If you’re deciding between Iquitos or Manu for an Amazon Rainforest experience, you’re really deciding between the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve or Pacaya Samiria National Reserve in Iquitos and the Manu National Park accessed from Cusco (for cloud forest) or Puerto Maldonado (for lowland jungle).
Delfin II Cruise
Iquitos, PeruFirst, you are collected in the Delfin limo-styled coach from Iquitos airport and you will then cruise in comfort to explore the Pacaya Samiria Reserve. After relaxing with Peru’s famous cocktail, you will board the Delfin II to enjoy massages & sophisticated cuisine by candle-light. Delfin provide 8 person skiffs & modern Kayaks so you can explore the Pacaya Samiria National Park in detail to experience the sounds and views of this giant flooded tropical forest.Massages, Kayak Tours
To summarise, if you would like to experience the Amazon on a cruise, choose Iquitos and the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, a fantastically bio-diverse flooded tropical forest where you can see monkeys, many birds, and possibly giant fish (Arapaima gigas). For a memorable experience watching brightly coloured macaws at clay licks or a good chance of seeing tapir, South America’s largest land mammal, then pick Manu National Park.
Manu National Park is well known for clay licks and there are two places you can stay for the most biodiverse section of Manu, the Manu Wildlife Center and the Manu Tented Camp. Because the Manu Tented Camp is of a light construction, it was allowed inside the park itself and is well positioned for access to Lake Salvador, home to giant otters. You can however access the lake from Manu Wildlife Center, located in a private reserve attached to the national park.
Manu National Park should also be your choice if you’re interested in cloud forest as the park features the Cock of the Rock Lodge located right next to the cock of the rock lek, where birds perform displays to impress a mate.
Cock of the Rock LodgeCusco, PeruStaying in pristine Cloud Forest of Manu National Park, you can easily see Peru’s national bird, the Cock of the Rock, as the lodge is located right next to the bird’s display ground. On forest walks you can see Cloud Forest animals like spectacled bears, colorful birds and monkeys.Cock of the Rock, Cloud Forest
A lesser known and smaller reserve, the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve near Iquitos is packed full of biodiversity and the majority of wildlife photographs from this site were taken in this reserve. The reserve is favoured if your interested in monkeys (the reserve features a 1000 acre trail grid where researchers are studying primates) and the actual park itself was to protect the Uakari Monkey (an unusual monkey with a bright red face) among other incentives. The reserve features a poison dart conservation section known as frog belly where you are sure to find many poison dart frogs clinging to the leaves and trees.
For the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve, you can stay at the only tourist lodge inside the reserve, the Tahuayo Lodge where you will be assigned a private guide who will show you around the protected area. Your guide will also personalise the tour if you have a special interest e.g. in frogs, primates, caiman, snakes etc. In addition to staying at the lodge, you can also visit the Amazon Research Center for a few nights, which is located in more pristine forest and is home to the trail grid.