The above photo of a sloth was taken at the Tahuayo Lodge, Iquitos, Peru.
The most animals in Iquitos are short distance from the city itself. Urbanisation and agriculture have degraded the forest surrounding Iquitos as with other urban areas. For exceptional wildlife viewing, you should find a tour that travels far from the city (over 100 km). When you do this, the animals outside Iquitos are indeed exceptional. Scientists have found that this section of the Amazon Rainforest has the highest diversity of life on Earth and world records for diversity have been set around Iquitos. If you travel on a short jungle tour near the city, this is hard to believe. However, if you venture to the protected areas of Pacaya Samiria and Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve, it suddenly becomes obvious.
My first wildlife experience in Iquitos was walking along the boulevard and finding a tarantula. At the time, I was in Iquitos to find social spiders so this was a pleasant surprise. I was not expecting to find anything in the city aside from the odd beetle but was looking forward to my journey to the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo. There are few known clay licks near Iquitos, which is the main contrast between here and the southern Amazon of Tambopata, Madidi, and Manu. There are still exceptional wildlife sightings and these are often more exceptional than further south if you deduct clay licks from the equation.
The Iquitos animals you are likely to see in the Pacaya Samiria and Tamshiyacu include a high diversity and abundance of Amazon Rainforest monkeys, frogs, reptiles, dolphins, mammals like sloths, cats, and tree climbers. I have a master’s degree in Zoology and Iquitos is my favourite destination for wildlife. I thoroughly recommend a visit to the Tahuayo River Amazon Research Center.
If you’re interested in aquatic Iquitos animals, consider a visit to the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, a flooded tropical forest where there are conservation programs for the giant fish (Arapaima gigas).
Researchers have found 540 different bird species living in the Tahuayo Reserve next to the Pacaya Samiria. If you’re interested in a birding tour or seeing other Amazon wildlife, we recommend the Tahuayo Lodge.