Most travelers who visit the Peruvian Amazon do so by flying into Puerto Maldonado from Cusco, or by taking the bus along the Interoceanic highway, a 30min flight or a 10hr bus trip. From there, they’ll continue on to Manú National Reserve or Tambopata National Park by motorboat along the Madre de Dios River.
We recommend travelers reserve a day or two to spend in Puerto Maldonado before or after their jungle trip- and here’s our list of how to spend that time:
What to Do in Puerto Maldonado
To start, the obvious choice for lounging around and people watching, perhaps with a cooling, fruity ice cream, is the Plaza de Armas, or main square, of Puerto Maldonado. While in the Plaza, you can pay a couple of soles to climb up the eight-story lookout tower known as the Obelisk for a view of the town and the surrounding jungle and rivers. Sculptures outside the tower relate a jungle tale.
From there, continue on to the local market to sample tropical juices made from local fruits, or perhaps opt for a basic and cheap lunch. Or, if the market’s simple options don’t tempt, try one of Puerto Maldonado’s restaurants which serve traditional Amazonian food. Some options are El Majaz, Karambola, La Choza, Homiguero, and La Balsa. Puerto Maldonado’s most iconic dish is its juanes, rice and chicken bundles steamed in bijao leaves, and plaintain tacacho.
One of the town’s most well-known attractions is the irresistible Monkey Island, home to hundreds of monkeys of different species. Accustomed to visitors, its inhabitants are not shy about receiving food or playing with your belongings. The Snake Rescue House located on the main road from the airport is a good option for you to see these reptiles up close and to learn about them from the volunteers and the on-site museum.
If you have more time to spend, and have already visited Manú National Reserve or Tambota National Park, another great way to enjoy the Amazon is to take a multi-day yoga or ayahuasca retreat in one of the centers located just outside town (although you should forgo the latter if you take any medication whatsoever).
The nightclubs of Puerto Maldonado are small but rowdy. Ruztika gets our vote for its varied tropical cocktails and night view of the confluence of the Madre de Dios and Tambopata rivers.
Getting around Puerto Maldonado is easy and inexpensive by moto-taxi, although you may choose to rent a moped for 5 soles an hour as well.
Where to Stay in Puerto Maldonado
Pirwa has its own hostel in Puerto Maldonado, with a small shared dormitory as well as private married double, twin double and triple rooms. Rooms are equipped with wi-fi, flat-screen TVs, ceiling fans, private bathrooms, and a few of the married double rooms have minibars as well. Come relax on our rooftop terrace and enjoy a free continental breakfast and comfortable stay at low prices.