If you’re wondering where to stay in the Amazon Rainforest, there are many different options. Some lodges & cruises enable you to see the forest at a distance without plunging into the rainforest & there are many tours where you can take brief trips knowing civilization is not far away! These will suit people a little squeamish about the wild world but who still want to see what all the fuss is about. The popular choices for this type of visit are the Posada Amazonas Lodge, Refugio Amazonas Lodge & Sandoval Lake Lodge near Puerto Maldonado, Peru.
There are also the tours that take you well into the Amazon in search of different primates & animals that live in the rainforest interior. Popular choices for these opportunities are the Tahuayo Lodge (Tahuayo Reserve, Iquitos, Peru), which is regarded by National Geographic as one of the best tours on Earth, Tambopata Research Center (Tambopata Reserve, Puerto Maldonado, Peru), Manu Wildlife Center (Manu National Park, Puerto Maldonado, Peru), Tucano Amazon Cruise (Central Amazon Biosphere, Manaus, Brazil), & La Estrella Amazonica Cruise (Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, Iquitos, Peru).
If you would like to experience the Amazon Rainforest in comfort, you’re better off on a cruise & there are many options available. For examples of popular choices, the Tucano Cruise provides a comfortable way to cruise the waters from Manaus, Brazil. They offer both 7 night & 4 night tours, which National Geographic also consider one of the best tours on Earth. From Santarém, the Amazon Dream Cruise provides one of the longest cruises (10 days) where you can enjoy snorkeling Aquarium Lakes filled with tropical fish.
At the luxurious end of the market, Delfin Cruises are a relatively new cruise on the Amazon River & have received impeccable reviews. You can join the luxury Delfin II or the even more luxurious Delfin I to experience the incredibly diverse flooded-forest of Pacaya Samiria from Iquitos, Peru. Delfin really do look after you with their aim to exceed expectations.
“Ash”, you say, “you’re mentioning all these places & I have no idea where they are or why they’re good to visit. Didn’t you know the Amazon covers 40% of the continent? How do I pick a place to go?” OK, weary traveler, that’s a good point. I’ll try & break up the Amazon for you. We will focus on Brazil & Peru, as they contain the largest fractions of the Amazon, but I’ll provide some pointers of other places to visit. First of all, naturalists studying the Amazon Rainforest have found that the highest amount of diversity is in the western Amazon Rainforest (including, in order from east to west, west-Brazil, Colombia, Peru & Ecuador). There also seems to be more threatened creatures & animals that are not found anywhere else in the western half. The highest amounts of diversity have so far been found in the Yasuni National Park in Ecuador. Recommended tours for this reserved area are the Huaorani Lodge & Sani Lodge. “Ash, I’m finding this hard to visualize. I don’t have a compass & map handy.” OK, hang on, I’ll grab something from Google.
The Amazon Rainforest is centered in the map above. If we look at the yellow binocular marking (indicating tours) at the top left, you can see the Yasuni National Park in Ecuador (below). — Notice the congregation of tours in southern Peru? I’ll mention these a little later.
The Yasuni reserved area is this part of the Amazon to the east of Ecuador, a little distance north-west of the Amazon River.
Huaorani Lodge Shell, Ecuador
The Huaorani are a fun & welcoming tribal group who have turned to ecotourism specifically to show off their fantastic forest & to protect the incredibly bio diverse Yasuni National Park. Learn about the Huaorani, listen to stories, view fantastic wildlife, see if you can shoot a blow gun, & find out how the Huaorani make the Amazon Rainforest home.Huaorani Tribe Culture
Sani Lodge Coca, Ecuador
Sani Lodge is owned by the Sani Isla community, adopting ecotourism for conservation & to show you their forest. Sani Lodge is located between Yasuni NP & Cuyabeno Reserve. This part of the Amazon has the highest diversity of animal & plant life found in Amazonia. You can take guided hikes & canoe tributaries in search of the abundant animals & plants found in the area.Canopy Tower, Canoeing
Protected areas in the highly diverse Peruvian Amazon include the Pacaya Samiria flooded forest, Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve, Tambopata National Reserve & Manu National Park. I’ll break these down for you.
