Puerto Maldonado is the main city of the Department of Madre de Dios in Peru. The city itself has not too many tourist attractions, but it is the starting point for jungle trips.
To get to Puerto Maldonado, one usually must travel from Lima - Cusco first before reaching the Padre Aldamiz (PEM) airport in Puerto Maldonado. Since domestic flights in Peru change so much, it is difficult to recommend carriers - however the most reliable seem to be LanPeru and StarPeru. Commercial flights in and out of Puerto Maldonado are almost always in the morning or early afternoon. The phone number at the airport is +51 84 571531.
Make sure to have your Yellow Fever Vaccination Card on you; local officials often ask for it even though it may or may not be "officially" required.
The road to Puerto Maldonado from Cusco is improving since it is part of the Interoceanic highway, but currently the bus trip still takes 12 hours, so most tourist opt for the quicker and more comfortable 30-minute flight. It is also possible to hire a car from a tour company or taxi ($300-$400 for the car), and it takes about ten hours with a few stops. The road is surprisingly empty for most of the way. The mountain pass rises to 4700 m, and then plunges dramatically into the rain forest. Have your camera ready for the vistas, and the lamas and local shepherds.
Some lodges, including Wasai, even offer mountain biking tours from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado. This trip, however, is not for the casual beginner; it's a serious trek for serious athletes.
Also since 2007, the popular well-known freelance bike trip adventure guide Cesare Ricci
offers customable cyclotourism trips from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado in 12 days at budget prices for minimum 4 travelers (more detailed Info at: [email protected]).
He is well-known for being the first biker to travel from Cusco to Rio Branco, Acre-Brazil on a bicycle for 1,200km. in 38 days, when it was still dirt road in 2007.
Cusco to Puerto Maldonado takes approx. 10 hours and costs S/35-50. Lima to Puerto Maldonado takes approx. 36 hours and costs S/130. The Interoceanic Highway is completed and the road is well maintained, although the section from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado is quite curvy.
Puerto Maldonado to Iñapari takes approx. 4 hours and costs S/25 and may require a transfer in Iberia. The van driver will drop you at immigration in Iñapari, though you can ask them to wait and drive you across the border. The walk from Peru immigration to Brazil immigration is 2 miles. Tuk tuks are available. A bus leaves Brazil immigration for Rio Branco at 3:30pm. There is also a bus earlier in the day. The cost is 66 reals.
You can reach Puerto Maldonado from either the Tambopata or Madre de Dios rivers, but this is not likely for tourists.
If you've booked a stay at one of the jungle lodges (Wasai, Sandoval, Posadas, etc) your guide will most likely meet you at the airport holding a sign with the lodge's name on it. They will transport you in van to the river (Puerto Tambopata) to wherever you are going (by boat)
If you are staying in town, taxis almost outnumber everyone else in Puerto Maldonado, so getting around the town is fairly simple. Motorcycle-driving taxis will take you anywhere you want to go, and the most likely destinations (airport - plaza de armas, airport - Puerto Tambopata, or airport - hotel) will cost you PEN3-5 (about USD1-2). Short trips on a mototaxi will cost you 1sol usually if you bargain.
If you chose to rent a moped and ride around yourself, feel free. Motorcycle rentals are everywhere in town and normally cost about 5 soles an hour.
Most of Puerto Maldonado's visitors use the town as a launching point, but if you are staying for a day or two, make sure to see the following:
- street art. As of Oct 7, 2014 there are some amazing street art south of the plaza de arma. I noticed some of them around tambopata Hostel, but the are spaced out in that area. Some asking and searching is required. Finding them is a fun time destroyer.
- Plaza de Armas. The main square in Puerto Maldonado is much like the main squares all throughout South America. Great for picture taking, eating ice cream, or just sitting around.
- Confluence of the Tambopata and Madre de Dios rivers. This is in the eastern-most part of town, next to the government buildings, and has a lovely courtyard great for picture taking.
