Amazon River Peru Map
Arguably the longest river in the world, the Amazon meanders its way from the towering Andes in Peru to the sweeping coastline of Brazil, where it empties into the vast Atlantic Ocean. The Amazon River and its tributaries is located in Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Brazil. The entire river measures over 4,000 miles from its source to the river mouth. However, the exact length of the Amazon is arguable as the location of its start and end points have both been disputed historically. The Amazon River is currently alleged to be 6,992 kilometers long. Before embarking on your Amazon River cruise, take a look at our Amazon River Peru map below, to get a better understand of the location.
Amazon River Cruise Map
The Amazon River in Peru
Various expeditions in the second half of the 20th century, many sponsored by the National Geographic Society, have set out to define the birthplace of the Amazon. Mount Mismi, a 5,500-meter-high mountain in the Andes, was once said to be the origin. The true source of the river has since been argued to be the Mantaro River in the central highlands of Peru. The Mantaro merges with the Apurimac River to make the Ucayali River which then joins the Marañon River. Here, the main stem of the Amazon River is formed, close to Iquitos. The Amazon River - also known in Brazil as the Rio Solimões - joins with the dark waters of the Rio Negro in Manaus, Brazil, before snaking its way to the Atlantic Ocean. While the Amazon’s length continues to be debated by scientists, it is absolute that this vital river is the largest in terms of volume, carrying 20% of the planet’s freshwater.
The Amazon River Basin spreads across eight different countries in South America and covers an area of over seven million square kilometers - which is 40% of the continent! The Amazon Basin is cloaked by the Amazon Rainforest which encompasses over five million square kilometers of tropical jungle. The Amazon is the largest rainforest on the planet, and the Peruvian Amazon occupies 60% of the country itself, stretching from the very north to the southeast of the nation. Much of Peru’s Amazon is found in the north of country in the Loreto region. Iquitos is the region’s capital and is also the gateway to the Amazon, only accessible by air or water. 100 kilometers south of Iquitos sits the riverside town of Nauta, next to the Marañon River. Amazon River cruises depart from Nauta, and an asphalt road links the town to Iquitos.
Note: When visiting Peru’s Amazon, bear in mind that rainy season runs from December to May and sees high waters, and dry season goes from June to November and features low waters.
On the Map: Amazon Jungle Wildlife
The endangered Amazonian manatee species, also referred to as a sea cow, is a freshwater-dwelling mammal that is seal-like in appearance. Manatees are charcoal gray, with whiskers and tiny bead-like eyes. They can grow to almost three meters and feed on plants. Found in the shadowy waters, manatees are difficult to spot in the wild.
📍Where: The Amazon Rescue Center and Pacaya Samiria National Reserve.
The Amazon Jungle is home to a plethora of insects which come in all shapes and sizes. There are many varieties of Amazon ants, such as the bullet ant which has a fearsome sting. Look out for colorful and fluffy caterpillars, praying mantes camouflaged against tree trunks, and a multitude of beetles such as the rhinoceros beetle. That’s not to mention scorpions, tarantulas, and the animal-eating, 30-centimeter-long giant centipede which has a poisonous venom!
📍Where: Pacaya Samiria
Giant Water Lilies
These floating beauties measure three meters in diameter, and have an eight-meter-long spiny stalk. The flower petals are white and later become pink, making for some truly magnificent photo opportunities!
📍Where: Mainstream floodplains and shallow waters.
The mighty Amazon is home to over 1,300 species of birds and Peru certainly doesn’t disappoint, coming out on top for its high density of bird species and pipping Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Bolivia to the post. Keep your eyes peeled for an array of feathered friends, such as the giant hummingbird. This is the largest of all hummingbirds; its wingspan and body length each measure 20 centimeters. It has brown feathers and a slower wing beat than that typical of other hummingbirds.
