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Written by:
Claire Dean

Published: 14-11-2023

No history is as universal as the "Tree of Life". In Nordic mythology, a huge tree connects the nine worlds of the universe. In Iroquois legend, a pregnant woman creates the world by planting a tree on a turtle’s back. In his theory of evolution, Darwin shows that all organisms are interconnected in a single tree of life. Found deep within the heart of the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, the Shihuahuaco stands as a silent witness to millennia of history, embodying the rich tapestry of biodiversity and cultural significance that defines this extraordinary region. Allow us to unravel the mysteries surrounding this ancient giant, exploring why a visit to see a  Shihuahuaco is the adventure of a lifetime.

ipteryx micrantha is a majestic tree species found in the Amazon rainforest and other tropical regions of South America, including Peru. The Shihuahuaco tree is native to the Madre de Dios region, Manu and Tambopata reserve.You can winess these giants of the jungle on Madre de Dios Tours.

Sunshine through The Branches

Why Go on an Adventure to witness the Shihuahuaco Tree?

Embarking on a journey to look for the Shihuahuaco is a pilgrimage into the heart of the Amazon, a chance to connect with nature in its purest form. The tree, estimated to be over a thousand years old, holds secrets of generations past and echoes the vital role of the Amazon rainforest in maintaining the ecological balance of our planet. If one species embodies the tree of life in the modern day, it is the Dipteryx micrantha, known as the Shihuahuaco in Peru. Of approximately 390 billion trees growing in the Amazon, Shihuahuacos are among the tallest and most ancient trees. They take about one millennium to grow to full height of up to 60 m or 200 feet. The only place to witness this incredible tree is the Peruvian Amazon rainforest which is the main reason to visit this remote region of the Amazon.

Shihuahuaco trees are towering canopy trees that can reach heights of up to 50 meters (165 feet) or more, with straight trunks and a broad canopy. In the Tambopata Reserve, The Madre de Dios lodge- Corto Maltes located on the banks of the Madre de Dios River, houses a number of these gentle giants.

Giant Tree Trunk

Why a Shihuahuaco Adventure is Worth It

The allure of Shihuahuaco lies not only in its incredible age but also in the impressive biodiversity that surrounds it. The Amazon rainforest, home to an astonishing array of flora and fauna, reveals itself in all its glory as you venture deeper into this green sanctuary of The Peruvian Amazon. Moreover, the cultural significance of Shihuahuaco to local indigenous communities adds a layer of depth to the experience, offering a profound connection with the history and traditions of the region.

Stay at the Inkterra Hacienda Concepcion on  Madre de Dios tours. This eco-lodge is located in the Tambopata National Reserve in southeastern Peru. Found deep in the Amazon rainforest, this lodge offers a unique opportunity to immerse in nature while experiencing the comforts of sustainable accommodation in the jungle.

Shihuahuaco Trees on the Riverbank

Itinerary Options to see the Shihuahuaco Tree

Half-Day Exploration: Ideal for those with time constraints, this option includes a guided trek to see the Shihuahuaco, providing a glimpse into its grandeur. You can visit parts of the rainforest in Madre de Dios from your chosen jungle lodge on a half-day excursion from a number of different eco-lodges near Puerto Maldonado.

Full-Day Adventure: For a more immersive experience, extend your visit to explore the diverse ecosystems where the Shihuahuaco grows and learn about the indigenous communities that call this region home. You can also learn about the different species that depend on the Shihuahuaco as their habitat from its roots to its canopy.

Multi-Day Adventures: Jungle lodges such as Posada Amazonas, Inkaterra Hacienda Conception, and Corto Maldes Amazonia Lodge in the Amazon rainforest of Madre de Dios offer 3, 4, or 5-day trips to immerse yourself in the beauty of the Amazon rainforest, where the magnificent Shihuahuaco resides.

Inkaterra Field Station offers a unique and immersive experience for travelers looking for a Madre de Dios lodge. This lodge is perfect to explore the Amazon rainforest and contributing to conservation and research efforts. The Field Station is perfect for exploration in the Peruvian Amazon.

Studying The  Shihuahuaco 

How Difficult is the Shihuahuaco Tree Trip?

The difficulty level varies based on the chosen itinerary. While a half-day trip is suitable for most fitness levels, a full-day adventure may involve more challenging terrain in the deeper jungle and a spirit of adventure is a necessity when visiting the depths of the Amazon Jungle. It's essential to communicate your fitness level to your guide for a tailored experience. Most jungle excursions are catered for all fitness levels and the activities can be opted out of if you prefer to rest in the lodge.

Posada Amazonas is a unique eco-lodge located in the Tambopata National Reserve. The lodge offers Madre de Dios tours to experience The Peruvian Amazon Rainforest.  You can experience the incredible biodiversity of the Amazon while supporting local communities and conservation efforts.

