The Amazon Basin

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  • 1. Lago Sandoval

    Body Of Water/Waterfall

    Changes in the course of Amazon tributaries have created countless oxbow lakes, which are formed when the riverbed shifts and the abandoned...

    Changes in the course of Amazon tributaries have created countless oxbow lakes, which are formed when the riverbed shifts and the abandoned bend fills with water. Lago Sandoval, created by the Madre de Dios River, lies just inside the Tambopata National Reserve, a short trip form Puerto Maldonado. It is a lovely sight, hemmed with lush jungle and a wall of aguaje palms on one end. It is also an ideal spot for wildlife-watching. Herons, egrets, kingfishers, and other waterfowl hunt along its edges; several species of monkeys forage in the lakeside foliage; and chestnut-fronted macaws fly squawking overhead. A family of elusive giant otters lives in Lake Sandoval, making it one of the few places you can hope to see that endangered species. The lake is a 30-minute boat ride east from Puerto Maldonado. Once you disembark, there's a flat-but-muddy 3-km (1.8-mi) hike to a dock in the aguaje palm swamp from where you'll be rowed to the actual lake. Unfortunately, Sandoval is very popular, so you'll see plenty of tourists on the trail and lake. Fewer people visit the lake in the afternoon, but it is best experienced by spending a night or two at the Sandoval Lake Lodge.

    14 km (9 miles) east of Puerto Maldonado, Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios, Peru
  • 2. Manu Biosphere Reserve

    Nature Preserve/Wildlife Refuge

    Scientists consider the Manu Biosphere Reserve to be one of the most biodiverse places on earth, and much of its vast wilderness has barely...

    Scientists consider the Manu Biosphere Reserve to be one of the most biodiverse places on earth, and much of its vast wilderness has barely been studied, since it is still home to uncontacted indigenous groups. Straddling the boundary of the Madre de Dios and Cusco provinces, the reserve is Peru's second-largest protected area, encompassing more than 4½ million acres of pristine tropical forests. Its extraordinary biological diversity is in part due to its precipitous terrain, which ranges in altitude from 3,450 meters (12,000 feet) down to 300 meters (less than 1,000 feet). This geographical diversity results in varied ecosystems—from high-altitude puna grasslands to luxuriant cloud forest and seemingly endless rainforest—which, in turn, shelter a stunning range of flora and fauna. To top it off, a near-total absence of humans means that the animals here are less skittish and more easily observed.Whereas Manu's highland cloud forest is home to dozens of hummingbird species, the spectacular cock-of-the-rock, and the Andean bear (aka spectacled bear), the reserve's lower parts hold most of its more than 200 mammal species, including 13 species of monkeys, which scrutinize visitors with the same curiosity they elicit. White caimans sun themselves on sandy riverbanks, while the larger black caimans lurk in the oxbow lakes. With luck, you may see a tapir, giant river otter, or one of the region's elusive jaguars. You are bound to see a sampling of the avian life that has made Manu world-famous. The area counts more than 1,000 bird species, one-ninth of those known to science. They include several species of macaws, toucans, jacamars, cocoi herons, harpy eagles, razor-billed currasows, blue-headed parrots, and horned screamers. Manu is also home to hundreds of colorful butterfly species and an array of ants, beetles, and spiders, as well as millions of mosquitoes, so be sure to take an ample supply of insect repellent.A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Biosphere Reserve is divided into three distinct zones. The smallest, and most accessible, is what's known as the "cultural zone," home to several indigenous groups and the majority of the jungle lodges. Access is permitted to all—even independent travelers, in theory—though it would be extremely difficult to visit it on your own. About three times the size of the cultural zone, Manu's "reserved zone" contains various nature lodges, which can only be visited on a guided tour with one of a dozen agencies authorized to take people into the area. The western 80% of Manu is designated a national park and is closed to all but authorized researchers and the indigenous peoples who reside there.

    , Peru
  • 3. Museo de Culturas Indígenas

    Museum/Gallery

    This small museum housed in a pale-blue building on the Malecón Tarapacá has an impressive collection of colorful headdresses made from the...

    This small museum housed in a pale-blue building on the Malecón Tarapacá has an impressive collection of colorful headdresses made from the feathers of jungle birds and an array of other traditional handiwork by the main Amazonian tribes. If you're interested in indigenous cultures, you won't want to miss it. The displays include a wealth of information about the lives of the Amazon Basin's native peoples and an array of artifacts collected in Peru, Brazil, Colombia, and the Guianas over the course of decades. Items range from the quotidian (clothing, paddles, woven bags) to the ceremonial (musical instruments, headdresses, necklaces with the teeth of jungle animals). Among the more striking items are the jewelry, embroidered cloths and cushmas (tunics), painted ceramic wares, blow guns, spears, bows and arrows, and ceremonial headdresses.

    Malecón Tarapacá 332, Iquitos, Loreto, Peru
    065-235-809

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: S/15
  • 4. Tambopata National Reserve and Bahuaja-Sonene National Park

    Nature Preserve/Wildlife Refuge

    A vast expanse of protected wilderness stretches eastward from Puerto Maldonado to Bolivia and southward all the way into the Andean foothills...

    A vast expanse of protected wilderness stretches eastward from Puerto Maldonado to Bolivia and southward all the way into the Andean foothills. Its forests, rivers, palm swamps, and oxbow lakes are home to hundreds of bird and butterfly species, monkeys, tarantulas, turtles, and countless other jungle critters. This amazing natural diversity can be experienced from any of a dozen nature lodges scattered along the Madre de Dios River, the Tambopata River,which flows into the Madre de Dios at Puerto Maldonado, or the more distant Heath River.Together, the contiguous Tambopata National Reserve and Bahuaja-Sonene National Park protect 3.8 million acres: an area the size of Connecticut. Several indigenous Ese'eja communites border the park; "Bahuaja" and "Sonene" are the Ese'Eja names for the Tambopata and Heath rivers, respectively. The Río Heath forms Peru's southeastern boundary with neighboring Bolivia, and the former Pampas de Río Heath Reserve, along the border, is now incorporated into Bahuaja-Sonene. It includes a looks-out-of-place "pampas" ecosystem that resembles an African savannah more than the lush Amazon forest that borders it.Peru collaborates on conservation with Bolivia, whose adjoining Madidi National Park forms a vast, cross-border protected area that covers 7.2 million acres. Only environmentally friendly activities are permitted in Tambopata. In addition to participating in tourism, local communities collect castañas, or Brazil nuts, from the forest floor, and aguaje palm fruit in the swampland.Elevations here range from 500 meters (1,640 feet) to a lofty 3,000 meters (9,840 feet), providing fertile habitat for an astounding diversity of animals and plants. The area holds a world record in the number of butterfly species (1,234). These protected areas contains Peru's largest collpas, or clay licks, which are visited by more than a dozen parrot, parakeet, and macaw species each morning. They congregate at dawn to eat the mineral-rich clay in the steep riverbank.

    Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios, Peru
    82-573–278
  • 5. Brazilian Consulate

    Visitor Center

    ...

    Sgto. Lores 363, Iquitos, Loreto, Peru
    065-235–151
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  • 6. Casa de Fierro

    Notable Building

    The most interesting structure on the Plaza de Armas is this “Iron House,” which was originally the home of a rubber baron but now houses a...

    The most interesting structure on the Plaza de Armas is this “Iron House,” which was originally the home of a rubber baron but now houses a pharmacy and a restaurant, on the second floor. The building was forged in Europe and shipped across the Atlantic and up the Amazon River in sections to be assembled at this spot. According to locals, it was designed by Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame), but a Peruvian historian who has studied Eiffel’s contribution to South American architecture disputes the claim.

    Putumayo at Jr. Prospero, Iquitos, Loreto, Peru

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 7. Centro de Rescate Amazónico

    Zoo/Aquarium

    At this animal-rescue center, a short trip south of town, you can get a close look at one of the region's rarest, and most threatened, species...

    At this animal-rescue center, a short trip south of town, you can get a close look at one of the region's rarest, and most threatened, species: the manatee. Despite being protected by Peruvian law, manatees continue to be hunted for their meat. The center, a collaboration of the Dallas World Aquarium and Zoo and two Peruvian institutions, raises orphaned manatees and nurses injured ones back to health for eventual release in the wild. It also serves as an environmental education center to raise awareness of the gentle creature's plight.

    Km 4.6, Carretera Iquitos-Nauta, Iquitos, Loreto, Peru
    -965–834–685

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: by donation, S/20, Closed Mon. mornings
  • 8. Collpa Chuncho

    Other Attraction

    The largest collpa in this region is located in Bahauja-Sonene National Park, behind an island on the Tambopata River. On any given morning...

