Introducing Puerto Maldonado
At first sight a mayhem of mud streets and manically tooting mototaxis (three-wheeled motorcycle rickshaw taxis), Puerto Maldonado soon endears itself to you. Its money-spinning proximity to some of the most easily visited animal-rich jungle in the entire Amazon Basin is its blessing but also its curse: travelers arrive, yet all too quickly leave again en route to the lodges and wildlife on the nearby rivers.
Yet the town’s languid, laid-back ambience invites you to linger. Whether you arrive by air or by road, Puerto Maldonado will certainly be a shock to the system. Unlike Peru’s larger Amazon cities further north, this is a rawer, untidier jungle town (although it’s rapidly becoming more well-heeled) with a mercilessly sweltering climate and a fair quantity of mosquitoes. But its beautiful plaza and burgeoning accommodation options will, together with a lively nightlife, provide plenty of reason to hang around here for a couple of days.
The town itself has been important over the years for rubber, logging, gold and oil prospecting, and its commercial role has taken on greater dimensions as a port of call on the Transoceanic Highway. It’s of foremost importance to travelers, however, as the jumping-off point for a voyage on the Ríos Tambopata and Madre de Dios, converging here. These watery wonderlands offer the most accessible primary jungle locales in the country, yet are served by excellent accommodation options for those craving that touch of luxury. Undisputedly, Puerto Maldonado offers travelers more chance to see, feel and hear the Amazonian jungle than anywhere else in Peru.