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 – 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 cruising 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.
We found our itinerary absolutely perfect. By that I mean not only were our superb boutique hotels great, the guides in each city friendly, courteous, well-spoken and knowledgeable but the time in each city or location and the balance between site seeing “work" and leisure time “play” was also perfect. The most difficult question by friends on our return has been “what was the highlight”. An impossible question when considering the merits of, inter alia, Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls, Christ the Redeemer, Inti Raymi Festival, Lake Titicaca. The purpose of our trip to South America, in truth, was to see as much as we could of the continent with a view to probably not returning as we explored other opportunities. I have to now say that the chance of us revisiting South America is extremely high.
I write to thank you for organising our recent trip to South America. Everything went like clockwork, and the arrangements were very satisfactory. The guides always turned up at the right time, and the people meeting us at the airports were always there. We had a wonderful trip, and we will have to plan another one now, so that we can see Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay and maybe more. But first it’s back to work to earn some more money! For me the greatest highlight was Machu Picchu; it far exceeded my expectations. Once again, thanks so much, Alistair Macindoe.
We had a fabulous time!! The countries we visited have such a rich and fascinating cultural & geographical diversity. We loved learning about the Incans and visiting the ruins in Peru, we loved seeing all the creatures of the Galapagos Islands and the volcanoes of Ecuador. We loved the magnificent scenery of the Atacama. What a fantastic palette at sunset! The adobe hotel, Altiplanico, was wonderful & San Pedro de Atacama was a funky place. We appreciated the structure of our holiday too, there was a nice blend of guided time and free time. It was nice to be in one place on the boat in Galapagos after moving to a different place each day through Ecuador. Some of the haciendas we visited would be lovely to stay for a longer time. Everything went very smoothly in terms of timely airport transfers & pickups, informative and friendly guides/drivers at all times. The local people were very friendly & were helpful with our attempts at speaking Spanish. We enjoyed the cuisine very much & look forward to trying some home-made Locro de papa soup & Pisco sour. Thanks for helping us with a great holiday. Kind regards Della & John