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Where to visit the Amazon Rainforest

Incredibly, the Amazon Rainforest crosses nine nations. And it covers 40% of the South American continent.

Given its vast size, choosing the best country to visit the Amazon Rainforest is an important decision for your experience.

The majority of this impressive forest is found within Brazil and Peru. But significant amounts are also found in Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia.

When planning your Amazon Rainforest tour, the most important thing is your choice of lodge or cruise. It’s the level of service, comfort and your guide’s knowledge and skill that will create the best experience. And there are even some fantastic luxury Amazon cruises to choose from.

With this in mind, there are some very good lodges and cruises that employ the region’s best guides. You can enjoy fantastic tours in Ecuador, Peru and Brazil. Although any of these can offer a fantastic experience, there are differences between regions.

Let’s have a look at the main countries to visit the Amazon Rainforest.

The Amazon Rainforest of Peru

Peru offers the most claylicks of anywhere in South America. A variety of birds and mammals visit these to obtain different salts and medicines. They offer almost guaranteed sightings of iconic Amazon Rainforest wildlife.

Animals that visit claylicks include colorful macaws, tapir, monkeys, different parrots, capybara and even large cats that wait for prey.

Puerto Maldonado, Peru

The best area for claylicks is the area of Amazon Rainforest near Puerto Maldonado. Here you can see hundreds of colorful macaws and other wildlife. Read more about this incredible area in our Puerto Maldonado travel guide.

From Puerto Maldonado, a fantastic protected area is the Tambopata National Reserve.

The reserve is home to an incredible level of animals and plants. As an example of the wildlife, visitors to the Tambopata Research Center enjoy a 20% chance of seeing wild jaguar.

For more information, have a look at the video below.

Tambopata Research Center

Nearby, you will also have a good chance of spotting harpy eagles at the Refugio Amazonas Lodge. And at the community-owned Posada Amazonas Lodge, you have a high chance of seeing giant river otters.

The wildlife, service, comfort and knowledgeable, friendly staff make these some of the top Amazon Rainforest tours in Peru

The Tambopata Research Center

The Tambopata Research Center is one of the deepest tourist lodges in the Amazon Rainforest.

The lodge is nestled near the middle of the incredible Tambopata National Reserve. The wildlife around the lodge is at carrying capacity for the environment. This means incredible wildlife for a fantastic Amazon experience.

Clay Lick - Tambopata Reserve

Macaws seen on guided tour from the comfortable Tambopata Research Center, Puerto Maldonado, Peru. More macaw claylicks are found in this rainforest region than any other in the Amazon Rainforest.

See several different monkeys. These include the larger species of howler monkeys (often seen relaxing near the lodge) and spider monkeys. The presence of spider monkeys is one of the tell-tale signs of a healthy forest. Not only this, but visitors to the lodge have a 20% chance of spotting wild jaguar near the river.

The lodge started as a research center to study the macaws. And now the Tambopata Research Center offers a way for you to enjoy this incredible region. The lodge is near one of the largest macaw claylicks in Amazonia. As a main attraction, you can visit the claylicks to see hundreds of colorful macaws. Their smaller parrot cousins also visit the clay.

You will also enjoy guided trail walks to find fantastic wildlife. See monkeys, peccary, giant trees, different reptiles, amphibians and much more.

The lodge offers a choice of suite options. These provide en-suite bathrooms, comfortable beds and a connection to the rainforest. Enjoy delicious meals in the dining room and relax in your suite or the common area when not exploring Amazonia.

Click the tour bubble below for more information and to check availability for your travel dates.

Includes: all meals, accommodation, selection of guided tours, transfers from and to Puerto Maldonado airport. | 4, 5, 6 days+

The Refugio Amazonas Lodge

The Refugio Amazonas Lodge is located in the buffer zone of the Tambopata National Reserve.

The Refugio Amazonas Lodge is great choice if you only have 3-days available.

This is because the Refugio Amazonas is located a little closer to the base town of Puerto Maldonado.

Refugio Amazonas Lodge - Tambopata Rainforest

You have your choice from different suite options. Each suite offers a connection to the rainforest and en-suite bathroom.

