Must see attractions in Amazon Basin

  • Sights in Parque Nacional Manu

    Parque Nacional Manu

    This vast national park in the Amazon Basin covers almost 20,000 sq km and is one of the best places in South America to see a stunning variety of tropical wildlife. Progressive in its emphasis on preservation, Unesco declared Manu a Biosphere Reserve in 1977 and a World Natural Heritage Site in 1987. Entry is only with guide and permit.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Iquitos

    Belén Mercado

    At the southeast end of town is the floating shantytown of Belén, consisting of scores of huts, built on rafts, which rise and fall with the river. During the low-water months, these rafts sit on the river mud, but for most of the year they float on the river − a colorful and chaotic sight. Seven thousand people live here, and canoes float from hut to hut selling and trading jungle produce.

  • Sights in Paucartambo

    Tres Cruces

    About two hours beyond Paucartambo is the extraordinary jungle view at Tres Cruces, a lookout off the Paucartambo–Shintuya road. The sight of the mountains dropping away into the Amazon Basin is gorgeous in itself, but is made more magical by the sunrise phenomenon that occurs from May to July (other months are cloudy), especially around the winter solstice on June 21. The sunrise here gets optically distorted, causing double images, halos and an incredible multicolored light show.

  • Sights in Parque Nacional Manu

    Cocha Salvador

    Probably Parque Nacional Manu's loveliest lake, at least amongst the part of the park visited by tourists, with camping and hiking possibilities.

  • Sights in Amazon Basin

    Reserva Nacional Pacaya-Samiria

    At 20,800 sq km, this is the most immense of Peru’s parks and reserves. Pacaya-Samiria provides local people with food and a home, and protects ecologically important habitats. An estimated 42,000 people live on and around the reserve; juggling the needs of human inhabitants while protecting wildlife is the responsibility of some 30 rangers. Staff also teach inhabitants how to best harvest the natural renewable resources to benefit the local people and to maintain thriving populations of plants and animals.

  • Sights in Río Tambopata

    Reserva Nacional Tambopata

    The wildlife-rich Río Tambopata is a major tributary of the Río Madre de Dios, joining it at Puerto Maldonado. Boats go up the river, past several good lodges, and into Reserva Nacional Tambopata, an important protected area divided into the reserve itself and the zona de amortiguamiento (buffer zone). The big draw is the birdlife: chattering groups of macaws and parrots gather to feed at clay licks here. Sightings of jaguars on the riverbanks are not unusual, either.

  • Sights in Around Iquitos

    Yanamono Rum Distillery

    For three generations the Guerra family has been operating this traditional rum distillery in Yanamono, in the middle of nowhere in the northern Peruvian Amazon. There is nothing different about the rum-making process here to how it would have been in the conquistador era. Sugarcane is crushed in a huge hand-turned press (there is a donkey to assist). Battered wooden vats then finish the fermentation.

  • Sights in Río Heath

    Parque Nacional Bahuaja-Sonene

    About two hours south of the Río Madre de Dios and along the Río Heath (the latter forming the Peru–Bolivia border), Parque Nacional Bahuaja-Sonene has some of the best wildlife in Peru’s Amazon region, including such rarities as the maned wolf and the spider monkey, although these are hard to see. Infrastructure in the park, one of the nation’s largest, is limited, and wildlife-watching trips are in their infancy here, rendering the experience all the more genuine.

  • Sights in Pevas

    Francisco Grippa Studio-Gallery

    In undeniably the most eye-catching edifice in Pevas, the art works of Francisco Grippa, one of Peru's most famous contemporary painters, are a sight more beautiful than the building in which they are housed. Grippa handmakes his canvases from local bark, similar to that formerly used by local tribespeople for cloth. The paintings on view in his studio are the outcome of Grippa’s two decades’ observation of Amazonian people, places and customs.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Iquitos

    Historical Ships Museum

    Moored below Plaza Castilla is the diverting Historical Ships Museum, on a 1906 Amazon riverboat, the gorgeously restored three-deck Ayapua. The exhibitions reflect the Amazon River's hodgepodge past: explorers, tribes, rubber barons and the filming of the 1982 Werner Herzog movie Fitzcarraldo. Included in the entrance price is a half-hour historic-boat ride on the river (Río Itaya out to the Río Amazonas proper).

