The Grand Amazon Lodge is a sanctuary in Amazonian paradise that is part of the Peruvian Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo Reserve. Their location is close to the official start of the Amazon River at Ucamara, the confluence of the Ucayali and Maranon Rivers. For those adventurous types seeking to check off bucketlist items, a special-fee trip can be booked to the start of the Amazon. Afterwards, celebrate checking-off another bucketlist item with a certificate that commemorates your Amazon accomplishment.
Unique among the outlying lodges, the Grand Amazon Lodge offers necessary luxuries like Wifi and chef-inspired cuisine, while located in one of the most remote and wildlife-populated places in Peru. Virgin forests surround the riverfront property, sheltering a biodiversity of flora and fauna that provide authentic and pristine experiences that will top any bucketlist adventure.
An unparalleled benefit is that all guests per booking receive their own private bilingual naturalist/guide to explore the local surroundings and river communities such as San Juan de Yanayacu village. This allows guests to pursue their special interests with their guide curating their experience. The lodge excels in providing intimate, personalized-service.
Of special note is that the Grand Amazon Lodge is surrounded by the black and acidic waters of the Yanayacu river. This is what keeps the area free of mosquitoes that carry malaria, yellow fever, and Zica. That is not true of many lodges closer to Iquitos or downriver. Nevertheless, you will still want to bring your insect repellent.
The place is owned and operated by a team of five scientists dedicated to “educate, preserve and give unforgettable experiences.” All of them are passionate about the river, rainforest, and providing sustainability and an environmental ethos to the local river communities and the Riberenos people for the present and future.
After being picked up at the Iquitos airport by the Lodge’s van, we headed to the resort. After about an hour, we arrived at the village of San Joaquin, where we switched up transportation modes and boarded a high-speed power boat to take us to the Lodge, downriver for two more hours. Passing through second-growth forest and some clear cut areas, we saw first-hand the impact and devastation of logging on the river. As we got closer to the lodge, the canopy was decidedly taller and with an emerald hue. We were now entering virgin growth.
We were welcomed with a refreshing drink upon arrival and then assigned our suite. The resort is an all-inclusive price with airport transportation, gourmet meals, WiFi, riverfront bungalows, and custom tours as part of the package. Tips for the guide and staff are the only items not covered.
My fiance and I stayed in the Matrimonial Suite, a spacious hand-crafted room made from sustainably-harvested Capirona wood. Greeting us were two swans shaped from towels with rose petals on either side. All rooms have riverfront views and are outfitted with electricity, private balcony, and hammock. The modern bathrooms feature cold refreshing showers – a jungle staple in coping with the high humidity and heat of the tropics. I wasn’t sure about the cold showers at first, but I soon found out that I welcomed them in lieu of my traditional hot showers back home.
Wildlife abounds in the tropical rainforest surrounding the Grand Amazon Lodge. Expect to find macaws, howler monkeys, capibara, pink dolphins, pirana, anaconda and so much more. If you are lucky you might have a night photographic encounter with the elusive Owl Monkeys. Over 1,000 species are recorded in this area. This includes 600 species of birds and 10 species of monkeys, making it prime territory for primates. But be advised that no alarm clock is needed in this neck of the woods. Chances are you will be awoken around 4 am by the distinctive loud hoots of the howler monkeys in the high canopy. This will be followed by a medley of birds greeting the morning as they search for breakfast.
Medicinal plant walks can be requested and are included in the price of the stay. Learn from your guide the curative powers of the rainforest. Even nowadays, scientists continue to make discoveries about the healing powers of various plants. Be sure to ask about dragonblood.
I most highly recommend Grand Amazon Lodge & Tours for one of the best jungle lodge experiences. In fact, this is my favorite property on the riverbanks of the Peruvian Amazon. Remote yet accessible, it is only three hours from the jungle gateway city of Iquitos. Secluded yet most enchanting, it truly is an emerald paradise here on earth. The cuisine is far superior to any other lodge I have stayed at in the Peruvian Amazon. Perhaps it is because one of the owners celebrates her Italian heritage by providing personal oversight through various meal offerings that reflect her country’s love of food. They may be Italian in concept, but the dishes take on a unique fusion by incorporating the bountiful diversity of Peruvian ingredients. For those celebrating their engagement, marriage, anniversary or birthday, this place is about as special as it gets. With advance notice, they will take care of the details.
All-inclusive package prices start at $572 for 3 days/2 nights per person. I highly recommend a minimum of 4-5 nights for a more complete Amazonian experience. Plus, the more nights you stay, the less expensive each night becomes. For reservations, call 858.435.0234 for booking or contact Grand Amazon Lodge & Tours. You can also book the lodge and tour through Expedia.
Check their website for special discounts that appear on a regular basis. Another way to save. And be sure to check out the sterling reviews the property has received on Trip Advisor by guests from all over the world.
Peru has now opened its borders for international flights as of October 1, 2020. If you are looking for soft adventure with wildlife encounters, jungle luxury rooms, and tantalizing contemporary and regional cuisine, this choice should be at the top of any nature lover’s bucketlist.