The Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world, spanning an enormous 5.5 million square kilometres. It is one of the great wild places left on earth, home to thousands of species of fauna and flora shared by settlements of indigenous inhabitants.
Here, too, is the mighty Amazon River, the world’s longest, snaking across Peru and Brazil for thousands of kilometres and drawing on many major tributary rivers like the Rio Negro (Colombia), Napo River (Ecuador) and Madeira River (Peru) and from more than 1,500 tributaries in total.
You can choose to experience the Amazon on a luxury river cruise or rainforest lodge in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Venezuela. Whilst the majority of the Amazon Rainforest is in Brazil it’s our opinion that Peru and Ecuador offer not only easier access, but also have a greater range of options (both river cruises and lodges) than Brazil.
Amazon wildlife is incredibly diverse; giant snails, brightly coloured frogs (some with poisonous skin), hairy spiders (tarantulas – that really look far scarier than the are), riotously colourful birds (like macaws or the paradise tanager), up to thirteen species of monkeys (from the tiny pygmy marmosest thru to larger howler monkey), caimans and pink river dolphins and finally larger ground dwelling animals such as tapirs, anteaters and for the incredibly fortunate the elusive jaguar.
On most Amazon experiences you can see a number of the above species. If you are particularly interested in seeing a greater variety of species, or particular animal, then please call and we can help you choose the best place to maximise your chance of realising your goal. In very simple terms the less disturbed the forest the more wildlife you will see.
There are many fabulous eco-lodges from which you are escorted by expert guides who will help you interpret the forest and will undoubtedly help you locate the occasionally elusive rainforest wildlife. Around the lodges there are many walking trails whilst some lodges have canopy walkways or towers – which are a wonderful way of accessing the rainforest canopy where you have the opportunity to view several monkey species and some truly spectacular and colourful bird-life. Excursions are also taken in motorised launches or canoes.
Amongst our client’s favourites:
Reserva Amazonica – Peru, Hacienda Concepcion – Peru, Manu Wildlife Centre – Peru
Napo Wildlife Centre – Ecuador, La Selva Ecolodge Ecuador, Heath River Lodge – Bolivia
Cristalino Lodge – Brazil
In Peru and Ecuador there are several luxury riverboats which cruise long stretches of the Amazon or its larger tributaries. Excursions are made daily (some at night time) in smaller boats with your naturalist guides to search out flora and wildlife, to fish for piranha, or visit native communities. These cruises are wonderful experiences offering excellent cuisine, comfortable, air-conditioned accommodation and an insight into the Amazon. Brazil has a more limited range of vessels, despite having more of the Amazon.
In Peru there are several first class and luxury vessels (including Delfin I & II , MV Aqua & MV Aria) offering 3, 4 and 7 night Amazon river cruises from Iquitos. In Ecuador the MV Anaconda offers similar duration voyages along the Napo River.
Peru and Ecuador have Cloud Forest Reserves which offer yet another option to discover forest flora and fauna. Cloud forests are more about wonderful flora, in particular orchids, that love the damp atmosphere and spectacular birdlife, than monkeys and other larger animals.
Hummingbirds are prolific, as are many other species of birds including one of South America’s most colourful birds the cock-of-the-rock. There are a range of lodges, some quite simple, others offering luxury, like the exquisite Mashpi Lodge in Ecuador (a little over three hours drive from the capital Quito).
Might the Pantanal be the world’s best kept secret? While everyone has heard of the Amazon and it attracts the greatest renown, fewer people know of this fascinating area. A vast area between Cuiaba in Mato Grosso state and Campo Grande in Mato Grosso do Sul, the Pantanal covers 230,000 sq. km and is said to be the largest wetlands on earth. It is richly forested and abounds with wildlife and flora, home to numerous species of mammals, reptiles, plants, and over 600 types of birds.
You can hike, ride horses and make photographic safaris into the region by boat, canoe, on horseback and on foot. If you’re fortunate you might snap photos of tapirs, anteaters and capybaras, see hyacinth macaws, and even maned wolves.
Ecuador’s Amazon has the highest biodiversity of any part of the Amazon. Just as in Peru there are a number of fabulous eco-lodges; La Selva, Sacha and Napo Wildlife Centre are amongst the best. With Napo likely offering the best wildlife viewing opportunities. A wonderful alternative to a lodge stay is a voyage on-board the MV Anakonda; a luxury river cruise boat.
Jaguars are hard to see. It is quite likely that many travellers who visit a rainforest will be watched by a Jaguar but few will catch a glimpse of the beautiful animal. There are three places that you have an increased chance of seeing this beautiful and elusive cat.
Manu National Park – Peru
Yasuni National Park – Ecuador
Pantanal – Brazil (which is a massive area of tropical wetland – not rainforest)
The Pantanal in Brazil has the highest level of sightings.
Manu National Park in Peru offers wonderful opportunities to view a greater range of rainforest wildlife. The lodges within Manu National Park are simple, the gateway lodge, which is located outside the National Park, Manu Wildlife Centre is more comfortable.
The surrounding forest is home to 13 species of monkey (marmosets, squirrel, howler & wooly to name a few)and hundreds of species of birds including macaws, aracaris and toucans. Families of giant otters are also found at ox-bow lakes found in the Park. For the fortunate Jaguars can be seen. It’s quite a trip to get to Manu – the wildlife viewing opportunities are quite spectacular. We have first-hand knowledge of the Park.
One of the wildlife highlights of the Pantanal is the possibility of seeing jaguars, hyacinth macaws, and maned wolves. There are a small number of specialist lodges where you have a very good chance of seeing the rainforest’s most elusive inhabitant – the jaguar. The dry season ( June to October) is the best time for wildlife viewing.
