right you may even be able to catch a show) built from the proceeds of the rubber boom.
Manaus offers both lodge and cruise options, so you could even craft a custom itinerary that includes the best of both worlds. EcoPark lodge is a very comfortable option with exciting excursions such as nighttime canoe tours while Anavilhanas is an exclusive jungle lodge with cozy rooms. If you have your heart set on exploring the region by boat, you can book a cruise on the Amazon Clipper or MV Premium which are not nearly as luxurious as the Iquitos cruises but memorable nonetheless.
At the junction of the Coca and the Napo River in Ecuador, you’ll find the city of Coca. Accessible via a 1-hour flight from Quito, Coca is a convenient base from which to explore the Yasuni National Park. Take a trip to monkey island, enjoy a cruise or explore the excellent MACCO archeological museum in town. The region’s incredible ecolodges, such as Napo, Sacha, and Selva, offer you a peaceful respite where you can relax and recharge. Due to its convenient location, we suggest combining a trip to Coca with a Galapagos cruise trip for the nature adventure of a lifetime.
While you’re in the area
There is an abundance of epic adventures couple nicely with an Amazon tour. While you’re in Iquitos or Puerto Maldonado, you can visit the famous Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. A trip to Manaus is an exciting opportunity to visit the vibrant city of Rio. And if you’re in Coca we’d recommend making the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the fascinating wildlife of the Galapagos.
- Lodge versus cruise: Exploring the Peruvian Amazon
- Visit the Ecuadorian Amazon in style
- Planning and packing for the Amazon
- 8 Day Amazon to Machu Picchu Tour
Images for this blog were sourced from individual suppliers and the Max Pixel web service. Originally posted March 25, 2018.