From the lodge, you will head out to explore the Tambopata Amazon on guided trail walks. You will also explore an Amazon Rainforest lake to find a range of lake-living animals and plants.

On the forest trails, your guide will help you spot different wildlife. Enjoy spotting monkeys, interesting birds, tall emergent trees and various plants and flowers.

You will then return to the lodge to enjoy delicious meals and the comfortable relaxation areas before your next excursion.

Includes: all meals, accommodation, selection of guided tours, transfers from and to Puerto Maldonado airport. | 3, 4, 5 days+

Iquitos, Peru

The city of Iquitos is the other main gateway to Peru’s Amazon.

Iquitos found in Peru’s northern Amazon Rainforest and is a port of the Amazon River.

This is a fantastic place for an Amazon cruise. Iquitos offers more choices of cruises with luxury cruises.

These include the Delfin I, Delfin II and Delfin III.

See the Delfin III video below as an example.

Delfin III

From these cruises, you will explore to the incredible protected area of the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve.

The reserve is home to fantastic wildlife. See several different monkeys, colorful parrots and toucans. You can also find two different types of sloth, giant rainforest trees and many attractive flowers.

The scenery of the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is spectacular. Known as the Forest of Mirrors, the sky and trees are perfectly reflected in the still nutrient-rich waters. This offers some fantastic photography opportunities complemented by bright blue sky.

Includes: all meals, accommodation, all excursions, alcoholic beverages, juices, house wines, luxury transfers from & to Iquitos airport | 4, 5 days

Includes: all meals, accommodation, all excursions, select alcoholic beverages, juices, house wines with meals, luxury transfers from & to Iquitos airport | 4, 5 days

The Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve

Iquitos is also a fantastic place for a deep rainforest lodge.

Located in connected rainforest near the Pacaya Samiria, is the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve.

This contains a larger fraction of accessible higher ground forest. This means you can enjoy more hikes and walks in the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo region.

The reserve contains a high diversity of different monkeys. See capuchins, pygmy marmosets, howlery monkeys, squirrel monkeys, titi monkeys and sakis.

Within the reserve, birders and researchers have also found over 600 different birds. These include cotingas, tanagers, macaw parrots, hoatzins and many more.

The Tahuayo Lodge

From the Tahuayo Lodge, explore the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve. You will enjoy fantastic wildlife watching opportunities. You will be assigned a private guide and have a custom itinerary to focus on your interests.

On tours of 6-days or more, you will combine the main Tahuayo Lodge and the Tahuayo River Amazon Research Center. Known as the ARC, the research center offers a comfortable stay and allows an even deeper experience of the Amazon Rainforest.

Woolly Monkey, Tahuayo River, Peru

Woolly monkey seen on tour from the Tahuayo Lodge, Iquitos, Peru. The lodge provides a private guide and custom itinerary to explore the rainforest. You will tour the Amazon’s wildlife-rich Tahuayo Reserve from two fantastic lodges.

Enjoy the 1,000 acre primate research grid to see several different monkeys. This is an excellent area to find many Amazon animals and plants. The grid is frequently used by researchers and tourists alike. This means you can observe animals displaying normal behavior as they are used to visitors.

See the video below for an introduction.

Tahuayo Lodge

Explore the reserve in variety of ways, such as traditional canoeing, walks, deeper forest hikes and by motorized boat.

There are many different things to do at the Tahuayo Lodge.

A favorite area is a visit to Frog Valley where conservationists have set up artificial homes for poison dart frogs. This has attracted a few varieties of these colorful frogs, which you are sure to see on your adventure.

Click the tour bubble below to learn more.

Includes: all meals, accommodation at 2 rainforest lodges, private guide, custom activities, transfers from and to Iquitos airport. | 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 days+

The Amazon Rainforest of Ecuador

Ecuador’s Amazon offers some fantastic experiences of the rainforest.

The gateway to the Ecuadorian Amazon is called El Coca. From here, you enjoy enjoy Amazon River cruises and different rainforest lodges.

The main protected area in Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest is the Yasuni National Park. The Yasuni rainforest includes a fantastic assemblage of iconic animals and plants.

