The Peruvian Amazon is a paradise of eternal summer. Meanwhile, winter Break 2023 is upon the United States and many US travelers are already blindly rushing to book trips to their usual domestic destination to escape the oppressive cold – Florida. That’s right, another boring year of overcrowded Miami beaches, unbearably long lines at amusement parks, and not to mention wasting half of your precious vacation time in some of the worst traffic in the country.
However, this year could be different. If you’re looking to exchange rollercoasters for serene river cruises , people watching for exotic animal spotting, and the mundane for the extra ordinary, give in to your wild side and look no further than the lush jungles of Peru. In this article, we’ll introduce you to two enchanting Peruvian rainforest destinations where winter is but a distant memory, and the vibrant greenery of the jungle beckons you to explore its wonders. So, forget Disney and get to know these true tropical paradises!
Puerto Maldonado — The Gateway to the Peruvian Amazon
Nestled at the very edge of the Peruvian Amazon, Puerto Maldonado is a haven for nature enthusiasts and adventurers alike. This charming town serves as the perfect starting point for exploring the world’s largest rainforest. With its lush, verdant surroundings and the enchanting Madre de Dios River flowing gently through, Puerto Maldonado immerses you in the raw beauty of the Amazon rainforest.
Biggest Tourist Sites
Tambopata National Reserve: This ecological gem is a haven for wildlife and biodiversity, boasting pristine rainforests, oxbow lakes, and an array of exotic flora and fauna.
Sandoval Lake: Discover the mystical beauty of Sandoval Lake, home to many animals such as giant otters, black caimans, and a mesmerizing array of bird species.
Canopy Walkways: Walk amongst the treetops on suspended walkways for a unique perspective of the rainforest canopy and its inhabitants.
Puerto Maldonado is teeming with wildlife. Visitors have the opportunity to spot captivating creatures such as
-a dazzling array of vibrant bird species, such as macaws and toucans
Mind-blowing Facts about the Gateway to the Peruvian Amazon
Biodiversity Hotspot: Puerto Maldonado is located in the Madre de Dios region, which boasts one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world. The region is home to more bird species than the entire United States!
Giant Otter Capital: Tambopata National Reserve near Puerto Maldonado is without a doubt the best place in the world to spot giant otters. These charismatic creatures, with their playful nature, can grow up to 6 feet in length.
Butterfly Paradise: The region surrounding Puerto Maldonado famously boasts a stunning variety of butterflies. In fact, it’s home to over 1,300 species of butterflies, making it a dream destination for lepidopterists.
Peru’s Longest Bridge: The town of Puerto Maldonado is connected to the rest of Peru by the Puente Continental, which spans an incredible 729 meters (2,392 feet). It’s the longest bridge in the country and offers fantastic views of the Madre de Dios River.
Indulge in the flavors of the Amazon with delectable dishes that incorporate locally sourced ingredients. Sample regional specialties such as:
-juane (rice dish wrapped in bijao leaves)
-tacacho (fried plantains)
-and of course fresh river fish prepared in various mouthwatering styles
Iquitos – The Heart of the Peruvian Amazon
When you are ready to move on from Puerto Maldonado, explore Iquitos next! Nestled deep within the Amazon rainforest, Iquitos is a bustling city that thrives amidst the wilderness. It’s a place where the Amazon River takes center stage, and the cacophony of jungle sounds serves as the soundtrack to your adventure during you trip. Iquitos is a gateway to the mystical world of the Amazon.
Biggest Tourist Sites
Pacaya Samiria National Reserve: Explore the largest protected natural area in Peru, a lush expanse of flooded forests teeming with wildlife.
Belén Market: Immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture at this floating market, where you can shop for exotic goods such as fruits, crafts, and immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere.
Amazon River Cruises: Embark on a mesmerizing journey down the Amazon River, offering a chance to witness the mesmerizing river dolphins and local riverbank communities.
Iquitos is a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts where you can encounter animals such as:
– pink river dolphins
-giant river turtles
-and a myriad of bird species, including harpy eagles and hoatzins
Mind-blowing Facts about the Heart of the Peruvian Amazon
Land of Ayahuasca: Iquitos is renowned for its association with ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is a powerful psychedelic brew used for centuries by indigenous Amazonian tribes in shamanic rituals. Seekers from around the world come to Iquitos for spiritual and healing experiences.
Isolated by Water: Iquitos is the largest city in the world that is completely inaccessible by road. You can only reach this city by air or water, adding to its unique charm and isolation.
World’s Largest Amphibian: The giant river otter, often spotted in the Amazon around Iquitos, is the world’s largest species of otter. These social creatures can reach lengths of up to 6 feet and are known for their distinctive vocalizations.
Iquitos Iron House: The Casa de Fierro (Iron House) in Iquitos is a remarkable architectural landmark. Designed by the famous architect Gustave Eiffel, it was originally constructed in Europe and later shipped to Iquitos, where it still stands today as a testament to the city’s history.
Savor the unique flavors of the Amazon with dishes such as:
-inchicapi (a creamy peanut soup)
-paiche (giant river fish)
-and of course plantain-based desserts.
Don’t forget to try the exotic jungle fruits and refreshing beverages made from local ingredients!