In the 1970s, biologists began exploring the rainforest canopy, experimenting with tree-climbing gear, platforms, and even hot-air balloons to study little-known plants and animals which lived only in the tree-tops.
Two decades later, naturalists at Explorama’s Field Station began constructing canopy platforms, linked by hanging bridges, near the Napo River, 160 km (100 miles) from Iquitos. With 14 platforms supporting a series of tree-top suspension bridges, the 500 m (2,640 ft) long walkway is now among the longest anywhere.
The walkway, enclosed in netting, gives superb and unique views of the rainforest canopy undulating off to the horizon. The opportunities of for seeing tree-top birds, lizards, and orchids are excellent, but mammal sightings are rare. Binoculars, water, and sun protection are essential.
Accessible to anyone able to climb stairs and with a head for heights, a visit to Explorama's Canopy Walkway is offered in itineraries when staying at their lodges: Ceiba Tops, Explorama Lodge or ExplorNapo.
For many visitors ascending into the canopy is a real highlight of their Amazon experience. Going one step further, the ambitious Treehouse Lodge on the Yarapa River, near the Pacaya Samiria Reserve, allows visitors to stay in the canopy, in eight specially-constructed bedrooms, that are connected by suspended bridges. The highest tree house is 20 m (67 ft) off the ground, so the views - even when lying in bed - are spectacular.
If you do not like the idea of sleeping under a mosquito net, in a room with no walls, suspended from a tree in the Amazon jungle, then the walkways can simply be enjoyed as an excursion from the Amatista cruise ship.
The luxury cruise ship Delfin I includes a visit to another canopy walkway, in the privately-owned Amazon Camp that lies on the north bank of the Marañon River, upstream from Nauta. It has eight hanging bridges, extending for 500 m (1,640 ft), at a height of over 35 m (115 ft) and is accessible to all.
Northern Peru does not have a monopoly on canopy walkways, though. Inkaterra has built an eight-platform walkway at its Reserva Amazonica Lodge on the Madre de Dios River, near Puerto Maldonado, in Peru's southern Amazon. Visitors need to climb a 28.4 m (93 ft) tower to access the 344 m (1,130 ft) of walkways, which take about 90 minutes to traverse at leisure, before descending a second tower of 29 m (95 ft).
Connected to the Canopy Walkway is the Canopy Tree House, 27 m (90 ft) off the ground. Like the Treehouse Lodge bedrooms, this is fully furnished with twin beds, table and chairs, lavatory and windows with removable mosquito netting (for better nature observation). Moreover, guests here can call upon the services of the Canopy Butler, who can be contacted by walkie-talkie to provide snacks and drinks, when wanted! The tree house is accordingly popular with people celebrating special occasions, such as a honeymoon or anniversary, and looking for a memorable, unique experience.
In the same region, Rainforest Expeditions has built high viewing platforms at its Posada Amazonas and Refugio Amazonas lodges on the Tambopata River.
So, there are now a number of ways to enjoy the Amazon Rain Forest's flora and fauna-rich canopy, which previously could only be looked at from below. Peru North can assist with booking any of the lodges or cruises mentioned. Just get in touch.