Although the best jungle lodge in South America does depend on what your are looking for, such as comfort, interactions with local people, closeness to town, social and environmental responsibility, or a budget conscious experience, by far the top priority for most people is nature, which means abundant wildlife with many different animals and plants. For a quick look, you can focus on one of most wildlife-rich places in the Amazon Rainforest and see our recommendations for the top lodges in Tambopata, which are located in southern Peru in one of the largest areas of protected tropical forest on Earth (at over 3 million hectares), or see our list for the top 10 jungle lodges in Peru.
Having excellent wildlife sightings on tour from a comfortable and responsible lodge with friendly and helpful staff will be our requirements for this list, and are the requirements for TourTheTropics Amazon tours in general. First, let’s give an example of some of the top lodges in different areas for different budgets and time frames. We will start with Puerto Maldonado in the southern Peruvian jungle and work our way clockwise around Amazonia.
You can also have a look at the following map for some of the featured experiences. Each of the contact bubbles and tour pages on TourTheTropics.com will send an enquiry directly to the lodge owner of the particular tour.
Best Jungle Lodges near Puerto Maldonado, Peru
Puerto Maldonado is a really fantastic place for an Amazon Rainforest tour as the town is located in the southern Peruvian Amazon with the most clay licks of anywhere in South America. These licks are perfect places to see animals, as birds from parakeets to the large macaw parrots flock to feed from medicinal clay. This helps the birds and other animals detoxify food they have eaten in the forest. Not only visited by birds, clay licks are also frequented by tapir, South America’s largest land mammal, which in turn draws in predators like jaguar – This markedly increases your chances of seeing these elusive cats.
From Puerto Maldonado, you have access to two fantastic protected areas, the Tambopata National Reserve and Manu National Park – the largest and most pristine National Park in Peru.
Best Jungle Lodges for Manu National Park
In Manu National Park you can experience an incredible journey on the Bio Trip staying at jungle lodges to visit the species-rich, diverse and highly threatened Manu Cloud Forest (starts from Cusco) to find spectacled bears, cock of the rock dancing birds, hummingbirds and capuchin monkeys then descend into lowland Manu National Park near Puerto Maldonado for beautiful lakes and clay licks.
In the lowlands you can see several different monkeys, giant otters, large and beautiful macaws, and chance a sighting of tapir. Either experience the tour on combo tours of Manu National Park or concentrate on either of the Manu lodges. Combo experiences include the Bio Trip (combines the Cock of the Rock Lodge in Manu Cloud Forest then takes you down the Andes into lowland Manu to enjoy Manu Wildlife Center), the Manu Adventurer (combine lowland rainforest for Manu Wildlife Center and Manu Tented Camp – a low impact lodge built inside Manu National Park), or the Manu Tapir & Clays Licks Tour to combine Cloud Forest with these two excellent Manu lowland lodges.
Best Jungle Lodges for Tambopata National Reserve
A little closer to town, Tambopata National Reserve provides tours to see beautiful and wildlife-rich lakes, macaw and parrot clay licks where hundreds of parrots flock each day feeding from the medicinal substrate, and for rainforest walks through the jungle to spot many different Amazonian animals and plants. Here you have options if you’re looking for a short tour at incredible jungle lodges like Sandoval Lake Lodge, which nestled inside Tambopata National Reserve on the shore of the impressive Sandoval Lake. This is our recommendation to see the most rainforest species over a short tour of 1 or 2 nights.
Sandoval Lake is brimming with wildlife, as not only lake species like hoatzin birds, caiman, and impressive giant river otters patrol the waters, but the area is also frequented by an abundance of monkeys like capuchins, squirrel monkeys, titi monkeys and large and loud howler monkeys. If you’re traveling as a family with young children, another lodge to consider is the Refugio Amazonas Lodge with its children’s trail. This is the only trail of its kind in Amazonia where young children are given information on the jungle’s plants and animals in an engaging and relatable way.
