The city of Puerto Maldonado is located in The Madre de Dios (Mother of God) region in Peru. This beautiful city sits between large hectares of protected Amazonian rainforest. It is divided into three protected areas: Manu National Park, Tambopata National Reserve and Bahuaja-Sonene National Park which contain mainly virgin forest.
Puerto Maldonado is considered for many as the capital of the Amazon jungle in the southern part of Peru, it is one of the most well-preserved areas of biodiversity on the planet. The city has only been accessible in recent years, which is the reason why this jungle has been area explored by scientist and biologist only recently. Let yourself be enchanted by this majestic natural wonder, accompany me on this adventure exploring one of the main Natural Parks in this region, walking among large trees, admiring exotic animals and extraordinary landscapes.
Welcome to Tambopata Natural Reserve!
What to do
Madre de Dios river
Our adventure started in Puerto Maldonado, it is in this city where two important river converge: Tambopata and Madre de Dios. We took a speedboat that brought us on a journey down the Madre de Dios River for about two hours to the Ecolucerna Lodge where we were staying. Along the river you can admire the beautiful vegetation that makes a beautiful contrast with the river.
It is very easy to spot different species of animals on the banks of the Tambopata River. An interesting fact is that the Tambopata reserve hosts at least 1,200 species of butterflies, 632 species of birds, 126 species of amphibians, 169 species of mammals, and 74 species of reptiles.
Searching for Caimans
Of the 6 species of Caimans that exits in the planet, 4 of them are found in Tambopata. Two Caimans, the Spectacled Caiman and the Black Caiman are common to see. Not long time ago, the black Caiman was classified as an endangered specie, hunted for their skin, which was used for shoes, wallets and handbags. Nowadays, the black Caimans are protected and it is recovering in numbers, balancing the ecosystem and controlling the population of other predators.
The Caimans like to wander around the reserve alone, and the best way to spot a Caiman is at night when they are very active. They feed on amphibians, insects, fish and other birds and reptiles. We had to go on a slow boat on the river, shining a flashlight along the riverbanks allows you to spot two red eyes between the bushes, an adult Caiman has been found!
Jungle Night Walk
A different and more exciting way to experience Tambopata is by walking in the jungle at night. In the morning, it is the best time of the day to see birds and a variety of flowers and trees. However, after dark is where the rare insects and reptiles are more active, some of them will create loud noises!
A head torch or flashlight is required to do this walk, keep your ears alert for any noises coming from the bushes. My best advice is to avoid touching the trees or branches, perhaps you inadvertently can touch an animal that can sting you. Also, please DO NOT touch the animals, especially the colorful ones as some of them are poisonous.
A green frog waiting for a fly to have as a snack…
Visiting the Otters at Sandoval Lake
Not far from Ecolucerna Lodge, it is the beautiful Sandoval Lake. It is accessed by walking on a path for about 4km each way to get to the visitors pier. The lake is only accessible by boat through a small canal. Beautiful mangroves can been seen in this area.
The protected Sandoval Lake Reserve is very peaceful, and it is a great place to spot the extraordinary diversity of fauna.
All different types of birds..
Observing the beauty of the landscape, this is the perfect place to observe the playful Otters. The otters move in groups and families, it is common to spot a mother teaching a cub how to catch a prey.
The river seems very calm, this reserve is the habitat of monkeys, macaws, alligators and piranhas (although, it is very difficult to spot them due to the dark color of the water).
Sunset in the Amazon
Watching the sunset from the boat is just magical!…
Where to stay
The best way to finish the day is to have a good night sleep surrounded by the beautiful sounds of the river and Amazonian animals. The place we can recommend to stay is the beautiful eco-friendly Ecolucerna Lodge. Run by a friendly family, Ecolucerna is a relaxed and intimate lodge located right in the Amazon jungle, near the Tambopata Natural Reserve. The closeness of the lodge with the Reserve offers plenty of opportunities to do boat trips and hiking excursions that allows you to see the local wildlife.
Ecolucerna offer cabin accommodation built using rustic material with a luxury finish. They offer private cabins with matrimonial and shared rooms all with private bathroom. The lodge does not have hot water or air conditioning and uses very little electricity allowing guests to experience and enjoy the nature that surrounds them. Perfect for a romantic getaway, or family/friends looking to immerse themselves in the Amazonian rain-forest experience.
The lodge offers all the daily excursions mentioned above plus also piranha fishing and visiting an indigenous local community. Their restaurant is particularly beautiful, and a great place to sample the delicious and varied local cuisines on offer.
How to get here?
Domestic flight: Commercial flights leave daily from Lima and Cuzco to Puerto Maldonado airport (official name: Padre José Aldamiz airport). The airport is located 7 Km outside the town. A tuk-tuk or moto taxi can bring you to town for 8-10 soles.
By land: via the Puerto Maldonado–Cuzco Road (the journey takes 10 hours) and youu arrive in the bus terminal. From here you can take a tuk-tuk that can bring you to town for 5 soles, the ride is 10 minutes. I do recommend traveling with Cruz del Sur.
What to bring:
Although, the temperatures are high in Tambopata, I do recommend to wear long-sleeved shirts or a light jacket that can cover your arms to avoid been stung by mosquitoes or other insects. At night, the mosquito nets will prevent at unwanted guests.
Here are some suggestions:
- Small day-pack
- Camera and long lens(ideal).
- Long cotton pants
- Long sleeved t-shirts/top.
- Hiking boots
- Rain jacket or rain poncho
- Sun lotion and hat
- Flashlight (headlamp) with batteries
- Insect repellent
Do I need vaccination to go to Tambopata?
I recommend to visit physician 4-6 week prior to your travel who can tell you which vaccinations are recommend according to your health and inoculation history. Yellow Fever shot is a must.
Have you visited Tambopata? or Would you like to visit it? Leave us a comment below.