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Every city tour - we recommend taking one during the afternoon since it is not quite so hot - must include 1) a stroll down the Tarapaca Boardwalk that follows the riverbank and that was built during the rubber boom, 2) a visit to the Iron House, designed by Eiffel and forged in the Les Forjes D’Aisseau workshop in Belgium (this was the first of Peru’s pre-fabricated building, whose elements were made in Europe and later shipped to the country; it was put together in 1889), 3) a visit to the Mud House, an old storehouse of the most famous rubber trader of them all, Carlos Fermin Fitzcarrald, and 4) the Amazonian Museum that displays bronze sculptures of the region’s main ethnic groups (work of the late artist, Felipe Lettersten) and old photographs of Iquitos.


Few experiences can compare to sailing on the still waters of the great river, while marveling at the extraordinary views of the Amazon Rainforest. Some companies offer luxury packages in modern, sleek vessels that travel to the most beautiful areas of the region and then enter into natural sanctuaries in search of wildlife. Just imagine enjoying a cocktail on the deck of one of these cruise ships under the moonlight reflecting off the Amazon River. Fusion cuisine, natural beauty wherever you look, and plenty of comfort are the highlights of an unforgettable experience.


Quistococha is located on 56 ha that surround Lake Quistococha. It has an artificial beach called Tunchi Beach, an interesting system of trails, a zoo, and a fish farm where they raise typical Amazonian species. There is also a Site Museum, a fine restaurant, and a boat rental service. A fantastic spot to spend the day.


Located on an area of more than 2 million hectares, Pacaya-Samiria is the largest protected area in Peru. It is a vast depression in a plain crisscrossed by uncountable rivers and covered by lakes, marshes, and aguajal forests; the area is almost completely flooded during the rainy season, just like the Brazilian Pantanal or the Okavango in Botswana. Thousands of fish spawn in its lakes, one being the paiche, which was reintroduced in the Amazon - after years of overexploitation - here in Pacaya-Samiria. Other endangered species you can find are the pink dolphin, black caiman, giant otter, manatee, or sea cow and the charapa turtle.


It is located in the so-called Napo Eco-region and is home to an exceptional biodiversity, which is deemed among the highest in the Amazon River basin and even in the world. Many of the species protected in this area are endemic to the white sand forests or to the black water flooded forests, which are extremely rare in Peru. Allpahuayo-Mishana is the only place in Peru where two endangered primates species are protected: the widow monkey (Callicebus lucifer) and the Equatorial saki (Pithecia aequatorialis); the protection also covers wildlife species with restricted distribution: a dozen species of birds, several reptile, amphibian, and fish species, and over a hundred plant species. On just 57,000 hectares, this important protected area shelters 28 threatened and vulnerable animal species, like the otter, harpy eagle, Goeldi’s monkey, and giant armadillo. Over 1900 plant species have been recorded and, in just one hectare, there are close to 300 species of trees. There are 145 species of mammals recorded, but we have many more to discover, especially rodents and bats that are very elusive. In terms of birds, scholars have registered 477 species within 50 families, including new endemic species from the Napo Eco-region and 21 white sand “specialist” species.


Manu begins at the heavens, namely an altitude of 4000 meters at the pinnacle of a steep mountain that dominates the austere landscape of the puna. Men from this region call it the Apu Kañahuay (Mount Kañahuay), which means “that which is close to god”.

The farther we get from the Andes, the greater becomes the percentage of humidity. The ichu (grass) and the gnarled trees of the queñual forests give way to even stranger forests that look as if they cling to the precipitous mountain sides. Their trees are curiously shaped, small, and twisted. We have entered the elfin forests, places where flocks of impossibly colored birds fly and a huge variety of strange creatures, mostly unknown to science, live. The tree trunks, twisted by the inclement weather and bathed in a constant mist, form a tangle of lichens and tiny flowers. This is the stage upon which the dimension of objects has become flip-flopped: shining beetles the size of sparrows and elusive deer - the northern pudu (sachacabra) - that stand just 30 centimeters in height.

