Exploring the jungle from Cusco: Navigating the Amazon

Monday January 29, 2024 | Destinations | Posted by Team About Cusco

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Exploring the jungle from Cusco

When it comes to immersing yourself in the wonders of the Amazon rainforest, understanding the different options and regions you can easily travel to from Cusco, is key. Here, we’ll delve into the logistics of the two best options to explore the jungle from Cusco: the Southern and Central Amazon regions: Manu and Tambopata. Here you find essential information for a seamless journey to the Peruvian jungle from Cusco for Exploring the jungle from Cusco.

Tambopata (Southern Amazon Expedition) (Sky or Road)

Duration trip: 1-11 hours

The gateway to the Southern Amazon is Puerto Maldonado, and getting there is a matter of choosing between air and road travel. For those seeking a swift journey, a one-hour flight via Latam Airlines from Cusco is the optimal choice. With one or two direct flights daily, it’s a convenient option. Alternatively, a road trip of 9-11 hours on the Carretera Interocéanica, passing through Quince Mil, provides a different but equally rewarding experience (night bus).

In Cusco, travelers can book a Tambopata jungle tour, typically exploring the Tambopata or Madre de Dios rivers near Puerto Maldonado. Whether you opt for a plane, bus, or tour bus, upon reaching Puerto Maldonado, the adventure continues with a 4×4 and riverboat tour. Rainforest tours are available for purchase in Puerto Maldonado and in Cusco (if you book in Puerto Maldonado you lose an extra day, while when booking in Cusco your tour will start immediately after arrival).

Manu: Central Amazon Expedition (A Journey of Days)

Duration Tours: 4 – 9 days

Cusco serves as the ideal starting point for venturing into the Central Amazon, attracting many visitors eager to explore the renowned Manu National Park. Recognized as one of the most biodiverse areas globally, access to Manu National Park is exclusively through guided tours, ensuring responsible tourism practices.

Due to its remoteness and the wealth of biodiversity awaiting discovery, trips to Manu National Park are exclusively multi-day excursions. You can only travel to Manu overland A three-day minimum is required (only to the cultural zone), with standard trips lasting four to seven days (cultural and reserved zone). Cusco-based agencies organize these tours, encompassing all transportation to and within the park. By choosing a guided tour, you not only ensure a comprehensive exploration of the Central Amazon but also contribute to the preservation of this extraordinary ecosystem.

Those are the two best options to explore the Amazon Jungle from Cusco. Of course there is also the third option: take a plane to Lima and from there to Iquitos, to visit the northern Peruvian jungle.

Visit amazone from Cusco Peru

Best Destinations for exploring the jungle from Cusco (summary):

Puerto Maldonado

  • How to Get There: A short flight from Cusco, approximately 45 minutes.
  • What to See: Explore the Tambopata National Reserve, known for its rich wildlife and diverse ecosystems. Look out for macaws, giant river otters, and other exotic species.
  • Min duration tours: 2 days

Manu National Park

  • How to Get There: Accessible by road or air from Cusco.
  • What to See: This biodiverse park offers a chance to spot a wide variety of wildlife, including jaguars, giant river otters, and hundreds of bird species.
  • Min duration tours: 4-7 days


  • How to Get There: Direct flights from Cusco to Lima to Iquitos are available, offering access to the northern Amazon Rainforest
  • What to See: Explore the Amazon River and its surrounding rainforest, known for its unique biodiversity and indigenous communities
  • Min duration tours: 2 days

Best time to visit the Amazon Jungle

When planning your visit, consider the best time to go. Whether you choose to visit Puerto Maldonado, Manu National Park, or Iquitos, each destination offers a rich and diverse experience of the Amazon Jungle, from wildlife spotting to immersive rainforest exploration.

The best time to visit the Amazon Jungle from Cusco is during the dry season, which runs from April to October. During this time, there is less rainfall, making it easier to explore the jungle and spot wildlife. However, it is important to note that there will still be some rain during the dry season, and the Amazon is a rainforest, so there is always a chance of rain no matter when you visit.

The wet season runs from November to March, and while it may be more challenging to explore the jungle during this time, it is still possible to observe spectacular flora and fauna. When planning your visit, consider the specific region you want to visit, as the best time to visit may vary slightly depending on the location.

What to see in the Amazon

The Amazon Jungle from Cusco is home to a wide variety of animals, including mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects. Some of the most commonly seen animals in the Amazon Jungle from Cusco include:

  • Toucans
  • Oropendolas & Caciques
  • Monkeys (such as the Red Howler Monkey and the Pigmy Marmoset)
  • Caimans (such as the Black Caiman and the Spectacled Caiman)
  • Macaws
  • Sloths
  • Capybaras
  • Amazonian Tapirs

The Amazon Jungle from Cusco is also home to a vast array of insect species, probably over 2.5 million species of insects including (among others):

  • Praying Mantis
  • Dragonflies
  • Butterflies (such as the Blue Morpho butterfly)
  • Leaf-cutter Ants
  • Glowworms
  • Titan Beetles

It is recommended book with an agency with a good reputation to have a knowledgably rainforest guide who can help you spot these insects and provide information about their behavior and habitat.

