The classic image associated with Peru is always Machu Picchu but while an amazing feat of historic architecture, it is just a small part of Peru’s history and evolution. One of the most amazing things you can do on a Peru holiday is to visit the Amazon rainforest. After completing the Inca Trail it is a great idea to join an Amazon extension.
The Peruvian Amazon is awash with tribes carrying around a head full of myths and legends about the jungle they live in. From the sirens who lure vulnerable men to the rivers, drowning them in the swift currents, to the lupuna tree that will punish you for disrespecting the forest, the myths of the Amazon hold a recurrent theme; protecting the forest. Any self-respecting Amazonian knows the legend of El Tunchi, a spirit of people lost to the jungle, who protects the fauna and flora; beware if you mow down a tree! The Amazon basin covers two-fifths of South America but is under constant threat from environmental changes, urban development and logging. The myths that have given the Amazonians a clear set of rules to live by for hundreds of years are still very much prevalent and relevant as people fight to save the rainforest and protect its inhabitants.
By visiting the Amazon on an adventure tour you are indirectly providing good reason to encourage the protection of this giant forest. With tourism comes income for the local Amazonians and for the government a desire to ensure their biggest tourist attraction remains for years to come. A typical trip to the Peruvian Amazon will normally begin in Puerto Maldonado, just a short flight from Cusco, where you will have just spent the past few days paying homage to the great historical sites of Peru; the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. Yet another tick in the box for the Peruvian economy.
Upon arriving a short canoe ride into the jungle is essential. With no roads and little call for airports, this traditional method, now modernized with motors, is the only and best way to reach the centre of the Amazon, other than on foot. For more tourists a visit to an ox-bow lake is usually on the cards as an introduction to the jungle. The heat and humidity will hit you quite hard during the day which is why you may find you do a lot of night time excursions. There are over 900 species of bird, 91 mammals, 127 amphibians and reptiles and 1230 butterflies in the Amazon among the rich plant life. Paddling gently in your canoe allows you to approach this plethora of wildlife slowly and quietly and at night with just a torch you should be able to spot the cayman. The Tambopata National Reserve which lies on the Peru – Boliva border is home to 3,000,000 acres of sub-tropical rainforest. Spending just three or four days here is enough to show you the best the Amazon has to offer.