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Planning an Amazon Jungle tour in Peru? There is a lot to learn before your Peru Amazon Jungle visit! Here is everything you need to know to enjoy Iquitos before your Amazon tour, booking the best jungle lodge, what to pack before your trip, and more.
The Amazon jungle is the world’s largest tropical rainforest. Named one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World, the Amazon rainforest is known for it’s size and biodiversity. It extends from the Atlantic Ocean through Northern Brazil into Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador, and is home to thousands of plant and animal species.
Once considered a dangerous place only suitable for the most extreme adventurers, a tour of the Amazon River and rainforest is now accessable to the general public. A jungle tour is safe, education, and incredibly fun!
A visit to Iquitos Peru, the third largest city along the Amazon river, is one of the best ways to experience this natural wonder. Iquitos is easily accessible by plane, the region is an incredible habitat of plants, animals, and indiginous tribes characteristic of the Amazon, and is not overly touristed. While other portions of the Amazon are depleting after illegal deforestation and wildfires, the Amazon jungle tour in Peru is still considered virgin forest and a trip will leave you with a deeper appreciation of the area.
We took our family on a 3 day/ 2 night trip through the Amazon jungle from Iquitos, and it was an unforgettable experience (read about exactly what to expect on an Amazon tour here!). We consider those magical three days to be one of the ultimate highlights of our 2-year trip around the world, and with these tips I know it will be just as unforgettable for you!
Here are the best tips to help plan your adventure to Iquitos and the Amazon jungle in Peru. In this article you’ll learn the following to prepare for your trip:
- Which Amazon jungle lodge is right for you and how to book it in advance
- Which jungle excursions to request from your Iquitos lodge
- What to pack for your Amazon trip
- What to learn before you go for
- How to plan your first day in Iquitos and the best Iquitos hotels
Being well-prepared will help you look forward to your trip and make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Step 1: Book the Best Peru Amazon Jungle Lodge in Advance
You need to choose which type of traveler you are before picking an Iquitos jungle lodge: Adventure or Comfort. You can have a fun, authentic experience on an Amazon Jungle tour in either a rustic lodge or luxury resort, and there is no shame in whichever you choose.
Our favorite hotels for an Amazon jungle lodge in Peru is Explorama, a travel group with four Amazon jungle lodges and 1 Iquitos hotel. We prefer Explorama because they are one of the biggest supporters of conservation efforts in the Amazon rainforest in Peru, staff locals to maintain properties and act as tour guides, and offer the widest array of amazing excursions in the Amazon (since their four locations each offer unique experiences which can be accessed by someone staying at any of their lodges.)
For the rustic adventurer: Explorama Lodge
Let’s be honest, an Amazon jungle tour can get expensive. Time off of work, flights to Iquitos, an all-inclusive lodge… It can add up. One way to cut down on your expenses is with a more rustic lodge. You’ll not only have a more authentic jungle experience, you’ll save just a bit of money on your trip!
If you want the most adventurous experience possible, you’ll want to choose Explorama Lodge as your Amazon jungle lodge in Peru. Explorama Lodge offers low-speed wifi in common areas, private rooms with 2 beds, gender-specific public bathrooms, private showers, mosquito nets, and a buffet restaurant with delicious, complimentary meals.
It’s a great combination of having a decent place to sleep while being surrounded by nature. You’ll need a net to protect you from incoming bugs and no air conditioning is available, so you’ll gain a newfound appreciation for the Amazon!
For the comfort traveler: Ceiba Tops Lodge
Again, I stress there is no shame in wanting some comfort on your trip through the Amazon! The excursions, weather, and landscape are overwhelming and exhausting, and a hot shower and good night’s sleep free from bugs at the end of a long day can be the best way to help you recuperate for upcoming adventures and help you focus on the fun.
Ceiba Tops Lodge, pictured above, isn’t only Explorama’s flagship location but also widely considered the premeir resort along the Amazon river in Peru. It offers comfortable beds, a private bathroom with hot water, air conditioning, and a pool with slide.
