Spanning more than 4,000 miles across the entire continent of South America, the Amazon rainforest houses 10% of the world’s known biodiversity and produces 20% of the world’s earth oxygen. It is therefore quite literally the ‘Lung of our Planet’.
Amidst the dense jungle canopies and endless maze of tributaries lie uncharted territories where man has never set foot. The intrigue and mysticism of this unknown world add to its appeal and the adventure within. Indeed, the number of activities and excursions you can experience there can become overwhelming.
So, to make things easier, Ker & Downey’s has collected the most exciting, memorable, and must-do Peru Amazon experiences.
1. Fishing for Piranha
One of the most exhilarating Peru Amazon experiences is fishing for the ferocious piranha in the middle of the Amazon River. The fundamentals of fishing for piranha prove far more rudimentary than you may think. It only involves a long wooden stick, a piece of fishing line, and some raw meat.
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. When you pull the little fish out of the water, watch where you drop it into the boat!
2. Swimming with Pink Dolphins
Inquisitive, playful, and adorable, pink dolphins are intelligent creatures native to the Amazon River in Peru. Famous for their peculiar shape, they have a small bump instead of a dorsal fin, extended beaks, massive flippers, and pinkish colored skin. The unusual color comes from the blood flow close to the surface of their skin. However, this diminishes as they grow older.
In the dry season (June to December), the dolphins tend to keep to the tributaries. But when the Amazon swells and the rain pours (January to May), they venture into the flooded jungles and grasslands to explore and hunt. This is therefore the perfect time to go swimming with them -- an amazing Peru Amazon experience.
There is no need to be shy or afraid when swimming with the pink dolphins. They are surprisingly boisterous and friendly and will often paddle by to say hello.
Sadly, the continued decimation of their natural habitat has caused their numbers to decline in some areas. Thankfully, global campaigns and tourism has raised awareness about the environmental problem. They have taught us how to respect and interact with these creatures in a sustainable manner.
3. Night Spotting for Caimans
As day turns to night and the bright yellow sun sets over the horizon, the Amazon transforms 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. This three- to six-foot reptile 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. Paddle 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 grab one gently for a closer look.
4. Kayaking at Lake Sandoval
Located about two hours down the Madre de Dios River from Puerto Maldonado, Lake Sandoval is one of the most attractive lakes and picturesque jungle settings in the Tambopata National Reserve, if not the entire Peruvian Amazon.
One can access this wildlife mecca via a 2.2-mile trail through the secondary rain forest. Along the way, you will experience the rich flora and fauna of the Amazon. Afterwards, 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. This includes 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. Explore the splendor and magnificence of the idyllic landscapes and natural wonders. Ideal for families or kids, this adventure offers a brilliant way to explore at your own leisure, with nothing but raw nature at your fingertips.
5. 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 the thick Amazon rainforest on the other, with the only access by air. Often referred to as the “Gateway to the Jungle”, the city is hot and humid. It is also alive with the buzz of three-wheeled tuk-tuks and motorbikes as they hurtle through the streets.
Most tourists that arrive to Iquitos go straight to their river cruises. However, those with a little extra time should visit the floating “Al Frio y al Fuego” restaurant in the mouth of the Rio Itaya. It provides an excellent way to get in the Amazonian spirit and sample some of the city’s best river fish and local cuisine.