  • Sights in Puerto Maldonado

    Puente Guillermo Billinghurst

    This bridge, since 2011 carrying the Carr Interocéanica across the Río Madre de Dios – connects Puerto Maldonado by paved road to the outside world for the first time and thus is probably the most significant structure in the city's history. It is particularly impressive if you remember what the city was like before. You won't find many other places where a road bridge is such an enthusiastically photographed tourist attraction.

  • Sights in Iquitos

    Malecón

    The sight of Iquitos' sophisticated riverside walkway, edged by swanky bars and restaurants and yet cut off from the rest of the world by hundreds of kilometers of jungle river, is as spectacular as it is surreal. Tours are touted and jungle food is served from stalls, while below are decaying old riverboats, and the lower town's huts on stilts are at the mercy of rapidly changing river levels.

  • Sights in Puerto Maldonado

    Mariposario Tambopata Butterfly Farm

    Peru has the greatest number of butterfly species in the world (some 3700) and you can see many of them here at this well-run butterfly conservation project, one of Peru's best, initiated in 1996. There are also displays on rainforest conservation. Butterflies are nice, but at this price remember you’ll see lots of species for free in the jungle proper.

  • Sights in Río Tambopata

    Collpa Chuncho

    One of the best clay licks in the Reserva Nacional Tambopata, where you can see the colorful cacophony of feeding macaws for which the Tambopata region is renowned. The admission charge is what you need to pay to get into the reserved zone for two to three days, but covers you for Collpa Chuncho however long you want to stay.

  • Sights in Parque Nacional Manu

    Cocha Otorongo

    A lovely lake enfolded within Parque Nacional Manu, with an observation tower to aid wildlife-watching.

  • Sights in Parque Nacional Manu

    Cocha Brashco

    Preferred over Cocha Juárez these days as a lake to spy wildlife such as the giant river otter.

  • Sights in San Ramón & La Merced

    Catarata Bayoz

    A stunning waterfall close to Puerto Yurinaki, about 50km northeast of La Merced.

  • Sights in Around Iquitos

    Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm

    Ostensibly, the Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm is a conservation and breeding center for Amazonian butterflies. Butterflies aplenty there certainly are, including the striking blue morpho (Morpho menelaus) and the fearsome-looking owl butterfly (Caligo eurilochus). But it’s the farm’s exotic animals that steal the show. Raised as orphans and protected within the property are several mischievous monkeys, a tapir, an anteater and Pedro Bello, a majestic jaguar. Some animals have to be kept caged as Peruvian law states they cannot be released into the wild without precise ideas of their origin.

  • Sights in Puerto Maldonado

    Río Madre de Dios Ferry Dock

    This dock close to the Plaza de Armas is a cheap way of seeing a little of the action on a major Peruvian jungle river (the Río Madre de Dios), which is about 500m wide at this point. River traffic is colorful − multiple peki-pekis (canoes powered by two-stroke motorcycle engines with outlandishly long propeller shafts) set off from here.

  • Sights in Oxapampa

    Parque Nacional Yanachaga-Chemillén

    North of Oxapampa rear the cloud-capped hills of this little-visited park, preserving spectacular cloud forest and diverse flora and fauna, including the rare spectacled bear. The most accessible entrance is from a turning near Carolina Egg Guesthaus on the eastern edge of town. A 7km track, of which 5km is doable by car, corkscrews up to the reserve entrance. A glorious two-hour hike then leads to the top of the forest at Abra Esperanza (2420m and chilly).