With exploration that knows no bounds, the Amazon Rainforest is a fascinating, mysterious and deeply sacred place that travelers anxiously wait their entire lives to experience. Whether you’re looking to stay in a remote jungle lodge, sail across the Amazon river, meet one of the over 400 indigenous tribes of the region or get up close and personal with the over 3 million species of plants and animals found in the most biodiverse region on the planet – the world’s largest rainforest offers an abundance of adventures to travelers on their luxury Amazon rainforest tour looking for a unique blend of nature, adventure, culture and luxury.
A great part of the allure of the Amazon is in its mystery. The rainforest is made up of a mosaic of ecosystems from natural savanna to swamps with millions of animals, plants and people that inhabit every crevice of the Amazon, and while much is known about the rainforest, there is so much of this part of the world that remains known. The Amazon spans an unfathomable two and a half million miles, with thousands of undiscovered species of animals and over 50 indigenous tribes that have not made contact yet with modern civilization. There is little conventional signage when trying to navigate through the Amazon, and nine countries that claim a slice of this enormous rainforest – with this being said, it can undoubtedly be tricky to plan for, navigate through and understand what a trip to the Amazon rainforest entails. Every traveler starts off at a gateway city which serves as a launch point for your adventure. Whether you’re a bird-lover, an adventure enthusiast, or looking for a bit of jungle luxury, a luxury Amazon rainforest tour with Kuoda starts off at one of the Amazon’s gateway cities, and then is hand-crafted to your unique travel style, including the level of accommodation, type of excursions, dates, and highlights.
The gateway cities of the Amazon may be the kick-off points to a greater Amazon adventure, but they also have plenty to offer travelers and serve as a last touch point of comfort and civilization before diving into the unknown of the Amazon rainforest. Each of the Amazon gateway cities have their own unique culture, customs and charm which feel so distinct from major tourist hotspots or capital cities. Ready to kick off your luxury Amazon rainforest tour? Choosing where to start this once-in-a-lifetime experience can be challenging – but we’re breaking down the gateway cities to the Amazon to personalize your Amazon experience:
Though the Galapagos is Ecuador’s main claim to fame when it comes to nature and wildlife, the Ecuadorian Amazon is no second best. Home to the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve, this part of the world is believed by many to be home to the most diverse set of species on the Earth. Ecuador’s slice of the Amazon is called El Oriente, and its jungle towns are primarily departure points for jungle lodges and river excursions, but there is something for everyone in the Ecuadorian Amazon. With luxury lodging and even kid-friendly jungle experiences – Ecuador is the perfect destination for your luxury Amazon rainforest tour.
1. Baños, Ecuador
Known as “Gateway to the Amazon”, Baños is named for its dozens of waterfalls, hot springs and surrounding rivers. This naturally stunning town has a year-round pleasant climate and offers travelers innumerable adventure-packed activities and a more tourist-friendly kick off point for a luxury Amazon rainforest tour. Baños is nestled at the foothills of the Tungurahua volcano, which has been steadily flowing hot lava and ash since a big eruption of 1999. Baños is the starting point to explore surrounding national parks, spectacular volcanoes, and an abundance of wildlife. Recently, Baños has transformed into a popular destination for extreme sport aficionados, and is an excellent stopping point for those wishing to relax in the plethora of hot springs and experience the mysticism of this quaint, Amazonian town.
2. Coca, Ecuador
Coca sits right on the Rio Napo which is known for having the country’s best jungle lodges. Though many travelers pass by Coca on the way to the famous jungle lodges in Yasuni National Park, the city has plenty to offer travelers, too. As the last real city before entering the national park, anyone who wants to venture further in and explore the untouched Amazon rainforest must go through Coca. However, it is more than a point to pass through. It is rich in history with communities dating back to pre-Columbian times along the Napo River.
Stroll through the town’s malecón or riverfront, eat at one of Coca’s notable seafood restaurants or visit the The Orellana Archaeological Museum and Cultural Center, known as the MACCO which shares an in-depth history of the indigenous Napo community before heading off on your Amazonian adventure.
Stretching East of the Andes to the borders of Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia, the Peruvian Amazon covers nearly 60 percent of Peru’s landscape. As one of South America’s most tourist-friendly countries, heading to the Amazon rainforest and embarking on a luxury Amazon rainforest tour is easier than ever kicking off from Peru. With exceptional detail to cuisine, accommodations and an advanced tourism infrastructure, Peru is a popular starting destination for those looking to experience Amazonian luxury, and for good reason.