- Monkey Island A medium sized island situated in the middle of the river, the home of hundreds of monkeys and several different species. Watch out the monkeys will try to "borrow" anything that is not attached to your person or not secured in a backpack. As of October 7, 2014, was told that the island is infected swarms of mosquitos by Tambopata Hostel . The monkey population had significantly declined. There within recent cases of the monkeys biting the tourist and guides. Did not go but was quoted a price of 130 soles for a 3 to 4 trip.
- Lumber yard. Although this sounds silly, those interested in tropical conservation won't want to miss this first hand look at the economic drivers behind deforestation.
- Market. Here you can buy everything from a side of beef to Led Zeppelin CD's. Goods here are slightly more expensive than in other parts of Peru, since Puerto Maldonado imports many goods from other parts of Peru and doesn't produce them themselves.
- El Jaguar Zoo & Disco. Yes, you read that correctly. Puerto Maldonado has a modest zoo complete with local fauna, and at night the place is billed as a night club. Go get trashed with the brown capuchin monkeys at this place.
- The Obelisk. An eight-story lookout tower that lets you go up for just a few soles, 3 soles as of October 7, 2014, . The outside of the obelisk has beautiful sculptures made by a local artist, telling a typical story about the jungle. Once up there you get a good view from the city/jungle and the surrounding Tambopata & Madre de Dios rivers and earth's curvature also. A good place to see the sunset.
- Rescue Snake House. A little further down the main road from the airport, rescued snake species as well as other reptiles and a rescued blind Margay (little big cat), and small museum. Worth a visit to see these creatures up close and learn a bit about them from the volunteers there
- Lake Sandoval tour . This tour is pitched by all the tour operators. Can be a one day trip for 150 soles quoted by tambopata Hostel as of Oct 7, 2014. There is a lodge near the lake so this tour can turn into a multi day tour. Usually around 180$ for 2 nights/3 days trips, at least when booked via the Tambopata Hostel.
- Tambopata reserve
- Manu Reserve Tours
- Iquitos rainforest
The relatively close Tambopata reserve park is famous for its great biodiversity but not even cheap to visit since you need a permit to enter. If you just want to see how jungle looks, you can do that outside the park much cheaper in the Tambopata Candamo Reserved Zone.
If you're feeling adventurous and want to explore the surrounding countryside, there are several places in town that rent out motorbikes.
There are also several "retreat centers" just outside Puerto Maldonado on Carretera Tambopata, including a yoga center Kapievi at km 1.5 and an animal shelter, Amazon Shelter, at km 11, with many other places to stay in between. This is a great alternative to staying in town, if you have a couple of days to spare, after a lodge stay.
- Ecoaventuras Amazonicas, Carretera La Cachuela Km. 11.5, ☎ 982709329, . A very interesting place in the amazon, only few minutes from Puerto Maldonado, you have the chance to visit the Canopy "La Cachuela", it is very recomended, for every person visiting Puerto Maldonado. 20 US$. edit
- Tambopata reserve tours, Av. Leon Velarde 116, Tambopata, ☎ 950781889, . Travel agency specializing in trips to Tambopata, with the best prices, everything included from Puerto Maldonado airport, bus station or pick up at the hotel until return, tour includes visit to the macaw clay lick. 150 US$. edit
- Peruvian Amazon (peruvian amanzon jungle), Av. Tupac Amaru ([email protected]), ☎ +51 84 226547, . Offers differents alternative tours to Tambopata and Manu reserve. edit
Many jungle lodges in the surrounding area offer complete tour programs. Some of the available lodges are as follows:
- Area de Conservacion Bahuaja Ecolodge This ecolodge is just a 2hr boat ride down the Tambopata river, nestled within a conservation area, owned by the well known musician, ecologist and shaman Alonso del Rio. Besides offering a unique stay in a virgin rainforest, it offers a 4 day/3 night program full of educational and environmental awareness activities (guided jungle walks, conservation talks, cacao ceremonies, herbolary and permaculture workshops) designed to help you reconnect with your essence, to feel part of the jungle, and to give you tools that will help you lead a more sustainable lifestyle back home. Be the change you want to see!
