The Peruvian Amazon covers an absolutely huge area of Peru: almost half of the country's land area, in fact. Despite this, a tiny fraction of Peru's population live here, and for this reason it has become one of the world's leading destinations for nature-based tourism, with some of the planet's highest biodiversity rates.
It is not surprising, therefore, that many people want to travel here from Lima, with many coming to Peru solely to experience the best-preserved tract of Amazon rainforest in South America. Travel from Lima to the Amazon can be divided into three sectors: travel to the Northern Amazon, to the Central Amazon, and to the Southern Amazon.
To the Northern Amazon
Duration: 2 hours - 6 days
Peru's Northern Amazon is generally considered to be the remotest region of the Peruvian Amazon due to not being accessible by road. Travel is therefore by plane or by boat.
The Northern Amazon has one main entry point, Iquitos. Several airlines offer flights between Lima and Iquitos: flight time is 1.75 hours. These flights operate daily, between 5:30 am and 9:30 pm, (although there are no flights at all between 12:30 pm and 6 pm). Latam has the most direct departures, with Peruvian and Star Perú also offering direct flights.
See also these much-longer and more adventurous ways to travel between Lima and Iquitos which feature boat travel for much of the way, and which also detail how to access Iquitos and the Northern Amazon from the other big transport hub in this region, Yurimaguas.
To the Central Amazon
Duration: 1.5 hours - 4 days
The Central Amazon is the best-connected part of the Amazon. Roads run from Lima through the Andes to the jungle towns of La Merced (eight hours), Satipo (ten hours) and Pucallpa (17-18 hours). All of these have their own set of fascinating hikes, waterfalls, jungle lodges and encounters with indigenous tribespeople. Pucallpa is also connected by plane from Lima: flights are around 1.25 hours and run in mornings and evenings only through airlines Latam, Star Peru and Peruvian.
The Central Amazon can also be accessed from Lima via Cusco. The main part that can be accessed from Cusco of interest to travelers is Parque Nacional Manu. To access the park, you will first need to take a 1.25 hour flight or 18-22-hour bus journey to Cusco from Lima and then sign up to a three-day minimum tour of Parque Nacional Manu. Most tours in fact run for longer: four to seven days is average. For Parque Nacional Manu you need to take a guided tour to access the best parts. See here for a sample 5-day Manu itinerary.
To the Southern Amazon
Duration: 2 hours - 2 days
There is only one key access point in the Southern Amazon: Puerto Maldonado. Puerto Maldonado can be accessed by by plane from Lima/Cusco (1.75/1 hours) or by road from Lima/Cusco (27-33 hours / 9-11 hours).
By plane in both cases, Latam are the best airline choice. From Lima to Puerto Maldonado there is one morning and one evening direct daily flight, whilst from Cusco there is one or two direct flights daily.
The quickest road by distance runs through Cusco from Lima; however the quickest road by time from Lima is often via Arequipa and Juliaca.