Santa Elena natural reserve in the Peruvian Amazon – San Martín

Come and discover Santa Elena natural reserve, which is located a few kilometers away from Rioja city, in the region San Martín. Let’s try a nice dugout canoe ride in the middle of the Peruvian Amazon.

The visit begins at a little hut where you’ll be warmly welcomed. The trips have been organized by the Romero river Association of Conservation of Aguajales & Renacales (Asociación de Conservación de Aguajales y Renacales Río Romero) which is employing about a dozen of people.

You will have the possibility to choose between three rides:

  • Ride N°1: 2:30 hours two-way ride
  • Ride N°2: 4 hours two-way ride
  • Ride N°3: 4 hours ride to Puerto El Eden or 6 hours two-way ride

Recommended by Goforcolor:

We chose the 4 hours two-way ride, for which we paid about 15 € each. The basic prices are not individual ones but group prices. The total amount will then be divided into the number of participants (8 people max. will be permitted on board).

Once you have one foot on board, you just leave yourself drive by the river and this is where the adventure begins…The little boat gets lost in the middle of the Amazon forest. The only thing surrounding you are thousands of trees of a deep green with endless branches. Remaining still and discreet, you’ll be able to see little monkeys hidden in these trees! For those who like to take pictures, you’ll have to be reactive because these little monkeys are quicker than you!

Santa Elena Monkey
Santa Elena Monkeys - Mom with its baby
Santa Elena Monkeys
Jumping Monkeys - Santa Elena

During the ride, you will also observe certain bird species, such as the kingfisher, or other birds (whose name I unfortunately forgot!) with amazing colors. The guide will tell you some anecdotes, such as when one night, fishers discovered a 13 meters anaconda deep in the water…Real or not? You will ask him during your next trip!

At the end of the ride, you will enjoy a nice and typical meal from the Peruvian Amazon: a local specialty made of rice, manioc, chorizo and plantain bananas (typical bananas from the Amazon), served with a delicious fresh fruit juice. One of the most consumed piece of fruit in the Amazon is the Cocona. It’s a little orange piece of fruit similar to the pepper and generally served as a “refresco” (refreshment). A real delight! 🙂

Meal cost: about 4 €, drink included.

Practical advice and info:

In general, for every walk or ride in the Amazon forest, think about protecting yourself against mosquitoes and other little insects with a spray bought before departure. You should also think about bringing a sweater or raincoat if you’re travelling during the rainy season. Always have sports shoes in your backpack because walking with flip-flops in the forest isn’t that practical…! Finally, try to be accompanied by a local guide or person to discover the Amazon. Don’t play Robinson Crusoe! Only the seasoned backpackers could possibly do it without a guide.

How to go to Santa Elena?

Take a combi from Moyobamba to Rioja (2 s/. per person – about 0,70 €), then take a taxi or mototaxi until Santa Elena (5 s/. per person – about 1,70 €). The taxi will take you to the reserve door.

Canoe ride at the natural reserve of Santa Elena - Peruvian Amazon