Until fairly recently, the Peruvian Amazon was still an unknown world. However, with the constructions of new airports and highways, the jungle has become increasingly accessible to travelers.
As a result, Peru's tourism industry has improved the quality of their Amazonian tours, and exciting options like swimming with pink dolphins or exploring forest canopies are now available to visitors.
The Peruvian Amazon makes up 60% of the country’s territory. This huge region is covered in an infinite green that – thanks to heavy rainfall and powerful rivers – has come to house the most vital ecosystem in the world.
Previous to the construction of Iquitos and Madre de Dios’ respective airports, the Amazon was only accessible by river or by land and each journey was a costly odyssey. Nowadays, thanks to better infrastructure and more accessible protected areas, the travel industry has managed to bring tourism to the Amazon in a sustainable way (more on that here), allowing for travelers to experience and enjoy some of the most sublime paradises on earth.
Hop On An Amazon River Cruise
Some of the most original tours in the industry are the cruise ships that navigate the Amazon River and its tributaries, departing from either Nauta or Iquitos. These exclusive vessels cruise the waters for an average of five days, allowing for passengers to experience the jungle in a unique way. Boasting luxurious restaurants under the direction of experienced chefs, these ships invite guests to relax in cozy, elegant rooms. Passengers can spend their evenings listening to the myths of the jungle, as recounted by their local guides, while enjoying a refreshing cocktail from the well-stocked bar. During the day, they have the opportunity to partake in a variety of adventures, as small motor boats or canoes depart daily to explore shallower waters and immerse travelers in the surrounding nature.
Take In The Pacaya Samiria National Reserve
The Pacaya Samiria National Reserve – located in the Loreto region – is Peru’s largest protected area, and has become known for its incredible transformation after each rainy season, when the reserve becomes flooded, allowing for fish and wildlife to swim between the trees. Visitors can explore the tranquil waters on canoes, and observe a number of animals – including groups of river otters hunting for snacks, and large paiche fish, which can grow to be two and a half meters long. In the dry season, visitors can walk along the beaches and take in the overwhelming beauty. With any luck, they’ll get the chance to witness the hatching of baby charapa and taricaya turtles.
Swim With Pink Dolphins
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One of the more surreal moments a visitor might have while visiting the Loreto jungle is swimming with pink dolphins. These fairy tale creatures – usually found in the Yanayacu River – are the biggest river dolphin species, growing close to 2.5 meters long. Interestingly, only adult males grow into the pink color that these animals are famous for. In the dry season, they generally inhabit the larger rivers. In the rainy season, however, these beautiful creatures move through the flooded forests. Females usually stay in these tranquil areas, as they provide the ideal setting for nursing and raising newborn calves.
Enjoy The Jungle's Nocturnal Activities
Then there are the nocturnal activities, during which the jungle reveals a completely different side of itself. During these activities – be it a walk through the forest, or a boat ride – one has the opportunity to see the creatures of the night: ants, spiders, centipedes, caymans, and snakes. Night is also when the majestic black panthers come out to hunt; however, these felines are usually so stealthy, that they are rarely seen.
Admire The Diverse Ecosystems
Meanwhile, in the jungle of San Martin, near the city of Tarapoto, travelers can enjoy learning about the variety of ecosystems that exist along the Huallaga River: the dry tropical forest, the cloud forest, and the Amazonian plains. Tours in this area include: the exploration of different rivers, lagoons, canyons, and waterfalls, a visit to the Chazuta community, and a tour through coffee and cacao plantations.
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Fish The Generous Amazon Rivers
If one is interested in fishing, the Amazon Rivers can be very generous. Little has been said for sport fishing in the Amazon, a region that provides almost three thousand species – many of which are exclusive to the area. Visitors can fish dorados, payaras, and tucunares, always respecting the catch and release practice. The journey takes travelers to peaceful lagoons, where they will camp in secluded malocas. This way, one avoids scaring off the wildlife with their arrival, and can just wake up with the dawn and fish the unsuspecting prey.
Partake In The Lively Dawn Activities
It is precisely in the earliest moments of the morning that the jungle seems more alive than ever. Dawn appears to unleash animal wildness. Monkeys howl and screech in the distance. Deer, capibara, and sloths slowly awaken. This is perhaps the best time to explore. Almost all established lodges have hiking trails that tourists can wander in hopes to observe local fauna. In southern Peru’s Tambopata reserve, one can take a short hike to one of the various clay-licks, where hundreds of macaws congregate in a frenzy to lick the clay – a way to clean the stomach – and chat before the day unfolds.
Immerse Yourself In The Jungle Flora
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The plants are the foundation of the food chain, nurturing the creatures of the Amazon – big and small. While most flora fights for light, the ceiba tree revels in the sunlight as the tallest in the jungle, growing up to 40 meters high. In both Peru’s northern jungle and southern Madre de Dios jungle, visitors have the incomparable privilege of floating above the canopy on a series of hanging bridges that connect the tallest trees, and provide an amazing perspective of the jungle’s dense, green forests. These canopy walks take tourists through a rarely seen world of monkeys, birds, insects, and other species who spend their days far from the ground, in a cloud of green leaves famous for being "the lungs" of planet earth.
Cover Art: Pixabay
Credit: Ultimate Journeys