Manu & Madre de Dios
Madre de Dios has Andean highlands, cloud forests and Amazonian jungle. It borders both Bolivia and Brazil. It is best known as a place to see wildlife (like the jaguar above I saw in Manu) and learn about the indigenous tribes who have inhabited the region for about 3,000 years. Learn more about them on this website and about how to support indigenous communities through buying their art on this website.
Madre de Dios is almost 7% of the territory of Peru but has only 0.4% of the population. The majority of the region is taken up by the Manu National Biosphere Reserve, and the Bahuaja-Sonene National Park, which includes the Tambopata Reserve.
This is also where you can find the Quina tree, whose bark is used to make quinine. Here’s a great BBC article about the Quina tree in Manu.
You can fly directly to Puerto Maldonado from Lima or Cusco. You can also drive from Cusco. Because most transportation is by river, not by road, it’s difficult to get around on your own in this region. The easiest way to get around is to go with a Tour Agency. Many tour agencies based in Cusco run tours and have their own lodges in Manu and other parts of Madre de Dios. The quality of these agencies varies: read our advice on Tour Agencies, first.