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Where to stay in the Amazon Rainforest

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 and Refugio Amazonas Lodge in the Puerto Maldonado rainforest, 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), & Delfin II 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.

Read more about these Amazon Tours in Peru here.

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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 Ecuador’s Amazon include some excellent lodges and cruises in the Yasuni and Cuyabeno Reserve.

The Amazon Rainforest is centered in the map above. If we look, you can see the Yasuni National Park in Ecuador (below).

The Yasuni reserved area is this part of the Amazon to the east of Ecuador, a little distance north-west of the Amazon River.

See more Ecuador Amazon Tours here.

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 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 and Delfin I. 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.

Here’s a closer look at the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve in northern Peru, a neglected area in the media, but probably for the best. 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.

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.

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.

Here are the popular tours for Tambopata National Reservein 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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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