There are a few main cities for the Amazon Rainforest. Here I will mention the main gateways for the Amazon Rainforest of Peru & Brazil. The cities I will mention are mainly in the northern Amazon where the Amazon River runs from west to east. These are the port cities of the Amazon River like Iquitos in northern Peru and Manaus and Santarém in northern Brazil. For the southern Amazon Rainforest of Peru, you can visit Puerto Maldonado which has the most developed tourism industry in the Amazon Rainforest. There are other Amazon access points like Coca in Ecuador, Tarapoto in Peru, and Rurrenabaque in Bolivia.
Iquitos City, Peru
Iquitos is the largest city in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest and is the main Peruvian gateway for the Amazon Rainforest surrounding the Amazon River. If you’re interested in an Amazon cruise, Iquitos will be your best base for the Peruvian Amazon. As its claim to fame, Iquitos is the largest city in the world unreachable by road. From Iquitos you can access the protected areas of the Amazon Rainforest like the flooded tropical forest of Pacaya Samiria Naitonal Reserve ideal for an Amazon Rainforest Cruise, or the drier tropical forest of Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve where you can stay at the Tahuayo Lodge, the only lodge with access to the reserve. Iquitos was a rubber boom town and buildings like the Iron House opposite the Plaza de Armas, which is the main square in the city, reflect this industrious part of Amazon history.
Manaus City, Brazil
Manaus is the largest city in the Amazon Rainforest and a very popular base city for Amazon tours for both Brazilian and international travelers. The photo in the header image shows the Teatro Amazonas or the Amazon Theater, which was built as a symbol of the wealth during the rubber boom. There is a lot of other architecture around Manaus from the rubber boom period like the grand mansions of the wealthy rubber barons. Manaus is not just a tourist town for the Amazon but is now a Brazilian industrial hub in its own right. There is a large manufacturing industry in Manaus you can see on your stay. You can enjoy excellent Amazon River cruises from Manaus, but if your interest is a Brazilian Amazon tourist lodge, we recommend visiting the smaller Amazon base town of Tefe a short flight west of the city.
Santarém City, Brazil
Santarém is a city a short trip east of Manaus along the Amazon River. It is a popular tourist hub for the Amazon River but is not as well known as the cities to the west like Manaus (Brazil) or Iquitos in Peru. Santarém is roughly in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean coast in the east and Manaus in the west.
Puerto Maldonado, Peru
Puerto Maldonado in southern Peru has the most developed tourist industry in the Amazon Rainforest and there are different tour lodges for experiencing both the Manu National Park, the largest and most pristine protected area in the Peruvian Amazon, which requires a bit of travel up the Madre de Dios River and Tambopata National Reserve, which contains one of the highest diversities of animals and plants in the entire rainforest. This reserve is very close to Puerto Maldonado and both for short visits and deep forest adventures. To read more about the experiences, you can see this guide on the Puerto Maldonado rainforest.