Read a full Ceiba Tops Lodge Review here (and why it’s the best Amazon jungle lodge in Peru for families or kids!) and check prices for a 3 day/ 2 night stay in paradise.
Step 2: Request these Must-Do Excursions on an Amazon Jungle Tour in Peru
Nearly every Iquitos jungle lodge will offer variations on the same Amazon excursions. Consider which you’re most interested in, and ask your jungle lodge to create an itinerary which includes all of the things on your list.
Here are the most common Amazon excursions to choose from (usually 2-3/ day):
- Iquitos city tour
- Pink and Grey river dolphin sighting
- Indigenous village tour (some include exotic animals, blow dart trials, and dance performances. Be sure to specify if you want to visit a village with any of these specific elements.)
- Shaman/ herbalist lecture
- Jungle trek
- Night trek or boat ride for nocturnal animals
- Canopy Walk (The only canopy walk available in the Amazon jungle near Iquitos is through Explorama Lodges. Contact them here to arrange a visit if you aren’t already staying with their property.)
- Fish for pirahnas with option to cook your findings
- Kayak down the river
- Tropical bird and other unique animal sightings
Our jungle lodge, Ceiba Tops by Explorama, was interested in catering our 3 day itinerary to our exact desires. We were kept busy during our time, and left feeling as if we had deep insight into all facets of life on the Amazon. Read more about how it feels to experience each of these excursions to get a better idea of which are most important for you to request.
Step 3: What to pack for Amazon jungle tours:
Because the Amazon jungle in Peru is only 3 degrees south of the equator, it has pretty consistent temperatures in the 80’s. And, as the name would suggest, the rainforest encounters rain at some point in the day 260 days/ year. Another important point to understand while packing for your jungle tour is that bugs love the warm, moist climate found in the Peruvian Amazon. With those things in mind, here is your ideal list of what to pack for an Amazon tour:
- Lightweight pants: You’ll want to wear long pants during your tour to keep covered from the bugs as much as possible. These prAna hiking pants are perfect for a trip to the Amazon in Peru, because they are waterproof, lightweight, can be fastened into shorts, won’t tear, and provide enough space to trek comfortably. Seriously, they are my favorite for trips like this!
- Waterproof Hiking Shoes: While any closed-toe sneakers will work on your Amazon jungle trek, actual hiking shoes will serve you much better. You’ll spend time trekking through the jungle on nearly every Amazon excursion, and you could be walking over mud puddles, fallen sticks and debris, around animals which could strike your heels, or other unsafe terrain in day or night. Waterproof hiking shoes with ankle stability will be your best bet to get around comfortably and safely no matter what elements you encounter.
- Rain jacket: A lightweight rain jacket with hood is essential. It will undoubtedly rain at some point on your trip, and a rain jacket will not only protect you from the water but will also keep you covered from mosquitos and other bugs.
- Sun screen: As you can imagine, the sun is strong at 3 degrees from the equator! Even though your arms and legs will (hopefully) be covered whenever you’re outside, you’ll still want to use sunscreen on your face and neck. We generally recommend using bug spray which is certified safe for marine life, but since you won’t be swimming with any aquatic animals in the Amazon River (at least you better not!) the organic sunscreen isn’t really necessary.
- Bug Spray: You’ll want to douse yourself in bug spray from head to toe any time you set foot outside in the Peruvian rainforest. Choose a bug spray with DEET to best protect yourself from bugs which could carry harmful diseases.
- T-shirts, underwear, and socks for every day of your tour: You could end up getting pretty dirty on any given jungle excursion, so pack enough clothes to feel clean!
- Binoculars: The Amazon rainforest is a habitat home to thousands of species of animals. You could spot pink and grey river dolphins, sloths, tropical birds, monkeys, snakes, tarantulas, crocodiles, and many other unusual and interesting creatures at any point of your Amazon tour. Be prepared to get the most out of these unexpected animal sightings by keeping a simple pair of binoculars in your day pack.