Hard to miss is the macaw parrot, a noisy and brightly colored tropical bird painted in hues of blue, red, green, and yellow. An unusual looking specimen is the hoatzin bird, found in the lowlands close to the water. It has a blue face and red eyes, and is about the size of a pheasant.
📍Where: The Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve and Pacaya Samiria.
The Amazon boasts over 400 mammal species! Some to look out for in the Peruvian Amazon include the following: The sloth, both three-toed and two-toed varieties (of which there are six species); the endangered black jaguar; the black alligator, and the giant river otter, both threatened species.
📍Where: Pacaya Samiria National Reserve has 102 mammal species.
These endangered freshwater dwellers are pink all over and have a long nose, large head, and a flexible neck which helps them when catching food. This is the world’s largest river dolphin.
📍Where: In the Yanayacu and Yarapa Rivers, and in Pacaya Samiria.
Over 32 species of monkey live in Peru, and the majority can be found in the rainforest. Listen out for the howler monkey which - as the name indicates - emits a loud cry, heard for miles around! They are black or brown in color, and best seen from canopy walkways or riverboats. Another primate is the spider monkey, a long-limbed and lithe acrobat which uses its tail as another limb when swinging through the trees. An endangered species endemic to Peru is the rust-orange-colored Andean titi monkey, which inhabits the lowland forests of Pucunucho.
📍Where: Pacaya Samiria; the Pucunucho Regional Conservation Area.
Discover the curative properties of the Amazon’s botanic species, from the lapacho and tawari trees whose bark is thought to fight cancer and other diseases, to the pusangade motelo which has a calming effect and relieves anxiety.
📍Where: Pacaya Samiria.
Don’t miss the Amazon’s iconic blue morpho butterfly. This creature can reach 15 centimeters in length and has a wingspan of 20 centimeters. Only the males have azure wings. These large butterflies feed on rotting fruit juices.
📍Where: The Butterfly Farm, Iquitos.
These carnivores lurk in the murky waters and hunt their prey at night, typically capybara, birds, turtles, and snakes. There are six species, with the black caiman being the Amazon River Basin’s largest predator. It can reach five meters in length and live for up to 80 years.
📍Where: Pacaya Samiria. Caimans can be sighted in oxbow lakes and on river banks in the daytime.
The name Anaconda snake refers to a group of snakes found in the tropical regions of South America. Four species are currently recognized by the name. The Anaconda (with the Jaguar) is known as the king of the jungle.
📍Where: Pacaya Samiria (in marshes and ponds)
On the Map: Amazon National Parks, Communities and Activities
In the depths of the rainforest you’ll find many protected areas of biodiversity and natural beauty. Note: A special permit is required to visit National Reserves, thus access is advised via tours and cruises with an official guide.
Pacaya Samiria National Reserve
Peru’s largest National Reserve, this is a protected area occupying more than two million hectares. Pacaya Samiria comprises rainforest and wetlands, and the low altitude renders the reserve inundated in rainy season. Thus, accessibility is reduced particularly in the months of December to March when Pacaya Samiria becomes a land submerged by water. Boat trips can take you to visit the flooded forest where a magical mirror effect is beheld. During dry season, activities such as trekking and fishing become options.
Look out for rare and endangered species, such as the pink dolphin, black caiman, giant river otter, red macaw, Amazonian manatee, and the jaguar.
Pacaya Samiria is also home to human inhabitants including indigenous tribes, such as the Shipibo-Conibo.
📍Where: Situated around 180 kilometers southwest of Iquitos city. You will need to travel to Nauta, the gateway town to the Pacaya Samiria Reserve, and board a boat.
Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve
This reserve covers 57,500 hectares and contains an extraordinary amount of tree species. Such biodiversity is due to the many soil types, such as white-sand soils which contain a low amount of water and nutrients. Allpahuayo Mishana boasts a unique ecosystem of white-sand forests with endemic flora and fauna, and the reserve is home to 475 bird species.
📍Where: Approximately 20 kilometers south of Iquitos.
