Close to the city of Puerto Maldonado, in the jungles of southeastern Peru, is Tambopata National Reserve, one of Peru’s most important protected natural areas, and one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. A trip to Tambopata is a true gift from nature.
Tambopata National Reserve is situated in the department of Madre de Dios, in southeastern Peru and on the border with Brazil. Its proximity to the city of Puerto Maldonado, which can be reached via daily scheduled flights from Lima and Cusco, makes it one of the most accessible unspoiled rainforest destinations in South America.
Tambopata National Reserve is divided into different zones: In certain parts of the reserve, ecotourism and recreational use with officially authorized ecotourism companies are allowed, while in the special use and strict protection areas, only scientific research is permitted. The forests of Tambopata are the habitat of hundreds of species of flora and fauna: up to 632 species of birds, 1200 species of butterflies, 103 amphibians, 180 types of fish, 169 mammal species and 103 kinds of reptile have been recorded within the borders of the National Reserve.
Across its almost 300,000 hectares, Tambopata National Reserve offers endless opportunities for wildlife observation and exploration of remote corners of the jungle. Major attractions within this protected natural area include its large lakes, including Lake Sachavacayoc. But the most unique attractions of Tambopata National Reserve are its clay licks, where hundreds of macaws, parrots and parakeets gather.
Tambopata National Reserve is famous for its macaw species. Their striking plumage is an astonishing sight, as they fly over forests or lakes. It is possible to see these birds up close at the Reserve’s clay licks, where they arrive together with other avian and mammal species to feed on the clay containing nutrients essential to their diet.
The best known clay licks are El Chuncho and Colorado, and it is best to visit these unique attractions in the early morning, when the birds arrive. To visit these clay licks, it is necessary to hire the services of a reputable ecotourism company. At our own Tambopata Ecolodge, we offer clay lick visits accompanied by experienced naturalist guides, as part of our 4- and 5-day jungle itineraries.
Oxbow lakes are among the best places to spot wildlife in Tambopata National Reserve. While some lakes are better known to guidebooks and travelers, other less accessible lakes are equally impressive and should not be missed by visitors with at least a few days to spend in the Reserve. At Tambopata Ecolodge, we offer as part of our full-board, all-inclusive 3-, 4- and 5-day fully escorted and guided packages, the chance to visit the beautiful Sachavacayoc and Condenado lakes. The waters of rainforest lakes attract birdlife, and they are home to caimans and even giant river otters.
As we have already mentioned, Tambopata National Reserve is the closest area of protected primary forest to the town of Puerto Maldonado, so the first step on your Peru vacation jungle adventure will be to get to this town. Puerto Maldonado can be reached by plane from Lima or Cusco, and there are also regular bus services from Cusco, for those with more time to spare. From Puerto Maldonado, it takes between two and three hours to reach our eco-lodge, where our own protected Private Conservation Area borders the forests of Tambopata National Reserve.