Cusco is the archeological and tourism hub of Peru.
Impressively, Cusco has over a million visitors each year gracing the city’s ancient streets. It was the hub and birthplace of the Inca Empire. The Inca would dominate Peru until the empire fell in 1572 at the hands of the Spanish conquistadors.
Because of its popularity, Cusco is often where you will end up or prioritize on your visit to Peru. If you are interested in Nature, you will also be drawn to the Amazon Rainforest. The vast forest covers almost half of the South American continent. And it’s also the world’s largest container of wildlife.
For an example of Amazon tours you can enjoy, see the video below from the Tambopata Research Center. This is a favorite deep rainforest tour for visitors coming from Cusco. And it’s just a short flight down the Andes to Puerto Maldonado.
Note: This is a good place to point out that Cusco is 3,399 m above sea level. In other words, it’s on top of the Andes mountains. And if you want to visit the lowland Amazon Rainforest, you will need to travel off the mountains to the jungle.
The good news is that Cusco is very central to the Amazon. And you have different options available to visit the Amazon Rainforest from Cusco.
For example, you are very close (about 45 minutes flight) to Puerto Maldonado. This is Peru’s gateway to the southern Amazon Rainforest. And this is where you can visit the Amazon of Tambopata and Manu. These are protected sections of the Amazon Rainforest.
However, you can also visit the northern Amazon Rainforest along the Amazon River. This is by flying to Iquitos in the north. And there are direct flights from Cusco.
If you don’t want to fly, you also have the options of visiting the Amazon cloud forest of Manu National Park. Although not the lowlands, there are still fascinating animals and plants to see.
Here are some of the top choices to make the most of your Amazon Rainforest visit from Cusco.
Visiting the Amazon of Puerto Maldonado from Cusco
Puerto Maldonado is a very popular Amazon destination for visitors from Cusco.
It’s located just a short flight down the Andes. And it’s the closest section of lowland Amazon to Cusco. Puerto Maldonado is also home to some the best rainforest areas to visit in all of Amazonia.
From Puerto Maldonado, you can decide whether you would like to visit. And you can choose from the Tambopata or Manu regions. Both areas are home to fantastic Amazon wildlife.
The wildlife-rich Tambopata National Reserve is very close to Puerto Maldonado. This makes this area the best place to visit in the entire Amazon if you’re interested in a short visit of 3 or 4 days. And it only takes about 30 minutes to reach wildlife-rich areas.
This means less travel and more time spent looking for fascinating Amazon wildlife.
To see colorful macaw parrots at clay licks, the recommended lodge is the Tambopata Research Center. This offers in depth experience of the Amazon and a 20% chance of spotting wild jaguar.
This deep rainforest lodge is one of the best lodges in the Amazon Rainforest for seeing the most wildlife and they offer a variety of accommodation options.
Manu is the more famous region. This is because it’s one of the first and largest national parks of Amazon Rainforest in Peru.
However, note that because of its protected status, you are not allowed inside Manu itself. The lodges and tours you visit take you areas at the edge of Manu and in connected rainforest.
One of the oldest lodges for Manu is called the Manu Wildlife Center. Although a little dated, the lodge offers a comfortable experience of the Manu region.
The Manu Wildlife CenterPuerto Maldonado, Peru
Currently, TourTheTropics.com cannot help you book this experience. However, you can visit the tour operator's website for more information.
Visiting the Amazon of Iquitos from Cusco
The Tamshiyacu and Pacaya Samiria Amazon Rainforest areas
Iquitos is the gateway to the Amazon Rainforest near the Amazon River.
This is the best destination for fantastic Amazon River cruises. And it’s a great choice for deep Amazon lodges to see abundant wildlife.
Because of the size of the city, Iquitos is not the best choice for a tour of 3 days or less. It takes time to reach the high wildlife areas. And our recommendations are the protected areas of the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve or Pacaya Samiria National Reserve if you want to maximize your wildlife experiences.
If you want to make the most of your time on a short tour in the Amazon, we recommend the Amazon Rainforest tours from Puerto Maldonado.
However, when you are in the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo or Pacaya Samiria reserve areas from Iquitos, the wildlife is extraordinary.
You can see:
- Different monkeys
- Many colorful birds
- Fascinating reptiles
- Giant river otters
- Large butterflies
- Poison dart frogs
For the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve, you can enjoy a custom and private Amazon Rainforest tour from the Tahuayo Lodge.
For a quick introduction, you can see the video below.
On stays of 6 days or more, you will also visit the Amazon Research Center with its 1000 acre primate trail grid and more pristine rainforest. Enjoy the longest zip line in Amazonia and a very long list of itinerary options. The lodge will also help with your connecting flight from Cusco.
If you’re in Cusco and want to experience the Amazon Rainforest on a cruise, you will need a short flight to Iquitos. There are some fantastic Iquitos Amazon River tours to enjoy.
See the short video below for an introduction.