Founded July 10, 1902, the city was named after explorer Faustino Maldonado, who paddled up the Madre de Dios River to the point where it comes together with the Tambopata River. Puerto Maldonado is the gateway to three national parks in the Peruvian Amazon featuring an extraordinary diversity of wild species of flora and fauna: the Manu, Bahuaja-Sonene and Tambopata-Candamo.
The Manu National Park is the largest protected natural area of its kind in Peru. Spreading across the departments of Cuzco and Madre de Dios, the park covers the entire Manu River watershed.
A boatride down the Tambopata or Madre de Dios Rivers takes one to the Bahuaja-Sonene (Tambopata-Heath) National Park, while the Heath River leads to the Pampas del Heath, a unique savanna area wedged in the heart of Peru's tropical rainforest and a haven for unique animal species.
The Tambopata River leads to the Tambopata-Candamo Reserved Zone, which is famous for featuring the greatest diversity of species of mammals, trees, insects and birds on Earth.
Festivals in Madre de Dios, such as San Juan in June or Tourism and Ecological Week are good reasons to taste regional dishes and take a refreshing dip in Lake Sandoval or go fishing on Lake Valencia, while visitors can spot countless species of plants, fish and fauna in general.