Knowledgeable Guide

TripAdvisor Comments about the Shihuahuaco Tree

"The trek to see the Shihuahuaco tree was a transformative experience. Our guide, Juan, was incredibly knowledgeable, making the journey not only adventurous but also educational. The majesty of the tree and the surrounding rainforest left me in awe."
“Standing before a Shihuahuaco felt like stepping into a living time capsule. The sheer magnitude of this ancient tree left me in awe. Our guide, Rafael, shared captivating stories about the tree's history, turning the visit into a fascinating journey through the Amazon's past."
"Shihuahuaco isn't just a tree; it's a silent monarch reigning over the Amazon. Our guide, Isabella, skillfully highlighted the significance of this millenary giant. The peaceful aura around the tree made it a serene and meditative experience."
"Walking up to a Shihuahuaco tree felt like entering the realm of giants. Our guide, Diego, provided a close-up look at the intricate patterns of the tree's bark and the sprawling canopy above. It's a mesmerizing encounter with nature's architecture."
"For any nature photographer, Shihuahuaco trees are a dream come true. The play of light through the branches and the textures of the bark creates an ever-changing canvas. Our guide, Sofia, knew the best angles, turning each snapshot into a piece of art."
"Shihuahuaco, a silent witness to centuries gone by, seemed to whisper tales of ancient civilizations. Our guide, Marco, shared legends and folklore, adding a mystical layer to this encounter with a living piece of Amazonian history."

See more Tripadvisor comments about the Amazon Jungle in general here:

The Eco Amazonia Lodge is perfect for Madre de Dios tours,  due to its location in the Tambopata National Reserve. The reserve is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, with 169 mammal species, 632 bird species, and more than 1,000 butterfly species.

Amazon Jungle

Can You Do a Trip to see the Shihuahuaco Tree without a Guide?

While independent exploration is possible, having a knowledgeable guide enhances the experience. A guide provides insights into the flora, fauna, and cultural significance, ensuring a richer understanding of the region. The Amazon rainforest is not generally an area that you should explore on your own and a knowledgeable local person will know the terrain and weather conditions much better than a visitor. This is why we always recommend trips into the Peruvian rainforest with an experienced guide.

Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica offers Madre de Dios tours that allow guests to explore the rainforest and learn about its biodiversity. Guided hikes and canopy walks take you to spot many different wildlife species and the enormous Shihuahuaco tree.

Tall Shihuahuaco Tree

What to Consider On A Trip to see the Shihuahuaco Tree

Weather: The Amazon has a tropical climate; be prepared for rain and humidity.
Health Precautions: Consult a healthcare professional for necessary vaccinations and carry essential medications. Malaria, zika, and dengue can all be present in The Amazon Jungle, so it is important to take precautions.
Environmental Impact: Follow responsible tourism practices to minimize your ecological footprint.

Immerse yourself in the rich biodiversity of The Amazon rainforest. Madre de Dios tours offer vibrant rainforest, exotic wildlife, and immersion in the rich biodiversity of this incredible ecosystem.

Rare Shihuahuaco Tree

How to Get to see the Shihuahuaco

Access to the Amazon Rainforest to see the Shihuahuaco typically involves a flight to Iquitos, or to Puerto Maldonado followed by a combination of road and boat transportation. Arrange transport with a local tour operator or guidelike Valencia Travel who will see you safely to your eco lodge and take care of the jungle excursions, all included in the package.

After visiting the jungles of Peru it is now time to head to the highland region of The Andes. This 2 weeks in Peru offers the best way to see both fascinating regions of the country, on the same Peru tour!

Conservation Efforts

Must-Pack for a Shihuahuaco Excursion

  • Lightweight, long-sleeved clothing

  • Insect repellent

  • Sturdy hiking boots

  • Rain gear

  • Binoculars for bird-watching

  • Camera

  • Water bottle and snacks

From the vibrant colors of the Amazon rainforest to the tranquil waters of the Madre de Dios River, this region offers a truly unforgettable experience for nature lovers and adventurers alike. No matter which Madre de Dios lodge you choose, adventure is guaranteed!

Fallen Shihuahuaco Tree Trunk

How to Prepare for a Shihuahuaco Excursion

  • Familiarize yourself with the local customs and respect indigenous traditions.

  • Stay informed about the current conditions in the Amazon.

  • Go with a reputable company and guide

  • Always take plenty of water

  • Investigate the local wildlife in the region

hether you're seeking adventure or simply want to connect with nature, a Madre de Dios tour has something for everyone.

Shihuahuaco Tree from a Distance

Pro Tips for a Shihuahuaco Excursion

  • Start your day early to maximize wildlife sightings.

  • Engage with local communities respectfully, seeking permission before taking photographs.

  • Avoid the heat of the day by setting out early

  • Keep hydrated.

  • Lodges provide rubber boots for wet conditions in The Amazon rainforest...use them if recommended!

Magical Peru, where the Andes meet the Amazon all on our multi-destination, two week Peru itinerary itinerary.

Magestic Shihuahuaco Tree

How Much Does It Cost to See the Shihuahuaco Trees?