- Camera: This should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: BRING A CAMERA TO THE AMAZON! Yes, your phone has a built-in camera that’s more convenient, but you’ll want to capture fast-moving, far-away objects in all sorts of light which are better handled with a DSLR. I hate traveling with a bulky camera, though, and found this to be the most convenient, highest-quality DSLR available.
Step 4: Learn about the Amazon jungle in Peru before you go
It would be best to be as familiar with the Amazon in Peru as possible before your jungle tour. An Amazon jungle tour in Peru is a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience, after all, and you want to make the most of your brief time here!
Here are a few places to begin your research into the wildlife and landscape you’ll be staying in:
- Learn about the basics of the Peruvian section of the Amazon with this Wikipedia article before you leave
- Watch Planet Earth or Our Planet jungle episodes on Netflix to learn about rainforest and jungle life through incredible imagery
- Bird enthusiasts can watch Dancing with the Birds documentary on Netflix to learn about the various bird species in the Amazon
- Read this National Geographic article on the dangers of illegal logging in the Amazon. Though it’s primarily about the Brazilian Amazon, the concepts and dangers remain the same for Peruvian Amazon.
- Be familiar with the various animals of the Amazon: Anteaters, pirahnas, sloths, tarantulas, jaguars, toucans, monkeys, poison dart frogs, crocodiles, river otters, pink and gray dolphins, porcupine, bullet ant, snakes, and more.
Step 5: Begin your Amazon Tour in Iquitos
All Amazon jungle tours from northern Peru begin in Iquitos, the largest city nearby the Amazon rainforest. You’ll have to fly into Iquitos, but flights from Lima are generally inexpensive.
Your jungle lodge may arrange for a guide to meet you at the airport, or you can easily catch a taxi or motor taxi into the city. A 30-minute ride takes you into Iquitos, where you’ll most likely stay for the day before your official jungle tour begins the next morning.
There isn’t much to do in Iquitos and it isn’t a very beautiful city, but it’ll be fine for an evening. You’ll find a few surprisingly delicious restaurants (Karma Cafe, The Yellow Rose of Texas, and Sombrero de Paja are some of the most recommended by locals.), some interesting architecture (historic buildings covered in handmade tiles from European investors in the early 1900’s and a building designed by France’s Eiffel), and an open street market (most active around noon).
Inexpensive Iquitos Hostel: The Amazon Within
The Amazon Within is a hostel in Iquitos with glowing reviews. It offers group dorms and private rooms, public kitchen and restaurant, and hammock and music area. The Amazon Within is impeccably clean, beautiful, and within walking distance to anything you want to see in downtown Iquitos.
Midrange Iquitos Hotel: The Junge House Hotel
The Jungle House Hotel, another property owned by Explorama, features a pool, buffet breakfast, comfortable guest rooms with air conditioning, and is far enough away from downtown to be quiet but close enough to walk to most things you need.
Fancy Iquitos Hotel: Doubletree by Hilton
The Doubletree by Hilton in Iquitos offers you all the luxury you expect from the fancy hotel chain. It offers comfortable rooms, fine dining, an indoor pool, and gym. The hotel is also just 400 meters from the center of Iquitos, so you’ll be able to easily walk around the city to catch some good sights.
Even More about Traveling Through Peru:
Visiting more places on your trip through Peru? Visit these other travel guides to make the most of your tour through the country!
- How to get to Lake Titicaca, but it may not be worth it
- Which 6 ruins you can’t miss on your trip to Cusco
- How to get to Machu Picchu and what it costs
- Top things to do in Miraflores and other Lima neighborhoods
- How to see South America’s only oasis in 1 day
Our stay at Explorama Ceiba Tops jungle lodge was complimentary in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and pictures are our own.