- Rainforest Expeditions Many package deals are done in association with this company, but you can just walk over to their counter on the right hand side of the airport and arrange your own tour there too. You can stay at any of their 3 lodges, Posada Amazonas is the closest to town (about 45 minutes by boat from Infierno), for those who want to experience the jungle without getting in too deep! Associated with the local community, this company does a lot to keep ecotourism 'green' and sustainable. And for those who really want to experience the richness of the forest, you can go right out to the famous TRC research center (about 7 hours by boat from Infierno), home to the largest claylick in the world where you will see amazing displays of parrots and macaws feeding in the mornings and always plenty of animal life around! Hand-raised macaws will even join you for breakfast! Highly recommended for birdwatchers. There is also Refugio Amazonas halfway between the two, the newest lodge and my favorite (I saw a jaguar here). The guides will amaze you with their experience of the forest, and you will leave having had an unforgettable experience. 
- Taricaya Research Center This lodge is located about 1 1/2 hours down the Madre de Dios river, and actually has the highest canopy walkway in South America (42 meters high). Run exclusively by Projects Abroad, you can arrange a day trip to this place. Besides the canopy, they have an animal release program and many other active conservation projects that make this a must see.
- Bello Horizonte Lodge Lodge with a spring fed swimming pool, situated 1 hour from Puerto Maldonado. This lodge has a great view of the jungle below. 100% of its profits go to the children’s homes “San Vincente” and “Principito”.
- Wasai Tambopata Lodge This lodge is located about 4 hours up the Tambopata River. Nice options for those interested to visit the largest macaws' clay lick of the upper Tambopata River. There are no more dwellings upstream from the lodge. The lack of people and the closeness to the Andes produces an abundance of flora and fauna not seen in other areas of the amazon.
- Wasai Puerto Maldonado Eco Lodge The hotel is in the most convenient location on the river bank,offering spectacular views of the Madre de Dios River and the amazon rain forest.
- Anaconda Lodge One of the few pretty lodges that on the outskirts of the city, surrounded by beautiful vegetation. Boasts a swimming pool and a Thai restaurant, and also offers camping.
- Sandoval Lake Lodge This one is very special because it is on the beautiful oxbow Lake Sandoval, and is very comfortably accommodated with hot water, electricity, fabulous meals, and superb guides. Plus, it is only approximately 30 minutes by boat to the 5km trail which leads to the lake, unlike most of the other lodges which need to be hours away from town in order to see wildlife. Its location on the lake (as opposed to the river) insures excellent wildlife views including the Giant Otter, Black Caimen, about a dozen species of primates, and tremendous avian variety, including the fascinating Hoatzin.
- Mejia Family Lodge If a backpacker's stay is more your style and/or budget, try this place. They are located about 1 km from Sandoval Lake Lodge and rent their bungalow style rooms (meals included) considerably cheaper than Sandoval.
- Cusco Amazonico Lodge This one is located downriver on the Madre de Dios at about 12 miles (about 45 minutes).
- Explorers' Inn This lodge is 58km up the Tambopata river from Puerto Maldonado, about 1.5 hours by boat from the community of Infierno. Attractions include the oxbow lake Cocacocha, a short hike from the lodge.
- Heath River Wildlife center This wonderful lodge is in the Heath River in the Bolivian side. Nice options for those interested in macaw clay lick and visit other ecosystem like the savannah.
- Anaconda Lodge, Between 13-32 US$, bungalows with private bathrooms and others with shared bathrooms. Located outside the towncentre so much quieter than other places, and surrounded by a botanical garden. This place has a great swimmingpool and Thai restaurant, and has a very nice vibe. You can also camp in the garden for only 20 soles a night! (about 7 US$)
- Hotel Wasai, 30 US$, with private bath, nice place on the Madre de Dios river on the northeast side of town.
