Visibly blossoming from its road connection to the outside world, Puerto Maldonado, capital of the southern jungle, has an increasingly smart sheen to the bedlam of its central streets, abuzz with tooting mototaxis (three-wheeled motorcycle rickshaw taxis).
The city's money-spinning proximity to the most easily visited animal-rich jungle in the entire Amazon Basin is its blessing but also its curse: travelers arrive, yet quickly leave again to the lodges and wildlife on the nearby rivers.
Yet Puerto Maldonado's languid laid-back ambience invites you to linger. Although a shock to the system, with its sweltering climate and mosquitoes aplenty, its beautiful plaza, burgeoning accommodation options and lively nightlife provide reason enough to hang around.
It remains of foremost importance to travelers, however, as a jumping-off point for voyaging on Ríos Tambopata and Madre de Dios, converging here: watery wonderlands that offer the most accessible primary jungle-locales in the country.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Puerto Maldonado.