The Macaw and Tapir Tour
To start this list, we have the Macaw and Tapir Tour offered in the Manu National Park region of southern Peru. We have selected this tour as number one because you travel from Andes to Amazon to see different sections of Amazonia and will enjoy three different lodges in varied sections of forest. If you would like the option of more adventure e.g camping or survival training, have a look at tour number two on this list.
The lodges you visit on the Macaw and Tapir Tour include the Cock of the Rock Lodge, the Manu Wildlife Center, which we ranked as the top rainforest lodge to visit in Peru, and a camp inside the Reserved Zone to get inside the Manu National Park itself.
Operating from March to December, this tour also ranks at the top because it starts from Cusco, which means it’s more easily accessible for the majority of visitors to Peru who can combine the tour with a visit to Machu Picchu. You will first enjoy a visit to the Cock of the Rock Lodge in Andean cloud forest to enjoy the cooler temperature and unique wildlife, including Peru’s national bird, the cock of the rock. These birds perform elaborate displays very close to the lodge where they dance and display their showy bright red plumage.
In addition to these beautiful and fascinating birds, from the cock of the rock lodge you can enjoy spotting capuchin monkeys, woolly monkeys, hummingbirds, chance sightings of spectacled bears, and a lot more bird life. The Andean environment is one of the world’s best places for birdwatching.
After your time in the Andes, we will travel down the mountains to the lowlands of the Manu Rainforest and into the lowland Amazon Rainforest. You will visit a camp inside the Reserved Zone of the famous Manu National Park. Here you can explore the park to visit an oxbow lake and tour the wildlife-rich environment to see different monkeys and colorful birds.
After spending a couple of days in the Reserved Zone, we will head to Manu Wildlife Center, which is in an exceptional location to see giant river otters, a very large macaw clay lick to see hundreds of macaw parrots, and a section of clay frequently visited by tapir, the largest land mammal in South America. While here, we will also see an incredible diversity of birds. Some guests are even lucky enough to spot wild jaguar sunning themselves by the river.
You will enjoy guided tours in the Amazon Rainforest to find the incredible wildlife, including a high diversity of monkeys, such as capuchins, woolly monkeys, howler monkeys, tamarins, marmosets, and squirrel monkeys.
After your time in the lowland Amazon Rainforest, you will head to Puerto Maldonado for your return flight to Cusco or onwards to Lima.
The Tahuayo Lodge Tour
An Amazon Rainforest tour from the Tahuayo Lodge provides a fantastic adventure into the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve. This is a wildlife-rich reserve in the northern Amazon Rainforest about 150 km from the rainforest city of Iquitos in north Peru.
From the Tahuayo Lodge, you are assigned a private Amazon guide and have a custom itinerary, which means you can focus on your interests, such as photography, bird watching, Amazonian plants, monkeys, canoeing, hiking, or a general experience. To maximize your adventure, you can choose to camp in the rainforest and spend a night under the stars. This is a great option for a closer experience of Amazonia and hearing the sounds of an Amazonian night is sure to provide some fond memories.
For those of you looking for even more adventure, as the Tahuayo Lodge started as one of the first adventure camping experiences in Amazonia you also have an option of an Amazon survival course. Over one or two nights you will head out to learn survival and how to live off the surrounding rainforest.
On a general experience of the Amazon Rainforest, you can enjoy visiting two different lodges. The recommended time for a tour here is 8 days where you can tour the jungle in a variety of ways. On tours of 6 days or more, you can also visit the Tahuayo Amazon Research Center, which is located in more pristine rainforest.
From the Amazon Research Center, you can tour the 1,000 acre primate research grid where researchers are studying Amazonian monkeys, which makes it easier to watch these fantastic animals displaying normal behaviors.
The Tahuayo lodge also has the largest canopy zipline system in Amazonia adding to the adventure. Not only providing an exhilarating experience, the canopy towers holding up the zipline are great places to look out over the canopy. A family of giant otters have recently taken up residence near the lodge and manatees were just released into the reserve with the help of Tahuayo Lodge staff.
The Manu Explorer Tour
A similar experience to the Macaw and Tapir lick tour with a similar structure on a shorter time frame, the Manu Explorer Tour takes from the Andes to the lowland Amazon Rainforest and into the Reserved Zone of Manu National Park.