Costs vary based on the chosen itinerary and whether you opt for a guided tour. A half-day excursion may range from $50 to $100, from Puerto Maldonado, while a full-day adventure can be upwards of $150, inclusive of guide fees and transportation. A  4-day tour of The Amazon Jungle is generally around the $700 USD mark, all included (without flights).

The Shihuahuaco tree seen on Madre de Dios tours, serves as a vital habitat for a variety of bird species in the Amazon rainforest. Its large size and dense canopy provide shelter, nesting sites, and food sources for many birds, making it a crucial component of the local ecosystem in Tambopata

Endangered Harpy Eagle

FAQs about The Shihuahuaco Visit

Is it safe to visit areas with the Shihuahuaco?

Yes, with proper preparation and a knowledgeable guide, the trip is generally safe.

Are there accommodation options near the Shihuahuaco Trees?

Accommodations are available in nearby towns like Iquitos, in the North and in eco lodges near Puerto Maldonado in the Madres de Dios region, plan accordingly.

Can I visit the Amazon to see the Shihuahuaco tree all year round?

The Amazon experiences a wet and dry season; it's advisable to check weather conditions before planning your trip.

Is Shihuahuaco accessible to all fitness levels?

The accessibility depends on the chosen tour. The half-day option involves a moderate walk suitable for most fitness levels, while the full-day adventure may include more challenging terrain. It's recommended to inform your guide about your fitness level for personalized guidance.

Can I touch or hug Shihuahuaco?

While it's tempting to get close to this ancient giant, touching or hugging Shihuahuaco is discouraged to ensure the preservation of its delicate ecosystem. Guides provide ample opportunities for observation and appreciation without causing harm.

Are there any restrictions on photography around Shihuahuaco?

Photography is generally allowed, but it's essential to follow the guidelines provided by your guide. Some indigenous communities may request permission before photographing certain areas out of respect for their traditions.

Is it possible to visit the Shihuahuaco trees during the rainy season?

Yes, it's possible to visit Shihuahuaco year-round. However, during the rainy season, paths may be muddier, and there might be increased chances of rain. It's advisable to check weather conditions and bring appropriate gear.

Are there specific rules for interacting with indigenous communities during the visit?

Yes, respecting the customs and traditions of indigenous communities is crucial. Always seek permission before taking photographs, and follow the guidance of your guide to ensure a culturally sensitive experience.

Is there any wildlife around Shihuahuaco?

Shihuahuaco is part of a vibrant ecosystem, and wildlife sightings are possible. While the tree itself is not a hotspot for wildlife, the surrounding rainforest is teeming with diverse species. Your guide can help you spot unique birds, insects, and possibly some mammals.

Can I bring children on the Shihuahuaco adventure?

Yes, children can join the adventure, especially on the half-day trek. It's important to consider the specific needs of the child, inform your guide in advance, and choose an itinerary that suits the family.

Do I need special equipment for the visit?

Basic equipment such as comfortable clothing, sturdy hiking boots, and insect repellent is recommended. Your guide will provide additional information on any specific equipment needed based on your chosen itinerary.

Can I visit Shihuahuaco without a guide?

While it's technically possible, having a guide enhances the experience by providing insights into the tree's history, and the surrounding ecosystem, and ensuring a safe journey. Guides are also well-versed in responsible tourism practices.

Is there a specific time of day recommended for visiting Shihuahuaco?

While Shihuahuaco is awe-inspiring at any time, early morning or late afternoon visits offer unique lighting conditions and increased chances of spotting wildlife. Consult with your guide to plan the best time based on your preferences.

The presence of the Shihuahuaco tree at Madre de Dios lodges highlights its importance in the rainforest. Supporting a diverse array of wildlife. conservation efforts to protect the Shihuahuaco tree and its habitat are essential for maintaining biodiversity.

Lungs of The World

A journey to see the Shihuahuaco tree promises not only a glimpse into the past but also a profound appreciation for the delicate balance that sustains the Amazon rainforest. The whispers of the ancient tree echo the urgent need to protect and preserve this natural wonder for generations to come. Unfortunately the excellent wood and charcoal from the Shihuahuaco have become the death of these trees. It’s estimated in Peru alone over a period of 10 years nearly 300,000 Shihuahuaco trees have been felled for their timber. The Shihahuaco tree supports populations of wildlife such as bats which act as pollinators distributing the seeds throughout the forest, and nests for birds like the endangered Harpy eagle and Agoutis which live in their roots. Sustainable and responsible travel such as eco-tours to the regions where the Shihahuaco tree grows, will help with the preservation of this incredible tree species and the different wildlife that depends on "The Tree of Life" for its natural habitat-find out more here.

Experience the awe-inspiring beauty of the Shihuahuaco tree in Tambopata with our custom Madre de Dios tours. Contact us today, and let us design the perfect itinerary for you, ensuring you see the majestic Shihuahuaco tree and the stunning biodiversity of Madre de Dios.

Amazon Forest Floor