A Guide to the National Parks in the Peruvian Amazon

The Amazon rainforest is a locale rich with diverse flora, fauna and the impressive superlatives surrounding them. While the Peruvian Amazon takes up a large portion of the country and can be accessible from many different points of entry, the National Parks & Reserves offer the most pristine preservation and wildlife observation you can find. If you’re going to plan a trip to the Amazon, make sure to read up on these different protected areas so you can see which will work the best for your time, budget and interests.

Below, we’ve shared details on the three reserves you’ll find in the Peruvian Amazon: Manu National Park & Biosphere, Tambopata National Reserve and Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. Read carefully on the types of travel allowed in each, so that you can see this amazing wildlife on the type of tour that works best for you!


Manu National Park & Biosphere

The most well-known of the national parks in Peru, Manu is the second-largest protected area in the country covering a couple million acres (after Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, below). It is largely considered to be the zone with the absolute most biodiversity on the planet, and comprises a variety of habitats as it spans from the slopes of the Andes to the Amazon basin. In Manu, you can views 10% of all bird species found in the world, at least 13 endangered wildlife species, and a greater number of plant species than any other protected area on Earth. Manu is nothing short of phenomenal, and it’s no surprise many consider it one of the best places to visit in the Amazon.

Due to this impressive profile however, trips to Manu National Park can be a bit more costly than the other reserves. There are just a few lodges you can stay in within the reserve and cultural zones, and access to the reserve zone must be through an organized tour.

Types of Travel Allowed: Staying in one of few lodges within reserve, organized tour groups only (which includes transportation in and out). You can browse through some of these Manu tours here.

Tambopata National Reserve

The Tambopata reserve, easily accessible from Puerto Maldonado, is one of the best spots to visit in the Amazon because it’s much more accessible and less restrictive than Manu National Park, and despite having a smaller species diversity than celebrated Manu, the flora and fauna that visitors often actually see in both is quite similar.

Tambopata is the easiest to visit of all three national parks and reserves in the country, and has a number of lodges that are actually in or right around the reserve. You can stay in the lodges right in the Amazon for as little as a couple of days, but can also expand your trip by taking day expeditions to much more remote areas. This is the one national park in the Amazon in which you can arrange independent travel with a guide.

Types of Travel Allowed: Staying in one of a number of lodges in or around reserve, as part of entire tour package or booked individually (Lodges often include day excursions with guides). Can also book a tour independently with a guide from Puerto Maldonado and arrange day transportation in and out.

Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve

Closest to Iquitos, Peru, this is the largest natural reserve in the country. It has one of the world’s richest wildlife habitats and is abundant with a wide variety of exotic species, covering more than 5 million acres of well-preserved rainforest. This one is great for longer journeys, and offers endless possibilities for exploring. Those wanting to explore the Amazonian city of Iquitos (the biggest in the Amazon with 1 million residents) will find that this is the most pristine area to visit from there, and is well worth the journey.

Of the national parks in the Amazon, Pacaya-Samiria is the least visited of the three. It’s less accessible than the jungle farther north, and requires a bit more time to reach than the others. Because Pacaya-Samiria is so protected, a permit from the Peruvian parks authority is required to enter. Now, several tour operators have permission for river cruises, canoe trips and camping expeditions, some of which are even run by local native communities. In Pacaya-Samiria, you can be sure to see incredibly well-preserved wildlife, leagues ahead of the parts of the Amazon closer to the city of Iquitos, and it’s absolutely worth the journey to see this rich and thriving habitat.

Types of Travel Allowed: River cruises (all-inclusive), day canoe trips, overnight camping expeditions (multiple nights, can also combine with canoe trips). You can book tours with bigger tour companies, or trips through native local tour guides (these may include boat trips and staying in local homes).

You can browse through some of these tours here.

Where will you choose for your Amazonian adventure?!

Ready to go? If one of these seems like what you’re looking for (or you’re unsure and would like to know more), you can contact our travel specialists at any time here or at info@perutravelnow.com We can answer your questions, and help you book any of the travel options above right away! You can also click here to read more about some of the tour options