Peru, the land of the Inkas, is one of the best countries to tour the Amazon Rainforest. Peru contains the second largest section of the Amazon after Brazil and this side of the forest is also the most bio-diverse. This is what makes Peru one of the best places for Amazon Rainforest tours.
The Amazon Rainforest of Peru contains a delightful abundance and diversity of animals and plants. For example, here you can find the howler monkeys, a primate famous for the loudest call in the forest, macaw parrots, a multitude of other colorful birds, three-toed sloths, giant blue morpho butterflies, sinister looking caiman crocodiles, giant Brazil nut trees, delicate orchids, and an almost infinite variety of other sights and sounds.
Amazon Rainforest Lodges & Cruises in Peru
The best way to see the forest and make the most of your time in Amazonia is on a cruise or by staying at an expedition lodge. The lodges we will list below are regarded as the best jungle lodges in the Amazon Rainforest. These fantastic bases for Amazon tours have been carefully positioned, usually after months or years of forest exploration, for the top places to maximize wildlife viewing. The cruises we will list mirror this placement as their routes are designed to give you a representative look at the forest, with the best places to see monkeys, birds and Amazon life.
Amazon Rainforest Tours from Iquitos
Iquitos, in the northern Peruvian Amazon, is one of the two Peruvian choices to base yourself for an Amazon tour. Because this is a reasonably large city in the Amazon, you will have to travel quite far from the city before you emerge into forest untouched by human hands. However, when you do so, you will be rewarded with incredible wildlife spectacles.
The Tahuayo Lodge – Iquitos, Peru
A favored lodge from Iquitos, Peru, is a destination well known among Amazon wildlife-lovers: the Tahuayo Lodge and Amazon Research Center. The Tahuayo Lodge is one of the only lodges that provides a private guide and custom itinerary as standard and is a top choice for visitors serious about making the most of their time in the Amazon.
Founded by a biologist with a passion for wildlife, the Tahuayo Lodge is perfectly positioned for many different activities, including treks to find poison dart frogs, canoeing the forest, exploring the largest Primate research grid in the Amazon, birdwatching at different rainforest lakes, whizzing down the Amazon’s longest canopy zipline system, visiting native villages, and hiking or walking through the Amazon searching for whatever takes your interest. The Tahuayo is also one of the only lodges where the tour is customized to your interests. With its excellent service, friendly staff, and impressive diversity, the Tahuayo Lodge is one of our favorites.
Luxury Delfin Cruises from Iquitos, Peru
If, however, the rustic-comfortable approach isn’t for you and you would rather tour the Amazon in the utmost luxury, there are two favored options. You may not think the Amazon has one of the most luxurious cruise vessels we have seen to date, but that is exactly what you will find aboard the Delfin I.
The Delfin I cruise vessel offers only 4 suites and 2 of these include a private cold-water whirlpool. With 4 suites, space aboard this floating luxury boutique hotel is at a premium, which means it gets booked up quickly.
When you are not relaxing aboard the vessel in your luxurious suite or on the elegant observation deck with a cocktail, tea or coffee, or enjoying gourmet cuisine, you will be exploring the Amazon Rainforest with your naturalist guide aboard comfortable launch boats, modern kayaks, or engaging forest walks.
If the Delfin I is booked, there is also the sister ship, the Delfin II. Suites are definitely still luxurious but as there are more of them, these are not as spacious as the Delfin I. However, activities are the same across both vessels.
The Delfin cruises explore one of the most pristine protected areas of the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest, the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. The reserve is home to an abundance of tropical plants and animals from blooming bromeliads to tropical toucans.
If you’re after a short tour lodge in Peru, you should have a look around Puerto Maldonado where you will find the Tambopata National Reserve. The reserve contains a high diversity of animals and plants, and this is where you will find macaw clay licks. These are areas of the forest where the large, bright and beautiful Macaws come to feed from their medicinal clay.
The Tambopata region has the most clay licks found in the entire Amazon Rainforest. Lodges have been smart to build lodges close to all the action, as they know this is one of the main attractions for tourists. Tambopata is also home to many large towering Brazil nut trees and you can visit a working Brazil nut concession from lodges such as the Refugio Amazonas Lodge.
Brazil nut trees are a fantastic metaphor for Amazon Rainforest tours as they require the surrounding forest in order to make their famous nuts. With a disturbed forest, the trees will not produce their crop. In order to make money from Brazil nuts, therefore, people need to take care of the forest.
Because the reserve is close to Puerto Maldonado, tours don’t need to spend as much money taking you to where the biodiversity is. Because of this as well, you can still see incredible wildlife spectacles from just 30 minutes from the town center, which means Puerto Maldonado is the better choice for a short tour.
Our selection for a short and more budget conscious visit is the community owned Posada Amazonas Lodge, the family inspired Refugio Amazonas Lodge, or the lake focused Sandoval Lake Lodge (also the best short tour to see the most monkeys).
If you would like to explore deep Amazon Rainforest comparable to the Tahuayo Lodge mentioned at the top of this page, we recommend the Tambopata Research Center. This lodge is also used as a research base and is next door to one of the Amazon’s largest Macaw Clay Licks. Another alternative is the Heath River Wildlife, which is best combined with the Sandoval Lake Lodge (mentioned above). On this combo tour, you will enjoy the macaw & tapir clay licks at Heath River Lodge and the giant otters found in Sandoval Lake.
The Manu Region
Now we have the Manu region surrounding Manu National Park. This is reportedly the most pristine protected area in Peru and is certainly the largest. Manu was also the first national park formed in Peru and has become world-renowned among wildlife lovers. For example, Condé Nast Traveler Magazine mentined that the Manu Wildlife Center is “the most intense wildlife experience in Amazonia”.
Manu Wildlife Center is certainly impressive, as there is no other single lodge in Amazonia we have come across where you have a comparably high chance of seeing giant amazon otters, tapir and macaw parrots at a clay lick. Although, you can see all three on the combo Sandoval Lake & Heath River Lodge tour in Tambopata above. Visitors to the Manu Wildlife Center also stand a 10% chance of spotting wild jaguar, which is a wildlife sighting on the minds of many Amazon tourists. As an additional experience, you can combine the Manu Wildlife Center with the Andes Cloud Forest to get an incredible perspective on this fantastic forest. If you would like to get inside the Manu National park itself, you can also combine Manu Wildlife Center with the Manu Tented Camp on either the Manu Adventurer program or Macaws and Tapir program to see all three of these fantastic Manu lodges.