- Corto Maltes, (Down River from Puerto Maldonado), . Really beautiful. Restaurant and bar overlooking the river. Has a small gift shop. wonderful food. most staff are spanish speaking only. Has gas powered electrical supply between 6 pm and 10 am only. Great activities. Nice staff. has a lookout point attached to a tall tree. no Zipline as of 2017 edit
- Amazon Planet Lodge, (Down River from Puerto Maldonado), . editBetween 25-75 US$, bungalows with private bathrooms and terraces. Located 1 hour down the Madre de Dios river and partnering with the Taricaya reserve. Here you will find the most successful rescue center in peru, home to many different species of animals including Jaguars, puma,monkeys and much more. With activities including ziplines, kayaks,walkways,botanical gardens and the highest tree canopy in south america the Amazon Planet lodge is one of the newest and most dynamic lodge in Puerto Maldonado.
- Amazon Shelter - CRCAS, Centre for Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation, 25 US$ per double room, shared bathroom but including food. This is a quiet and peaceful place, situated in the jungle, just outside town, running alongside the Tambopata River. Very hospitable owner who runs this animal shelter, where animals roam free in their natural habitat. You will see howler monkeys, capuchins, tamarins, peccaries, macaws, andcoatis amongst others, enjoy their company and learn about their history. It is on found at km 11.2 on the Carretera Tambopata, but most taxi drivers may struggle to find it, albeit it is signposted. Advise them to take "a continuacion de La Av. Ernesto Rivero, Carretera Isuyama, Circuito Tambopata". .
- Laundry. If your clothes are wet, dirty, and disgusting, and you can't take it any longer, drop by one of the many laundry services in town (there's one on Leon Velarde). They charge by the kilo, but they'll wash all your clothes for a very fair price.
- Supermarket. Next to the Obelisk
- Miscellaneous. Did you forget something? Camera batteries, perhaps? How about feminine hygiene products, guitar strings, sunblock, or some sugar-coated brazil nuts? No problem. There are dozens of shops up and down Leon Velarde, especially at the river bank (Puerto Tambopata) where you can pick up pretty much anything you would ever need.
- can buy a lot of products made from the Brazilian nut. Great for gifts and to eat. Shops everywhere sell them.
- El Hornito, in the main Plaza next to the Banco de Credito. It doesn't open until 6:30PM, but this pizzeria is worth the wait.
- Anaconda Lodge Thai Restaurant, within the lodge, 15 minutes outside of the city, a few minutes from the airport. Offers wonderful and authentic Thai food as the chef is actually from Thailand! Friendly owners and a swimming pool too.
- Tu Dulce Espera, on Leon Velarde between Dos de Mayo and the Plaza de Armas. Open most of the day (except in the hot part of the afternoon, when everything closes), this restaurant is excellent and very cheap.
- Burger Plaza, on the southwest corner of the main square. Good quality with very cheap prices.
- El Tigre, southeast of the market, this place has the best ceviche in Puerto Maldonado, and is very cheap. If you aren't a ceviche fan, order the chicharron de pescado, served with fried yucca.
- La Vaca Loca, right across the street from the main square,Fantastic steak for a great price. Great wine and a great atmosphere. Big "cow oven" inside.
- fruit maggots. - you can find skewers of fruit maggots at the Mercado at night. Lots of street vendor sells them. The big maggots are from the larvae that eats aguaje. The smaller maggots are eaters out the hungurahui fruit. A skewer costs 2 soles. Juice from these fruits are also near by. I wonder if they add protein to the fruit juice...
- Club El Witite. There is something about a Peruvian disco that makes South American travel worthwhile. Get completely bombed at this club. Don't stay out too late, though. Taxis get hard to find after midnight, and trying to explain to them where you are staying is pretty tricky after about ten beers, especially if you can't remember the name of your hotel. If this happens, just go back in the club. They stay open until about 5:00 in the morning, anyway.
- Carambola. Another decent club on the street leading up the Capitania port.
- Ruztika’s. The place to try an impressive amount of cocktails with local flavours, and has a beautiful night view of the confluence of the Madre de Dios and Tambopata rivers.