The tour operates from March to December and begins in Cusco. As you traverse the different habitats, you will see a diversity of fantastic wildlife, from the woolly monkeys and cock of the rock birds at the Cock of the Rock lodge, to the macaws and giant river otters in the Amazon Rainforest lowlands.
Enjoy seeing the valleys high in the Andes and the mystical cloud forests where the clouds touch the forests. See some fantastic birds from the Andean valleys to the lush lowland rainforest where farmers here grow different exotic fruits. High in the Andes you can see a variety of hummingbirds and after you descend the mountains enjoy spotting a range of parrots, kingfishers and more.
The first camp you will enjoy in the lowlands is located in the Reserved Zone of Manu National Park where we will explore an oxbow lake for lake-living wildlife, such as giant otters, hoatzin birds, caiman, and birds. Around the lake we’re also likely to spot a variety of different Amazonian monkeys.
After the Reserved Zone, we will travel back up the Manu River to the magnificent Manu Wildlife Center, a lodge that Conde Nast Traveler mentioned as offering “the most intense wildlife experience in Amazonia.” While here, enjoy a visit to one of the Amazon’s largest macaw clay licks to see hundreds of these colorful parrots visiting the clay for its salt content and medicinal properties.
From the Manu Wildlife Center, head out with your naturalist guide to spot some incredible Amazonian wildlife. Enjoy spotting several monkeys, such as howler monkeys, tamarins, marmosets, capuchins, and squirrel monkeys. The Manu Wildlife Center also reports that 10% of visitors are lucky enough to spot wild jaguar and you can also visit the nearby clay lick to see tapir, which are the largest land mammal in the Amazon Rainforest.
The Tambopata Research Center Tour
One of the most remote lodges in Amazonia, if your ideal Amazon Rainforest adventure includes some more activities than tours of the wildlife and environment but a little less adventure than a private Amazon guide, canopy zipline, and Amazon Rainforest survival course as offered at the Tahuayo Lodge, we recommend the Tambopata Research Center.
This is another deep Amazon Rainforest lodge positioned in the center of the highly diverse Tambopata National Reserve. Tambopata is a fraction of one of the largest protected areas of tropical forest on Earth and you can find some incredible animals and plants. The lodge is also positioned near one of the Amazon’s largest clay licks to see hundreds of brightly colored macaw parrots. In addition to its remote location, the clay lick is the main attraction at this lodge.
Enjoy guided tours around the Tambopata Reserve to find many different monkeys, colorful birds, and fascinating reptiles. In addition to the wildlife tours, you can choose from a number of add-on experiences, such as jungle mountain biking, kayaking the waterways, canopy climbing tall rainforest trees, stand-up paddleboarding, and a romantic sunset cruise.
Not only a great place to see monkeys, colorful birds, and fascinating reptiles, some lucky guests even get to see jaguar sunning themselves by the river. Explore 5 different habitats of the Amazon and you can enjoy a small tower for wildlife viewing.
Animals you’re likely to see from the Tambopata Research Center include the macaws already mentioned, but also titi monkeys, capuchins, howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, tamarins, marmosets, capybara, caiman, agouti, peccary, and even occasional sightings of harpy eagles.
The Tambopata Research Center is Rainforest Alliance certified and provides accommodation for researchers studying the Amazon. There is also an ongoing research project at the macaw clay lick and you’re more than welcome to chat to scientists about their research.
As this is very deep in the rainforest, visitors to the Tambopata Research Center will also stop at the Refugio Amazonas Lodge on their way to the lodge, which we will mention later on this list.
The Bio Trip Tour
The Bio Trip operates each Sunday from March to December and starts from Cusco. Regarded as one of the most incredible nature tours in South America, the Bio Trip takes you from the Andean cloud forest near Manu National Park to Manu’s lowland rainforest at the Manu WIldlife Center.
Enjoy the incredible changing scenery from the mountain regions of the Andes down to the Amazon lowlands where we travel down the Madre de Dios River to some of the best areas of the entire Amazon for seeing iconic wildlife.
Travel down the Andes through farming valley, elfin forests, and highland puna and into the mystical-looking environment of the cloud forests. Here we will enjoy a stay at the Cock of the Rock Lodge to see cock of the rock birds performing their fascinating displays, woolly monkeys and capuchins traversing the forest, hummingbirds visiting different flowers, and a variety of strange and interesting plants.
