by Exsus Luxury Holidays and Honeymoons
The great rainforest sitting in the Amazon River basin is the largest in the world. It edges into six countries – Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru – over 2.7 million square miles. Despite on-going logging and destruction of this amazing habitat, it remains one of the world’s last truly wild spaces. Filled with wildlife and plants that don’t exist anywhere else, it’s a place for eye-opening adventure.
Peru is often regarded as the best and most accessible entry point into this mammoth jungle. As you head inland, grasslands, lakes and snow-capped mountains gradually give way to thicker, steamier forest. The humidity of the forest really contrasts with the dry heat of the country’s cities. You’ll suddenly feel out of depth, especially as your guide lists the dangerous flora and fauna around every corner. But that’s half the fun.
Of course, unless you’re the next Ray Mears, you shouldn’t contemplate venturing into the Amazon without a guide. There are a vast number of tour operators, but be sure to hire one with a good reputation, previous positive reviews from other travellers, and which have a clear commitment to caring for the habitat they work within.
Companies such as Aqua Expeditions do fantastic cruises into the forest along the Amazon itself. Although you’ll effectively be in a floating hotel, you’ll be immersed in the real heart of the rainforest along the edges of the pristine Pacaya Samiria Reserve. You can expect to see (and perhaps swim with) the playful pink river dolphins, colourful macaws, monkeys aplenty, traditional villages here and there, and wildlife sneaking down to the waters for a drink. Try your hand at fishing for piranhas, and dine on board as the sun sets through the trees.
To soak up the atmosphere of the rainforest itself, you’ll want to spend a few days in one place. There is a handful of luxury eco-lodges scattered around, such as Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica beside the Tambopata National Reserve, a perfect Peru luxury holiday.
There are just 35 wooden cabanas beneath the trees here, carefully crafted from local materials and designed to make the minimum of impact on the forest. You’ll still get wonderfully hot showers and lovely amenities, a private plunge pool and terrace with outdoor showers and hammocks in the lounge. The river views from every room mean you can simply watch the birds and insects fly past from the comfort of your cabana.
The lodge has a spa, restaurant, bar and lounge area. Outside, you’ll get to explore one of Latin America’s largest canopy walkways through the treetops. Much of the wildlife in the Amazon lives only in this section of the trees, and so getting up here will allow you to see up close animals you’ve only ever seen in wildlife documentaries or picture books. Guides will take you exploring at day or night – if you’re ready to face your fear of creepy crawlies, head out on a night safari to see and hear the jungle’s tarantulas and insects as well as frogs, birds and bats in action!