General Data

• Location: The department of Madre de Dios is located in the southeastern part of Peru comprising jungle territories.

• Area: 85 183 km2

• Capital: Puerto Maldonado (183 masl)

• Altitude: 183 masl (Puerto Maldonado) Lowest town. 500 masl (Boca Manu) highest town.

• Average annual temperature: 26º C (34º C maximum and 21º C minimum).

• Rainy season: December to March.

Access Routes

• By land: The most recommended routes are as follows: Lima-Arequipa-Cusco-Puerto Maldonado (2 024 km). The trip takes about 44 h. Lima-Nasca-Abancay-Cusco-Puerto Maldonado (1 621 km). The trip takes about 39 h.

• By land – by river: From Cusco to Paucartambo-Salvación by land, from Boca Manu-Colorado on boat along the Madre de Dios river to Puerto Maldonado, the trip takes about 4 days.

• By air: There are routine flights from Lima (about 1 h 30 min) and Cusco (about 45 min).

Historical Overview

There is evidence of human presence in this region before the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. Petroglyphs have been found in the Palotoa-Shinkebenia and Urubamba rivers, as well as in the Pantiacolla Mountain Range (in the high upper heads of Madre de Dios river) where remains have also been found. The first settlers of Madre de Dios are believed to have appeared thousands of years ago with the arrival of the Arahuacos, from which tribe many other ethnic groups emerged. Later on, they had contact with the Incas and the Spaniards. Puerto Maldonado was founded by the First Superintendent and Supreme Delegate of the Government, Don Juan S. Villalta, on July 10th, 1 902, on what is now known as Pueblo Viejo. The name Puerto Maldonado is an homage to the brave explorer Faustino Maldonado who traveled along the waters of the Madre de Dios river and engraved his name on the trunk of a large tree in the confluence of the Madre de Dios and Tambopata rivers. However, it was not until 1985 that the date of the foundation of Puerto Maldonado was made official.

Attraction in the city

Ancash Archaeological Museum
Av. Luzuriaga 762, Huaraz. Phone: (044) 72-1819 / 72-1551. Visits: Monday to Saturday 9:00-17:00, Sunday 9:00-14:00. Collection of pieces from the Chavin, Recuay, Huaraz, Mochica, Chimú and Huari cultures. Textiles, ceramics and pre-Columbian lithic pieces.

Señor de La Soledad Sanctuary
Plazuela del Señor de la Soledad. Phone: (044) 72-1073. Visits: Monday to Sunday 8:00-13:00 and 15:00-18:00. Located in the Barrio de La Soledad. This is the Huaraz Patron’s Church. Rataquenua Watchtower Located 7 km from the city of Huaraz (east of the hill), where visitors can enjoy the city’s landscape.

Outskirts of the city of Puerto Maldonado

Manu Biosphere Reserve
The Manu National Park, spreading across 1 532 806 ha, is the largest protected natural area of its kind in Peru. Together with the Reserved Zone and the Cultural Zone, it forms what is known as the Manu Biosphere Reserve (recognized by the UNESCO in 1 977). Located in the departments of Cusco and Madre de Dios, it spreads across the entire basin of the Manu river. Visits to the National Park are not allowed. However, the adjacent Reserved Zone and Cultural Zone have the same attractions and several tourist lodgings. There are many access routes to the Manu Reserve, the main ones departing from the city of Cusco, by land (about 12 h) up to Atalaya or Shintuya, and then by river (about 6 h) through the Alto Madre de Dios and Manu rivers, or by air (about 30 minutes) up to the locality of Boca Manu and then on boat along the Manu river (about 4 h).

