Lodges near the Tambopata National Reserve
The 274,690-hectare park is known for having the greatest diversity of species of mammals, birds, insects, and trees on the planet. The Colpa de Guacamayos Macaw Clay lick, one of the largest natural licks in the world, is perhaps the highlight of any trip here, but definitely not the only wildlife attraction. Giant river otters are seen by the very lucky in one of the areas oxbow lakes, white and black caimans sit on the banks at night, herds of capybaras are easily spotted during anytime of the day. Birding here is spectacular. The plant life stunning. Insects as strange as space creatures will surprise even expert entomologists. In September of 2000, the reserve joined hands with Bahuaja-Sonene National Park and Madidi National Park in Bolivia to form a cross border park system that created the largest area of protected forest on the continent. Guides here tend to be younger and less experienced than in other parts of Peru. Many are students or volunteers from Lima and the U.S. and Europe, but manage to do a reasonable job. Lodge prices include transfers to/from the airport, three daily meals, guided tours and activities. National Park fees are not included. The entry fee is $10 for the reserve, $30 for the clay lick. The fee must be paid at INRENA in Puerto Maldonado, however, if heading to a lodge you will likely pay through the lodge. The Puesto de Control El Torre is next to the Explorer’s Inn. You must bring a passport to be stamped to get into the reserve. If coming from another park entrance the fee increases.
- Reserva Amazonica – www.inkaterra.com. Formerly Cuzco Amazonico, this lodge sits on 10,000 hectares of a private ecological reserve 15 km downriver from Puerto Maldonado. Bungalows are built in the traditional style of the Ese-Eja, an area native group. Rooms have comfortable beds, mosquito nets, and porches with hammocks. This is the only lodge where you can find a massage room. Three suites are available with private baths and warm, solar powered water. A new canopy walkway, the only one in Puerto Maldonado, gives guests access to the forest canopy. Eight kms of trails. Specialized programs for children and families. Food quality and comfort is thought to be some of the best among the lodges.
- Tambopata Lodge – Cuzco: Inversiones Maldonado S.A.C, Nueva Baja 432, 245-695, fax, 23-8911. Puerto Maldonado: Office at the corner of Prada and Velarde. www.tambopatalodge.com. Founded in 1991, however, this lodge was remodeled when it was briefly affiliated with Libertador hotels. Rooms are in completely screened in bungalows with steaming hot solar powered water, comfortable beds, mosquito nets, modern private bathrooms, and candle lighting. Solar energy lighting and electricity may soon be available. Food is quite good with three course meals for lunch and dinner, and a buffet breakfast. Bungalows have small porches with, tables, chairs, and hammocks. It is one of the most comfortable lodges in Peru. There are dining hall and bar areas, a research library with scientific data and reports on studies done at the lodge. Camping trips to the Guacamayos Clay lick can also be arranged. 25 kilometers of hiking trails are set in mainly secondary forests, most of which are on the other side of the river. The lodge is very environmentally conscious (for instance they use fiberglass boats because they last longer and save trees.) Sleeps more than 60 in a series of small bungalows.
- Explorer’s Inn – Miraflores office: Alcanfores 459, 511-447-8888, fax 511-241 8427. Cuzco Office: 23-5342, Plateros 365. Puerto Maldonado, 572-078, Fonavi H-15. www.explorersinn.com, www.peruviansafaris.com. The lodge is dedicated to conservation and focused on seeing wildlife more than perhaps any other lodge in Peru. The lodge itself is older, worn, and basic with seven, fully screened bungalows (30 rooms) with private baths and mosquito nets. Loads of information available at the lodge, a reference library, book exchange, small museum, and lectures are frequently given. This is the only lodge that operates within the actual confines of the Tambopata National Reserve, which is why more wildlife tends to be seen here than most other places. They have thirty-seven kms of trails that you can wander alone or with a guide. Arranges trips to the Guacamayos clay lick and also a smaller clay lick nearby. In operation since 1975, it is one of the oldest, most established, and most recorded lodges in Peru. Nearly 600 species of birds have been recorded on the property, a number unequivalent to any other place on the planet of similar size. They have access to an oxbow lake where a lucky few are able to see a family of giant river otters. Guides are young, well trained, very friendly and bilingual. Can arrange specialized trips and activities including ayahuasca ceremonies.
- Posada Amazonas – Miraflores: Aramburu 166, Dept. 4b, 511-421-8347, fax: 421-8183. www.perunature.com. Cusco: El Triunfo 350, 23-2772. Puerto Maldonado: Arequipa 401, 57-1056. Rainforest expeditions and the community of Infierno, a Ese’eja Indian community, of whose land it sits on, own the lodge jointly. Several tribal members are among the guides. It sits just one hour upriver from the port and directly adjacent to the border off the National Reserve. The ten structures that comprise the complex are made of a combination of palm fronds, wood, clay and cane. The 30 rooms have private baths. Programs are similar to Explorer’s Inn and the Tambopata lodge. A 35-meter tower gives guests access to the forest canopy.
