Tambopata Jungle Adventure Tour 4 Days
$449 | Rating 4.81 / 5 [44 ratings]
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Madre de Dios, Peru
Protecting a huge swathe of the Peruvian Amazon, this landscape of meandering waterways – cutting through cloud-forest-covered mountains and spreading over a vast area of lowland jungle has one of the greatest biodiversity levels on Earth.
There are eight different life zones with more than 150 species of tree, 100 species of mammal and 1,300 species of butterfly. Many endangered animals hunted to the brink of extinction elsewhere in the Amazon are still found here, including jaguar, Brazilian tapir, giant river otter and the Harpy Eagle – the largest eagle in the world.
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Most visitors reach the area via the jungle city of Puerto Maldonado, which has a small domestic airport with regular flights from Cusco and Lima. From here, the many lodges strung along the main rivers – the Madre de Dios and Tambopata offer accommodation and excursions into and around the reserve. These organised outings are the only way to access Tambopata.
Many excursions are by boat, but some trips require a few kilometres of jungle hiking. The further you are from Puerto Maldonado, the wilder the forest and rivers are, with the best lodges near the Scientific Research Centre on the Upper Tambopata, some five hours from town.
Dress in your jungle explorer finest: light poncho, mosquito repellent with DEET and light clothes you don’t mind getting mucky. A waterproof camera bag is helpful too, as are binoculars and a good torch with spare batteries.
Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica is a renowned luxury lodge, right across the river from the reserve, that organises hikes, paddles, birding walks, fishing trips and visits to a botanical garden chock full of medicinal plants.
The Tambopata Eco Lodge, on the banks of the Tambopata River within the Tambopata Reserve, is a comfortable lodge that organises hikes, quiet paddles on oxbow lakes and visits to a clay lick that attracts colourful macaws.
The Park is accessible via official lodge tours, which take place year-round.
The rainy season (January to April) in the southern Amazon is intense and it becomes almost impossible to see wildlife. The best season to visit is between May and September.
Dawn and dusk are the best times to see wildlife, including monkeys (keep an ear peeled for bellowing howlers) and more than 650 species of bird. Early morning canoe trips to Lago Sandoval, an oxbow lake inside the reserve, offer a prime opportunity to spot giant river otters, giant river turtles and the occasional anaconda.
At night, a whole host of other animals come to life in the forest. Night-time tours offer the chance to spy caiman, tarantulas and saucer-eyed night monkeys.
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Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first
Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios, Peru[49.6 miles]
Upscale rainforest hotel, with spa, in its own reserve offers boutique comfort within easy access of Puerto Maldonado airport. It’s also close to the superb Tambopata National Reserve.
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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience
A land of spectacular deserts, high mountains and rainforests that teem with wildlife, Peru is also home to an array of dramatically situated pre-Colombian ruins, including Machu Picchu.