    The largest collpa in this region is located in Bahauja-Sonene National Park, behind an island on the Tambopata River. On any given morning, hundreds of birds congregate here to eat the clay. The action starts at the break of dawn, when flocks of parakeets begin to arrive. They are followed by several parrot species and five macaw species, which first gather in the treetops and wait for a moment when it seems safe to descend to the clay lick. When they do, it is an amazing sight. Collpa Chuncho can only be visited on excursions from various lodges on the Tambopata River. You'll also see other wildlife along the river on the trip here.

    Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios, Peru
  • 9. Collpa de la Cachuela

    Other Attraction

    A 20-minute boat trip up the Madre de Dios River from Puerto Maldonado takes you to this small collpa on the riverbank. Each day, more than...

    A 20-minute boat trip up the Madre de Dios River from Puerto Maldonado takes you to this small collpa on the riverbank. Each day, more than 100 parrots, parakeets, and chestnut-fronted macaws gather here from 5:30 am to 8 am to eat the mineral-rich clay.

    Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios, Peru
  • 10. Distrito de Belén

    Market/Bazaar

    Iquitos's most fascinating neighborhood lies along, and floats upon, the Itaya River. During high-water season (December–May), tiny houses on...

    Iquitos's most fascinating neighborhood lies along, and floats upon, the Itaya River. During high-water season (December–May), tiny houses on balsa-wood rafts float placidly on this Amazon tributary's calm waters. This slummy area has been called the Venice of the Amazon (a diplomatic euphemism), but navigating between its floating homes is really a kick. During the low-water season (June–November), those houses sit in the mud, and the area should simply be avoided. During high-water season, you can visit the floating houses with an Iquitos tour operator. Tours of Belén usually include a visit to the local market, Mercado Belén, where you may see bushmeat, suris (palm grubs), love potions, and other goodies for sale. Do not visit the Mercado de Belén or the surrounding area alone—muggings are frequent and pickpockets and bag slashers work the market with impunity. Only visit on a tour with a reputable company.

    East end of, Jr. 9 de Diciembre, Iquitos, Loreto, Peru
  • 11. Hotel Palacio

    Notable Building

    Iquitos enjoyed its heyday as a port during the rubber boom a century ago. Some of the wealth of that time can still be detected in the imported...

    Iquitos enjoyed its heyday as a port during the rubber boom a century ago. Some of the wealth of that time can still be detected in the imported azulejos (tiles) that cover many of its older buildings. A notable example is the former Hotel Palacio, on the Malecón Tarapacá. The hotel was the city's best when it opened for business in 1908. It has since been converted into a police station and is now looking a little worn, but remains a stately building nonetheless.

    Putumayo and Malecón Tarapacá, Iquitos, Loreto, Peru
  • 12. La Isla de los Monos

    Nature Preserve/Wildlife Refuge

    A popular spot for explorers of all ages, Isla de los Monos (Monkey Island) is home to more than 40 monkeys of eight species. The 250-hectare...

    A popular spot for explorers of all ages, Isla de los Monos (Monkey Island) is home to more than 40 monkeys of eight species. The 250-hectare (618-acre) island is a private reserve where monkeys that were once held in captivity, or were confiscated from animal traffickers, now live in a natural environment. In addition to the monkeys, there are sloths, parrots, macaws and a small botanical garden. Since most of the animals are former pets, you can get very close to them; maybe even closer than you might want. The easiest way to visit the island is on a tour.

    30 km (18 miles) northeast of Iquitos, Iquitos, Loreto, Peru
    065-235–529

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: S/20 adults, S/10 children, S/20 adults
  • 13. Lago Tres Chimbadas

    Body Of Water/Waterfall

    This oxbow lake, a short hike from the Tambopata River, is a great place to see wildlife, including the endangered giant river otter. It is...

    This oxbow lake, a short hike from the Tambopata River, is a great place to see wildlife, including the endangered giant river otter. It is also home to side-necked turtles, hoatzins, sun grebes, jacanas, and dozens of other bird species. Its dark waters hold black caimans (reptiles that resemble small alligators) and a plethora of piranhas, so try to resist any urge you have to go for a swim. Most people visit Tres Chimbadas on an early morning excursion from the nearby Posada Amazonas.

    42 km (26 miles) southeast of town, Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios, Peru
  • 14. Lago Valencia

    Located near Peru's border with Bolivia, across the Madre de Dios River from the Tambopata Reserve, is the oxbow lake of Lago Valencia. It is...

    Located near Peru's border with Bolivia, across the Madre de Dios River from the Tambopata Reserve, is the oxbow lake of Lago Valencia. It is much bigger than Lago Sandoval, but has less wildlife and a small community on one end of it. It's a good spot for fishing and bird-watching, but because it is so far away, few lodges offer tours to it.