Descending a little farther, the slope increases. The mountains turn into sheer cliffs and the earth finally disappears, covered by lush palm forests and stands of bamboo. The streams that coursed serenely through the Andean plain suddenly rush off towards the east and form mighty streams and cascades of crystalline water. We are now in the cloud forests, a paradise of orchids, tree ferns, huge bromeliads, giant begonias, butterflies, and hummingbirds. It is a world in which the moss indiscriminately covers everything and where Peru’s national bird - Andean cock of the rock (tunqui) - and the Andean bear (ucumari), quetzal, and wooly monkey live. A habitat of indescribable beauty but extreme fragility.

Finally, and after weeks of thundering down the mountainsides, the rivers get a break. They flow slowly, like dark red serpents, while the sediment they stripped from the Andes forms wide beaches of fine sand. We have stepped upon the Amazonian plain. Here, the trees tower seventy meters into the air and their trunks, gifted with immense buttressed roots, are so wide that it takes dozens of men holding hands to encircle them. Vines as wide as an ox and their huge, cup-shaped flowers hang from their branches and can even be seen from the windows of jets that fly past. This is the hunting grounds of beautiful and spectacular animals, of jaguars, enormous anacondas, tapirs that weigh 200 kg, rodents the size of German shepherds (roncoso), wild boars armed with long fangs (sajinos and huanganas), and creatures that have not changed one iota since the Pre-Historic era (armadillos, anteaters, and sloths). The trees are shared by an actual legion of birds, from powerful harpy eagles that can eat one meter tall monkeys to hummingbirds barely larger than an insect as well as colorful flocks of macaws, toucans, herons, turkeys, quails, and many, many others.


Macaws that eat clay, wild turkeys and tapirs that consume a good portion of dirt a day, and even indigenous groups that believe a mouthful of mud is an indispensible part of their daily diet... mineral salts are, no doubt, coveted treasures in the tropics. Throughout the Amazon, there are sites called collpas (Quechua for “salty land”) where great numbers of animals assemble on a daily basis and provide us a natural show without precedent on the planet. Manu has several spectacular examples of these. Early in the morning, thousands of parakeets and parrots (up to a dozen species) and hundreds of majestic macaws arrive, cackling and squawking, to feast upon the mud rich in salts and minerals that is found on the banks of certain rivers. A dietary supplement for the birds and a once-in-a-lifetime experience for visitors as they watch the display of color and movement.


Oxbows are some of the most extraordinary habitats in the Amazon, not only because they are scenically beautiful, but also because they possess much wildlife and thus afford great possibilities for seeing some of the area’s emblematic and endangered species, like giant river otters and black caimans, as well as hundreds of birds and reptiles. As you row softly across their mirror-like surfaces on canoes made by indigenous people, you will enjoy the thousands of sounds of the jungle. We guarantee you will never forget it.


The jungles that march upon both banks of the Tambopata River are a veritable Eden for nature lovers. Protected by its inaccessibility (in the past, it was nearly impossible to reach these areas) and the park rangers from the National System of Protected Natural Areas, the forests preserve a huge quantity of plants and animals that are hard to find anywhere else in the Amazon Rainforest plus magical natural settings the likes of macaw clay licks, lakes with still waters where large numbers of black caiman, giant river otter families, and hundreds of multicolored birds live, as well as sizeable jungles where man is rarely seen.

In the past few years, dozens of ecotourism lodges have been built. These accommodations offer interesting alternatives for having contact with the tropical forest and for observing its incredible wildlife. Many of them come with naturalist guides, far-reaching systems of trails that penetrate the forests, observation decks, and comfortable rooms.


One of the main attractions in Madre de Dios is the Canopy Walkway at the Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica. It is 344 meters of suspended pathways that usher mere mortals into a world they have never before seen: the tree tops of towering Amazonian trees. There are seven hanging bridges, two observation towers, and eight platforms in this system that initiates the visitor on what life is like in the forest canopy, where tree tops take advantage of the sunlight for photosynthesis so they can produce fruits and flowers, which are, in turn, feasted upon by birds, mammals, and reptiles that live among the tall branches.


This lovely lake is the chief tourist destination for Puerto Maldonado. The route to get there begins with a one-hour boat trip downriver from the city on the Madre de Dios. Afterwards, you embark on an interesting 40 minute hike along a forest trail that includes more than one surprise. There is an aguaje palm forest that actually rises out of the ever-still waters, and in the morning you can easily catch glimpses of giant otters playing in the lake. It is also a good place for bird watching. Highly recommendable.


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