The 10 Best Things to See and Do in the Peruvian Amazon

Amazon | © Ben Cumming / Flickr
Amazon | © Ben Cumming / Flickr
No matter what you decide to do in the Amazon, it will truly be a unique experience. The culture and traditions you’ll be exposed to are eye-opening, and the volume of spectacular wildlife you see will surely drain your camera’s battery. There never is a dull moment when traveling within the Peruvian Amazon.

Take a Boat Ride

Taking a ride along the Amazon River is a must, because you may never get this opportunity again. The view from the water is beautiful: you’ll be gazing at the colors of the rainforest, seeing small villages (some floating) and, if you’re lucky, dolphins. For traveling along the river, you have many options. There are luxury boats with glass windows and fine dining rooms; big cargo ships; speed boats; and little motorized canoes. No matter which option you choose, all that matters is that you’re out on the water.

Try Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca tourism is one reason why people have been flocking to jungle cities such as Iquitos. This hallucinogenic brew is made by boiling a vine and leaf together for hours until the liquid becomes a thicker consistency. There are many retreats that have sprung up in the jungle that offer lodgings, an ayahuasca experience, and a shaman to perform the ceremonies. If this is for you, it’s best to do some research on the retreat and the shaman to make sure that they are legitimate. Ayahuasca is a powerful experience and you want to make sure that you’re in good hands. A popular retreat in the jungle with a reputable shaman is La Luna Del Amazonas.

Ayahuasca vine © Apollo / Flickr

Swim in the Amazon

The Amazon is hot, oppressively so, and nothing is better than jumping in the river for a quick refresher. While you may have heard that it is dangerous to swim in the Amazon, it’s not if you go with a tour or a local guide; they’ll know of all the best spots to take a dip.

Try Kambo

The new health craze from the Amazon is a poison secreted from a frog, called kambo. A shaman will burn the toxins into your skin, making four dots, allowing the poison (or medicine) to get into your bloodstream. The effects can be intense: you’ll feel fever and nausea, and will experience vomiting and swelling, but the poison is said to clear your body of unwanted toxins and leave you feeling refreshed and healthy once the reaction is finished. It has been used in the Amazon to treat migraines, chronic illnesses, cancer, and depression and remains a popular remedy.

See the Belen Floating Houses

The slums of the city of Iquitos are worth a visit. During the dry season, you’ll find mud and trash everywhere and houses on stilts. Business operates out of the first story, but once the rainy season comes, vendors have to move upstairs, because the first story is underwater. In the rainy season, boats line the streets, moving up and down, taking people from the market to their houses along the river.

Try Some Unique Fruit

Peru is home to 30 of the world’s 32 different climates, meaning that there’s a lot of food native to Peru that you may never have seen before. From spiky fruits to fruits that look like a dragon’s eggs, Peru is sure to have something that you’ve never seen before and that you probably didn’t expect to be edible.

Soursop fruit © Tatters ✾ / Flickr

Try Amazon Ceviche

Ceviche is Peru’s most celebrated dish and the Amazon has its own take on it. Miles away from the fertile Pacific Ocean, Amazonian ceviche uses freshwater fish from the Amazon River, which tastes just as delicious as anything you’ll have near the ocean.

Hang out with Some Monkeys

Of course, the Amazon is teeming with wildlife, and especially monkeys. You can take guided tours from all cities, and most offer retreats to hang out with some monkeys. Beware of your belongings, however. Monkeys have been known to steal people’s glasses, hats, and cameras.

Do Some Birdwatching

The Amazon is home to countless birds. You’ll definitely want to go with a guide, who will be able to show you all the best places to find the incredible array of avian wildlife the region is famous for.

Red-lored parrot © Kurt Bauschardt / Flickr

Take a Hike

If you want to get the most adventure out of your trip and a chance to see true Amazon wildlife, a hike in the jungle is the only solution. You can go on multiple day hikes with guides, and there are also night hikes, on which you may well get to see all the spiders and insects the jungle is famous for.