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May 15, 2007 18:43:01 | in Puerto Maldonado

Peru: Puerto Maldonado city guide

(Written by Elise van der Heijden, kindly provided by Anaconda Lodge -link-)

00Peru: Puerto Maldonado city guide
 
© Photo by Helard Aguilar Centeno
Are you going to Puerto Maldonado, into the heart of the Amazon to marvel at its abundantly colourful wildlife, but would also like to get to know the town itself? Search no more, we’ve brought together an in-depth city guide for you, covering all the ingredients that make up your exploration: cultural attractions, shopping, eating and last but not least, the nightlife.

Arrival

You arrive at the Padre Aldamiz International Airport after an hour’s flight from Cusco or Lima. Greeted by the hot and humid climate of the rainforest, there is no mistake you’ve arrived at the rainforest, and just outside the terminal you will start to hear animal sounds and marvel at the variety of tropical vegetation. The airport has 2 interesting attractions just a stone’s throw away: The Serpent’s House is a refuge for sick and wounded snakes and other reptiles, whose local volunteers offer an interesting tour that will leave you a lot more acquainted and possible less fearful of this mysterious animal.

The other attraction doesn’t require quite as much nerve: Japipi is a butterfly house, their garden housing a wonderfully colourful range of butterflies of the region, and offers an interesting tour educating visitors about the rainforest ecosystem and biodiversity.

Shopping

The main square, the Plaza de Armas is a good place to start exploring the city’s shops, with various souvenir shops on its flanks. Continue by following the road Leon Velarde, which has several clothing shops, tourist agencies and pharmacies (a good opportunity to get insect repellent for those who’d forgotten). Jump in the back of a motortaxi to take you to the city’s Mercado Modelo to get some wonderful fresh fruit of the region, or freshly baked bread, as well as a sense of what everyday life is like for the locals in this jungle city. If you are lucky, it might even be in the right season to try “suri”, a worm the locals love eating roasted, and also swear by its healing properties for throat infections.

Sights

00Peru: Puerto Maldonado city guide
 
© Anaconda Lodge
A short walk or taxi ride from the market there is the Obelisk, a 5-story lookout point that for just a few soles gives you an excellent view over the city and the surrounding rainforest. On a clear day you might even see a faint outline of the Andes mountain range!

It would be foolish to miss out on a visit to “La Cachuela”, an area protected because of the high amount of animals (including some endangered species) living in its boundaries, just outside of the city, which because of its low urbanization has remained incredibly tranquil, and is a very accessible opportunity to see different plants and animals.

You can rent a taxi to take you here in about 15 minutes, or you can opt for a little bit more adventure and independence, and decide to rent a couple of motorbikes, the most common way of transport in the city. Returning from La Cachuela you can stop by The Jaguar, a center for animals from the rainforests that were once used as pets, but were sadly abandoned by their owners.

Taking a tour around the center with the very knowledgeable local guide will teach you a great deal about these inhabitants of the rainforest, and will probably introduce you to one or two of its mysterious myths.

Returning to the Plaza de Armas, after an essential stop at the Heladería del Cura, undoubtedly the best place to refresh yourself with a delicious ice cream or juice made of local fruits, turn a corner to get to La Capitanía, the first port of the city, which also makes for a great lookout point to observe the confluence of the rivers Madre de Dios and Tambopata.

Local flavors

To see what the city has on the menu, the Plaza de Armas is a good place to start your culinary exploration. La Vaca Loca and Carne Brava are two nice restaurants right on the square, offering a variety of meat dishes. There are also various pizzerias and a Brazilian restaurant for international dishes. To try the dish Peruvians cannot live without, “pollo a la brasa” their delicious charcoal-grilled chicken, head down to the chicken-house Las Estrellas on the Leon Velarde, 4 blocks down from the main square.

One block down on the same street, you will find La Casa Nostra, a restaurant that apart from its delicious main dishes also serves up nice juices, coffee and cakes. Although miles and miles away from the sea, the city also has an excellent cevicheria, a restaurant that
00Peru: Puerto Maldonado city guide
 
 
© Photo by Helard Aguilar Centeno
serves up the famous seafood dish “ceviche”. La cevichería el Tigre, is everybody’s favorite, and you will find it just one block from the Mercado Modelo.

Nightlife

Winding down is what a holiday is about, and if that includes getting a taste of jungle nightlife, Puerto Maldonado has a few good spots for you to do so. Not surprisingly, nightlife is also centered around the main square. For a drink around here we recommend Tsaica, or Marley’s pub.

Ruztika’s, one block from the square has a beautiful night view of the river Madre de Dios, and an impressive cocktail list. Cocktails are locally themed, so don’t be afraid to try a Pineapple Pisco or a Shushuhuasi Shooter! The best clubs to go dancing are the Witite and the Carambola, both located on side streets off the plaza, serving up a variety of music until late at night.


Visit Anaconda Lodge's official website here (Link)


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