The mighty Amazon River and its enormous, thickly forested basin are the heart of South America and the guardian of 20 percent of the Earth’s fresh water. Visitors from around the globe come to Iquitos to cruise the river’s storied waters and catch a glimpse of diverse fauna both above and below the surface.
While there are several ways to experience the Amazon and its unparalleled biodiversity, most travelers opt for a boat trip along the basin’s famous river. Cruises generally last three to four days and run through the heart of the Peruvian Amazon, offering the chance to explore on guided walks through the rain forest, take motorboat tours of the tributaries, go piranha fishing, or simply enjoy the scenery from the deck of your cruise ship. Those who prefer to spend more time on dry land can opt for a multi-day jungle adventure, which may include a short boat trip on the Amazon as well as jungle treks, night walks, and the opportunity to spot wild pink river dolphins.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Amazon River is a must-see for adventure travelers and nature lovers.
- Remember to bring insect repellent to protect yourself against mosquitos.
- It’s a good idea to pack comfortable walking shoes, a wide-brimmed hat, and lightweight clothing such as quick-drying pants and long-sleeved shirts.
- Drink plenty of water; it’s always hot and muggy in the Amazon jungle.
How to Get There
Most Amazon River cruises and excursions in Peru depart from the town of Iquitos. The port city is only reachable by plane or by boat, with numerous flights daily from Lima.
When to Get There
With only a 10 percent difference in rainfall between the Amazon basin’s wet and dry season, there isn’t really a bad time to visit. Temperatures are generally cooler during the high-water season (November to May). December, June, and August tend to see the most visitors.
Photographing Wildlife on the Amazon
The Peruvian Amazon ranks among the best places on the planet to capture photos of animal species such as monkeys, birds, iguanas, pink dolphins, and even the occasional jaguar. To maximize your chances of getting great shots, bring along a DSLR camera with a long lens of at least 300 millimeters and as low an f-stop as you can afford. Don’t forget extra batteries and SD cards.