If you’re after a deep jungle experience, the Tambopata Research Center provides one of the deepest rainforest experiences in the Amazon Rainforest where you are only a short distance away from one of the largest Macaw Clay licks. As the name suggests, researchers are studying Tambopata wildlife from this lodge, and specifically the macaws at this lick. Conservation programs are underway and you can visit the Macaw project to see chicks being cared for then released into the reserve.
Another deep Amazon lodge, from the Heath River Wildlife Center you have access to the rainforest of two protected areas: the Tambopata National Reserve and Madidi National Park (a protected area we will cover at the end of this article). Here you can experience both a large Macaw Clay Lick for fantastic and close photography as well as a Tapir lick to enjoy a chance of spotting these strange and mysterious jungle beasts.
Best Jungle Lodges in Peru from Iquitos
Peru’s gateway to the rainforest along the Amazon River, you can enjoy some fantastic Amazon River tours from Iquitos, but the city is also a great place for a jungle lodge experience. The best wildlife is further from the city in areas like the flooded Pacaya Samiria National Reserve and adjacent Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve.
If you’re after a deep jungle experience from Iquitos, it’s hard to beat a tour from the Tahuayo Lodge. The lodge is highly regarded by wildlife enthusiasts for attentive and friendly staff, knowledgeable guides, and an incredible high diversity of animals and plants. On tours of 6 days or more, you can experience two different areas with your private guide at two different Amazon lodges to see several primate species and other Amazon Rainforest animals and plants. The Tahuayo Lodge boasts the most activities in Amazonia, including the rainforest’s longest canopy zipline system.
If you’re after a shorter tour of the Amazon of 2 or 3 days, the diversity of animals and plants you will be able to see will be limited, however, you can enjoy a resort-styled tour at Ceiba Tops for a taste of the jungle while keeping the facilities and comfort of a modern hotel. From Ceiba Tops, you can also book an additional tour to visit their canopy walkway for an interesting perspective of the world’s largest container of wildlife.
Best Jungle Lodges in Ecuador from Coca
There are few different fantastic lodges from Coca, such as the award-winning and very comfortable La Selva Lodge & the Sacha Lodge with an incredible canopy walkway which you have to see to believe. However, one of the lesser known fantastic experiences is the community owned Sani Lodge. Sani Lodge is a community owned ecotourism lodge in the highly diverse Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest. Owned and operated by the community of Sani Isla, you will explore the Amazon with your local guide to find some of the impressive wildlife. The lodge provides both a cultural element to understand about life in the Amazon Rainforest and a focus on nature.
Best Jungle Lodges in Brazil from Alta Floresta
No other area in the southern Brazilian Amazon has been studied so intensively as the forest surrounding Alta Floresta. Naturalists have found that no other destination in the eastern Brazilian Amazon has such as a high number of bird species. From the Cristalino Lodge, you will be assigned an experienced wildlife guide to show you the wildlife of the Cristalino Lodge and Reserve.
A favorite jungle lodge for birders, from the Cristalino Lodge you can explore the forest and waterways to see some of the jungle’s 500 species. This lodge has the highest canopy tower in Amazonia where you can see incredible views of the forest and spot birds flying high over the rainforest. The Cristalino Lodge has great places to relax and enjoy the forest, such as the floating deck area complete with loungers and parasols. The lodge protects the surrounding forest, has commitments to environmental responsibility, provides funding for research, and helps educate the people of Alta Floresta about their forest.
Best Jungle Lodges in Bolivia from Rurrenabaque
We have now come full circle into the Madidi National Park as this park is in the southern Amazon next to the Tambopata National Reserve. You can get a taste of the Madidi National Park at the Heath River Lodge accessed from the Peruvian side of the border from Puerto Maldonado, but to really get deep into the Bolivian Amazon Rainforest you will want to base yourself in Rurrenabaque. From here you can choose two excellent lodges, the budget conscious Serere Lodge with a high focus on conservation or the community owned Chalalan Eco Lodge. Madidi National Park has comparable wildlife sightings to the highly regarded Manu National Park in Peru but is severely threatened. Fortunately, both of these lodges are seeing jaguar and giant Amazon river otters in nearby areas, which are the symbols of a healthy forest.