Puerto Maldonado: the little practical guide
What to do in Puerto Maldonado: Attractions and practical info
Puerto Maldonado is the main town of the Madre de Dios region, in the Amazon, and the gateway to the Tambopata National Park and Manu Park.
Having developed very quickly in 10 years, partly because of tourism, but especially thanks to the many NGOs that have settled there, we feel a certain disorganization, or a certain “lack” in the tourist offer of the city itself. If you are looking for Puerto Maldonado, you will notice that there is not enough information. Even TripAdvisor, which generally offers a good base, is particularly lopsided when it comes to the Amazonian capital. But in any case, the vast majority of travelers head directly to the surrounding eco-lodges and rarely spend more than half a day in Puerto Maldonado.
As I had the opportunity to spend 3 weeks there (making many trips back to the Tambopata reserve), I challenged myself to look for attractions and cool addresses while walking up and down the streets. notebook in hand.
Here is the little practical guide to Puerto Maldonado:
What to do in the Tambopata?
No doubt: the great attraction of the region is nature! From Puerto Maldonado, travelers head for either the Manu Park or the Tambopata Reserve which is closer.
In the Tambopata are organized many activities of observation of the fauna (parrots and other exotic birds, alligators, monkeys, etc.) and the flora, in addition to boat ride, bathing, fishing, camping, etc. In this region of Amazonia, activities are much more focused on fauna and flora than cultural discovery among local communities as seen in Iquitos in the north of the country, for example. Several ecolodges offer accommodation packages + activities, and there is really something for every budget! Here are the places I tested in the Tambopata and closer to Puerto Maldonado.
1. Discovery of the region with a Tambopata community
These are 4 days of discovery of the Amazon with the local community of Infierno! You will learn more about the traditions of the Ese Eja ethnic group, such as archery, and medicinal plants, presented by the shaman of the community. In addition to the cultural aspect, we discover the Amazon with several activities such as a boat trip to Lake Tres Chimbadas to observe many species of monkeys, parrots, birds, and night out to observe insects and caimans .
In addition to being a unique tour to discover many aspects of the region, the money is invested in youth education programs, local culture conservation and seniors’ health! You can book the tour here.
2. Adventure tour: hiking and cycling in the Amazon
These are 4 days of responsible adventure organized by the agency of Johanna, a French expatriate in Peru (watch her interview here!). A full program: mountain biking through the trails of the Amazon, navigate the Tambopata River in search of caimans and capibaras, swim in the pure water of the Gato Falls, observe the many species of birds colorful in their natural habitat, and participate in a local cooking class. The money from the tour is invested in the reforestation of the Amazon jungle and in the local community of Florida Baja.
3. Discover Sandoval Lake
Only lodge having permission to be on the shores of Lake Sandoval, we really feel privileged to be able to admire the sunset without any tourists around! To get there, it’s a real adventure: 45 min to 1h30 walk (depending on the season and state of the road!) And a boat trip to cross the lake, but the ride is absolutely unforgettable. Check out the Sandoval Lake Lodge and the article on my stay.
4. Refugio Amazonas
This is one of those Robinson Crusoe cabins we dream about in the jungle, but upscale version, with beautiful wooden rooms open in the countryside (and in complete privacy), natural products and specialized guides that offer many activities to observe animals and discover the surroundings. A big crush, definitely! Discover the Refugio Amazonas and the article about my stay.
What to visit in Puerto Maldonado?
Apart from resting watching the children play in the Plaza de Armas – a classic of a trip to Peru – one can still stroll along the main street Leon Velarde, starting with its end which is a small square with a bridge.