3. Iquitos, Peru:
Accessed by plane or riverboat only, Iquitos is the world’s largest city, inaccessible by road! Many call Iquitos the capital of the Amazon rainforest, and there are a plethora of exciting activities to keep an adventurous traveler busy in Iquitos such as Amazon boat rides and great wildlife viewing. Iquitos is a city of half a million people.
Iquitos is home to numerous boutique lodges as well as Amazon luxury cruise tours. In the south, however, the rivers that run through the Amazon rainforest are actually smaller waterways that flow into the Amazon itself. Iquitos, on the other hand, offers opportunities to cruise right on the true Amazon River. With colorful and chaotic streets, Iquitos also has a surprising reputation for exciting nightlife. It’s a chaotic, bewildering and an unforgettable place to visit.
4. Puerto Maldonado, Peru
Cradled at the border between Bolivia and Brazil, Puerto Maldonado offers a more accessible route to the Amazon rainforest to its sister city, Iquitos – making it a preferred launch point for any luxury Amazon rainforest tour. Offering easy access to the Amazon, beautifully maintained eco-lodges, a colorful town square and plenty of dining and shopping – Puerto Maldonado is one of the most popular Amazon gateway cities to the Amazon in Peru.
Puerto Maldonado borders the massive Tambopata and Madre de Dios rivers and is the closest city to the famed Manu National Park, one of the most biodiverse places in Peru, and Tambopata National Reserve. With so many protected areas surrounding this town, Puerto Maldonado is the perfect base for wildlife lovers looking to experience untouched Amazonian beauty.
Nearly one third of Colombia is made up of the jungle regions of the Amazon rainforest, with the south of Colombia as the home to the most important rivers of the Amazonia: the Putumayo, Caqueta, Orinoco, Apaporis, and of course the Amazon River.
5. Leticia, Colombia
Leticia is Colombia’s Amazonian crown-jewel filled with culture, remote communities, nature reserves, surprising and bustling tourism infrastructure and towering trees that traverse the largest river in the world, the Amazon River. Situated on the border with Peru and Brazil, the city is a departure point for river cruises that go all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.
Leticia’s nearby municipality of Puerto Nariño, was certified by the country’s Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Tourism as the first sustainable town in Colombia, largely due to the effective use of water and energy resources and the protection of the flora and fauna. The care that both the tourists and the community place on preserving Leticia’s natural wealth is evident in the city’s incredible variety of animal and plant species – with over 860 species of birds and 6,800 species of plants, alone.
In addition to its jaw-dropping scenery, Leticia is home to various indigenous groups such as the Yuri and Nukak which have their own set of rituals, cultures, and beliefs. These tribes, unlike many of the tribes of the Amazon, are also very welcoming to tourists, and capitalize off of tourism as a way to keep their culture and traditions alive.
Often referred to as the “Beni”, after one of the rivers that are its dominant geographical feature, the Bolivian Amazon lies more than 600 miles from the famed Amazon River. Nearly half of the country of Bolivia is covered by the Amazon rainforest, so to no surprise, the Amazon rainforest is one of Bolivia’s main attractions! Though Bolivia may not get the notoriety of Amazonian destinations like Brazil or Peru, given its proximity to the stunningly pristine forests of Parque Nacional Madidi, along with the regions commitment to sustainable, and community-focused tourism, Bolivia is a lesser visited, but incredible destination for anyone wanting to experience true Amazonian wildlife and culture.
6. Rurrenabaque, Bolivia
A little-known gem of the Amazon rainforest, Rurrenabaque is found on the southernmost edge of the Amazon rainforest in Bolivia. Known as “Rurre” for short, this town champions ecotourism and sustainability in the Bolivian Amazon, and is known as an eco-tourism epicenter.
As is the case with most Amazonian cities, the flora and fauna are breathtaking, but unlike many of the Amazonian gateways, Rurrenabaque is more untouched and undiscovered – perfect for those looking to enjoy the Amazon without the crowds. Rurrenabaque boasts attractions like Parque Nacional Madidi, one of the largest protected areas in Bolivia, natural pools and hot springs in El Chorro, ziplining, boating and more which fuel your need for adventure, customized to your needs and experience level. For those ready to immerse themselves into the exotic adventures of the Amazon rainforest, our travel designers at Kuoda are ready to create a personalized immersive experience for your once-in-a-lifetime luxury Amazon rainforest tour.