The Amazon is so large and remote that the idea of visiting it can feel overwhelming. “Where should I go and how would I get there?” are the first of many questions travelers need to answer when planning a trip to the jungle. While there are several ways to access the Amazon, Pacaya-Samiria National Park is one of the best. The well-protected biodiverse landscape of Pacaya-Samiria awaits to show you everything you were hoping to experience in the Amazon and much, much more.
In this travel guide, not only do we tell you more about why Pacaya-Samiria is a top Amazon destination but we also tell you everything you need to know about traveling there. Find out how you can visit, what you will see and experience, what accommodation you can find, and when to go.
Where is Pacaya-Samiria National Park?
Pacaya-Samiria National Park is situated deep within the Peruvian Amazon, far from civilization. Iquitos, the nearest city and only access point to Pacaya-Samiria, lies 114 miles northeast of the park’s parameters. Its remoteness and national park status make it the Peruvian Amazon’s best destination for experiencing the jungle authentically.
How Can I Visit Pacaya-Samiria National Park?
As a protected national park deep within the Amazon jungle that’s only accessible by boat, reaching Pacaya-Samiria requires guidance and local knowledge of the region’s intricately woven river veins. Therefore, the park is only accessible on a guided tour or riverboat cruise. There are also opportunities to stay in jungle lodges around the park with resident guides who provide immersive jungle activities and experiences. All tours and cruises begin in Iquitos, the nearest city with its own airport. Discover our Luxury Amazon Jungle Tours to find out more.
What Makes Pacaya-Samiria National Park a Top Amazon Destination?
As an untameable wilderness filled with foreign sights and sounds, the Amazon often seems like a mystical place far, far from human reach. Those who endeavor to venture there find themselves with a sense of satisfaction in their wanderlust and a renewed sense of childlike curiosity for the strange new world that surrounds them.
Covering more than 20,000 square km of the Amazon, Pacaya-Samiria National Park is the second-largest reserve in the entire rainforest. It protects the exceptional biodiversity resulting from the flooded whitewater forest which creates a warm and moist environment for plants and animals to thrive.
The beauty of nature, especially when left untouched, is its boundlessness and nowhere demonstrates that better than the biodiverse Pacaya-Samiria National Park. Whether visiting on a land-based adventure or riverboat cruise, you will get to partake in a range of immersive activities that allow you to see and experience this boundlessness for yourself. With a local naturalist guide by your side throughout, you’ll also get to learn about the Amazon’s plants and animals, the processes of its ecosystem, and its conservation.
What Wildlife Can I See in Pacaya-Samiria National Park?
Pacaya-Samiria National Park has become a protected land because its whitewater forests make it one of the Amazon’s most biodiverse destinations. Between the swelling rivers, crawling floors, and dizzying canopy of the rainforest hides more than 500 species of bird, 100 species of mammals, 130 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 965 species of plants and trees, all of which is hard to find anywhere else in the world. Here is some of the wildlife most commonly found on an Amazon exploration:
- Pink river dolphins
What are the Best Things to Do in Pacaya-Samiria National Park?
A visit to Pacaya-Samiria National Park is all about getting acquainted with its unique natural environment and its unruly wildlife. Whether you visit the park on a riverboat cruise or a land-based stay, the excursions provided will ensure you will do just that. Here’s an example of what you might experience in a typical Amazon jungle itinerary:
Try traditional piranha fishing
It’s no secret the Amazon River is infested with flesh-eating fish and you can see these toothy creatures for yourself when piranha fishing. To do so, you’ll be given a traditional Amazonian fishing rod but the rest is up to you.
Spot Caiman on a nighttime boat ride
Caiman are abundant in the Amazon River but they are designed to blend in and spotting them is not easy. Those up for the challenge will be rewarded with mesmerizing sightings of the small but deadly ‘miniature alligators’. Caiman spotting tours take place at night time on small river boats that can weave along the riverbanks where they often hide.
Join nocturnal animals on a night walk
If you only experience the Amazon during the daytime, you have only experienced half of it. The other half of the Amazon experience happens at night when a whole Noah’s Ark of nocturnal animals come out to play. On a night walk through the jungle, you will have the chance to spot these nocturnal animals as well as those obscured by the light of day. By shining a torch on the ground and trees, you’ll find many eyes glaring back at you from toads to tarantulas.
Discover the jungle during daylight
On a daytime jungle walk, your naturalist guide will help you spot an abundance of animal species including monkeys, sloths, snakes, and birds, and watch them interact with their amazing habitat. The guide will also share their knowledge on the jungle’s edible and poisonous plants and trees as you walk cautiously between them.
Visit a local village
Although wildlife rules the Amazon, there are still several indigenous tribes living amongst it and they’re waiting to welcome you to their home. On a visit to a tribal village, you’ll be greeted with the traditional song and dance, taste the local’s homemade food, and buy their skillfully made handicrafts. Best of all, you will get to see what their day-to-day life in the Amazon looks like.
Kayaking through the mangroves
Mangroves are a major part of the Amazonian ecosystem which makes them an essential part of the jungle to see and explore. The best way to do this is by kayak where you can weave seamlessly between the trees from the riverbanks to the flooded interior.
Become a birdwatcher
Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher or a first-timer, your love of birds will grow exponentially after birdwatching in the Amazon. After all, it’s home to the world’s most colorful and unusual bird species including hyacinth macaws, toucans, scarlet ibis, and many other birds of paradise.
What is the Accommodation Like in Pacaya-Samiria National Park?
To keep Pacaya-Samiria National Park undisturbed by tourism, the area forbids large intrusive hotel resorts. Instead, find simple jungle lodges made from natural local materials and blend seamlessly into the jungle itself providing guests with an immersive Amazon experience. While the lodges are somewhat simple, they provide everything one needs for a comfortable stay.
Meanwhile, Amazon river cruises allow you to immerse in the jungle’s wild side without having to compromise on luxury. Expect spacious suites with private balconies, a spa, a gym, a restaurant, and an atmospheric lounge. After an exhilarating day kayaking along the river and walking along the muddy jungle floor, the riverboat acts as a haven to return to and feel refreshed ready for the next day’s adventure.
Find out more about the best Amazon River Cruises here.
How Much Time to Spend in Pacaya-Samiria National Park?
Pacaya-Samiria National Park is so wondrous that it deserves all the time you can give it. Since the park is a long way from its access point (Iquitos), it requires at least four days to explore including travel time. Tours are typically either three, four, or seven nights and the longer you stay, the more you will get to see and experience. We recommend a four or seven-night riverboat cruise for the best Amazon Jungle exploration.
When is the Best Time to Visit Pacaya-Samiria National Park?
It’s possible to visit Pacaya-Samiria National Park year-round. The Amazon only experiences two seasons, the wet season between October and April, and the dry season between May and September. While the dry season allows you to do more land-based activities, the jungles are flooded in the wet season which allows you to explore more by boat.
Find out more about the best times to visit the Amazon here.
Should I book Pacaya-Samiria National Park in advance?
Booking your stay or cruise in Pacaya-Samiria National Park in advance is highly recommended. To find the best hotels, guides, and booking deals, book through TLA. As a travel agency specializing in Amazonian adventure, we will ensure your trip includes the very best Pacaya-Samiria National Park has to offer in a smooth and efficient itinerary. To enquire, message us here or call on +1 855 217 9045.