Amongst the best are Cristalino Lodge, Araras Eco Lodge, Southwild Jaguar Flotel and Hyacinth and Maned Wolf camps. Standards vary and the wildlife experiences are excellent.
Given the rainforest location the accommodation and facilities are of a very high standard. Allowing for our creature comforts whilst ensuring the other creatures remain where the should – in the forest. Excellent cuisine, service and guides.
Mato Grosso, Brazil
A purpose built eco-lodge with a small number of rooms and highly personalised services. Excellent food, guides and daily activities are included.
La Selva Amazon Eco Lodge & Spa
Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, Ecuador
High quality with an excellent room standard, a full range of facilities and first-rate service. Please remember lodges in the rainforest do not have the full range of facilities that properties in a city would have. Given there locations these properties are very comfortable.
Near Quito, Ecuador
Cloud Forest lodges are found in Ecuador and Peru. They offer guests an opportunity to glimpse the beautiful fauna and flora exclusive to these environments. Mashpi Cloud Forest Lodge rates as one of the finest lodges in thew world. Gourmet cuisine and a high degree of comfort await as you return from your discovery walks. A cable car through and above the cloud forest opened in October 2016.
Napo Wildlife Centre
Napo River, Ecuador
In the rainforests and jungles of Peru & Ecuador choose from a wide range of eco-lodges – from a comparatively luxurious retreat among the forest, to a complex of thatched cabañas in a lakeside location on a private reserve, to remote and rustic cottages offering a truly authentic experience. All lodges are eco-conscious and dedicated to conservation management and preservation of their environment.
Often the best way to observe dramatic scenery or experience the wonders in a world of amazing flora and fauna is on an Amazon river cruise. And if you are looking for a voyage that will also offer the comfort of excellent facilities, there are several exclusive and sophisticated vessels that will fulfil your wish.
South America Travel Centre can look after all aspects of your holiday, including flights and travel insurance.
We start by asking you what your interests are and where you are interested in, when, for how long, what standard and style of accommodation. Once we have a good understanding of just what you’re looking for, we can begin to create a holiday to meet your time and budget requirements and, most importantly, that will deliver interest and enjoyment in an experience to exceed your expectations.
Please book early. Many of the hotels, lodges and cruise vessels we recommend are relatively small. For example, the M/V Aria (Peruvian Amazon cruise) accommodates just 32 guests. This exclusivity combined with high demand means they can be booked out up to 6-8 months in advance.
If you’re thinking of travelling during any major holidays like Christmas, New Year and Easter, or during any festivals, our advice is simply to book as early as you can, even 12 months or more, and we can add flights as soon as they become available.
Australian citizens do require a visa to enter Brazil, no visas are required for Peru or Ecuador. You will need to hold a valid passport and have a return ticket when you arrival.
It is strongly recommended that all travellers to the Amazon (Peru, Ecuador, Guyana or Brazil) be vaccinated for yellow fever before commencing their trip.
Malaria is prevalent in some areas of the Amazon. Your Travel Doctor will be able to advise you whether prophylaxis is required. Vaccinations are advised for common diseases like Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid as well as Influenza. There are no compulsory vaccinations.
We advise you to consult a Travel Doctor specialist prior to departure to assess any health risks in relation to your medical history and travel plans.
We have access to a wide range of airfares and have excellent relationships with our key airline partners. Our two main airline partners in Latin America are LATAM Airlines, QANTAS Airlines and Air New Zealand. We can also arrange internal flights for you within Latin America.
Irrespective of whether you book directly with us or with your preferred travel agent, we’ll request the details of all of your fights to ensure if there are any changes your transfers and other arrangements are adjusted accordingly.
You can travel to Peru year-round. Given the range of terrain – rainforest, semi-desert and high altitude – temperatures and rainfall vary with each region you travel through.
Each pickup/drop off was on time. My guides were very friendly, had great English, and were passionate about what they did. All hotels were faultless. I would have to say that Andrea from Buenos Aires was the best guide of a fantastic bunch. Andrea was there to greet me on my first arrival into BA, took me to the ferry for my trip to Colonia and made sure I was checked in, and was there to pick me up. She was also there to send me on my way to Ushuaia at the ungodly hour of the morning and pick me up again after the cruise, to sending me on my way the next day to Iguazu. I was most impressed at the efforts the guides went to in order to streamline the check-in process at the airport, making sure I got to the immigration area. I have never seen or experienced such attentiveness or helpfulness. Thank you for putting this trip together for me, it was the best trip that I have been on, and I have done some out there trips. From the hotels, to the destinations, the ground arrangements, everything went off without a hitch. I truly appreciate what you did to make this trip amazing.
Our trip was absolutely outstanding thank you so much for your incredible efforts in what was such an incredibly short turn around. We are so grateful, it was the most amazing trip and every day was as good as the other! Anyone who has asked about our trip or has mentioned they are travelling or wanting to travel to South America I have put them straight onto South America Travel Centre. Thank you for all of your prompt responses, quick turn around and thorough knowledge, understanding, expertise and advice. Your service was second to none. It was outstanding and we are truly grateful. Please pass on our gratitude to the wider team as well for helping pull a once in a lifetime experience together for us in three days! We are so thankful for the afterhours and overtime you put in also, we couldn’t have had the amazing trip that we did at such late notice without you.
Being in our late 70 and having only travelled with groups, never on our own, we were a little apprehensive not speaking Spanish how well we would manage? I have nothing but praise for the service we received from South America Travel Centre. We were met at every destination by a knowledgeable person not always able to speak English but well able to take us to hotels, return us to bus stations and air ports, and check us in. Those who spoke English told us about their town the best places to eat. A wonderful holiday expertly organised and every little detail taken care of. Thank you South America Travel Centre.