When it comes to untouched nature in a wildlife-rich environment, the Amazon Rainforest is one of the last places on earth to explore. Even hearing the word Amazon conjures up images of exotic landscapes and menacing animals, yet the mystery of it all can be explored by anyone and in different ways. Whether you are seeking a family vacation spot, a unique honeymoon, or looking for something new to do as a couple, a trip to the Amazon Rainforest will undoubtedly become a trip of a lifetime.
Choose to embark on an Amazon River cruise into the far reaches of the rainforest or experience luxury at an exciting jungle lodge. Enjoy Amazon River attractions or explore towns and unique architecture from the past rubber boom in the area. With its lush flora and fauna and incredible wildlife, it’s no wonder that people are choosing to vacation in this remote landscape in South America. Whether you choose to explore the parts located in Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, or Bolivia, you’ll revel in the surroundings of this adventurous locale.
Here are 11 Amazon Rainforest tourist attractions to add to your must-see itinerary.
Located in the Amazon of southeastern Peru, the Manu National Park is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. This park, also called the Manu Biosphere Reserve, is chock full of amazing wildlife, including giant otters, wattled jacanas, jaguars, and various monkeys. It is also home to some 20,000 plant species, including significant water lilies. If you’re a birdwatcher, this is the place to be to admire tanagers, macaws, and toucans. You may also encounter a hoatzin, an odd bird unique to the Amazon.
In addition to exceptional wildlife viewing, you can also explore the towns within the Amazon. Head to the port city of Iquitos in Peru for a fascinating visit, including a stroll around the Plaza de Armas. This busy central plaza sits among European-styled buildings built during the historic rubber boom. Relax here in between your trips to the jungle and shopping along with the open-street markets. Sit beside the fountain, admire the public garden, enjoy the shade of a palm tree, or check out the monument to those Peruvians who died during the 1879-83 Pacific War.
Explore what it feels like to be enveloped in a jungle canopy at the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve in Peru. Wildlife lives in the tops of the trees here, and you’ll be able to get a closer look at them. If you’re feeling particularly brave or looking to experience an extra thrill, make your way across the La Posado canopy bridge for a spectacular view of this diverse ecosystem.
For a study in the plant life of Amazonia, head to the Tambopata National Reserve inside Peru. Here you’ll stand in awe of the 50-meter tall Ceiba tree, the 40-meter-high Brazil Nut tree, and the ironwood trees that are 500 years old. Stroll along the well-marked trails as your guide reveals details of the various plant life located underneath the jungle canopy. Take your time admiring the delicate orchids, grassy ferns, vibrant bromeliads, and various twisting and tangled vines. You can access the reserve from the city of Puerto Maldonado in the southeastern part of Peru.
Located inside the Tambopata National Reserve is Sandoval Lake, an oxbow lake of profound beauty. An oxbow lake is a spot where a river ran in one direction then switched to the other direction, leaving behind an arc shape which then fills up with water to create a lake. Wildlife flocks to these lakes, and you’re sure to see a variety of fascinating ones during your visit. Laugh at the antics of the giant otters. See how many kinds of monkeys you can find on the lake’s edge, including capuchins, squirrel monkeys, and the rambunctious howlers. Gaze at the strange hoatzin birds and look within the waters for the huge Arapaima fish.
Located on the Rio Negro riverbanks in Brazil, the Mercado Adolpho Lisboa, or Municipal Market, will delight those enthralled by European architecture. Constructed during the Amazonian rubber boom, the interior of the building is characteristic of the Brazilian Amazon, a contrast that works well. Located in the port city of Manaus, this main market sells everything from local produce to Indio-handicrafts to Amazonian medicines.
Also located in Manaus is the Teatro Amazonas. Known as the Manaus Opera House, this Belle Epoque-style building is a delightful surprise. Surrounded by the thick Amazon Rainforest, it may seem a confusing contrast but one not to be missed. Enter inside and be inspired by its hundreds of Italian chandeliers and European charm. Learn about its history on a tour and maybe even catch a concert. The Amazon Philharmonic orchestra calls it home, and an annual film festival is also held here.
The last site you might expect to see in the mysterious Amazon is a palace. Yet, there is one. Built as the residency of Karl Waldemar Scholz, a German rubber tycoon, today it is a Brazilian Amazon cultural center containing performance spaces and galleries. Wander through its fine art gallery or the unique coin museum. Join a docent-led tour to fully grasp the history of the location.
Deep within the Brazilian rainforest, you’ll find thundering waterfalls descending from up above and creating awe-inspiring pools below. This area is known as the Land of Waterfalls, or Terra de Cachoeiras. One waterfall in particular to visit is the Iracema Waterfall. Hire a guide and head into the forest to explore along the Urubui River before reaching the Iracema, where you’ll catch glimpses of the indigenous wildlife there. At the bottom of this waterfall, you can cool off and relax in the shallow waters. You also might enjoy exploring the sandstone caves nearby. A truly astounding ecological adventure, you’ll be glad you came.
Explore the protected environment of the Yasuni National Park and Biosphere Reserve in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Claimed to be the most biologically diverse location on the planet, it is home to a high number of amphibians, reptiles, birdlife, and mammals, as well as plant life. Within its parameters flow various rivers, including the Tiputini and Cononaco, on which you can explore by canoe. You may also catch sight of caimans, anacondas, and dolphins along the way. For a truly unique experience, check out the clay licks where lively macaws and parrots return again and again. Clay licks serve as a way for animals and birds to neutralize the toxic foods they eat with salts and other chemicals found in these licks and also top many travelers’ list of best Amazon rainforest attractions to see.
Part of the largest protected area on earth, Madidi National Park is the jungle jewel of Bolivia and one of the top Amazon River tourist attractions. Its biodiversity is astounding and home to a wide variety of wildlife. In birds alone, there are 1,254 different species and most likely many more not yet discovered. Indigenous people also live here in their own communities in this park, and you may interact with some of them on your visit.
Planning your trip to the Amazon is an adventure in itself. And, once you arrive, what you find may entice you to return again and again. These 11 must-see attractions are a great way to start.
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