Ker & Downey’s top 5 Peru jungle experiences to add to your next luxury trip to the Peruvian Amazon.
Spanning over 6,438 kilometers or 4,000 miles across the entire continent of South America, housing 10% of the world’s known biodiversity and producing 20% of the world’s earth oxygen; the Amazon rain forest is quite literally the ‘Lung of our Planet’. Amidst the dense jungle canopies, the endless maze of tributaries, and the countless species lie in uncharted territories where man has never set foot. The intrigue and mysticism of this unknown world add to its appeal and the adventure that lies within. The number of activities and excursions that you can experience when venturing into the jungle can almost be as overwhelming as its sheer scale.
So to make things easier, here are Ker & Downey’s most exciting, memorable, and must-do Peru jungle experiences.
Fishing for Piranha
There is nothing as exhilarating and adventurous as fishing for the ferocious piranha in the middle of the Amazon River. The fundamentals of fishing for piranha are far more rudimentary than you may think. All you need is a long wooden stick, a piece of fishing line, some raw meat, and, of course, some gnarly teethed piranhas. Once stationed above a school of piranhas, drop your bait in the water and wiggle it around. You will know once one bites as they will nip away with surprising force. One useful tip is that when you pull the little fish out of the water, watch where you drop it into the boat!
Swimming with Pink Dolphins
Inquisitive, playful and adorable, pink dolphins are intelligent creatures native to the Amazon River in Peru. They are notably famous for their peculiar shape with a small bump instead of a dorsal fin, extended beaks, massive flippers and of course their pinkish colored skin. The unusual color comes from the blood flow close to the surface of their skin, although this diminishes, as they grow older. In the dry season (June to December), the dolphins tend to be confined to the tributaries, but when the amazon swells and the rain pours (January to May) they venture into new territories to explore and hunt the flooded jungles and grasslands—the perfect time to go swimming with them. There is no need to be shy or afraid when swimming with the pink dolphins, as they are surprisingly boisterous and friendly and will often paddle by to say hello and see who has come to play with them.
Sadly, the continued decimation of their natural habitat is causing numbers to decline in some areas. Thankfully global campaigns and tourism is helping raise awareness about the environmental problem and teaching us how to respect and interact with these creatures in a sustainable manner.
Night Spotting for Caimans
As day turns to night and the bright yellow sun sets over the horizon, the Amazon transforms itself into a whole new ecosystem of animals, insects, and nocturnal creatures that emerge from their daytime slumber. One such nocturnal creature is the stunning Caiman, a reptile that averages between one and two meters in length and only comes out at night to feed and hunt. The best way to see them in their natural habitat is by embarking on a night walk or canoe excursion, paddling stealthily through the starlit waters with a bright flashlight. The coloring in their eyes reflects the white light, and before too long you will see tiny red dots appear on the riverbanks. If you are lucky upon getting close, your guide will have quick hands and be able to grab one gently for a closer look, before letting the little nipper go to resume his night duties.
Kayaking at Lake Sandoval
Lake Sandoval is one of the most attractive lakes and picturesque jungle settings in the Tambopata National Reserve, if not the entire Peruvian Amazon. Located about two hours down the Madre de Dios River from Puerto Maldonado, access to the wildlife mecca is by a 2.2-mile trail through the secondary rain forest where you will experience the rich amazon flora and fauna. After a short trek, you will arrive at the horseshoe shape lake, where the pristine waters appear like a mirror reflecting the towering palms and Brazil nut trees. The refuge of the tree canopy provides a habitat for a rich variety of wildlife including parrots, macaws, monkeys, black caimans, tortoises, butterflies, and – if you are lucky – the giant otter. Just before the sun sets, paddle out across the tranquil waters in a kayak, and explore the splendor and magnificence of the idyllic landscapes and natural wonders. Ideal for families or kids, this adventure is a brilliant way to explore at your own leisure, with nothing but raw nature at your fingertips.
Floating in Iquitos
As the world’s largest city that cannot be reached by road or car, Iquitos is surrounded by water on one side and thick amazon rain forest on the other, with the only access by air. Often referred to as the “Gateway to the Jungle”, the city is hot, humid, and alive with the buzz of three-wheeled tuk-tuks and motorbikes as they hurtle through the streets. Most tourists that arrive are destined for exotic river cruises and jungle excursions to explore the hidden jewels of the surrounding rich rain forests and its impressive biodiversity. Yet those with a little extra time should visit the floating “Al Frio y al Fuego” restaurant in the mouth of the Rio Itaya, which provides an excellent way to get in the Amazonian spirit and sample some of the city’s best river fish and local cuisine.