Tour the Amazon
The Amazon Basin region of Peru has become a major tourist destination. It is interesting to note that the Amazon Basin makes up half of Peru geographically, but only 5% of the population lives here. This area is well known for its diverse flora and fauna in particular. Many of the people who tour the Amazon are major nature enthusiasts.
In this part of the country, you will find the biggest and most biologically diverse rainforests in the world. It contains 84 of 102 ecosystems as well as beautiful natural growth forests. Plus, the Amazon Basin of Peru is home to 400 mammal species, 2000 types of fish, 300 reptiles, and 1800 types of birds. Not to mention, this area is home to more than 50,000 plants!
Some very good news is that Peru has done a pretty great job of protecting this area. The regions that have been designated as rainforests have been set aside as national park reserves and regulated from oil and gas exploration.
Traveling to Amazon Basin
The Amazon Basin region contains three towns – Pucallpa, Puerto Maldonado, and Iquitos. Iquitos is in the Northern Amazon Basin and can be reached only by boat or plane, as jungles and rivers surround it completely. If you are looking to get into the Northern Amazon, you must do so directly through Iquitos. You can get to the southern areas through Cusco or Puerto Maldonado.
You can fly directly from Lima to Iquitos. This flight takes about 1 hour 15 minutes. You can also get there by boat through most any port in the country.
The Tambopata National Reserve is less than a 30 minute flight from Cusco. This amazing wilderness area is located on the border of Peru and Bolivia.
Where to Stay
If you are going to be staying at the Tambopata National Reserve, there are a variety of hotels. Recommended options include the Wasai Tambopata Lodge, which is an eco-lodge in the middle of the jungle. It provides clean rooms with many welcomed amenities like wi-fi. Plus, the price is very reasonable. Another recommendation is the Ecoamazonia Lodge.
If you are staying in Iquitos, some recommended hotels include Hostal El Colibri, which provides low-cost clean rooms with a friendly staff. Another option I often suggest is the Hotel La Casona Iquitos, which provides a quiet location and comfortable accommodation. This hotel does have rooms with air-conditioning.
The Sites and Sounds of Amazon Basin
Of course, it goes without saying that when you tour the Amazon Basin, you will see diverse plant species, as well as a variety of different animals including dolphins, jaguars, crocodiles, and anacondas. Eco tourism is very hot right now and there is a lot of variety in what you can do. One highlighted place to visit is the Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research in Iquitos. This center has the gorgeous Amazon canopy walkway, which is a 450-meter trail.
You can explore the endless variety of nature and culture on the Amazon River by taking a canoe or motorboat in Iquitos. From Iquitos, you can also take boat tours to Belén. This fascinating region has an amazing open-air market where you can buy a diverse range of goods.
The Tambopata-Candamo Reserved Zone also offers fascinating opportunities for eco-tourism. This region has some of the richest flora and fauna. No cars are permitted. Among this area’s highlights are the Tres Chimbadas Lake, which is a great place to see giant river otters. Another recommendation is the El Chunco Maclaw’s Clay Lick, where you can see amazing birds fly into their natural habitat at Clay Lick.
You can find a diverse array of food in this region including many specialties that you likely have never tried before. Favorites in the Amazon Basin include “chicharron de lagarto” or crocodile nuggets and “venado a la Loretana” or venison. Sarapatera is a unique a stew cooked in a turtle shell. Palm tree grubs or “suri” are also served. You will see many locals selling brazil nuts to support their families.
One restaurant that is a favorite among locals in Iquitos is Gran Moloka. This restaurant serves Amazon venison, and an omelet with jungle leaves. You can also find coffee and gourmet food at La Noche
There are a few words of precaution that you should note before embarking on your trip. Many visitors end up sick because of mosquitoes carrying malaria and yellow fever. Be sure to wear boots and long pants to protect yourself from getting bitten. It is also essential to get vaccinated before your trip.
Also the local food and water can make some people sick since it contains bacteria and microorganisms that most people are not accustomed to. Don’t drink the water unless it has been thoroughly boiled and make sure that you are only eating fresh food.
However, with these words of caution aside, don’t miss exploring this magnificent region. Tour the Amazon to experience an ecological wonder.