The Peruvian Amazon
Taken altogether, the Amazon rainforest covers almost two-thirds of Peru, and every inch of it is packed full of wildlife and adventure... In fact, Peru's Amazon rainforest is one of the most bio-diverse places on earth, home to nearly 1,500 unique animal species, over 800 species of birds, 2,500 classes of butterflies and 64 recognised tribes of people, including some of the last 'uncontacted' groups on earth.
Among the animals to be found in the Amazon jungle in Peru are some of the world's rarest and most endangered species, such as the pink river dolphin, the Amazonian Manatee, and the Three-toed Sloth. What's fantastic about visiting the Peruvian Amazon is that once you move away from the area of human habitation, and into areas such as the amazing Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, you are rewarded with pristine primary rainforest and the chance to get up close to jaguars, anacondas and all the other usually reclusive denizens of the Amazon...
The Northern Amazon or Tambopata?
There are two main areas of the Amazon in Peru: the northern Amazon including the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, and the southern Amazon basin, centred on the world-famous Tambopata Reserve. Both have different pros and cons, so here's a quick look at what each has to offer.
The Tambopata Reserve covers a massive 3.5 million acres and provides a refuge for some of the Amazon's most endangered wildlife. Nearly 700 bird species have been observed in Tambopata, together with 1300 butterfly species, 90 types of amphibian, and over 100 species of mammals, including many that are now almost unknown elsewhere in the Amazon. Jaguars, tapirs and spider monkeys can all be found here, as well as large numbers of other monkeys, caiman, peccarys, giant otters and sloths.
Tambopata also offers arguably the pick of Peru's jungle lodges, including the best luxury rainforest lodges in Peru. With regular flights from the town of Puerto Maldonado to both Lima and Cusco, it also fits in well to wider holidays in Peru, including sites like Machu Picchu.
The Northern Amazon from Iquitos
However, if you want your Amazon adventure to include the actual River Amazon (as opposed to 'just' the Amazon basin) then you'll need to head a little further north and fly into the city of Iquitos. This jungle metropolis has over half a million inhabitants but has no road or rail links with the outside world - you'll have to fly here from Lima. In fact, until the advent of air travel, Iquitos had closer links with Europe than with the rest of Peru as travelling all the way down the Amazon and across the Atlantic was actually quicker than getting through the jungle and over the Andes to Lima!
From Iquitos you can visit a range of jungle lodges, take a cruise on the River Amazon, or head into the stunning Pacaya-Samiria Reserve. This is arguably the most pristine rainforest in the whole of Peru and offers unparalleled wildlife-spotting opportunities but... there aren't any lodges so you'll need to be prepared to camp or just take day trips into the Reserve.