This region has broken world records for biodiversity.

If you’re interested in a cruise, there are two different options. For an introduction, see the Manatee Cruise video below.

Manatee Cruise

Taking you from El Coca deep into Yasuni National Park for guided expeditions, you have a choice from the only two Amazon river cruises in Ecuador:

Send your request direct to the cruises using the tour bubbles below:

Includes: all meals, accommodation, guided tours, transfers from and to Coca airport, private assistance at Quito airport. | 4, 5, 8 days

Includes: all meals, accommodation, guided tours, transfers from and to Coca airport, private assistance at Quito airport. | 4, 5, 8 days

There are some fantastic rainforest lodges located inside and on the edge of Yasuni. These include the Sacha Lodge and La Selva Lodge.

Both of these provide a fantastic experience, but there are some differences we will mention below.

The Sacha Lodge

The Sacha Lodge offers a fantastic experience of Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest. This is nestled within a private rainforest reserve right at the edge of the Yasuni National Park. The lodge offers comfortable accommodation and guided rainforest tours.

Sacha Lodge Canopy Walkway

The incredible 940 feet (275 meter) long canopy walkway at the Sacha Lodge, El Coca, Ecuador. The lodge is an excellent choice for birding and spotting different monkeys in Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest. Enjoy guided tours, delicious meals and comfortable accommodation.

One of the most popular features of the Sacha Lodge is the canopy walkway. This stretches 940 feet (275 meters) through the rainforest and stands 94 feet (30 meters) above the forest floor.

For an introduction, see the video below.

Sacha Lodge

Not only providing an excellent view to observe the rainforest canopy, the walkway is a great place for birdwatching. So far, 587 different birds have been spotted around the Sacha Lodge. This is about 37% of Ecuador’s entire avifauna.

The Sacha Lodge sits on the beautiful Pilchicocha Lake. Enjoy guided expeditions on the lake itself to find lake-living animals. You can even spot different monkeys that visit the lake edges.

You will also head out on guided walks along the many rainforest trails. Find many fascinating animals and plants. See different monkeys, colorful birds, reptiles, emergent trees, orchids and more.

The lodge offers 26 rooms in total, which include single, double and triple accommodation (upon request). Each accommodation option includes a private bathroom.

Includes: all meals, accommodation, selection of guided tours, transfers from and to Coca airport. | 4, 5 days+

La Selva Lodge

This is one of the most luxurious rainforest lodges in Ecuador.

From La Selva Lodge & Spa, enjoy expertly guided tours into surrounding rainforest. Your guide will help you find colorful birds, monkeys, reptiles and interesting plants.

La Selva Lodge

The lodge offers different ways to explore the Amazon Rainforest. A main attraction is climbing the tall canopy tower for rainforest views and watching birds flying over the trees. Explore Amazonia on guided forest walks and canoeing tours. You will also visit the Yasuni claylick to see the colorful parakeets gathered at the clay.

The trails have been carefully planned to show off the best bits of Amazonia. Enjoy walking past giant rainforest trees, such as kapoks and strangler figs. There are also trails for fantastic lake views.

See the video below for an introduction.

La Selva Lodge

Your accommodation then features luxury amenities. This includes fine linen, king beds, private bathrooms, private balconies and rainforest showers.

Between excursions, you will enjoy delicious meals, relax in your suite or enjoy the spa. Choose from a range of massages and relaxation treatments to fully enjoy this incredible environment.

The lodge is dedicated to responsible tourism and is Rainforest Alliance verified.

Includes: all meals, accommodation, guided tours, transfers from and to Coca airport. | 4, 5 days+

The Amazon Rainforest of Brazil

Brazil contains the largest section of Amazon Rainforest. And the country offers some fantastic Amazon experiences.

Given its vast size, there are a few different areas to enter the rainforest. Our recommendations are Manaus, Tefe and Alta Floresta. And there are a few fantastic tours from these areas.

For an Amazon River cruise, our recommendation is to visit Manaus.

Manaus is the largest city in the Amazon Rainforest and a main gateway for the Brazilian Amazon. This is also a major port of the Amazon River.

