Things to Do in Amazon
The mighty Amazon River and its enormous, thickly forested basin are the heart of South America and the guardian of 20 percent of the Earth’s fresh water. Visitors from around the globe come to Iquitos to cruise the river’s storied waters and catch a glimpse of diverse fauna both above and below the surface.
The Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve in Peru’s northern Loreto region is the country’s largest and most pristine protected area and the second largest reserve in the Amazon. Located at the confluence of the Marañón and Ucayali rivers, the reserve has some of the most biodiverse rainforests in the world.
Located in Iquitos, the Manatee Rescue Center is a sanctuary where orphaned and injured manatees receive care and protection until they’re strong enough to be released back into the rainforest. Visitors get the chance to interact with the animals, feed them, and learn about the challenges of this endangered species through an educational tour.
Dominating the Plaza de Armas in Iquitos, this 2-story building seems delicate and elegant in the midst of the otherwise rough jungle town. Designed by Gustave Eiffel, the so-called Iron House was forged in Belgium and shipped to the Amazon where it was reconstructed piece by piece during the height of the rubber boom.
Commonly known as “The Venice of the Amazon,” the floating town of Belén near the outskirts of Iquitos offers a unique cultural experience. A boat ride through the market of Belén will give you a rare glimpse into the lifestyle of the locals. A shantytown of modest thatch-roofed homes, restaurants and bars sit atop balsawood foundations, Belen is one of Iquitos’s top tourist attractions.
Peering strategically over the lush Utcubamba Valley, this pre-Inca fortress is the largest stone ruin site in the New World, with 10-times more stone than in the Giza Pyramid. Encircled by a stone wall soaring 60 feet (18.2 meters) high, the vast archeological complex includes some four hundred buildings, which in the city’s heydey accommodated thousands of residents.
The sprawling Peruvian Amazon covers nearly 60 percent of the entire country, stretching from the Andes Mountains to the borders of Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Colombia. The expanse is generally divided into two ecological regions—the lowland jungle and the highland jungle—with two main gateways, Iquitos and Puerto Maldonado.
The Itaya River is a tributary of the mighty Amazon River in the northern Loreto Region in Peru, flowing parallel to the city of Iquitos and the floating town of Belén. Forming the eatern border of the city, the waterway offers the easiest access in and out and most of the city’s main attractions fall along its banks.
Running along the northern border of the rainforest city of Iquitos, Nanay is a slow tributary of the Amazon River where rare white-sand beaches appear when water levels are low. Lodges scattered along the banks offer day trips, journeys upriver into the wilderness, and visits to native Yagua, Bora, and Mestizo communities.
This research and conservation center inside the Peruvian Amazon caters to photographers, research teams, and wildlife enthusiasts who want to experience the untouched jungle, while working to employ local people and allow visitors to access the Amazon sustainably and in harmony with nature. Naturalists lead educational walks through the rainforest to view hundreds of species of unique plants and animals.
More Things to Do in Amazon
In the upper Amazon basin, in the heart of the Chachapoyas region, the bi-level Gocta Waterfalls(Catarata de Gocta) tumble from a dizzying height of 2,529 feet (771 meters). They are approachable by hiking or horseback riding. Known only to locals until 2002 when a German explorer discovered it, the falls are a relatively new attraction for visitors to Peru.
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- Overnight Amazon Jungle Lodge Stays from Puerto Maldonado
- Overnight Amazon Jungle Lodge Stays from Iquitos