After reaching the foot of the Andes, we will travel down the Madre de Dios River to the renowned Manu Wildlife Center. The lodge has been hailed by various magazines and has been named as offering the “most intense wildlife experience in Amazoniaa,” which is linked to the lodge providing excellent wildlife experiences of giant river otters, large and colorful macaw parrots at the clay lick, and a clay lick frequented by tapir. Not only this, but 10% of guests have reported seeing jaguar on tours from the Manu Wildlife Center.
You will head out with your professional guide to spot some incredible animals and plants in the rainforest, such as several different monkeys. These include capuchins, howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, tamarins, titi monkeys, and marmosets. Other wildlife you’re likely to see include giant river otters, sloths, agoutis, capybara, and some other weird and wonderful creatures of Amazonia.
After your visit, we will head to Puerto Maldonado for your return flight to Cusco or onwards to Lima for your journey home.
The Manu Adventurer Tour
To focus on the Manu lowlands, you can enjoy the Manu Adventurer Tour for the Manu Wildlife Center and the Reserved Zone, which operates between March and December. The tour begins from Puerto Maldonado in Peru’s south, which is a short flight from Cusco.
We first head to a tented camp and wildlife center within the Reserved Zone to get inside Manu National Park itself. Here we will spot giant river otters, endless numbers of birds, amphibians, fascinating reptiles, and a diversity of monkeys. After this, we will head to the renowned Manu Wildlife Center.
The Manu Wildlife Center is one of the best rainforest lodges in South America and is located just east of the Manu River. The positioning of the lodge couldn’t be better for seeing some iconic Amazon Rainforest animals. Enjoy spotting the playful and curious giant otters in the nearby oxbow lake, hundreds of brightly colorful macaw parrots at the clay lick, and visit a platform to wait for the visiting tapir. Tapir are the largest land mammal in South America and are seen by very few rainforest visitors, so you’re in for a treat at this particular lodge.
The Manu Wildlife Center contains 22 double-occupancy fully screened private bungalows with hot showers, has a large dining room for delicious meals, and provides a bar with hammocks for relaxing after your Amazon tours.
Each day you will head out into the rainforest with your professional guide to find some of the wildlife mentioned above, plus a diversity of monkeys, colorful birds, and mammals in the surrounding rainforest. Enjoy guided walks around the many different trails to maximize your encounters with animals and interesting plants.
After your visit, we will return to Puerto Maldonado for your return journey home or to Cusco.
The Heath River & Sandoval Lake Combo Tour
The only other tour we know of where have a high chance of spotting tapir, giant river otters, and can visit a large macaw clay lick, the Heath River Wildlife Center & Sandoval Lake Lodge combo tour starts from Puerto Maldonado in southern Peru.
Another deep Amazon Rainforest lodge in the Tambopata rainforest, the Heath River Wildlife Center is the only lodge on the Heath River. Located in continuous rainforest, the lodge actually sits right between the incredible Tambopata National Reserve and the diverse Madidi National Park.
Enjoy guided tours through the rainforest to spot several different rainforest monkeys, colorful birds, different frogs and lizards, and an assortment of colorful butterflies. We will visit the nearby macaw clay lick where you can observe the parrots from a floating hide, which gets you a little closer to the action than other lodges.
We will also visit a tapir clay lick and wait in an observation tower to see the largest land mammal in South America. In addition to the rainforest, we will visit savannah habitat where camera traps have revealed maned wolves living in the area. The trip to this habitat also takes you through a nesting area of blue and gold macaws.
In addition to visiting the Heath River Wildlife Center, we will visit the Sandoval Lake Lodge on the bank of the beautiful Sandoval Lake. From this comfortable lodge, enjoy guided tours around the lake to spot many different monkeys, including howler monkeys, capuchins, squirrel monkeys, and titi monkeys. Scarlet macaws also nest in an area near the lake and you have chance sightings of other wildlife, including macaws, toucans, and sloths.
The star players in the lake are the giant river otters, which come out to play and fish in a social group. You may also see splashes in the water from the giant Arapaima fish living in Sandoval. Of an evening, enjoy tours on the lake to spot black caiman and some other nocturnal wildlife.
The Posada Amazonas Lodge Tour
A community owned lodge you can visit from Puerto Maldonado in southern Peru, the Posada Amazonas is a fantastic choice for an Amazon tour of only 2 or 3 days. Because this is close to the base town of Puerto Maldonado and in an area rich in animals and plants, it means you save a lot of time getting to and from the lodge maximizing your time wildlife watching.