The city of Manaus is positioned right at the meeting point of the Rio Negro and Amazon River. The Rio Negro is the largest tributary of the Amazon River and one of the world’s largest rivers in its own right.

The Meeting of the Water is also a main attraction for a short trip from the city. This is where the dark waters of the Rio Negro meet the lighter water of the Amazon. Due to differences in speed and density, the rivers flow next to each for many miles without mixing. The dramatic difference in color creates a fascinating visual spectacle.

There are other attractions of Manaus, such as the incredible Amazon Theatre and botanic gardens.

However, the best thing to do from Manaus is to enjoy a tour of the Amazon Rainforest.

Because Manaus is a large city, to access the most untouched forest we recommend an Amazon River cruise. This will take you deeper into Amazonia.

Expedition cruises don’t simply confine you to a vessel. But they offer guided exploration aboard motorized skiffs and forest walks.

One of the favorites is the Tucano Expedition Cruise.

The Tucano Expedition Cruise

Styled as a 19th Century steamship, the Tucano Amazon Cruise is from Manaus in northern Brazil. From here, we will explore the rainforest of the Rio Negro to find fascinating animals and plants.

Because of the Tucano’s design, we can explore areas out of reach for other cruises to get deeper into Amazonia.

Tucano Cruise, Manaus, Brazil

On guided excursion from the Tucano Expedition Cruise, Manaus, Brazil. The National Geographic recommended cruise offers deep exploration of Brazil’s Amazon. Voyage along the Rio Negro with guided exploration on foot and skiff expeditions in different rainforest areas.

The Tucano Cruise offers a choice of either 7-day or 5-day expeditions. On your itinerary, you will visit different areas of rainforest.

Enjoy guided expeditions on forest walks and aboard motorized skiffs. You can find some fantastic forest wildlife. See different monkeys, rainforest birds, tall emergent trees and Amazonian flowers.

When not on rainforest expeditions, enjoy fresh meals aboard the cruise and relax on the observation deck. Of a night, this is a great place to observe the Milky Way in stunning detail.

Alta Floresta

Alta Floresta sits in Brazil’s southern Amazon and offers a fantastic experience of the Rainforest. This is because the region sits at the meeting of Amazonia and the Pantanal, which is another of South America’s wildlife-rich ecosystems. Because of this unique position, you can see animals and plants found nowhere else on Earth.

This is also the most well studied area of southern Brazilian rainforest. You can find an impressive diversity of different birds, including Amazon icons. You will also see many different monkeys, fascinating reptiles, delicate amphibians, tall rainforest trees and attractive flowers.

The recommended rainforest lodge and tour from Alta Floresta is called the Cristalino Lodge.

The Cristalino Lodge

The lodge offers a very comfortable experience of the Amazon Rainforest.

The Cristalino Lodge is nestled in the rainforest of the Cristalino Reserve. The reserve backs onto a giant protected area mosaic. Wildlife is free to cross between different areas, which means a high chance of incredible wildlife experiences.

Floating Deck at Cristalino Lodge

In addition to the comfortable accommodation, you will enjoy expertly guided tours of the rainforest. Spot many different monkeys, toucans, parrots and interesting plants with the help of your naturalist guide.

There are many different trails around the lodge. These have been carefully placed to show off the best bits of the rainforest. Walk past tall emergent trees and visit the best areas for wildlife viewing.

In addition to walking the trails, this is also a great place for canoe exploration to find animals and plants of the different waterways.

One of the favorite features of the Cristalino Lodge is the canopy tower. There are two giant canopy towers you can visit. And these rank as some of the tallest towers in the Amazon to provide incredible views over the rainforest canopy. This is also a favorite place to spot the many different birds.

At the lodge itself, you can rest in your choice of suite or, when not on expeditions, spend time in the different relaxation areas. The lodge offers a floating deck with rocking chairs, low tables, loungers, hammocks and parasols. This is a great place to enjoy a drink while absorbing the sights and sounds of Amazonia.

Placeholder Image

The Cristalino Lodge

Alta Floresta, Brazil

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Ash - Author & Travel Advisor 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 has interests including 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.
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