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The world's greatest biodiversity is found in South America's vast Amazon rainforest, home to 20 percent of the world's river water, protecting over 40,000 plant species and fauna including 2,000 birds and mammals and some 2½ million insects - one in ten of all the world's species - along with many thousands of tribal peoples. After Brazil, Peru has the largest swath of Amazon, covering nearly 60 percent of the country.
And the city of Puerto Maldonado (pop. 85,000) is a fairly under-the-radar destination when one thinks of visiting the Amazon. Brazil has famous Manaus, and in Peru larger Iquitos is the place most visited. But Puerto Maldonado is a wonderful choice for a tropical town experience near large reserves and jungle lodges. A two hour flight from Lima and and hour (or eight hours by bus) from Cuzco, it sits at the confluence of the Madre de Dios and Tambopata rivers next to the border with Bolivia and Brazil. Here are the top half dozen things to do:
Alvaro Becerra Figueroa
Venture and explore the deep heart and core of the jungle. Don’t miss to careening through treetops via the zipline; walking across the canopy bridge dozens of meters about the ground; canoeing in a dugout along the Madre de Dios and getting up close and personal with several types of monkeys on the Isla de los Monos.
Take a boat excursion along this beautiful, immense oxbow lake shaped like a horseshoe and enjoy its serenity and quiet, as well as spotting colorful birds, giant otters, and black caimans.
Speaking of caimans, you can find four types around here, but they're not always easy to spot. You have to cruise along the Madre de Dios and a sharp eye (or guide's assistance) to pick these creatures from a distance.
Birdwatching at the Clay Lick
In the nearby Tambopata-Candamo Reserve Zone, this famous clay cliff (above) attracts hundreds of macaws, parakeets, and parrots to nibble on its minerals and nutrients (it's thought that chemicals in the clay neutralize toxins in the plants that form a large part of the birds’diet).
The Tampopata Research Center and other lodges offer a fantastic base for wildlife spotting, with comforts and amenities from basic to luxe.
Eat Local Food at Burgos's
One of the best known local eateries, Burgos's Restaurant serves up delicious Amazonian and Peruvian dishes is a simple but elegant setting.
Puerto Maldonado Travel Tips