Tours of the northern Amazon offer experiences of the rainforest close to the Amazon River. As the heart of the Amazon Rainforest, the river feeds and supports the world´s largest tropical forest, which contains more animals and plants than anywhere else on Earth. The river runs near different rainforest gateways such as Coca in Ecuador, Iquitos in Peru, and all the way through the continent to Manaus and Belem in Brazil where the river flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
One of the advantages of the northern Amazon over the southern rainforest is the different luxury Amazon River cruises where you can experience beautiful protected areas. One of the favorites is the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, which you can experience on cruises from Iquitos in northern Peru. Aboard these cruises, you will explore the forest and the Amazon´s waterways with your naturalist guide scouting for different Amazonian animals and plants. The animals you are likely to see include several different monkeys, like howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, capuchin monkeys, and saki monkeys, many different colorful parrots and other birds, fascinating reptiles, and some hard to spot mammals, like the tamandua anteaters and sloths.
If you´re after a more immersive experience of the Amazon, you can opt for one of the many excellent northern Amazon lodges. From these lodges, you can often have a more customized itinerary and access to deeper rainforest areas.
To summarize the tours available, here’s the different gateway towns and cities to northern Amazonia with brief information on the Amazon gateway, protected areas and the top Amazon Rainforest tours available. We will start in Ecuador to follow the flow of the Amazon River from west to east. From the tour bubbles, you have direct contact to the individual lodges and cruises, and they can often help with booking your flights from the country´s capital.
Coca, Ecuador – Tours & Info
Coca can be reached by a short flight from Ecuador´s capital city of Quito and provides a base to exploring the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest. Ecuador´s Amazon is the first choice of tourists interested in combining tours of the Galapagos Islands with the Amazon Rainforest. From Coca, you can experience some amazing rainforest lodges. Coca is also one of the few areas in the northern Amazon Rainforest where you can visit clay licks to observe parrots feeding from medicinal clay.
Yasuni Region & National Park
The official Yasuni National Park is a 9,820 km2 protected area between the Napo and Curaray rivers accessible from the city of Coca in the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest. The park and surrounding region contains a record breaking diversity of animals and plants, and also provides home for a healthy number of top carnivores like jaguars and puma.
Cuyabeno Reserve is the second largest protected area in Ecuador and is located to the north of Yasuni National Park. The protected area contains all the Amazon icons like the jaguars, giant river otters, tapir and capybara. There is continuous rainforest connecting the Yasuni with the Cuyabeno Reserve allowing animals to move freely between both areas.
Amazon Rainforest Tours from Coca, Ecuador
Here are a selection of some of the best tours for the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest. We have chosen the lodges based on their high ratings, experience and awareness of environmental and social responsibility. Contact the lodges using the booking button to be sent a free itinerary, help and information.
Iquitos, Peru – Tours & Info
Iquitos is Peru´s gateway to the northern Amazon Rainforest and is the top choice for Amazon River cruises. From Iquitos you can experience protected areas like the flooded tropical forest of Pacaya Samiria National Reserve – best experienced on one of the different luxury cruises – and also the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve where you can enjoy visits to the Tahuayo Lodge and Amazon Research Center. Iquitos is also a gateway of choice for tourists interested in combining a visit to Machu Pichu with the northern Amazon. Iquitos can be reached by a short flight from either Lima (Peru´s capital) or Cusco for those coming from Machu Picchu.
Pacaya Samiria National Reserve
At 20,000 km², the Pacaya Samiria is one of the largest protected areas in Peru. The reserve protects an incredibly diverse section of flooded tropical forest where you can find different monkeys, a very high amount of Amazonian birds, and fascinating reptiles. This is perhaps the most famous protected area from Iquitos and is best accessed on exceptional Amazon River cruises, such as the Delfin I and Delfin II luxury vessels. You can see an example video here of the diversity of Pacacya Samiria Reserve from a video recorded aboard the Delfin II.
The wildlife of the Pacaya offers a fantastic look at Amazonian animals. Reports from the reserve show the area contains a minimum of 500 different birds, 100 species of mammal, 50 species of amphibian, 60 different reptiles and over 1000 different plants. The most loved wildlife sightings in the Pacaya include the Pink Dolphins and monkeys, such as the howler monkeys, curious squirrel monkeys and pygmy marmosets, and the many colorful birds.
Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve
The Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve is another highly diverse protected Amazon Rainforest area where you can enjoy tours from the Tahuayo Lodge and the Amazon Research Center. The reserve contains more forest located on higher ground instead of the Pacaya’s flooded forest, which gives you more opportunities for walking and exploring deeper jungle. The Amazon Research Center has a 1000 acre primate research grid to make viewing Amazon monkeys easier than in other Amazon areas and many tourists enjoy seeing many of the species living in the reserve.
The Tahuayo Reserve was founded to protect one of the Amazon’s rarest primates, the strange looking Red Uakari. Although the monkeys are rare, they are sighted by the occasional tourist that enjoys deeper rainforest expeditions. With your private guide and custom itinerary, you can enjoy viewing poison dart frogs, monkeys and other animals of the reserve, canoeing and hiking the protected area, birdwatching expeditions, and, if you choose, you can enjoy the more adventurous offerings like the Amazon’s longest canopy zipline or the Tahuayo‘s survival program.
Manaus, Brazil – Tours & Info
Manaus is the largest city in the Amazon Rainforest and is a port of the Amazon River in northern Brazil. Brazil contains the largest portion of Amazon Rainforest and this is the country’s main Amazon gateway. Manaus city itself offers a few interesting sights, such as the Amazon theater, colonial architecture, and a natural event close to the city known as the meeting of the waters. This is where the different colored Amazon River and Rio Negro mix to run side by side for many miles. The top natural attraction, however, is of course the Amazon Rainforest. From Manaus, you can explore different protected areas and enjoy the Amazon River (from here on known as the Rio Solimões) and also explore the Amazon’s main tributary, the Rio Negro. A recommended Amazon cruise for this region is the Tucano Amazon Cruise, which was modeled on an old steamship.