By Anthony Giardenelli
For an Authentic Amazon River Tour. Choose Iquitos, not Puerto Maldonado.
One of the most common misconceptions about travelling to Peru is that you can visit the Amazon River from Puerto Maldonado. This is completely false, that is the equivalent of saying that a hummingbird is equal to an ostrich. The Madre de Dios River in Puerto Maldonado is Less than 400 meters wide. The Amazon River near Iquitos is over 4,000 meters wide.
That is a difference of 3,600 meters of width of the river. So when you want to decide where to go ask yourself this:
Do I want to see a small tributary of the Amazon River , or do I actually want to see the Amazon River?
The River Madre De Dios in Puerto Maldonado is a small mountain tributary with very restricted access and sometimes downright dangerous to navigate (mudslides and flash floods ). Yes there are wildlife opportunities but they are distinct to those found in the Iquitos Region.
Here in the real Amazon River, we have two species of freshwater dolphins, giant lily pads and extensive flooded forest to explore. Aside from that, we have access to relatively easily traveled terrain in the lowlands, permitting us to hike or trek for days at a time in a straight line. The flexibility that we have to maneuver from one river to another through flooded forest is unmatched.
Unfortunately the powers that be (Special interest groups from Cuzco, Lima that have their lodges in PM) want to funnel the Amazon River Tourism to PM, how do I know? The fact that we cannot have direct flights to Iquitos from Cuzco. If there were direct flights from Cuzco to Iquitos, very few people would go to PM and would rather see the Amazon River Itself and not backtrack to Lima to get a flight to Iquitos.
This is one of the biggest frustrations for tourists and travel companies alike. The majority of people who visit Cuzco also want to visit the Amazon. If they are short on airfare, they are forced to go to PM instead of being able to fly a circuit LIM/CUZ/IQT/LIM , they are forced to fly LIM/CUZ/LIM/IQT/LIM, do you see the problem here? There has been a conglomerate of companies fighting for direct flights to Iquitos but their petitions fall on the deaf ears and blind eyes of special interests with political liaisons in Cuzco and Lima.
So we will be here, fighting the good fight. Begging for equal tourist access to Iquitos. Until than, The Amazon River is in Iquitos and not Puerto Maldonado!!!!