Tambopata National Reserve is situated to the south of the Madre de Dios (“Mother of God”) River. It is bordered to the north by the province of Tambopata, to the east by Bolivia, to the south by the Bahuaja-Sonene National Park, and to the west by the Kotsimba Native Community. In total, the National Reserve covers an area of 278,284 hectares.
The lands of the Kotsimba Native Community to the north cover an area of 186,450 hectares and serve as the Reserve’s buffer zone, extending as far as the Heath River, which is itself home to a fascinating wetland ecosystem filled with unique fauna.
The climate of Tambopata National Reserve is typical of subtropical, humid or high humidity forest, with a mean annual temperature of 26ºC, fluctuating between 10ºC during occasional unusual cold spells, and 38ºC. Such cold spells are associated with cold winds racing up the continent from the Antarctic, and they can last for a few days at a time. Maximum temperatures of 38ºC can occur frequently from September to October. Annual rainfall in the Reserve area ranges from 1600 millimeters to 2400 millimeters, with the dry season tending to run from April to December. The heaviest rains in this subtropical forest environment usually fall from January to March, although seasonal trends may vary.
Within the National Reserve, it is possible to observe animals which are now extremely rare in other, less well-protected parts of South America’s Amazon basin. These include jaguars, ocelots, anacondas, giant river otters, capybaras and tapirs. Birdlife in Tambopata is particularly rich, with almost 600 species reported within the boundaries of the reserve.
To date, researchers have recorded more than 100 species of amphibians, almost 170 species of mammals, over 100 reptiles, and in excess of 200 species of fish in Tambopata National Reserve. The protected natural area’s most endangered species include the harpy eagle and the pacarana. Among the more than 1200 plant species which the reserve is home to, harvestable species such as the Brazil nut contribute sustainably to the local economy.
It is the variety of ecosystems within the Reserve which accounts for the extraordinary biological diversity it harbors throughout its territory. The Tambopata National Reserve and its buffer zone are home to eight different types of forest. These are: subtropical humid forest, tropical humid forest, subtropical high-humidity forest, subtropical high-humidity foothills cloud forest, subtropical rainforest, tropical cloud forest foothills, subtropical lower foothills cloud forest, and semi-flooded subtropical cloud forest. Each of these delicate ecosystems contributes to the rich tapestry of teeming life contained within the forests of the Amazon basin, harboring its own harmoniously balanced species of flora and fauna.