Here’s the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve (green area at the bottom left) in northern Peru. As this is a large flooded tropical forest a fair distance from the base city of Iquitos, we recommend a cruise. Notable higher-end cruises into the Pacaya are the Delfin II, Delfin I & La Estrella Amazonica. There is also the Nature Conservancy tour with the Yacu Tayta community for those wanting a little more adventure. This tour is focused on Lake El Dorado where they are sustainably harvesting & re-introducing the largest fish in the Amazon, the impressive Arapaima gigas a.k.a Paiche or Arapaima. You can also see in the map above the smaller green patch on the right, the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve.
Delfin II Cruise Iquitos, Peru
You will be greeted in style at the small Iquitos airport with the unique Delfin limo-styled coach. Cruise the magnificent Pacaya Samiria National Reserve on this very comfortable & luxurious Amazon tour. You are provided with modern kayaks & skiffs for exploring the fantastic wildlife of this flooded tropical paradise.Massages, Kayak Tours
Delfin I Luxury Cruise Iquitos, PeruThe premier cruise in the Peruvian Amazon, you are chauffeured from the small Iquitos airport in a limo-styled coach to the dock of the luxurious Delfin I. After you have relaxed with Peru’s famous cocktail, you will board the vessel to experience massages, cuisine by candlelight, & of course the fantastic wildlife of the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, a flooded tropical paradise home to abundant colorful birds & wildlife iconic to Amazonia.Spacious Suites, Personal Pool, Massages
La Estrella Amazonica
Iquitos, PeruComing Soon in Summer 2013, enjoy La Estrella Amazonica as we voyage deep into the Pacaya Samiria Reserve taking excursions with professional naturalist guides. A custom designed vessel with air-conditioned seminar rooms, restaurant, bar, & fitness facilities. The tour operator has 33 years experience in this section of the Amazon & is excited to offer you the newest cruise on the Amazon River.Newest Amazon Cruise
Here’s a closer look at the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve in northern Peru, a neglected area in the media, but probably for the best. Not sure if you know, but tourism can have an adverse effect on the environment if too many people visit the same place. The way to manage this is to space tours out in different areas to meet demand. The only lodge-based tour in the Tahuayo region is the Tahuayo Lodge, which is one of our personal favorites. It’s one of the only top tours in the Amazon where you receive a private guide as standard combined with incredible diversity & exceptional visitor focus.
Tahuayo Lodge Iquitos, Peru
The Tahuayo Lodge is associated with an Amazon Research Center where you can visit an extensive trail network for observing a high diversity of Amazon Jungle monkeys. The Tahuayo Reserve was founded to protect a rare primate named the Uakari. With your Private guide (as standard), you will take Amazon jungle tours in the Tahuayo & you can choose from the greatest number of itinerary options in Amazonia.Private Guide, Zipline, Primate Research Grid
I’ll stop plugging this tour now & move on to the next region, which first takes us down the spine of Peru before we head east into Brazil.
Remember that big clump of tours from the first map? Here they are. These are tours spread between different sections of the diverse Peruvian Amazon of Tambopata National Reserve & the famous Manu National Park. In the Amazon Rainforest, the most developed tourism industry is in southern Peru accessible from the sleepy town of Puerto Maldonado. First I’ll start with Manu.
These are the popular tours for Manu National Park. The Manu Wildlife Center (10% chance of seeing wild jaguar) & Manu Tented Camp (lodge located inside Manu National Park itself) are accessed from Puerto Maldonado & the Cloud Forest Cock of the Rock Lodge is accessed from Cusco. You can, however, combine these tours. If you’re interested in cloud forest, you start from Cusco for the Cock of the Rock Lodge & end up in the Manu lowlands.