Macaw Clay Lick
Located in the Tambopata-Candamo Zone, on the left bank of the Tambopata river, 70 km from Puerto Maldonado and about 8 h ride on motorboat, this area is known for its variety of macaws and because it is the largest colpa (clay lick) in the Peruvian Amazon region, gathering a large number of macaws, parrots and parakeets. Every morning at 6:00 a.m. these birds perform their fluttering ritual before ingesting clay in the river bank. This spectacle lasts approximately 25 to 30 minutes, after which the birds leave to return the next day. Bahuaja-Sonene National Park (Tambopata-Heath) Bearing a local native name, this conservation unit spreads across 320 thousand hectares. It is located in the province of Tambopata, department of Madre de Dios, about 5 h travel along the Tambopata river or 1 day along the Madre de Dios river. The park is home to an extraordinary variety of species of wildlife flora and fauna. (*)

Pampas del Heath
Located southeast of Puerto Maldonado, the trip starts in Puerto Maldonado, sailing down the Madre de Dios river up to the Heath river (about 4 h), then sailing along Heath river (1 day). These pampas are the sole vegetation formation of the savanna type, buried deep in the heart of the Peruvian rainforest. They are also used as shelters by unique species of wildlife fauna. At present, this place has become part of the Bahuaja-Sonene National Park. (*)

Reserved Zone Located 40 km from Puerto Maldonado and 3 h sailing the Tambopata river on a motorized canoe, the reserved zone comprises the basin of Tambopata, Malinoswki and La Torre rivers, as well as Tavara and Candamo rivers. On the north, the zone goes along the edge of Madre de Dios river. Most of the forest inside the reserve is intact. (*)

Tres Cruces
This natural lookout is located in a road off the Paucartambo-Salvación Highway. Access can be reached from Cusco. This area is famous for the white ray phenomenon that takes place while the sun appears on the horizon. The light irradiated by the sun when it crosses the atmosphere becomes distorted as if it were crossing a prism, producing the illusion of three suns at a time, one of which seems to be bouncing. This peculiar swinging of the sunlight takes place in the dawn of the winter solstice (June 22nd). On any date, however, it is possible to see spectacular dawnings when the sun seems to emerge from the cloudy jungle, which visitors can make out far to the east more than 100 km away.

Sandoval Lake
Located on the right bank of Madre de Dios river, 10 km from Puerto Maldonado. The trip on motorboat takes approximately 25 minutes followed by a 1 ½ h walk in the forest. During the journey visitors can observe a large variety of flora species such as orchids, platanillos and hugurahuis. As regards wildlife fauna, there are large numbers of ducks, giant otters, caimans, wild chickens (shansho), turtles (charapas) and a large variety of fish such as paiche. There is a section in the lake in which temperature ranges from 20º C to 24º C, here visitors can enjoy a refreshing bath free of danger. Experienced rowers take visitors on canoes on excursions across the lake to watch the wildlife flora and the birds that live in the surroundings.

Valencia Lake
This lake is located 60 km from Puerto Maldonado. In the four hour ride on motor boat visitors can see the settlements of the Huaracayos, an aboriginal tribe. There is a great variety of flora and fauna all over this lake. Fishing lovers will find a large variety of fish species. (* ) Note: To go into the Tambopata or Manu Reserve Zone, the Bahuaja-Sonene National Park and Pampas de Heath, visitors must request an authorization at the office of INRENA (see Directory of Institutions).


The traditional dances of this region are characterized for being vivid representations of animal life, myths, legends and mysteries of the jungle. The best examples include the changanakuy, the otorongo and the suri as well as its festivities.


Visitors can purchase some typical jungle handicrafts such as arrows and bows, decorated with exotic feathers and mobiles made of beautiful paiche fish scales. Note: Exportation of any object (crown or collar) made with feathers from macaws or palos de lluvia is forbidden unless one has an authorization from INRENA.


The Sacred Cross of Chalpón. (February and August) Very popular religious festivity in northern Peru. The Cross of Chalpón which appeared in the year 1 868, is venerated in the province of Motupe. Large numbers of devotees from different places both from Peru and abroad gather here during the festivity, making it one of the deepest expressions of religious fervor.


• Airport

• Land Transport

• Railroad Transport

• Health Centers

• Police Stations

• Handicrafts Markets

• Post Office