- go to the market and try the aguaje juice. Usually the fruit is also sold at the same station. Interesting taste. Apparently this jungle fruit is also healthy to eat and drink.
- Tambopata Hostel, Located in the centre of town, you are ideally placed to explore the main areas of Puerto Maldonado. The cleanest hotel I found after having stayed in the region for 3 months (and trying some that were supposedly the best!), really friendly owners, including an ex-guide very knowledgeable about the biodiversity of the area. Facilities include kitchen that you are free to use, and a lounge area with cable tv, and small library with books on the region including local wildlife and plenty of DVDs to watch. You can stay in either a group dorm (30 soles a night) or your own room with double bed (40 soles a night) Beautiful garden, hammock area, clean and simple with a wonderful relaxed atmosphere. Hop into a moto-taxi and if they don't know 'Tambopata Hostel', or 'avenida 26 de deciembre', just ask for the Plaza de Armas (main town square); carry on past the main square on the right hand side, and on reaching the top corner ask the driver to turn right (derecha) and continue up to the last road (avenida 26 de deciembre), turn right and about 10 feet on the right is the hostel. (look for the building with all the little international flags). As of October 7, 2014, the place seem to have an unusual amount of mosquitos everywhere in the hostel
- Brombu's, Located just outside the airport, this place has a small pool and clean rooms. The people here are absolutely wonderful, and the price is very reasonable.
- Hotel Bahia, Between 4 an 6 US$, with or without private bath, some rooms are rather noisy.
- Hotel Wilson, Between 4 an 6 US$, with or without private bath, safe and clean.
- Tambo de Oro, Between 2-4 US$, without private bath. Safe and clean as you can expect, but this "house of gold" won't offer you much else. Great place if you aren't too picky and are on a budget.
- "Hostel Manu", 25 soles for private room with single bed with shared bathrooms, as of October 7, 2014. The prices goes up for private washroom, as, double bed, etc. Free Internet clean and feels safe . A Peruvian hostel type, Peruvian people stay here, not likely to meet backpackers. Except for the small lobby, no real place for people to hangout. Has it own internet café, minus the cafe, right next to the lobby. Great place to sleep if you are tired of sharing a dorm with snoring backpackers. Located. Close to the.o obelisk on Fitzcarrald. Appointed the corner is a vegetative restaurant. There are a bunch of hostel similar to hostel Manu around the obelisk area.
- Anaconda Lodge, USD13-32, bungalows with private bathrooms and others with shared bathrooms. Located outside the towncentre so much quieter than other places, and surrounded by a botanical garden. This place has a great swimmingpool and Thai restaurant, and has a very nice vibe. You can also camp in the garden for only PEN20 a night! (c. USD7)
- Hotel Wasai, USD30, with private bath, nice place on the Madre de Dios river on the northeast side of town.
- Corto Maltes, (Down River from Puerto Maldonado), . Really beautiful. Restaurant and bar overlooking the river. Great activities. edit
- Amazon Shelter - CRCAS, Centre for Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation, USD25, shared bathroom but including food. This is a quiet and peaceful place, situated in the jungle, just outside town, running alongside the Tambopata River. Very hospitable owner who runs this animal shelter, where animals roam free in their natural habitat. You will see howler monkeys, capuchins, tamarins, peccaries, macaws, andcoatis amongst others, enjoy their company and learn about their history. It is on found at km 11.2 on the Carretera Tambopata, but most taxi drivers may struggle to find it, albeit it is signposted. Advise them to take "a continuacion de La Av. Ernesto Rivero, Carretera Isuyama, Circuito Tambopata".
- Internet Access. There are several places in town that offer internet access by the hour (PEN2, a bit less than USD1/h). There are two on the north side of the Plaza de Armas. Although Puerto Maldonado now has high speed cable internet, the speeds aren't quite as high as you may be used to. However, a reasonable person can check and send about a half dozen emails in about 15-20 minutes. This is much faster than it used to be. As of October 7, 2014, the internet seems pretty fast to me.
|This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!