PUERTO MALDONADO - TAMBOPATA
Puerto Maldonado is the capital of the department of Madre de Dios (Mother of God) and next to Iquitos and Pucallpa is the most important city in the Peruvian jungle. Puerto Maldonado is the touristic center for those visiting Manú National Park or the Tambopata National Reserve. This jungle center offers a wide range of activities, including visiting the National Reserves and observing flora and fauna of the Amazon, day hikes in the surrounding areas, or boat rides on the Amazon River.
Peru's Tambopata-Candamo Reserve is located in the department of Madre de Dios, just half an hour's plane ride from Cusco. In this amazing biological reserve, three different ecosystems converge together: the Amazonian plain, the eastern slopes of the Andes and the Pampas ecosystem. This environmental diversity had allowed at least 11 different types of forests to co-exist leading to an incredible biodiversity.
The number of species identified until now have truly scored world records: 1,234 types of butterflies, 592 species of birds, 152 varieties of dragonflies, 135 kinds of ants, 127 species of amphibians, 103 types of mammals, 94 species of fish, 74 kinds of reptiles, 40 species of termites and 39 varieties of bees. Amongst these are 13 endangered species including the jaguar (panthera onca), the giant otter (pteronura brasilensis), the ocelot (felis pardalis), the harpy eagle (harpia harpyja) and the giant armadillo (priodentes giganteus).
One of the highlights of the reserve is the Colpa de Guacamayos which is one of the largest natural clay licks in Peru. These copper-colored cliffs attract thousands of macaws and parrots each day who come to feed on the mineral salts contained in this area.
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Best way to visit the Tambopata, Heath and Madre de Dios jungle areas is taking a Jungle Lodge Program.
There are many more easily accessible lodges from Puerto Maldonado with much the same birds as Manu Wildlife Centre, but maybe not as birder friendly albeit less expensive. This reserve is an ecosystem that has had an unchanging evolution throughout thousands of years, housing one of the biggest variety of flora and fauna in the world. It is estimated that there are more than 1,000 bird species in the park and over 200 mammals. There are between 2,000 and 3,000 plant species, 10% of which are still unknown by scientists.
Madre de Dios River Jungle Lodges
The EcoAmazonia Lodge is located about 35 km down the Madre de Dios River from Puerto Maldonado and takes about 1½ to get their by boat. This comfortable lodge is one of the best in the region - there are 40 rustic bungalows, each with private bathroom and a screened sitting room with hammocks.
There are several trails of varying length leading from the lodge, including a 3 hour hike to a canopy observation platform. One of the highlights is the nearby Cocha Perdida lagoon. The lodge also offers boat tours along smaller tributaries. Over all this EcoAmazonia Lodge suits the capabilities and preferences of most guests making it popular with tour groups so book in advance.
Sandoval Lake Lodge
Sandoval Lake is an "oxbow lake" formed generations ago by the shifting waters of the Madre de Dios River.
Those who wish a shorter or more economical trip to excellent lowland rain forest should visit Sandoval Lake Lodge. To reach Sandoval Lake, you boat 25 minutes down the Madre de Dios River from the city of Puerto Maldonado and then walk or ride in rickshaws for 45 minutes along two miles (3 km) of flat, rain forest trail. Sandoval Lake is considered by rainforest specialists as the best and most attractive lake in the Peruvian rain forest.
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Tambopata and Heath rivers
Heath River Wildlife Center
A 6-hour riverboat journey down the Madre de Dios and Heath Rivers brings you to the remote and exciting: Heath River Wildlife Center.
The Heath River Wildlife Center lies at the hub of one of the largest multi-national tropical reserve areas in the world. Peru's Bahuaja-Sonene National Park occupies the lands west of the Heath River Wildlife Center (previously known as the Tambopata Reserve). To the north and east Peru and Bolivia share the Pampas del Heath National Sanctuary. To the south lies the Madidi National Park of Bolivia. Within an environment of primary Amazon rain forest the Heath River Wildlife Center presents unique opportunities for exciting wildlife encounters on a true Amazon adventure.
Amazon primary rain forest: miles of well-defined forest trails provide exciting viewing of a variety of animals, birds, and flora. The elusive Jaguar roams the forest while Red Howler Monkeys chase through the trees. The Heath Macaw Clay Lick is 50 minutes from the center by motorized canoe where a strategically placed floating blind allows visitors a safe and comfortable view of the early morning gathering of parrots and macaws in their quest to eat mineral-rich clay from an exposed area of the riverbank.
Itineraries to the Heath River Wildlife Center involve staying selected days/nights at both the Sandoval Lake Lodge and the Heath River Wildlife Center.
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Libertador Tambopata Jungle Lodge
Founded back in 1991, the Libertador Tambopata Lodge is one of the most established eco-tourism lodges on the banks of the Tambopata River. There are now a total of nine rainforest lodges in the Puerto Maldonado area, reinforcing the status of the region as one of the major rainforest eco-tourism destinations in South America.
With a capacity of 59 guests it is also one of the smallest lodges, which is how we intend to keep it. Smaller groups, we believe, contribute to a more fulfilling visit and reduce the impact on the many species of fauna that abound in the surrounding forest.
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Posada Amazonas Lodge
Posada Amazonas is a comfortable yet unobtrusive 24 bedroom lodge owned jointly by Rainforest Expeditions and the Ese’eja Native Community of Tambopata. Thanks to its accessibility, excellent wildlife observation opportunities, and first-class accommodations, Posada Amazonas is the ideal short, economic, introductory nature tour to Amazonia's richest rain forests.
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Tambopata Research Center
The Tambopata Research Center is a spartan yet comfortable 13 bedroom lodge built by Rainforest Expeditions with the object of lodging tourists and researchers alike and of protecting the adjacent macaw clay lick. Because of its remote location in a tract of uninhabited wilderness housing stable populations of endangered wildlife, the small scale of its infrastructure and operations and the presence of researchers and naturalist guides, Tambopata Research Center is an excellent headquarters for in-depth explorations of Amazonian nature and wildlife.
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The most famous one - Explorer's Inn still holds the world record lodge list (close to 600 species) as well as the world record for a big day (Ted Parker and Scott Robinson 331 species).
Nestled within the 240,690ha Tambopata National Reserve -one of the most bio-diverse ecosystems in the world lies Explorer’s Inn Amazon rainforest lodge & research station. It was here that world records in bird, butterfly and dragonfly biodiversity have been set and to this day remains the best lodge on the Tambopata river for wildlife sightings.
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