Peru, the land of the Incas, is one of the best countries to tour the Amazon Rainforest.
Home to the second largest section of Amazon after Brazil, this side of the forest is also the most wildlife-rich area of Amazonia.
This is what makes Peru one of the best places for Amazon Rainforest tours.
The wildlife is then combined with beautiful rainforest lakes, spectacular scenery, more claylicks than anywhere in South America, and one of the most thought out tourism industries in Amazonia.
The Amazon Rainforest of Peru contains a fantastic abundance and diversity of animals and plants. The Tambopata Research Center, in the middle of Tambopata Reserve, even offers a 20% chance of spotting wild jaguar.
Jaguar are not only the most sought after wildlife sightings in Amazonia, but are also symbols of a healthy ecosystem. Camera traps have also recorded jaguar from other Peruvian lodges, such as the Tahuayo Lodge deep in the rainforest of Iquitos.
Other animals and plants you’re likely to find in the Peruvian Amazon include howler monkeys (famous for the loudest call in the forest), colorful parrots, sloths, sinister looking caiman, colorful butterflies, giant Brazil nut trees and delicate orchids.
Of course, you can then find a seemingly infinite variety of other species, 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. We will mention some of the top Amazon lodges in Peru further down.
These are regarded as some of the best jungle lodges in the entire 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 offer the best places to see monkeys, birds and other Amazon life.
Amazon Rainforest Tours from Iquitos
In the northern Peruvian Amazon, the city of Iquitos 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 in northern Peru and accessed from Iquitos is a destination well known among Amazon wildlife-lovers called 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. This is a top choice for visitors serious about making the most of their time in the Amazon.
In March 2018, the Tahuayo Lodge received certification from Rainforest Alliance. This makes the lodge the only tour from Iquitos certified by Rainforest Alliance, which should give you peace of mind that you’re enjoying an environmentally conscious experience.
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 and birdwatching at different rainforest lakes.
Note that you an extra fee, you can choose a dedicated birding guide and birding itinerary to see many of the reserve’s 600 different birds.
You can also enjoy 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 Lodge 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 the rustic yet comfortable approach isn’t for you and you would rather tour the Amazon in 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 just 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 elegant observation deck with a cocktail, tea or coffee, or enjoying gourmet cuisine, you will be exploring the Amazon Rainforest. Enjoy exploring from the main vessel 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.
You can also consider one of the newest cruises on the Amazon River, the luxury-class Zafiro Amazon Cruise, which is the sister vessel of the adventure category cruise La Perla. Both of these cruises depart from Iquitos in northern Peru.
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 an incredible diversity of animals and plants.
Tambopata is also where you will find many macaw clay licks. These are areas of riverbank where large, bright and beautiful macaws come to feed from medicinal clay.
The Tambopata region is fortunate to have the most clay licks in the entire Amazon Rainforest. Lodges have been smart to build accommodation close to all the action, as they know this is a main attraction for tourists.
Tambopata is also home to many large towering Brazil nut trees. You can even visit a working Brazil nut concession from the Refugio Amazonas Lodge.
Brazil nut trees are a fantastic metaphor for Amazon Rainforest tours, as they require the surrounding forest in order to produce 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, you can see incredible wildlife in just 30 minutes travel time 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 includes the community-owned Posada Amazonas Lodge and the family inspired Refugio Amazonas Lodge.
If you would like to explore deep Amazon Rainforest in Tambopata, we recommend the Tambopata Research Center.
This lodge is also used as a research base and is next to one of the Amazon’s largest macaw clay licks. From the Tambopata Research Center, enjoy spotting spider monkeys, howler monkeys, capybara, peccary, and many different parrots, including various macaws.
The Tambopata Research Center also reports a 20% chance of spotting wild jaguar, which is one of the Amazon’s most sought after wildlife sightings.
Other animals rarely seen at other lodges but often seen here include the spider monkeys, peccary, and high chances of spotting harpy eagles at the Refugio Amazonas Lodge.
Note that all stays at the lodge also include a night at the Refugio Amazonas Lodge with its canopy tower for spotting toucans and other colorful birds. Recently, guests at the Refugio Amazonas Lodge have been fortunate to have a high chance of spotting harpy eagles, which like to nest in nearby ironwood trees.
With the recent upgrades for the start of 2018, the Tambopata Research Center is one of the most comfortable lodges for deep jungle experiences and one of our favorites due to incredible wildlife.
The Manu Region
Now we have the Manu region surrounding Manu National Park. Manu was also one of the first national parks formed in Peru and has become world-renowned among wildlife lovers. However, to get into the reserved zone to see the most wildlife, this is best experienced on the Manu Adventurer tour.
The Manu Wildlife Center is certainly impressive, as you can spot tapir and macaw parrots at a clay lick. Although, you can also spot these by combining Sandoval Lake Lodge & Heath River Wildlife Center in Tambopata. 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.