- Picaflor Research Center– 57-2589, www.picaflor.org. 74km up river from Puerto Maldonado on the Tambopata River. They have 14 sq. km of rainforest as a private conservation area that they maintain it with the help of volunteers. They attract a lot of students, backpackers, and long-term travelers. Just 6 guest rooms with solar power and electricity. Guests usually help with cooking and pumping water. Remote and hands on. Volunteers ($150 for 10 nights, 3-4 hours of work per day).
- Tambopata Research Center – Miraflores: Aramburu 166, Dep. 4b. 511-421-8347, fax: 421-8183. www.perunature.com. Cuzco: El Triunfo 350, 23-2772. Puerto Maldonado: Arequipa 401, 571-056. This lodge is a bit older and has just 13 rooms, but its claim to fame is that it is just 500 meters from the world’s largest clay lick. If it is seeing macaws you are after this is the place. Many Peruvian and international researchers stay here and can be seen at the lodge among the guests. Rooms have mosquito nets and bathrooms are shared. Kerosene lighting. Located 5-6 hours from Posada Amazonas, so short stays are not always possible and rates are higher than other places. Stays here are usually combined with stays at Posada Amazonas. *Note that there are times when the macaws do not appear due to season and weather.
- Cayman Lodge Amazonie – Puerto Maldonado Office – Arequipa 655, 51-571-970, www.cayman-lodge-amazonie.com. A French and Peruvian owned lodge opened in 2005. It is located 2 ½ hours upstream from Puerto Maldonado on the Tambopata. Owner Daniel is from a family of guides and is one of the most experienced in the area. The lodge offers one of the longest and most flexible lists of programs including trips to the clay licks, Lakes Condenado and Lake Sachavacayoc, camping, and shamanic ceremonies, as well as ornithology, botany, and medicinal plant tours for professionals.
Lodges near Lago Sandoval
This attractive oxbow lake is close to Puerto Maldonado at bout 2 hours up the Rio Madre de Dios. The lake has a healthy and thriving population of giant river otters, making it one of the best places to spot this endangered creature. Black caimans, turtles, monkeys, and all sorts of bird life can be seen as well. Stay at Sandoval Lake Lodge or arrange for camping with a guide from Puerto Maldonado. Trails lead to the leak from some of the other lodges (i.e. Reserva Amazonica).
- Hacienda Concepcion – Inkaterra’s boutique property is located just 5 minutes upriver for the entrance to Lago Sandoval, which is an hour walk from the actual lake. The lodge opened in a restored hacienda in late 2011. It’s quiet, the rooms are quite nice and have hot water 24 hours per day, there are gourmet meals, and even wi-fi. Many activites take place at the larger Reserva Amazonica, including the canopy walkway. Mick Jagger was the first guest. www.byinkaterra.com.
- Sandoval Lake Lodge – 877-827-8350, www.tropicalnaturetravel.com. One of the best lodge options near Puerto Maldonado. It sits on a bluff overlooking the lake. Rooms have private baths, hot water, electric lighting, and some electricity available in the mornings and evenings. Offers a chance to see giant river otters that live in the lake and the lodge offers an overall first-rate focus on wildlife. The lodge also maintains 15 miles of rainforest trails. In regards to wildlife and setting, this lodge is widely favored by local guides.
- Corto Maltes – www.cortomaltes-amazonia.com. On the Madre De Dios, 30 minutes from Puerto Maldonado. Walking distance (5 km) from Lago Sandoval. Rooms have private hot water baths, electricity, and small porches with hammocks. Can arrange ayahuasca ceremonies, massages, and anti-stress therapies.
Lodges near Lago Valencia
Sixty Kilometers away from Puerto Maldonado near the border with Bolivia, Lago Valencia is one of the most isolated oxbow lakes, therefore has abundant wildlife. Arrange for camping, guides, and transportation from Puerto Maldonado.
- Heath River Wildlife Center – Cuzco: Plateros 361, 251-173. www.tropicalnaturetravel.com/travel/lodges/heath-river-wildlife-center.html. This lodge, opened in 2004, is owned and operated by Ese’eja Indians and Inka Natura. The ten private bungalows sit on the Bolivian bank of the Rio Heath and have private bathrooms with hot water showers. The lodge is situated very closely to a macaw clay lick and trails lead into Parque Nacional Bahuaja-Sonene. Also access to the Pampas de Heath, one of the last remaining Amazon savannahs in Peru.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.