The Difference Between the Peru Amazon Vs. Brazil
| Amazon Facts
In total the Amazon spreads out into Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela. Yet, of all of these, Brazil and Peru have long reigned supreme in popularity with intrepid Amazon explorers. Brazil is home to a whopping 60% of the Amazon Rainforest, while Peru boasts a sizeable 17% of it. This means that both countries have plenty of rainforest for you to discover.
While both the Peruvian and Brazilian portions of the Amazon are mind-blowingly spectacular, they each present a different experience. That’s not to say that one is objectively better than the other – more that they each cater to different tastes. So, let’s have a look at some of the key differences between the two countries’ offerings to help you decide which is best for you.
The Difference Between the Amazon Rainforest in Peru and Brazil
Probably the first thing you will want to think about when planning your Amazon adventure is how much time you would like to spend there. If time is of the essence then not wasting hours on travel will be vital to a successful holiday.
Getting to the Amazon in Brazil can be a bit of a challenge as the main entry point is Manaus, which is hundreds of miles inland. A flight from Rio de Janeiro to Manaus takes around 4 hours and from Miami to Manaus you are looking at around 6 hours. Even though there is a direct flight to Manaus from Miami, transfer times to other cities in Brazil are quite long. However, if you are willing to spend a little extra time on travel, you will reap the rewards when you arrive in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest.
In Peru, the journey is much easier. From Lima you will only need to spend about 2 hours on a flight to get to Iquitos – one of Peru’s main Amazon gateways. This is a much more manageable journey and will give you more time to enjoy Peru’s magical Amazon. In 2018, LATAM announced that they will open a direct flight from Cusco – Iquitos, making it even easier to combine a land tour to Machu Picchu with an Amazon cruise.
Some people like to feel like Indiana Jones while they explore the Amazon Rainforest. If you have a taste for the wild and wouldn’t miss air-conditioning or hot water, then the Brazilian Amazon is the place to be. You will be able to witness the magnificent natural splendour of the rainforest in an up close and personal way. The Amazon riverboats in Brazil, are much more traditional and offer an unforgettable and authentic experience.
If you prefer a rainforest cruise that will allow you to feel like royalty as you wind along the watery road of the Amazon River then consider visiting Peru. Luxury eco-cruises, complete with spas and pools, cruise the river and gourmet food is served up on a daily basis. There are several 5-star, contemporary cruise boats that offer an exceptional service both on and off board.
3. Extra Activities
You might not want to spend your entire holiday in the Amazon Rainforest. If this is the case and you want to see other things during your trip then it helps to know what else is on offer. Fortunately, Brazil and Peru have no shortage of things to do.
Brazil is the largest country in South America and offers just about everything. Before or after your Amazon adventure you might want to spend some time in the world famous city of Rio de Janeiro. Here you will be able to lounge around on Copacabana Beach and visit Christ the Redeemer. Alternatively, or additionally, you can check out the powder white beaches of Ilha Grande or witness the breath-taking Iguazu Falls. If you plan your trip in February, you will want to be sure to enjoy the Carnival Festival in Rio and other cities around the country.
If Peru is your destination of choice then you would be crazy to miss out on Machu Picchu. This is one of the most fascinating places on earth and while the ruins themselves are incredible, the journey there along the Inca trail or Salkantay trails is equally exciting. Other options for Peruvian-bound travellers are hiking through Colca Canyon, exploring the jungle in Puerto Maldonado or surfing in Mancora. Lastly, you will want to spend a few days in Peru’s capital city, Lima, to enjoy its exceptional gastronomical offerings.
4. Currency, Language and Travel Documents
One of the biggest differences between the Amazon in Peru and Brazil is that they are two completely different countries, with different spoken languages and culture. In Peru, the national language is Spanish, while in Brazil, it is Portuguese. Currency also differs. In Peru you use the Peruvian Nuevo Sol and in bigger cities like Lima, US Dollars are accepted in most places. In Brazil, you use the Brazilian Real and the use of US Dollars may not be as common as Peru.
Lastly, it’s important to keep in mind that many passports, like US, Canadian, Australian and Japanese, require a visa to enter Brazil. It’s a straightforward process that must be completed online prior to travel. US, Canadian and Australian citizens do not require a visa to enter Peru.
5. Water Systems
In Brazil, most riverboats cruise on a black water river system called the Rio Negro. The color comes from acid, a result of the incomplete breakdown of phenol-containing vegetation. Black river systems are generally not as nutrient rich as white (or muddy-colored) systems, but despite this fact the Rio Negro is thought to support more than 700 species of fish. A big plus to this is that the natural acidity, with ph ranging 2.4 - 4.9, prevents mosquito larvae from developing, so in general, there are much less mosquitos along the Rio Negro. You may also swim in the Rio Negro, and there are even many natural beaches around (something you don’t see in the Peruvian Amazon). Many itineraries also include the 'meeting of the waters', a popular spot to visit where the blackwater of the Rio Negro meets the white water of the Rio Solimoes but does not mix for a distance, causing a distinct separation.
In Peru, you will spend most of your time on the white water system: Amazon, Marañón and Ucayali. In terms of wildlife, there is a big overlap in the fauna found in the different river types, there are also many species found only in one of them. The white water system has more fish species.
6. Seasons and Weather
The Amazon rainforest is known for two seasons, the wet season (high-water) and the dry season (low-water). Both offer rich rewards, fabulous sights, amazing opportunities to view plant and animal life, hot weather and some rainy days. When planning your trip to the Amazon, it’s important to note that the wet and dry seasons in Brazil occur at a different time in the year than the seasons in Peru.
High water season in Peru is generally December to May. Low water season is from June to November. There tends to be some increase in rains during the high water season, though it is likely to rain briefly and sporadically during any day of the year. Plants are usually flowering during the high water season. Trees are usually fruiting from about January to April.
High water season in Brazil is generally March to August. Low water season is from about September to February. There tends to be an increase in rains during January to May, though it can rain sporadically any time of year. Plants are flowering and trees are fruiting generally from February to April.
7. National Parks and Wildlife
The Amazon jungle is the world's largest rainforest, covering 2.6 million square miles of land, and over 44% of that is protected. The protected national parks of the Amazon are rich in bio-diversity and absolutely spectacular. They are also often very remote and can only be accessed by an Amazon cruise. In Peru, the cruises pass through the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, over two-million hectares of protected rainforest and wetlands in the Amazon region. Whereas in Brazil, you can visit the Central Amazon Conservation Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The complex is made up of many protected reserves, most notably the impressive Anavilhanas archipelago and Jaú National Park.
In both Peru and Brazil you will have the opportunity to spot some exceptional wildlife. Most species of monkeys, river dolphins, sloths, snakes, piranha and birds, overlap throughout the entire Amazon region. It is important to note however that Peru offers one of the best parrot sighting spots in the world. In Manu National Park (not accessible by Amazon cruise), exotic parrots gather daily on large clay licks, creating the perfect destination for travelers to observe the dozens and sometimes hundreds species of parrots and macaws.
Whichever destination you choose to visit for your rainforest cruise you will have a fantastic time. Brazil and Peru both offer unique opportunities but the one thing they have in common is that they are absolutely, completely worth the journey. So, charge up your camera, grab your binoculars and get ready to experience the unbelievable Amazon Rainforest. For more information about booking an Amazon River cruise, please contact us or call 1-888-215-3555.