Peruvian Amazonia | One week itinerary in the rainforest
We spent a week in the Peruvian Amazonia and it was by far the most interesting and exciting experience we have ever had. Among trees that have been growing for hundreds of years, we discovered for the first time how many different shades of green exist. It’s one of the most beautiful and biodiverse places in the world, and although it takes a little courage, we could always come back.
What you need to know before you visit the Amazon
If you are planning a trip on your own and you’re not sure where to start, first you should know that the usual accommodation facilities in the Amazon are lodges with bungalows that provide different day and night activities. Because the lodges occupy only a small area in the jungle, the wildlife is used to human presence and there are days when you could watch for hours capuchin or howler monkeys playing in the trees, colorful pairs of macaws or agutis running around.
For deciding upon the perfect location, you need to consider what would you want to visit. If you have the opportunity, choose two different parts of the jungle, because each National Park is special. We stayed 4 days in Taricaya Reserve for the wildlife and 3 days in Tambopata National Park for bird watching at Chuncho Macaw Clay Lick.
Tips & Tricks
No matter where or when you visit the Amazon, be prepared because the jungle is very humid, warm, and full of insects. Organize your luggage very well, always wear long-sleeve lightweight clothes, and cover yourself with a strong insect repellent. Do not forget that you are in the middle of nowhere, the nearest town is dozens of kilometers away and often the way back involves walking, taking a boat and then a car.
Planning an itinerary to the jungle
After we decided that visiting beautiful Peru could not be complete without crossing the Andes to the jungle, choosing the perfect location was more difficult because the entire Peruvian Amazon is special. After many weeks of reading blogs and travel magazines, we kept oscillating between Manu and Tambopata National Park. Manu is extraordinary due to its central position in the Amazon, but the distance to Cuzco, the closest big city is 8 hours away and it can only be reached by car through the jungle. Considering that Amazon is a dangerous and unpredictable place, for safety reasons we chose to visit Taricaya Reserve and Chuncho Clay Lick, both in Tambopata National Park.
Tambopata National Park covers more than 2750 square kilometers and is the most complex and biodiverse area in the world, with many different species of butterflies, mammals, and birds. The most colorful spectacle in this part of the jungle takes place in the morning near the yellow walls called salt licks or clay licks, where dozens of parrots gather to snack. The Reserve is inhabited by the indigenous tribe Ese’Eja, the protectors of the Amazon who still live according to traditions inherited from the past.
Taricaya Reserve is located 30 kilometers away from Puerto Maldonado, on the banks of Madre de Dios River. Since 2001, within the Reserve is established a rescue center in order to rehabilitate and reintegrate injured wildlife into their natural environment. Here are living volunteers from all over the world that are working on various projects for conservation and protection of the Amazon. You can enter this part of the jungle from Puerto Maldonado, where you can fly directly from Cuzco.
Tips & Tricks
For safety reasons, most of the lodges located near Puerto Maldonado River ensure the transport from the airport and also host your luggage. Our guide from Amazon Planet was waiting for us at the airport, and to make our accommodation easier, he took us to their headquarter that was 15 minutes away. After we met the staff that gladly answered all our questions, we took a boat to Taricaya Reserve where we arrived 2 hours later, just in time for our first night walk.
We traveled to Chuncho Lodge a few days later. The accommodation facilities in Tambopata are deeper into the jungle, the road is much more difficult, especially in the rainy season. The highway is not very safe, but it did not take much until we entered the jungle through a muddy trail for almost two hours. At the end of it, when the car could not go any further, we continued on foot for about 20 minutes near the banks of the Tambopata River. From here we crossed by boat to the opposite side.
Where to stay in the Amazon
Accommodation facilities in the Amazon are bungalows that use solar panels and a generator for electricity, that is turned on only a few hours per day. The lodges are usually located near rivers and the only way to get there is by boat.
We booked the first part of our trip with Amazon Planet, so we stayed at Amazon Planet Lodge, an eco-lodge established in 2001 in Taricaya Reserve, on the banks of Madre de Dios River. Within the complex there are different types of bungalows, depending on the view and facilities. Each of them has its own bathroom, hot water, a fan, and mosquito repellent, including personal hygiene products such as shower gel and shampoo. The bed is surrounded by a net that is daily kept clean by the staff, to protect against bites and stings from insects. Drinking water is available for free in every room, and also in the main house. Between the activities and excursions that you will take part accompanied by a bilingual naturalist guide, you can spend your time around the lodge relaxing in hammocks, playing different board games, or tasting traditional cocktails.
For the second part of our trip to the Amazon, we chose Carlos Expeditions, and we stayed at an eco-lodge in the middle of Tambopata National Park. Chuncho Lodge is located near the Tambopata River, 150 km from Puerto Maldonado, distance perceived in many aspects around the lodge. Although the rooms are clean and well maintained, the place itself reminds you that you are actually in the jungle, so it’s better to come prepared from Puerto Maldonado with everything you need. The lodge has 6 bungalows with a private bathroom and a 360-degree view toward jungle, river, and the rest of the complex. Each room has a hammock on the porch and also beds with nets against insects. Drinking water is available in the common area, a modest but nice place.