This adventurous 11-day trip has all the ingredients of a legendary and enduring journey. The itinerary starts out with a drive over a 15,000 ft. pass, and then continues down the Tambopata River, running class IV rapids and camping out each night. Excellent opportunities for spotting wildlife comes with the territory in this remote section of the Amazon jungle.

Highlights

  • Raft the Tambopata River starting at Bahuaja Sonene National Park
  • Camp on the river shores & stay in jungle lodges
  • Raft Class II to IV rapids as you descend down the Tambopata River
  • Encounter an abundance of wildlife along the route from macaws to monkeys
  • Stay at the Tambopata Research Center and admire the conservation of mammals in the Amazon Jungle

Overview

This is an exciting trip for adventurous travelers who don't mind roughing it for several days. After arriving in Lima, the expedition starts in the town of Juliaca, near the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world at 15,480 ft. A private vehicle will take you across the high plains (altiplano), down to tropical rainforest and to the end of the road, where you'll lodge by the river. 

The following day you´ll board rafts and use the river as a thoroughfare into the jungle. From this point, you leave behind the farms and gold pan settlers to enter the mystical and enigmatic world of the tropical rainforest. This environment provides the habitat for a diverse range of plant and animal species, including 8 types of macaw, 13 types of monkey, 530 species of birds, plus ocelot, jaguar, capybara, tapir, caiman, giant river otters, and much more.

You´ll float on the Tambopata River for six days, running Class III and IV rapids along the way and camping out at night. The journey includes a stop at a macaw clay lick, where you'll spend the night, allowing you to see these magnificent birds at dawn. From here you'll take a motorized dug-out canoe to the frontier town of Puerto Maldonado, where you'll spend the night before transferring to Lima for your final night.

Brief Itinerary

Day  Activity Overnight 
Day 1 Arrival in Lima Lima
Day 2 Juliaca to the Amazon A lodge in the Amazon
Days 3-7 Floating down the Tambopata River on rafts Camping 
Day 8 Final day of rafting Tambopata Research Center
Day 9 Scarlet Macaws, Transfer to Puerto Maldanado  Puerto Maldanado 
Day 10 Puerto Maldanado, Flight to Lima Lima
Day 11 Depart Lima  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Lima

Colorful colonial architecture in Peru's capital

¡Bienvenidos! Welcome to Lima, Peru's largest city and central metropolitan hub, and home to one-third of the country's population. Located at the site of a pre-Columbian indigenous Ychsma settlement, which was conquered by the Inca empire in the 15th century and later by the Spanish conquistadores, Lima has a fascinating history and a diverse mix of cultures. Amerindian, European, Afro-Peruvian, and Asian—especially Chinese and Japanese—influences make Lima a dynamic and exciting city to explore. 

Lima's breezy location on the Pacific Ocean and mild desert climate make it the perfect city for exploring on foot. Head downtown to mingle with locals, stretch your legs, and grab a bite to eat in one of the many award-winning restaurants. 

Suggested activities include: 

  • Explore the historic center of Lima, a UNESCO World Heritage Site packed with fascinating Spanish architecture. Start with a scenic tour of the colonial downtown, which emanates from the main square. Stroll over to the 16th-century Cathedral, which took 80 years to construct and was built in the grandiose style of the Spanish Empire.

  • Visit the Casa Aliaga, a colonial mansion granted by chief conquistador Francisco Pizarro to Jerónimo de Aliaga, one of his captains, in 1535. This is the only house from that era that still belongs to the same family.

  • Stroll around the Pueblo Libre district to the privately owned Larco Museum of pre-Columbian art, housed in a beautifully restored viceregal mansion built over a 7th-century pre-Columbian pyramid. The museum boasts a vast pre-Colonial collection of gold and silver artifacts, as well as pieces of erotic art.

  • In the evening, head to the eclectic "Love Park" in the upscale coastal district of Miraflores, where you can admire a huge kissing statue and beautiful mosaic walls.  The park is built on the cliffs of Chorrillos and is a perfect place to enjoy a spectacular sunset over the Pacific.

  • Enjoy a nightcap at an open-air cafe or restaurant in the diverse Miraflores neighborhood.

Day 2: Juliaca to the Amazon

Entering the jungle after descending from a 15,000 ft pass in the Andes.
 
This morning you'll fly from Lima to Juliaca. After an early reception here, you'll be driven across the altiplano, over a 15,000 ft pass and down through to the jungle, until we arrive at our lodge on the edge of the Amazon basin.

Days 3-5: Rapids, Camping, and Wildlife Along the Tambopata River

Aerial view of Tambopata River

As you leave the last traces of civilization, entering pristine rainforest of the Bahuaja Sonene National Park, you´ll float down the river and spend the night camping on a sandy beach. There will be opportunities to spot wildlife along the banks and in the jungle. 

The river remains relatively calm the following day as you navigate class II and III rapids. Soon you'll see a variety of birds and a few mammals, such as anteaters and giant otters (an endangered species). In the afternoon you'll arrive at the campsite to relax and enjoy a delicious dinner.

Continuing the journey, the landscape slowly changes as the river narrows and the rapids increase in difficulty (class III and IV). We'll do some wildlife spotting in the jungle and with a bit of luck get the chance to view monkeys moving through the canopies.

Days 6-8: Rafting Class IV Rapids and Wildlife Spotting

Tambopata River at dawn. 

Day 6 will be spent running class III and IV rapids surrounded by lush vegetation. As we head downstream there will be very good opportunities to observe monkeys, capybaras, tapirs and giant river otters among other animals. On the sixth day, we stop at a macaw lick where we'll spend the night camping by the river.

The rapids die down on Day 8 and we'll our time quietly watching wildlife as we approach the Tambopata Research Center (TRC), where we'll explore the surrounding jungle on foot. Lodging is at the research center. 

Day 9: Spotting Macaws and Transfer to Puerto Maldonado

The river bank of Puerto Maldonado

At the crack of dawn, you'll see a crowd of macaws with their variegated brilliance nibbling at the clay riverbank. Later, a dug-out motor canoe will take you to the frontier town of Puerto Maldonado where you'll spend the night in a hotel.

Day 10: Morning in Puerto Maldonado, Fly to Lima

Explore Lima's squares and streets

Today you'll fly from Puerto Maldonado to Lima where you'll have the rest of the day to explore the city taking advantage of anything you may have missed at the beginning of the trip. 

Day 11: Depart Lima

Ocean views in Lima's Miraflores district

Today is your last day in Peru! You will be met at your hotel for a transfer to the airport, where you will connect to your departure flight. ¡Buen viaje! 

Map

Map of Southern Peru: Amazon Jungle - Rafting Expedition - 11 Days
Map of Southern Peru: Amazon Jungle - Rafting Expedition - 11 Days