The Amazon Rainforest crosses nine nations and covers around 40% of the South American continent.
Given its vast size, choosing the best country to visit the Amazon Rainforest can be 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 experience, the most important consideration is your choice of lodge, cruise and guides. It’s the level of service, comfort and your guide’s knowledge and skill that will create the best experience.
With this in mind, there are some very good lodges and cruises that employ the region’s best guides in Ecuador, Peru and Brazil. Although any of these areas offers a fantastic experience, there are some 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. These are areas where different birds and mammals visit to obtain different salts and medicines, which offer almost guaranteed spectacles of iconic Amazon Rainforest wildlife.
The animals that often visit the claylicks are large colorful macaws, tapir, different monkeys, different parrots, capybara, and even large cats that wait for prey.
The best area to see hundreds colorful macaws and other wildlife at the claylicks is the area of Amazon Rainforest from Puerto Maldonado. You can read more about this incredible area in our Puerto Maldonado travel guide.
From Puerto Maldonado, a fantastic protected area to visit is called the Tambopata National Reserve.
The reserve is home to an incredible level of animals and plants. As an excellent example of the wildlife, visitors to the Tambopata Research Center enjoy a 20% chance of seeing wild jaguar. You will also have a higher than usual chance of spotting harpy eagles at the Refugio Amazonas Lodge and a high chance of seeing giant river otters at the community-owned Posada Amazonas Lodge.
The Tambopata Research Center
The Tambopata Research Center is one of the deepest tourist lodges in the Amazon Rainforest.
Nestled near the middle of the incredible Tambopata National Reserve, the wildlife around the lodge is at carrying capacity for the environment, which means you will have incredible wildlife experiences.
See several different monkeys, including 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 simply as a research center but expanded to provide a way for tourists to enjoy this incredible region. The lodge was positioned near one of the largest macaw claylicks in Amazonia. As a main attraction, you can visit the claylicks to see hundreds of colorful macaws with their smaller parrot cousins visiting the clay.
You will also enjoy guided trail walks to find monkeys, peccary, tall emergent trees, different reptiles, amphibians and many other plants and animals.
The lodge offers a choice of suite options providing ensuite bathrooms, comfortable beds and a connection to the rainforest. Enjoy delicious meals in the dining room and relax in your suite or common areas when not exploring Amazonia.
The Refugio Amazonas Lodge
The Refugio Amazonas Lodge is located in the buffer zone of the Tambopata National Reserve.
The Refugio Amazonas Lodge is a better choice if you only have 3-days available to explore Amazonia than the Tambopata Research Center above.
This is because the Refugio Amazonas is located a little closer to the base town of Puerto Maldonado. In fact, enroute to the Tambopata Research Center mentioned above you would spend one night at the Refugio Amazonas.
Enjoy a choice of suite options depending on comfort level. Each suite offers a connection to the rainforest and ensuite bathroom.
From the lodge, you will head out to explore the Tambopata Amazon on guided trail walks. You will also explore a large Amazon Rainforest lake to find a range of lake-living animals and plants. On the forest trails, your guide will help you spot different monkeys, interesting birds, tall emergent trees and various plants and flowers.
Some favorite activities at Refugio Amazonas include climbing the canopy tower for some fantastic rainforest views and visiting the large macaw claylick.
You will then return to the lodge to enjoy delicious meals and the comfortable relaxation areas before your next excursion.
The other main gateway to Peru’s Amazon is the northern Amazon Rainforest city of Iquitos. This is a fantastic place for an Amazon cruise. Iquitos offers more choices of cruises with adventure category cruises like La Perla and luxury cruises, such as the Delfin II, Aria Amazon and Zafiro.
From Iquitos, you can voyage to the incredible protected area of the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. The reserve is home to fantastic wildlife, including several different monkeys, colorful parrots and toucans, two different types of sloth, giant rainforest trees and 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.
The Zafiro Amazon Cruise
The Zafiro Amazon Cruise offers one of the newest luxury cruises on the Amazon River. Enjoy very comfortable accommodation and delicious cuisine as you voyage deep into Pacaya Samiria national Reserve.
From the main Zafiro vessel, head out on guided skiff expeditions to find rainforest animals. Explore different rivers in the Pacaya Samiria region to spot colorful birds and several different monkeys, such as howler monkeys, capuchins, titi monkeys and sakis.
The Zafiro offers very comfortable suites and relaxation areas. There are different suite categories to choose from. You can also enjoy the lounge room with large, comfortable sofas. Large picture windows allow you a connection to the rainforest and let you observe the beautiful scenery in comfort.
The vessel also features an outside lounge to enjoy a drink in the fresh air and watching different birds, an onboard gym and a jacuzzi. You will then enjoy delicious meals in the dining room. As an extra treat, you can enjoy the spa for aromatherapy and therapeutic massages.
La Perla Amazon Cruise
La Perla is the sister vessel of the luxury Zafiro cruise and is an adventure category cruise for the Amazon River.
You can choose from different suite options available on La Perla cruise, including the Standard Cabins, Superior Cabins and the Amazon View Cabins for some fantastic views of the Amazon River and Rainforest.
The cabins feature air conditions, a desk, 100% Peruvian pima cotton bed linen and a private bathroom with shower.
Aboard the cruise, you can then enjoy the interior lounge for a comfortable area to relax between excursions. The lounge features air conditioning and large panoramic windows to keep you connected to this incredible environment in comfort. Enjoy sitting with a tea or coffee and appreciating the rainforest.
