The Amazon Rainforest embraces more than 50% of Peru, making it challenging to decide which area to visit. Manu National Park is completely secluded, but Iquitos is more lavish and draws creatures that are not found in other national parks.
Manu National Park is Peru’s biggest and most protected region, and many people believe it has the world’s greatest biodiversity!
Traveling through the Manu National Park can be challenging due to the lack of nearby airports and tourist infrastructure. However, it means that you will have the most authentic wildlife experience in Peru when you visit.
You cannot travel directly to the national park; instead, you must first travel to the village of Paucartambo and then to the Amazon Basin, which is a 7-8-hour journey.
Because wildlife expeditions can take 9-10 days, Manu National Park is recommended for travelers staying in Peru for more than two weeks.
Even the lodges in Manu National Park are simple and minimalistic, owing to the difficulty of obtaining the necessary supplies inside. However, they provide an opportunity to connect with nature, and if you enjoy a bit of adventure, look into tented camps!
There are some canopy walkways and clay licks where you can see animals such as monkeys, macaws, parrots, and more than 800 other bird species. It is possible to see jaguars, tapirs, and pumas, but this is not always guaranteed.
Iquitos, known as the “true Amazon” because it serves as a gateway to the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest, is another excellent destination for wildlife encounters.
There are numerous options available, ranging from low-cost riverside lodges to luxe river cruises and excursions.
Despite its location in a city, it remains one of the world’s most disconnected rainforest destinations. The best time to visit Iquitos is from June to October, with the weather becoming warmer from August to October.
The only way to get there is via a 1.5-hour direct flight from Lima. You can also try a connecting flight to Iquitos via Cusco, but this will cost you more money and an additional $100 in airfare.
Many animals can be seen, including monkeys, sloths, jaguars, pumas, and turtles. But one of the best reasons to visit Iquitos is to see the Amazon River’s pink dolphins.
They are beautiful, intelligent, and playful creatures who are always drawn to humans. So, you have an 80% chance of seeing one while you’re here. Although many tours offer dolphin-watching excursions, be sure to reserve one with a respectable company that has your safety and the welfare of the dolphins in mind.
So, which is the best option? Is it Manu National Park or Iquitos?
This depends on whether you want a remote, simple adventure with a diverse range of animals, or if you want to see unusual ones, such as pink river dolphins. Monkeys, sloths, and pink dolphins are frequently spotted. Jaguars and pumas are relatively rare, so consider yourself fortunate if you happen to come across one!