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The world's greatest biodiversity is found in South America's vast Amazon rainforest, home to 20 percent of the world's river water, protecting over 40,000 plant species and fauna including 2,000 birds and mammals and some 2½ million insects - one in ten of all the world's species - along with many thousands of tribal peoples. After Brazil, Peru has the largest swath of Amazon, covering nearly 60 percent of the country.
And the city of Puerto Maldonado (pop. 85,000) is a fairly under-the-radar destination when one thinks of visiting the Amazon. Brazil has famous Manaus, and in Peru larger Iquitos is the place most visited. But Puerto Maldonado is a wonderful choice for a tropical town experience near large reserves and jungle lodges. A two hour flight from Lima and and hour (or eight hours by bus) from Cuzco, it sits at the confluence of the Madre de Dios and Tambopata rivers next to the border with Bolivia and Brazil. Here are the top half dozen things to do: