Peru: Discovering the Unexpected

two takes on amazonia There are two main tourist gateways to Peru’s corner of Amazonia: Iquitos and Puerto Maldonado. From Lima, jets hop over the Andes north to Iquitos. The busy port on the Amazon River, 2,300 miles inland from the Atlantic, was built in the rubber boom days of the Amazon and it still is a major entry port, as well as the leading base for departures to jungle adventures. From Lima and from Cusco, nature lovers also fly to Puerto Maldonado in Peru’s southeastern jungle, one of the most biologically diverse rainforests in the world.

Iquitos is the gateway to Amazonia Expeditions’ 7-night Amazon Rainforest tour that starts with a 2-hour ride along the Amazon River, with another two hours spent on the Hahuayo River tributary to the tour operator’s lodge. Amazonia Expeditions is the only operator with access to the surrounding Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo Reserve where the 15-cabin Tahuayo Lodge is the base for the next seven days for swimming with pink dolphins, flying through the treetops on a canopy zipline, visiting native villages or spending time with a native shaman, visiting a manakin lek (a mating arena for the manakin bird), hiking to pygmy marmoset trees, canoeing into a hoatzin (bird) rookery, and more. Every day the guides post a variety of full- and half-day trips to choose from, or itineraries can be customized to each guest’s interests. There is no extra charge for a private guide. The cost is $1,295, single travelers or two traveling together, and covers all expenses in Peru, with the exception of local airfare and Peru airport taxes.

Southwind Adventures has scheduled monthly departures through November on its 6-night Tambopata Amazon Wildlife trip. After spending the first night in Lima, travelers fly to Puerto Maldonado, located at the confluence of the Madre de Dios and Tambopata rivers. They then continue up river to the Posada Amazonas, a charming jungle lodge operated by the native Ese’eja community. Travelers return here for the final night, after a 3-night stay at the Tambopata Macaw Research Center (TRC), adjacent to one of the world’s largest known macaw clay licks. Hikes, river trips by motorized canoes and lectures focus on TRC’s macaw research, as well as other beautiful birds, giant river otters, capybara, peccary, monkeys and caiman. The land cost starts at $2,025 pp dbl (seven-12 participants), $2,295 pp dbl (two-three participants).