Manu Wildlife Center Puerto Maldonado, PeruManu Wildlife Center has long been known as a first choice for wildlife enthusiasts & is a premier Amazon tour for Manu National Park, thought to be the most pristine in all of Peru. On a tour of Manu Wildlife Center, you will stand a 10% chance of seeing wild jaguar. At the lodge, you will also see macaws at the clay lick & get a chance of spotting Amazon Tapir at the tapir lick.Macaw Clay Lick, Tapir Lick
Manu Tented Camps Puerto Maldonado, Peru
Stay inside Manu National Park at our low impact lodge, which was specifically designed to cause minimal impact on surrounding wildlife. Visit one of the most beautiful oxbow lakes in Manu & visit the macaw clay licks to see famous colorful Amazon birds. You will tour the lake in search of Giant Otters & other wildlife, & you can combine Manu Tented Camp with the Andean cloud forest & / or Manu Wildlife Center.Lowland Rainforest, Tapirs, Macaws
Cock of the Rock Lodge Cusco, Peru
In you’re interested in the cloud forest of Manu National Park, here you will be close to Peru’s national bird, the Cock of the Rock. As well as fantastic birds, you will search for cloud forest wildlife like monkeys & spectacled bears.Cock of the Rock, Cloud Forest
Here are the popular tours for Tambopata National Reserve in southern Peru. Tambopata contains exceptional recorded diversity. The tours to experience this Amazon region in depth include the Tambopata Research Center at the bottom left, which is located right next to the largest macaw clay lick in the Amazon Rainforest & the Heath River Lodge. Clay licks are places where many animals visit to eat clay, but they are visited most often by parrots, such as macaws. Another large clay lick used by tapir & macaws is located near the Heath River Lodge, which to the right of the map. To the left of Heath River Lodge is a lodge for shorter visits to the Tambopata known as Sandoval Lake Lodge. You can combine both the Heath River Lodge & Sandoval Lake Lodge to see different Amazon areas.
Tambopata Research Center Puerto Maldonado, Peru
Famous for being one of the Amazon’s most remote rainforest lodges, you will only be a short distance from the largest macaw clay lick in Amazonia. This is why researchers use this lodge to study macaws. Talk to researchers about their findings, explore five contrasting habitats on Amazon rainforest tours, & choose activities like mountain biking, canopy climbing & more. You can also choose specific macaw itineraries to visit nest boxes & see what it’s like to be a macaw researchers.Remote Location, Macaw Clay Lick
Heath River Wildlife Center Puerto Maldonado, Peru
This is one of the favorite deep Amazon tours as you have access to the Tambopata Reserve & Madidi National Park. The only lodge on Heath River, this lodge is very remote & you can explore two contrasting habitats. At Heath River Lodge, you can see macaw clay licks & mammal licks to stand a chance of seeing elusive Amazon tapir.Clay Lick, Tapir Hide
Sandoval Lake Lodge Puerto Maldonado, PeruSandoval Lake Lodge is a popular tour as you can visit on short programs focused on Lake Sandoval, which is home to a population of Giant Amazon Otters. You will also be able to spot different monkeys, parrots, & caiman on night tours.Sandoval Lake, Giant Otters
Other short tours from Puerto Maldonado are the Posada Amazonas Lodge & the Refugio Amazonas Lodge, which is ideal for family visits due to its child friendly walking track. These are great tours for some of the more marketable Amazon activities like canopy climbing, mountain biking, kayaking & paddle boarding. These lodges also contain a wellness center where you can enjoy massages in the rainforest. Now we will jump across the rainforest to the eastern Amazon (Brazil).