    23 km (14 miles) east of, Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios, Peru
  • 15. Malecón Tarapacá

    Promenade

    This pleasant waterfront walk between Brasil and Pevas is a good place for an evening stroll. During high-water season, the Itaya River reaches...

    This pleasant waterfront walk between Brasil and Pevas is a good place for an evening stroll. During high-water season, the Itaya River reaches the cement, but during the dry months (May–November), it recedes into the distance. You'll find some lovely rubber-boom-era architecture here, such as the Hotel Palacio, now a police station. There are also a few bars and restaurants on the malecón's northern end, near the Plaza de Armas. Its southern end gets less traffic, and muggings have been reported there at night, so stick to the three northernmost blocks after 6 pm.

    Iquitos, Loreto, Peru
  • 16. Mariposario Tambopata

    Garden

    Tambopata's Butterfly Farm has a large screened-in area full of jungle plants where dozens of colorful butterflies float above the leaves and...

    Tambopata's Butterfly Farm has a large screened-in area full of jungle plants where dozens of colorful butterflies float above the leaves and flowers, and caterpillars hide amidst the foliage. There is information about the biology of those delicate creatures and a chamber full of cocoons, chrysalises, and recently hatched butterflies. The Mariposario is located close to the airport and has a small restaurant that is a tranquil spot to for a drink or snack.

    Av. Elmer Faucett, Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios, Peru
    982-353–117

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: S/18
  • 17. Mirador Turístico (Obelisco)

    Viewpoint

    The southern Amazon has a skyscraper! The 35-meter (115-foot) strange tower, shaped like a prison-guard post and surrounded by sculptures, stands...

    The southern Amazon has a skyscraper! The 35-meter (115-foot) strange tower, shaped like a prison-guard post and surrounded by sculptures, stands at the center of one of Puerto Maldonado's busier intersections. The top offers vistas of corrugated-metal roofs, an odd mix of buildings and, in the distance, the rain forest and river.

    Fitzcarrald and Madre de Dios, Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios, Peru

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: S/3
  • 18. Museo Amazónico

    Museum/Gallery

    This "museum" has a few faded paintings and "bronzed" fiberglass statues of local indigenous people. One room holds temporary exhibitions by...

    This "museum" has a few faded paintings and "bronzed" fiberglass statues of local indigenous people. One room holds temporary exhibitions by local artists, sometimes indigenous painters. Although the exhibits are less than enthralling, it's worth popping into this former town hall, constructed in 1863, to admire the ornately carved hardwoods and courtyard garden.

    Malecón Tarapacá 386, Iquitos, Loreto, Peru
    065-234–031

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closed Sun.
  • 19. Museo de Barcos Históricos

    Museum/Gallery

    The Ayapua, a 33-meter (108-foot) boat built in Hamburg, Germany, in 1906, navigated the Brazilian Amazon for much of the rubber boom and was...

    The Ayapua, a 33-meter (108-foot) boat built in Hamburg, Germany, in 1906, navigated the Brazilian Amazon for much of the rubber boom and was brought to Iquitos by the nonprofit Fundamazonia in 2005 to be renovated and turned into a museum. It is now moored next to Plaza Ramón Castilla, on the Itaya River, and contains displays about the rubber boom and historic photos of the region from that era. The bridge has been refurbished, and there is a small bar where you can have a beer or soft drink.

    Plaza Ramón Castilla, Iquitos, Loreto, Peru
    065-231-913

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: S/15
  • 20. Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm

    Nature Preserve/Wildlife Refuge

    A 20-minute boat ride from the port of Bellavista Nanay and a short (15-minute) walk or a tuk-tuk ride in dry season will bring you to Pilpintuwasi...

    A 20-minute boat ride from the port of Bellavista Nanay and a short (15-minute) walk or a tuk-tuk ride in dry season will bring you to Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm, which raises some 42 butterfly species and serves as home for wild animals that have been confiscated from hunters and wildlife traffickers. It has macaws, a jaguar, a manatee, monkeys (some free roaming), and other animals. During wet season, the boat may take you the whole way. A private boat to and from Padre Cocha should cost 60 soles, depending on the type of motor. Some boat operators may try to take you to a smaller butterfly farm, so insist on Pilpintuwasi; ask for Gudrun.

    Padre Cocha, Nanay River, Iquitos, Loreto, Peru
    -965–932–999

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: S/30 without transportation, Closed Mon.

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