There are two major destinations in the Amazon that are popular: Puerto Maldonado & Iquitos
Puerto Maldonado (Southeast Peru)
Puerto Maldonado is becoming an increasingly popular destination. Our Puerto Maldonado tours are conveniently accessible by air from Cusco without the need to lose a day traveling back to Lima to catch a flight to Iquitos or Tarapoto. Its unique proximity to three of the most pristine forest reserves in the world, the Tambopata National Reserve, the Manú National Park, and the Bahuaja-Sonene National Park. Because of its diversity Puerto is a prime destination for Eco-tourism.
Puerto Maldonado is in the Amazon River basin just 34 miles (55 km) from the border with Bolivia. It is at the convergence of the Tambopata and Madre de Dios rivers. The Madre de Dios is a tributary that feeds into the Amazon River.
While the city itself has very little to offer a visitor in terms of sites, hotels, and restaurants, it is really a charming little city of 72,000 habitants. While scarce and humble, it is very clean, and its residents are welcoming and friendly. Like most jungle cities, there are few cars and buses, and the primary means of transportation are motorcycles and motorcycle taxis (rickshaws). Authorized yellow vested motorcyclists will carry you on the back of their motorcycles wherever you’d like to go in the city.
Instead of the family car you have the family motorcycle, and you will see mom, dad, a child and a nursing baby riding along the streets. Like all of the jungle cities, as well as the hot northern coastal cities, there are ice cream and dessert shops on every corner and always full.
We recommend our Puerto Maldonado tours to anyone who would like an “off the tourist path” experience. Experience life in a jungle community and enjoy a leisurely day of eating ice cream soaking in the jungle.
The climate in Puerto Maldonado is tropical Amazon rainforest which means hot and humid. It receives over 3.3 ft. (1,000 ml.) of rainfall annually, most during the rainy season between October and April. The temperature ranges between 60 °F to 90 °F degrees Fahrenheit (16 °C – 31 °C) with the hottest temperatures occurring in August and September.
Interestingly, during the dry months Puerto Maldonado occasionally experiences an unusual cold weather phenomenon. Known locally as a “surazo” or “friaje”. The temperatures may drop as low as 46 °F (8 °C) for a week at a time as a result of cold winds blowing in from the mountainous south.
While the weather is hot and humid we, recommend that travelers visiting Eco lodges take long sleeves and long pants while hiking and boating as protection against the harsh sun and insects. While cotton is suitable, a better option is shirts and expedition pants made of breathable and quick-drying synthetics.
Iquitos (Northeast Peru)
Iquitos is the largest city in Peru that is located in the Amazon Rainforest. The city has direct access to the Amazon River.
Iquitos experienced tremendous growth during the rubber boom. At the time, rubber barons often exploited the local people to obtain the material. Buildings like the Iron House stand as a testimony to the wealth of the rubber boom era.
As in other cities, the center and hub of Iquitos is the Plaza de Armas, the central square. Here you’ll find many restaurants, hotels, internet cafes, and shops.
The main language in Iquitos is Spanish with a distinct Amazon dialect.
The world record for tree diversity was set in 1988 in the forests near Iquitos. About 300 tree species with were recorded in each of two soccer-field-sized areas.
The main ecological reserves around Iquitos are the Allpahuyo Mishana National Reserve, Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, and the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve.
A popular food of the region is called juanes, a mixture of rice and herbs with chicken pieces wrapped in banana leaves.
The main Iquitos attractions are the Amazon Rainforest, Lake Quistococha, Manatee Rescue Center, and Pilpintuwasi Animal Sanctuary.
Iquitos has a tropical climate with daily temperatures averaging 86 – 90°F and then cooler nights of 68 – 72°F. The wetter season (wetter, because it technically is always wet) is between October/November – May/June.
Recommended for any city in the jungle:
A light, water-resistant jacket that can be carried in case of a sudden downpour as well as keep you warm during a cool evening.
A cheap light rain poncho
A fleece or wool sweater in case of a cold snap
Sturdy comfortable hiking shoes or boots
A bathing suit
Sandals and shorts for lounging around the lodge
Sun block of at least 15 SPF
Insect repellent with DEET
A sun/rain hat