Reserva Amazónica (Lima tel. 01/610-0410 or U.S. tel. 800/442-5042, www.inkaterra.com, three days/two nights US$345–781 pp) is the most luxurious lodge, and most romantic, in the Peruvian Amazon. It was founded in 1975 and is the oldest lodge in the area. The hotel was the brainchild of José and Denise Koechlin, Peruvian ecopioneers, who also own the elegant Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel.
Near the riverbank, a sophisticated round dining building sets the tone for this lodge. This is not the kind of place where guests sit around in mud-spattered rubbers. After long walks or boat rides, guests take hot showers, get cleaned up, and take cocktails in the dining loft with hip lounge music. The elegant dinner buffet, served downstairs, features organic salads and gourmet jungle entrées like paca, which is doncella fish, tomatoes, and onions cooked inside a bamboo tube over an open fire.
There are 41 private wooden bungalows, including three luxury suites, with wood porches and hammocks, beds with mosquito netting, hot showers, kerosene lamps, and interesting touches like wooden sinks and the hotel’s own line of organic shampoo and conditioner.
Reserva Amazónica has several unique attractions. First, it is surrounded by 200 hectares of private lands plus a 10,000-hectare reserve. Second, it is the only lodge with a hanging canopy walk: 344 meters of swinging bridges that, at 27 meters off the ground, connect six treetop platforms and two towers and truly allow for a bird’s-eye view. Guests have the options of some 15 different activities while staying at the lodge, including trekking seven kilometers through the jungle, learning about the flora and fauna, piraña fishing on Lake Sandoval, and a nighttime caiman-spotting cruise.
Just downstream from the lodge, InkaTerra maintains the Fundo Concepción, an environmental research and education center run jointly with the U.S.-based ACER. The main building is the restored home of Dr. Arturo Gonzáles del Rio, a beloved local doctor who bought a steamship from the Bolivian navy in the 1930s and used it as an ambulance for local native people. The rusty girders and boilers of the boat can be seen during the walk into the center, which also has the area’s largest garden of medicinal plants.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition