Puerto Maldonado is an small town located in the Amazon Rainforest in southern Peru. It doesn’t get nearly as much visitors as its competitor in the north – Iquitos, but this lovely place has just as much to offer and has the advantage that it is located much closer to Cuzco and Machu Picchu, which makes it the perfect location for budget travellers and backpackers who are moving through Peru in buses rather than planes.
It is located right at the confluence of the Madre de Dios and Tambopata Rivers, making it easy to get deeper into the Amazonas in boats. Close to Puerto Maldonado stand many National Parks and reserves such as Manú National Parl and Tambopata National Reserve.
Sandoval Lake – Famous for its Giant Otters and caimans, the lake can be reached by boat or via a hike that will allow you to see macaws and other species of the Amazonas.
Manú National Park – The hardest place to visit out of the rest in Puerto Maldonado due to the fact that is inaccessible by road. The park covers an area of 15,328 square kilometers. It is a biosphere reserve recognized by UNESCO since 1977 and a World Heritage site since 1987. It is inhabited by several indigenous communities and tribes. The fauna here is vast with 222 species of animals, 99 species of reptiles, 140 species of amphibians, 1000 species of birds and 210 species of fish, among them are included jaguars, giant otters, pumas, anteaters, spider monkeys, giant armadillos, macaws, ocelots, white-tailed deers, spectacled bears and more.
Isla de Los Monos (Monkey Island) – Located 15 kilometers away from the city on the Madre de Dios River, where monkeys roam about freely and, being used to interaction with humans, will often come down from the trees if you have something to offer them such as cookies or other foods. Guard your belongings, though – they are known to steal!
Machiguenga House – The Machiguenga are indigenous people living in the rainforest and they open their lives to visitors to show them their way of life allowing them to stay with them overnight in small lodges.
Cachuela – Located in the Madre de Dios River, it is one of the places where parrots love to hang out, allowing you to get a great view (and of course, photographs) of this colorful creatures.
A myriad of tours are offered and you will not have a problem finding an agency if you head to the river’s basin. If you’d prefer, there are also many jungle lodges where you can stay at and book full tours that will include visits to most of the attractions, hikes, night walks, accommodation and food for reasonable prices.
If you’d rather not book a tour, most of these locations can be visited independently (except Manú National Park) by heading closer towards the Madre de Dios river where boat owners hang out and asking them to take you to your preferred location. The more people, the cheaper it will be.