Aboard La Perla Cruise, you can also enjoy the exterior lounge, hammock area, observation deck and the dining room. In the dining room, you will enjoy delicious meals of traditional Peruvian cuisine and international favorites.
You can choose either the 3-night or 6-night itinerary aboard La Perla Cruise to explore the Pacaya Samiria region.
You will then head out on guided expeditions on the Yarapa River, Ucayali River, Maranon River and Pacaya Samiria to explore the rainforest. Your guide will be helping you to find several different monkeys, toucans, parrots and other colorful birds. You will also see fascinating reptiles, interesting plants and tall emergent trees.
The Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve
Iquitos is also a fantastic place for a deep rainforest tour. Located in connected rainforest near the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, you can find the smaller Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve.
Containing a larger amount of accessible higher ground forest, you can enjoy more hikes and walks in the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo region.
The reserve contains a high diversity of different monkeys, including capuchins, pygmy marmosets, howlery monkeys, squirrel monkeys, titi monkeys and sakis. Within the reserve, birders and researchers have also found over 600 different birds, including cotingas, tanagers, macaw parrots, hoatzins and many more.
The Tahuayo Lodge
From the Tahuayo Lodge, explore the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve for 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 also visit the Tahuayo River Amazon Research Center. Known as the ARC, the lodge offers a comfortable stay and allows an even deeper experience of the Amazon Rainforest.
Enjoy the 1,000 acre primate research grid to see several different monkeys and other animals and plants. As the grid is frequently used by researchers and tourists alike, you are more likely to observe animals displaying normal behaviors as animals are now familiar with visitors.
You can explore the reserve in variety of ways, such as traditional canoeing, walks, deeper forest hikes, and on motorised boats.
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.
The Amazon Rainforest of Ecuador
Ecuador’s Amazon also 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. Offering an incredible experience of the Amazon Rainforest, the Yasuni rainforest includes a fantastic assemblage of iconic animals and plants.
If you’re interested in a cruise, there are two different options to consider for Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest. Taking you from El Coca deep into Yasuni National Park for guided expeditions, you have a choice of the luxury class Anakonda Cruise or its sister vessel the very comfortable Manatee Amazon Cruise.
There are some fantastic rainforest lodges located inside and on the edge of Yasuni. These include the Sacha Lodge, Napo Wildlife Center and La Selva Lodge. All 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. Nestled within a private rainforest reserve right at the edge of the incredible Yasuni National Park, the lodge offers comfortable accommodation and guided rainforest tours.
One of the most popular features of the Sacha Lodge is the canopy walkway that stretches an impressive 940 feet (275 meters) through the rainforest and stands 94 feet (30 meters) above the forest floor.
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 itself is nestled on the beautiful Pilchicocha Lake. Enjoy guided expeditions on the lake itself to find lake-living animals. You can also spot different monkeys that visit the lake edges. You will also enjoy guided walks along the many trails to find fascinating animals and plants, including monkeys, colorful birds, reptiles, emergent trees, orchids and more.
The Sacha Lodge itself offers 26 rooms in total, which include single, double and triple accommodation (upon request). Each accommodation option includes a private bathroom.
The Napo Wildlife Center
The community-owned Napo Wildlife Center is positioned inside the incredible Yasuni National Park for some incredible wildlife experiences.
Providing a luxury stay in the rainforest, the Napo Wildlife Center is owned and managed by the Kichwa Añangu community. You will also be guided by community members, which is a fantastic way to learn about Amazonia from those who know it best.
The lodge offers a main hall with observation tower for viewing the fantastic rainforest canopy, a small library, fully stocked bar, and a restaurant where you will enjoy your meals. The restaurant provides some incredible views of the lake and rainforest. Guests can even spot colorful birds and other animals from the lodge itself.
Your very comfortable accommodation then features ceiling fans, private bathrooms with hot water, a private balcony and 24/7 electricity provided by solar panels.
Another favorite attraction on Napo Wildlife Center tours is a visit to the Yasuni clay lick where you can often see hungreds of colorful parakeets gathered at the clay. The birds visit claylicks in this way to obtain salts and medicines that help detoxify foods in their diet.
La Selva Lodge
One of the most luxurious rainforest lodges in Ecuador, from La Selva Lodge & Spa enjoy expertly guided tours into surrounding rainforest. Your guide will be helping you find the many different colorful birds, monkeys, reptiles and interesting plants that inhabit the area.
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. You can then explore Amazonia on guided forest walks and canoeing. 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.
Your accommodation then features luxury 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.
The Amazon Rainforest of Brazil
Brazil contains the largest section of Amazon Rainforest and 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. There are some fantastic tours from each of 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 and the dramatic difference in color creates a visual spectacle.
Although there are other attractions of Manaus, such as the incredible Amazon Theatre and botanic gardens, 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 to take you deeper into Amazonia. Expedition cruises don’t simply confine you to a vessel, but 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 begins 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.
The Tucano Cruise offers a choice of either 7-day or 5-day expeditions where we will visit different areas of rainforest.
Enjoy guided expeditions on forest walks and aboard motorized skiffs to 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 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, as well as 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
Offering 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. The wildlife is free to cross between different areas, which means a high chance of incredible wildlife experiences.
In addition to the comfortable accommodation of the Cristalino Lodge, 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, which 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 guiding 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, which 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.