Posada Amazonas Lodge Puerto Maldonado, Peru
Posada Amazonas is a good choice for first visits & is 45 minutes from the small town of Puerto Maldonado in south Peru. The Posada has Rainforest Alliance certification & is owned by a native community. Here you can enjoy parrot clay licks & try to spot toucans & other wildlife on the canopy tower, find river otters on the lake, or relax with a massage in the wellness center. You can choose additional activities like canopy climbing, kayaking & more.Canopy Tower, Wellness Center
Refugio Amazonas Lodge Puerto Maldonado, Peru
If you are travelling with your family, the Refugio Amazonas Lodge is one of the most recommended Amazon tours as it contains the only children’s trail in the Amazon Rainforest. You can enjoy a massage at the main wellness center after taking hikes in the forest to spot abundant Amazon wildlife. Choose activities like canopy climbing, kayaking, paddle boarding & more.Childrens’ Trail, Wellness Center
This is Manaus in Brazil, the largest city in the Amazon Rainforest & a main gateway for Amazon tours. Our favorite lodge for a short visit is the Tariri Lodge followed by the Amazon Village Jungle Lodge. Although, if you’re after one of the best lodge-based tours in the Brazilian Amazon, you should consider a short flight to Tefe to enjoy the Uakari Lodge.
From Manaus, we prefer cruises to lodges where you can experience different areas of the Amazon Rainforest. The popular & recommended cruises are the Otter Premium, Clipper Premium at the upper end of the market & the Amazon Clipper Cruise for a base tour. If you’d like to leave the vessel at different places on foot & walk in the rainforest, consider the Tucano 8 Day Cruise or the Tucano 5 Day Cruise.
Tucano Amazon Cruise Manaus, Brazil
The Tucano River Amazon Cruise is a highly regarded Amazon tour from Manaus. You will take guided trips into the surrounding wilderness & cruise different sections of the Brazilian Amazon. See the famed meeting of the waters, visit many tributaries, & take forest walks & small boat trips to spot iconic Amazon wildlife.
Tucano Compact Cruise Manaus, BrazilA shorter 5 Day version of the Tucano Amazon River Cruise, this tour is for those where time is limited but you still want an excellent Amazon experience. Visit many tributaries, take forest walks & small boat trips to see parrots, monkeys, magnificent trees, & many colorful Amazon birds.Short Cruise, Guide, Forest Expeditions
Amazon Clipper Cruise Manaus, Brazil
Aboard the Amazon Clipper Cruise, you can choose from 3, 4, & 6 day itineraries to visit areas of the Brazilian Amazon unknown to other tour companies. The shallow draught enables our vessel to get into forest areas rarely visited. You will take small guided boat trips into the forest to spot examples of Amazon animals & plants.
Premium Clipper Cruise Manaus, Brazil
This is the premium version of the Amazon Clipper. This cruise offers a more spacious & comfortable option on 3, 4, or 6 day itineraries. We will visit different rainforest areas & take small guided boat trips into the forest in search of Amazon culture & wildlife.
Otter Premium CruiseManaus, Brazil
The Otter Premium offers you spacious outside cabins as well as private bathrooms with hot showers. Choose from 3, 4, or 6 day itinerary options as we search for iconic birds, mammals, plants, & trees of the Amazon Rainforest. Leave the vessel on guided expeditions for closer looks at abundant wildlife.
This is Santarém, another of Brazil’s gateways to the Amazon. This is a popular jumping off point for the rainforest although not as popular as Manaus. A tour to experience the aquarium lakes surrounding Santarém is the Amazon Dream Cruise with its ornately carved interiors to depict the stories of the Amazon region.
Amazon Dream Cruise Santarém, BrazilThe Amazon Dream offers one of the longest rainforest tours for cruising Amazon waters. Choose 10, 6, or 5 day options as passionate naturalist guides show you iconic Amazon animals & plants of the rainforest, as well as having a chance to visit native Amazon people. Snorkel in the “aquarium lakes” to see tropical fish in their natural habitat.Naturalist Guides, Communities
Two other areas for where to stay in the Amazon Rainforest to give you some jumping off points are Tarapoto in Peru & Rurrenabaque in Bolivia. Tarapoto has a slowly growing tourism industry. For a recommended tour from Rurrenabaque, you should investigate the Chalalan Ecolodge.
These options give some ideas of where to stay in the Amazon Rainforest & are considered some of the top tours in the Amazon Rainforest. We hope you have a fantastic Amazon experience.