When people hear “Peru” they usually only associate it with Cuzco and Machu Picchu. However, remember Peru also has a massive stretch of the Amazon as well. Puerto Maldonado is a small city or a large town as I would see it. It has not developed much from what I can see. It does have all types of accommodation and also lodges in the jungle, from very basic to really comfy, expensive ones too.
I spent 4N/5 days here in Puerto. I did not stay at a lodge as I have been travelling quite a bit between December and January and being here although it is the rainy season and extremely hot I preferred having air conditioning to having a lodge in the jungle. The activities I am going to write about can be done as a full day trip or as part of you lodge experience.
Tour 1 – Adventure activities – 80 soles/ $24USD (Full day/ 9am a 5pm)
The above price includes transports (return) 4 activities (Zipline, rope bridge, Kayaking and visiting monkey island) plus lunch. First off, you meet at the tour agency. Most of them are next to the main square or Plaza de Armas. There are about 8 agencies there, have a chat with them but do not pay more than the above price. If you do all your tours with the same agency, then you may be able to negotiate a discount.
When you get on the boat, you will be taken to a lodge called Monte Amazónico Lodge. From what I was told, there are about 13 lodges in total and only 2 offer these activities and this one is the most popular.
This lodge also offers packages 3N/ 4D, which includes all meals, activities, swimming pool and that. When I first arrived I was confronted by this little playful guy…
Activity 1 – Zipline. Each activity is unique and very different from the other, however in terms of adrenaline I prefer to zipline myself. There are only 2 lines in total and take a few seconds to get from one to the other. One is about 150m and the other 100m. Quite cool and it looks quite scary but trust the ropes are they say. It is an experience you will kick yourself if you do not do. It can hold up to 120kg of weight, so give it a go! Between both ziplines you have to walk across a type of ropey bridge, which looks a bit dodgy, but it is also a lot of fun and very wobbly as well.
Activity 2 – Rope Bridge – From me, this is nothing special. it is a safe wobbly ropey bridge about 50m long. I would not call it an activity because you can walk both ends in a matter of minutes. Most people just take photos as you are on top of the canopy really.
Activity 3 – Kayak – So, from the lodge you get back on the “speed boat” and they take you up river about 3km and you get into the kayak and start rowing. The rivers current is extremely fast paced and you will row and the river will just bring you down stream. It is a good exercise and is done in pairs. Where the boat parks while you get into the kayak we saw a 1m cayman zoom into the river, so don’t fall in lol Wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscream as it can be very hot!
Activity 4 – Monkey Island – the island is quite funny as it is massive and we were told there are about 12 monkeys purposely put on the island to breed and grow in numbers. Basically a needle in a haystack situation. I went in January, this is rainy season and there is a lot of fruit on the trees. We were previously told that this time of year the monkeys are scarse due to them having food to eat. If you go between June and August, they literally wait for you on the banks of the river so you can feed them. That is what they say… In my case, I did not see or hear one.
Tour 2 – Lake Sandoval – 80 soles/ $24USD (Full day/ 9am a 5pm)
Here you get picked up from the tour agency, taken to the dock and then on a boat. Lake Sandoval is literally behind the Lodge in tour 1. If you check Google Maps you will see that. Anyways, you arrive to the control, check point (entrance is covered in the price) then from here you walk 2.5km. The walk is 100% wooden type bridge, so I used sandals to walk it with no problems. They recommend you use trainers or walking shoes, but it is not necessary.
When you get there you will then get on a boat and start rowing around the lake until you arrive to a certain lodge where you will have lunch and a break from the sun. These boats have no roofs, no protection from the sun, so be careful to wrap up, hat, sunglasses, repellent and suncream. Here you should see monkeys, parrots, otters and some other animals.
After lunch, you get back on the boat and cover the rest of the lake, while looking for animals and enjoying nature.
Again, you are exposed to the elements, the sun, sweat, so long sleeve t-shirts i’d recommend. From here you then go rowing back to the place where you left and here, check for baby cayman, it is like a breeding ground for them to protect themselves from bigger cayman, which apparently attack and eat their own.
We found 2 caymen when we came back to the dock. Look about! From here, you walk 3km back to the river Madre de Dios and then are taken back to Puerto Maldonado. Remember these are full days. If you stay in a lodge, you will be taken back to the lodge.
Tour 3 – Parrot Watching – 80 soles/ $24USD (Morning Tour/ 5am a 8am)
Both these trips you can get for 150 soles if you book both together. It might seem a little expensive, but the group sizes are very small, max 5 per group and in my case we were 3 tourists, both in the morning and even tour. The tour kicks off you getting picked up from the hotel as it is very early in the morning. I got picked up at 4.45am and taken to the “harbour” where a boat comes along and takes you up river.
As the day breaks, you can get some really nice photographs. The parrots are about 20 mins up river and they are quite small, baby macaws and a lot of them too. With the current being so strong the boat needs to maintain a certain speed to not drift down stream and we cannot get within 20m of the either as we would just spook them.
This tour is quite fast, in the sense that you only get to spend a little time and the distance from the boat to the parrots and the size of the parrots being “babies” it is hard to appreciate it, but you do see some activity. I did prefer the evening tour more if I am honest. The photos in the morning are amazing, but if I was to choose between either tour, the evening tour was much better. There is a different “wall” you can visit with adult macaws, but you need to stay in a lodge as it is quite far out. There is a private tour available, but it costs about $80USD to do in a day and to just do that I felt it was not enough. But each one to themselves!
Tour 4 – evening/ night look for animals – 80 soles/ $24USD (Evening Tour/ 3pm a 7pm)
You go to the tour agency you purchased your tour from and they take you to the river, again back on the boat an you go up a different river compared to the other tours. Here there is less human activity, however, there are a few places where people live and swim by the water, known for having cayman and different animals.
On this trip we saw very few animals. But it lasted about 4 hours and was really nice, the views again were cool, good opportunity to see a different part of Puerto Maldonado and small communities along the way. The tour guide and driver were really nice, explaining everything. You can also buy a beer a long the way too if you like that. The heat is quite strong, so a beer would go down well lol we finished the tour at about 7 and it was pitch black. We tried to find animals with a torch light along the banks but it was imposible. I think this part of the river has too much noise for animals to settle there. Caymen of a few metres have been seen about but it is hit and miss. It was good fun and I would highly recommend it.