When you arrive in Iquitos, you are really at the start of your trip, where everything begins. You still have to decide which lodge you want to visit, or in which reserve you’d like to enjoy your rainforest experience. The Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Conservation Area is an excellent option.
Iquitos offers much more than the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, which is the oldest and largest protected area, overseen by SERNANP and covering some 2,080,000 hectares. Other, more easily accessible protected areas also fulfill the role of providing a refuge for biodiversity and allowing visitors to take a break from their everyday lives.
Around 6000 people live in Tamshiyacu Tahuayo and they came together to create the Regional Conservation Area and care for 4201 square kilometers that are home to 14 species of primates, families of giant river otters, manatees, and more than 400 bird species. The reserve is situated a little closer to Iquitos than Pacaya Samiria. This means that visitors who don’t venture into the heart of the reserve won’t see much wildlife. To reach this area it is necessary to board a launch (all the lodges have their own fast boats) from Iquitos or Nauta and journey along the Amazon River before taking one of the great river’s tributaries, where the lodges are located.
Below we feature two very different options in this conservation area. Both offer full board accommodation, including meals and excursions. We’ll leave it to you to make your choice!
Tahuayo Lodge – 4 hours from Iquitos
This is the most well-known lodge. It has been around since 1995 and is situated close to the village of El Chino. The owners are Paul Beaver, an American biologist, and his Peruvian wife Dolly. They opened the Tahuayo River Amazon Research Center in 2007, a conservation project run jointly with Yale University, where trails have been designed especially to enable the observation of primates. They also use hidden cameras to study the behavior of jaguars, but visitors will need a lot of luck to spot one of these.
They offer 8-day / 7-night packages which enable a more complete immersion experience, with two nights spent at the Research Center. Here, rooms are more rustic and bathrooms are shared, but the fauna is more abundant. Their other Tahuayo lodge, where newly arrived guests are welcomed first, is equipped with solar panels and LED lighting, and the varnished wood rooms are more spacious and fitted with private bathrooms, a terrace and hammock. The lodge is designed to harmonize as much as possible with the natural surroundings. They also have a zip line, along which guests can fly between three of the highest trees in the area. There are also kayaks for use, and an extensive trail system. This is a more complete experience, but also more expensive.
Dolly has established an association which provides support for local education and awards scholarships, as well as the Esperanza (“Hope”) health clinic. The lodge also offers visitors the chance to combine volunteer work with tourism and biological studies, offering language classes and the opportunity to participate in local construction projects or basic healthcare work.
- Price: US$1395 for an 8-day / 7-night package (solo travelers pay the same rate). Ask about the 3-day / 2-night packages.
- Office in Iquitos: AE Tours Tahuayo Lodge, Av. La Marina 100,
Muyuna Lodge, Río Yanayacu – 3 hours from Iquitos
This lodge is situated on the Upper Yanayacu River, with its dark, mirror-like waters. Analia, Percy and their son Santiago (all from Lima, Peru) opened their lodge in 1999. This is an intimate lodge, with rustically elegant rooms arranged in a row. The rooms are spacious, with private bathrooms, running water, mosquito nets, a terrace and hammocks. There’s no electricity or cell phone signal, but the old-style kerosene lamps lend the place an extra exotic touch. There are a lot of dolphins in this area. When I had the opportunity to visit, I saw spider monkeys, sloths, a lot of birdlife and the famous Victoria regia, the gigantic flowering plant found in the area. There are 26 lakes in the forests around the lodge, in what is a beautiful and remote area. Fishing is practiced here, also. This is certainly an excellent introduction to the rainforest. It is the most family-friendly of the lodges we feature here, and it works closely with the villagers of neighboring San Juan de Yanayacu.
If you prefer an independent bungalow, Curassow Lodge offers 10 bungalows with private bathroom, interconnected via wooden walkways. This lodge is located on the banks of the Yanayacu River,