The deep Amazonian jungle; Pucallpa and Puerto Maldonado
Most of the eastern part of Peru is covered by endless miles of jungle, ruled by the laws of nature and the world’s longest and mighty Amazon river. This part of Peru is where on a daily basis you will be challenged, amazed and astonished, seeing the biggest variety in wildlife you can imagine, visiting genuine jungle tribes and experiencing local customs in this gorgeous piece of flora and fauna.
The Amazon region covers three main regions in east Peru; Loreto in the north, Ucayali in the middle and Madre de Dios in the south. If you are backpacking in Peru you are bound to hear some great stories about the Amazon region, where people mainly refer to the main cities in the respective regions – Iquitos in Loreto, Pucallpa in Ucayali and Puerto Maldanado in Madre de Dios.
Iquitos is basically the main stop in the Amazon, in Peru, forming a great travelling hub to backpack onto Brasil and Colombia over the Amazon river. Also check out the article we put on our blog specifically about Iquitos and its surroundings.
A bit more located to the south of Iquitos, you’ll find the famous city of Pucallpa, in the Ucuyali region. Pucallpa is also located along one of the arms of the Amazon river, so it might be worth visiting this place along your way to Iquitos, if you decide an Amazonian boat trip.
Inside the city you can find “Pucallpa’s National Park”. This park represents a zoo where various protected species can be seen. The entire region is mainly known for its many parks and reserves, like the Tambopata National Reserve (locally known as “Yarinacocha”), the Von Humboldt reserve and, Padre Abad, amongst many others.
Many native communities still live inside this region. So if you have a keen interest in Peru’s culture and want to get acquainted with the local way of life within the tribes, this can offer you a great and unique adventure!
One of the most known tribes is located in Shipiba – Coniba, located around 15 minutes by car from Pucallpa. This place is full of strange and traditional behaviour and rites. You can even practise “trueque” here, which means the actual trading of objects instead of using regular money. So pack your backpack practically and collect some unique souvenirs here!
To get to Pucallpa from Lima, you can take ground transport for around 20 hours in total, leading you via the towns of La Oroya, Cerro de Pasco, Huánuco, and Tingo María to Pucallpa. Keep in mind to travel in the dry season to avoid unexpected road closures (keep in mind that dry/wet season differs whether you are north or south, inquiry about this).
Alternatively, you can also catch a plane that takes just under an hour. If you travel from Iquitos, it is 5 – 7 day journey depending on the Amazons’ flow of the river.
The climate in Pucallpa is similar to the climate in Iquitos, just a bit milder with a minimum of 20 degrees Celsius and a maximum of 31 degrees in the hot days.
If you are going a bit more southwards into the Peruvian jungle, you can find Puerto Maldonado close to Bolivia’s border and near Cusco. Puerto Maldonado is known as “The Capital of the Peruvian Diversity” in the Madre de Dios (Mother of God) region. Most importantly, it is renowned for Peru’s most famous reserve, “El Manu”, which until today is still untouched by any man’s hand!
This reserve gives you the opportunity to observe a huge variety of birds, mammals, reptiles, and so on. Also it is home to Peru’s national bird, “El Gallito de las Rocas” (Little Rooster of the Rocks). To stress its wilderness, when you go to this park, paths won’t last longer than 3 or 4 days making it an extreme and not often tried experience.
The tours to “El Manu” include boat trips on various rivers and also the “Colpas de los Guacamayos” expedition. This is an impressive experience where you can see thousands and thousands of birds flying at the same time. It also includes a visit to Ashaninca, which is a native community living in the park. The exclusiveness and adventure of this reserve can easily be stretched to 10 days to appreciate this southern part of Peru’s untouched jungle.
If you are finding yourself in Cusco, you can also get to this park. From Cusco it is a 10 hour trip by bus, followed by a boat trip of another 6 hours. Alternatively you can take a flight from Cusco (30 minutes) to the Boca Manu airport.
From Lima it will take you at least 42 hours over the road to reach Puerto Maldonado, whereas a plane will take you around 1,5 hours.
Besides the necessary repellent, you will be a bit fresher than the other areas in the Amazon, with a high of 31 degrees Celsius in the summer and around 16 degrees in the winter.