The Posada Amazonas Lodge provides comfortable rooms and is located near an oxbow lake home to giant river otters. You will head out on the lake to spot these curious and fascinating animals and learn about their behavior. Although this is the highlight of the lodge, you will also visit a small clay lick where different parrots and animals visit to get their salts.
After your tours in the rainforest, you can enjoy the small spa area for a massage or spa treatment to help you relax surrounded by the rainforest environment. To keep you connected if you choose, the rooms at the Posada Amazonas Lodge also have wifi.
You can enjoy the 30 meter scaffolding canopy to see some incredible wildlife over the rainforest, such as many different colorful birds. Your guide will help you identify each one and you may even spot monkeys moving their way through the canopy.
You will then enjoy guided tours through the rainforest on a number of different trails to spot capuchins, squirrel monkeys, howler monkeys, and titi monkeys. Other wildlife you’re likely to spot include parrots, caiman, and capybara on the river bank.
In addition to the wildlife, you can choose from a selection of adventurous add-on experience including jungle mountain biking, canopy climbing to get a macaw researchers perspective on the forest, kayaking the different waterways, and standup paddleboarding.
The Refugio Amazonas Lodge Tour
The Refugio Amazonas Lodge is located in the buffer zone of the Tambopata National Reserve and is a fantastic choice for soft adventure in the Amazon Rainforest. Accessed from Puerto Maldonado, the Refugio Amazonas has a large spa area to enjoy a massage and spa treatment and children have their own trail system around the lodge. This helps communicate things about the forest and wildlife in a relatable way for children.
Choose from a range of add-on experiences in addition to your wildlife tour, such as jungle mountain biking, canopy climbing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. As a recent addition, guests to the Refugio Amazonas Lodge can also add-on an experience to the famed Chuncho clay lick, which is visited by hundreds of macaws and represents one of the largest macaw clay licks in the Amazon Rainforest.
You can enjoy the 30 meter scaffolding canopy tower to have great views over the rainforest to see colorful birds, such as different parrots, toucans, and tanagers. You may even spot monkeys as they move through the trees.
Enjoy a lake visit to spot hoatzin birds, horned screamers, and caiman. With your naturalist guide, you will also explore the rainforest itself on a network of trails to find an abundance of rainforest life, such as the many different monkeys, frogs, lizards, and different mammals. The Tambopata Amazon is known for its sustainable harvesting of Brazil nuts and we will visit a Brazil nut concession, as well as an ethnobotanical trail, and working jungle farm.
As a bonus, the rainforest surrounding the Refugio Amazonas has been found to be a popular place for harpy eagles and there have been different nesting sites located over the years. Make sure you send a message using the booking form to ask if there has been one located at the moment. This is the most powerful bird of prey in the Amazon Rainforest and holds almost mythical status.
The Amazon Villa Tour
The Amazon Villa Tour is perfect if you want an adventure but with some exclusivity and luxury. Enjoy your own private bungalow in the buffer zone of Tambopata National Reserve to see some fantastic wildlife.
Choose to relax in your bungalow or pick from a selection of activities to maximize your experience in the rainforest. Enjoy lake visits to spot hoatzins, horned screamers, and caiman, visit a clay lick to see different parrots and small mammals, and enjoy a canopy tower to see over the rainforest to spot parrots and toucans.
To add a little more adventure, choose from a range of add-on activities such as rainforest mountain biking, canopy climbing, kayaking, and standup paddleboarding.
For cultural activities, choose an ethnobotanical tour to a local farm where different fruits and decorative plants are grown. This is also a great place to spot different colorful birds.
The Amazon Villa tour allows for great soft adventure options while being comfortable. You have your own premium experience at your exclusive bungalow to enjoy in the Amazon Rainforest. Choose activities as you wish and remain connected to the internet if you want to catch up on anything.
As you’re close to the Refugio Amazonas, you are also welcome to head over to the Refugio for meals if you feel like socialising. Alternatively, enjoy your meals in private with your own personal waiter listening to the sounds of the rainforest.
About the Author: Ash Card is a frequent visitor to the Amazon and has a passion for helping visitors get the best experiences from tropical destinations. Ash is a contributor to both TourTheTropics.com and ThinkJungle.com writing about tropical destinations, rainforests and wildlife. Feel free to contact Ash for tour help in the Amazon. When not helping tourists with tours and info, Ash can be found salsa-ing the night away or posing near waterfalls.