The southern Amazon is one of Peru’s remotest territories, offering unparalleled opportunities for seeing the jungle in its pristine state. Not only is the rainforest here largely undisturbed by human settlements, but the wildlife is unafraid of visitors, making for up-close encounters with the capybaras and monkeys that skitter through the brush.
Peru’s southern Amazon boasts two of South America’s top wildlife refuges. The largest, Manu National Park, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and among the best places for animal watching on the continent, with 13 species of apes, 132 types of reptiles, and over 1,000 varieties of birds. Meanwhile, the even more remote Tambopata National Reserve encompasses the beautiful watershed of the Tambopata River, as well as a clay lick so crowded with macaws it’s considered one of the prime birding destinations in the Americas.
For all its remoteness, the southern Amazon has surprisingly developed infrastructure. Jungle lodges, modest as well as luxurious, allow visitors to venture into the interior, while a small army of expert guides instructs about the region’s fragile ecosystems. For a base camp, there’s the bustling town of Puerto Maldonado, built during the rubber and gold booms of the 20th century, with its charming central plaza.
Few visitors find their way to Peru’s southern rainforests. Those who do, however, discover a jungle adventure worthy of the region’s earliest pioneers.
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