A delightful change from the brisk chill of Peru’s mountainous region, Puerto Maldonado is the perfect introduction to the Amazon. The town itself is small but lively and is surrounded by thick, lush swathes of verdant jungle, which stretch out in every direction as far as the eye can see. The only interruption to this striking scenery is the Madre de Dios River that cuts through trees with admirable force.
Puerto Maldonado is small but it certainly packs a punch and, if you have some time to spare, we wholly recommend booking a stay in a jungle lodge here for a few days. But what is there to do in Puerto Maldonado? To make your trip to this part of the Peruvian Amazon as fun-filled as possible, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 best things to do in Puerto Maldonado:
Puerto Maldonado offers many adventurous jungle excursions in the area. Venture deep into the heart of the jungle and get a chance to soar through the tree-tops on a zipline; walk across a canopy bridge dozens of metres in the air; kayak along the powerful Madre de Dios River and trek through Monkey Island in search of – you guessed it – monkeys! Exploring this part of the jungle gives you a great taste of the Amazon and will definitely provide you with an adventure like non-other. If you are not the adventurous type, there are plenty of fairly soft jungle treks you can do, while discovering and learning about local flora and fauna.
During a tour to Lake Sandoval, you will travel to the immense lake and sit in a boat as you float on its serene water. If you’re an animal enthusiast then this excursion is second to none, as you will be getting up close and personal with all kinds of exotic creatures, including birds, monkeys and sloths. However, while animal-spotting is exciting and makes for some great memories, perhaps the best thing about this tour is the silence. You might have been chatting with your friends or making small talk with the other members of your group on the way there but when you finally reach the lake all chit chat immediately ceases. The sheer size and beauty of the lake is enough to render you speechless and the calm that it instils in you removes any desire you might have to carry on your conversations. This is the perfect place to get introspective and lost in your thoughts.
If a full day tour is too much for you but you still want to get out of the town for a bit, Caiman Spotting is ideal. This excursion only lasts an hour or two and involves cruising along the Madre de Dios River in search of the majestic caiman. There are four different types of Caiman that reside in the Puerto Maldonado area but don’t expect to spot them all. Expect, however, to spot at least one caiman on your tour as your guide has expert eyes that can pick out these creatures in the darkness from a mile away. Once you’ve found a caiman, your guide will tell you all about what species it is and a little bit about its characteristics. Simultaneously fun and educational but far from strenuous, caiman spotting is a great activity for people of all ages.
A clay lick looks like a miniature cliff made of clay and other minerals, which attracts birds who nibble or lick it in order to consume its nutrients. You’ll get a much more scientific description when you do the tour but this will do for now. Every morning hundreds of beautiful macaws, parrots and parakeets visit this natural wonder, creating a colourful spectacle unlike any other you’ve ever seen. It is so incredible, in fact, that it makes it worth waking up at 4:30 in the morning. The clay lick in the Puerto Maldonado area is known as one of the best bird watching spots in the world.
Once you’ve worn yourself out exploring the jungle and gawping at its tree-dwelling inhabitants, it’s time to replenish your energy with a meal that’s fit for a king at Puerto Maldonado’s number one eatery: Burgos. This place offers a mouth-watering selection of Amazonian dishes at very reasonable prices as well as an unlimited salad bar (a salad bar that includes sweet potato and plantain chips no less!) Make sure you’re hungry when you go, as portion sizes are phenomenal.
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