Clay Lick amazon Cusco Peru

What does an Amazon Tour look like?

Sample itinerary 4 day Tambopata Tour:

Exploring the Wonders of Tambopata: A 4-Day Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival in Puerto Maldonado

  • Arrive in Puerto Maldonado via a short flight from Cusco. Transfer to your selected jungle lodge.
  • Optional: time to explore the local market in Puerto Maldonado and the town.
  • Welcome dinner in the lodge, savoring traditional Amazonian cuisine.

Day 2: Tambopata River Adventure

  • Depart for a scenic boat journey deeper into the heart of the rainforest.
  • Check into a riverside lodge and enjoy a delicious Amazonian lunch. Participate in a guided nature walk to spot wildlife and learn about the unique flora.
  • Relax at the lodge, take an optional night walk, or enjoy a cultural activity.

Day 3: Sandoval Lake Expedition

  • Head to Sandoval Lake for an immersive experience. Navigate the lake by canoe, observing giant river otters, monkeys, and an array of bird species.
  • Return to the lodge for lunch and a siesta. In the afternoon, explore the nearby trails and discover more about the diverse ecosystem.
  • Enjoy a serene evening at the lodge, reflecting on the day’s discoveries.

Day 4: Canopy Walk and Departure

  • Rise early for a canopy walk, suspended high above the forest floor. Marvel at the incredible views and spot bird species that inhabit the treetops.
  • Return to Puerto Maldonado, stopping at a local community along the way to learn about sustainable tourism efforts.
  • Departing for your next adventure or heading back to Cusco.

This sample itinerary offers a glimpse into the enchanting Tambopata region, balancing exploration, relaxation, and cultural encounters. Actual itineraries may vary based on your chosen tour operator and specific interests.

Expedition into the Wilderness: A 9-Day Manu National Park Itinerary
Day 1: Cusco to Cloud Forest

  • Depart from Cusco by private tourbus, heading towards the cloud forest, a unique ecosystem where the Andes meet the Amazon basin.
  • Explore the biodiversity of the cloud forest, known for its diverse birdlife. Check into a lodge for an overnight stay.

Day 2: Cloud Forest to the rainforest lodge

  • Continue the journey by bus and boat, descending into the Amazon basin. Arrive at your jungle lodge, situated in the heart of Manu National Park.
  • Settle into the lodge and embark on a guided rainforest walk to discover the incredible flora and fauna.
  • Relax at the lodge, surrounded by the symphony of jungle sounds. Optional night walk.

Day 3: Salvador Oxbow Lake and Macaw Clay Lick

  • Explore Salvador Oxbow Lake by canoe, observing giant otters, caimans, and an array of bird species.
  • Witness the mesmerizing spectacle of macaws and parrots at a clay lick, showcasing vibrant colors and natural behaviors.
  • Optional night excursion to spot nocturnal creatures.

Day 4: Canopy Tower (optional), birdwatching

  • Climb the Canopy Tower for panoramic views of the rainforest canopy, providing a unique perspective on the jungle’s diverse inhabitants.
  • Leisure time for personal exploration or guided activities, such as birdwatching.
  • Enjoy a serene night at the lodge.
  • Optional night excursion to spot nocturnal creatures.

Day 5: Cocha Blanco and Tapir Clay Lick

  • Visit Cocha Blanco, a pristine lake surrounded by dense vegetation, in search of unique wildlife.
  • Head to a tapir clay lick to observe these elusive creatures in their natural habitat.
  • Share experiences and stories during dinner.
  • Optional night excursion to spot nocturnal creatures.

Day 6: Blanco Oxbow Lake and Wildlife Observation

  • Explore Blanco Oxbow Lake, known for its rich biodiversity and birdwatching opportunities.
  • Engage in wildlife observation along jungle trails, encountering diverse species in their natural habitat.
  • Relax at the lodge and relish the tranquility of the rainforest.

Day 7: Return to Cusco

  • Begin the return journey to Cusco, retracing the route through the cloud forest.
  • Arrive in Cusco and spend a peaceful evening, reflecting on the incredible experiences in Manu National Park.

This comprehensive 9-day jungle itinerary ensures an immersive exploration of Manu National Park, allowing you to discover the Amazon rainforest’s wonders and create lasting memories. Activities may vary based on your chosen tour operator and seasonal conditions.

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