Amazon Yarapa River Lodge
One of the best Amazon options is the Amazon Yarapa River Lodge (La Marina 124, Iquitos tel. 065/993-1172, U.S. tel. 315/952-6771, www.yarapa.com, four days/three nights US$800 s, US$1,400 d). This lodge, around the corner from the Reserva Nacional Pacaya Samiria on the pristine Río Yarapa, is surrounded by world-class jungle and oxbow lakes teeming with exotic birds, pink dolphins, sloths, and monkeys.
Along with Explorama, Amazon Yarapa River Lodge probably has the most experienced and eloquent guides in the Amazon, and they are absolutely relentless in their efforts to pinpoint as many species as possible. In a single morning we saw 30 bird species, including the rare Amazonian umbrella bird, which has a crest of black hair that earns it the nickname “the Elvis bird.”
The lodge itself is a magnificent structure with huge bungalows with private bathrooms and private rooms with shared baths. Solar-powered electricity heats the showers. The food is excellent, consisting of fresh fish and a large range of salads, and there are nice small details—like icy towels after each jungle outing. The lodge has a good relationship with villages in the vicinity, and has even acquired the titles of nearby villages so that it can help villagers stop poachers and illegal hunters. There is also a green system for everything from local building materials to flush compost toilets.
As a sign of its success, the lodge has partnered with Cornell University, which has built an adjacent research station for the professors and students who visit here each year, along with groups from The Nature Conservancy. The lodge is entirely surrounded by flooded rainforest, but guests who stay a few days often make trips to remote areas of terra firma upstream.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition