Best Amazon Tours in Peru - How to choose one

How to choose a great Amazon Rainforest Tour

A trip to the Amazon rainforest and river, the largest jungle and river in the world, is a once in a lifetime adventure. Due to the amount and variety of plants and animals, the Amazon is earth’s natural treasure.  We focus here on Peru, which has better protection to preserve the Amazon rainforest than its neighboring country, and it is actually the country where the Amazon river begins. To get the most out of your trip to this rainforest and river it is important to choose a good Amazon lodge and tour. The things that make a tour exceptional are:

The tour and guide setup

The location

The accommodation

The culinary experience

Helping the community and the rainforest

Aldo, one of the guides of Grand Amazon Lodge and Tours exploring the Amazon jungle with a family.

Tour Setup - Private Guide

When booking an adventure in the Peruvian Amazon, pay close attention to the tour and guide setup. This will determine your entire experience in your Amazon jungle adventure. Most places run with either one of two options: private guide and you decide your activities, or group guide where your activities have been pre-defined or voted on by other guests. Below we have included a table of why a private guide is always a better choice than a group guide. Having a private guide can make the whole difference between doing things the way you want or having it run by a routine and at the pace that others dictate. You may want to go at a slow pace because you are interested in photography and want to stop and take pictures of some beautiful frog, or an amazing plant, or spend more time looking at the monkeys playing and eating. You may want to go fast because of your limited time in the Amazon, and explore the most. You may be interested in spending more time searching for dolphins, or monkeys, or a special bird, or you may be interested more in medicinal plants and the people who inhabit this jungle. You also may prefer to walk less and take more boat trips, or you might enjoy more the peacefulness of canoeing. With a private guide you have much more of a say what and how you want to spend the time. Furthermore, you are more likely to see wildlife in a small group, because the sound of big groups walking, talking or the bigger motor on the boat carrying them may scare some animals away. Considering you have a limited time in the amazon, you will get much more out of the tour, and have it your way, with a private guide.   

 

Private Guide

Group Guide

You choose your pace

Too fast or too slow

Tailored experience

Standardized experience

Smaller and quieter boat excursions

Louder and larger boat excursions

Personal attention, care, and safety

Split attention, care, and safety

Hyper-focus to your specific interest

Catered to general and other  interests

 

Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve and Grand Amazon Lodge and Tours

The Location

Peru has a number of cities that you can fly into to see parts of the Amazon rainforest. However, only one city gives you access to the Amazon River – Iquitos. Iquitos is the Amazon capital of Peru and has the most extensive array of reserves around the area. It is the largest major city in the Amazon not connected to any other major city by road. As you fly into Iquitos you will see the mighty Amazon river – the largest in the world, spanning over 7000km and carrying 20% of the earth fresh water and giving life to the largest rainforest on earth. The extensive reserve areas and the ability to go on the Amazon river make Iquitos a prime choice for Amazon rainforest exploration. There are many lodges that give tours in the rainforest that surround the city. Most of the lodges that are near Iquitos or accessible just by car are located in secondary forests that have been logged and hunted. Wildlife is scarce and vegetation lacks the richness of diversity in these lodges. The best places are found further away from the city, in primary rainforests near the 3 main reserves found south of the city and up the Amazon river. These are: Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve (ACRCTT), Pacaya Samiria Reserve and Allpahuayo Reserve. 

Allpahuayo is known for its Tierra Firma biome, or hard ground. It does not flood and means the wildlife you see here will be unique to non-flooded forests. However, the reserve is relatively small and not as easily accessible, with lodges around the area not effectively able to showcase the reserve. 

Pacaya Samiria is the largest natural reserve in Peru. The lodges are located around the perimeter of the reserve in secondary rainforest. The lodges on the Marinon river, for example, cross the river into Pacaya Samiria and mainly visit the small stream of canya canon where wildlife can be seen.   

Tamshiyacu-Tahauo reserve provides a few lodges that are in either a secondary or a primary rainforest. The area is known for its high level of biodiversity. There are more than 10 species of monkeys, including the smallest monkey in the world, the pygmy marmoset, and the only nocturnal monkey in the amazon, the night or owl monkey. There are also over 600 species of birds including the endangered wattle curassow, the once thought prehistoric hoatzin bird and the beautiful toucans and macaws. In addition, numerous other animals, from the pink and gray dolphins to capybaras call the area home. 

The Accommodation

It is great to come back after an exploration of the jungle to a well designed and decorated accommodation. It is even better when that accommodation is built to immerse yourself in the amazing surroundings that are all around. A nice clear view from the room to the trees, water and birds all around is a great plus. Also a balcony enhances the experience of being out in the jungle and not enclosed by 4 walls. A good mattress is a plus that allows you to fall asleep to the sounds of birds and frogs and awake to the calls of howler monkey or the screamer bird.

WiFi – A visit to the Amazon jungle provides an incredible chance to reconnect to both nature and yourself. However, sometimes you need to let a family member know you arrived safely, share a picture with a friend, keep in touch with coworkers, or search more information on an animal you have seen. Most importantly – WiFi gives the lodge an added route of communication in the middle of the jungle in case of emergency for an added layer of safety.

 

Lunch at Grand Amazon Lodge and Tours

The Culinary Experience

One of the pleasures in life is good food. Peru is one of the culinary capitals of the world – take advantage of this and enjoy your food! It can enhance any adventure as well as tell us about the culture. Iquitos is especially unique, making jungle cuisine only found in this location of the Amazon. Some incredible dishes you should have the chance to try are causa, juanes, ceviche, lomo saltado, doncella, cecina, chonta, and more. It is also home to fresh and unique jungle fruit juices, such as camu camu, limon, cocona, papaya, and more. Food needs to be one of the criteria you chose a lodge. 

Medical donation to the Amazonian village of San Juan de Yanayacu given by Gran Amazon Lodge and Tours.

Helping the Community and the Rainforest

It feels good helping others and conserving nature. By staying in a place that not only hires the locals, but also helps them with medically, logistically and financially. This means that simply going to such a lodge you are directly impacting the people and the environment around. You are automatically providing the locals with hospitality work, an alternative to hunting and logging and thus helping conserve the amazon. The locals also become aware that the health of the rainforest around is important to keep tourists coming and they tend to preserve it even more. It is important that the lodge you are staying with truly cares about the indigenous people and the rainforest around. 

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