City meets jungle: located in the Amazon rainforest of south-eastern Peru, Puerto Maldonado sits between the Tambopata and Madre de Dios rivers. Close to the Bolivian border, the city itself is not a tourist attraction, but it is a starting point for most of the Peruvian jungle tours offered. The Amazon is very rich in wildlife, and there are many jungle lodges to stay in. Main roads now connect Puerto Maldonado to other parts of Peru, and so logging and mining have increased, thus unfortunately impacting on the environment. However, it is a great place to visit and to access the legendary Amazon jungle. Below is our Puerto Maldonado travel guide with information on all the best things to do, places to go and what not to miss.
THE OBELISK – This is a 50-metre-high, eight-story look-out tower located in the main plaza. For only a few soles you can get a great birds-eye view of the entire town, as well as rivers and jungle. There is an elevator (but don’t count on it working!) as well as stairs.
THE LOCAL MARKET – Have your very own gastronomic adventure at the local market. Try may different varieties of fresh juice made of exotic Amazonian fruit, and purchase traditional foods at the markets for a fair price.
MONKEY ISLAND – This is the main attraction of Puerto Maldonado, an island home to hundreds of monkeys of different species that are accustomed to human interaction. They will approach you, so hold onto your belongings!
SNAKE RESCUE HOUSE – This is a great opportunity for reptile lovers to get up close and personal with these creatures, and to learn about the reptiles from the volunteers that give their time to look after them.
*** WHAT NOT TO MISS ***
There are plenty of cheap and excellent places to eat around the main square and at the local market. Try juanes, these are chicken and rice parcels, with plantain (fried/baked green banana) and steamed leaves. After 6:30pm there is a delicious pizzeria in the main square called El Hornito (Madre De Dios J - 13).
The bars in Puerto Maldonado are small but always busy with both locals and tourists. Try Urunda (Jr. Arequipa, 474), where you can try a variety of good-quality beers, relax, and enjoy the night.
Puerto Maldonado is hot and humid all year round but the best time to visit is during the dry season, May to September. During the wet season roads become almost impossible to drive on, and many jungle tours can be delayed or even cancelled.
Puerto Maldonado is a 1 hour and 30-minute flight from Lima, and just 1 hour from Cusco. You can also take a bus from Cusco, getting you to Puerto Maldonado in 12 hours.
There are many backpacker hostels to stay in at affordable prices. For the more adventurous, this could be a jungle lodge – remember that you may not have electricity. Wasai Maldonado Lodge (Jr. Billighurst) is an ideal “in between” option, as it is very close to the main square, has a swimming pool, but it is lodge-style with river and rainforest views.
Always stay hydrated and carry bottled water with you, as it is very hot during the day.
Make sure to have your yellow fever vaccine card with you, authorities usually ask for it during check-in.
Bring insect repellent, there are mosquitoes!