Pucunucho Regional Conservation Area
This is a 23-hectare forest, home to the endangered Andean titi monkey and a variety of birds. An ecosystem once destroyed, the area was recovered by a local family who brought it back to life through reforestation.
📍Where: In the San Martin region, northeast Peru.
Matses National Reserve
A reserve which measures just over 420,000 hectares, this is the home of the Matses indigenous people and is under threat from illegal logging and hunting.
📍Where: In the Loreto province eastern Peru.
Other notable parks and reserves include Manu, home to 10% of the world’s bird species, and Tamshiyacu Tahuayo.
Visit Native Communities
There are thought to be at least 65 different cultural groups in the Peruvian Amazon. These people rely on hunting, fishing, farming, and gathering. More recently, tourism has become another means of livelihood. Some communities can be visited from Iquitos, and a local from the particular ethnic group will act as your guide. Experience authentic folklore and traditions, see typical dances, and purchase locally-made handicrafts.
A group with strong spiritual beliefs, these people hold deep respect for the natural world. Trees and plants are revered as having medicinal properties. Cultural festivals are celebrated with body paint, masks, and ceremonies.
📍Where: By the Momon River and between the Napo and Putamayo Rivers.
This tribe believe in the spiritual world and perform ayahuasca rituals, involving the ingestion of a hallucinogenic infusion. Art is a part of their culture inspired by their visions.
📍Where: By the Ucayali River.
The Yagua are a widely dispersed tribe which have contact with Peruvian culture and the Spanish language. However, Yagua culture and language is still in existence.
📍Where: By the Napo, Putamayo, Yuyari, and Amazon Rivers.
The Amazon Rescue Center
Wounded or orphaned manatees are cared for here before being released back into the jungle. See and feed baby manatees along with other rescued animals, and learn about the Amazon’s vulnerable species. Located close to Iquitos city center.
These freshwater fish have sharp teeth and a formidable reputation. There are over two dozen species, and the largest can grow up to 60 centimeters! Try your luck and see if you can catch a piranha on a fishing expedition (such as in the Marañon River). Enjoy sampling this delicacy for lunch - that is, if you manage to land one.
Stay in a Jungle Lodge
The Treehouse Lodge offers an unforgettable experience, housing you high up in the rainforest canopy! You will literally be surrounded by the jungle and all its furry and feathered inhabitants.
Learn about Medicinal Plants
Discover the healing properties of the natural world and marvel at the Amazon as a place of scientific discovery!
Traverse Canopy Walkways
Discover the jungle from a different perspective. The canopy is home to a hub of wildlife activity which can be explored on a system of sky-high bridges.
Visit a Butterfly Farm
See a variety of butterfly species and learn about the life cycle of this beautiful winged insect.
There are around 450 bird species at Pacaya Samiria, and 475 at Allpahuayo Mishana.
Go Caiman Spotting
These predators hunt by night, so a nocturnal expedition is the best way to see Caiman.
📍Where: Pacaya Samiria.
Do a Boat Trip or Hike
Explore the Amazon both by day and night for altogether distinct experiences.
📍Where: Pacaya Samiria.
Swim with Dolphins
...Or just enjoy the view from your boat!
📍Where: Pacaya Samiria.
On the Map: Peru Amazon Cruises
An Amazon river cruise is by far the most popular way of exploring the Amazon, and with good reason. An Amazon cruise is a far cry from the ocean liners that take tourists through the Caribbean, or the quaint boats that sail along the Rhine in Europe. The Amazon cruise experience could (depending on the vessel) be most rustic water-based adventure you are ever going to have. It could also be one of the most luxurious river cruises you have done. At any rate, the trip opens up a world of new experiences and the chance to see things that you would never have the chance to otherwise. While it might seem more intrepid to venture through the Amazon on foot, believe us when we say you will see a whole lot more and cover a much greater distance if you decide to float.