Last week I was able to finally visit one of the most famous national parks in the Peruvian Southern Amazon Rainforest; the Tambopata National Park. I booked my trip with the very well-reviewed Reserva Amazonica Lodge by InkaTerra and following I will try to give an overview of what those three days were like.
We arrived to the city of Puerto Maldonado around noon and were immediately welcomed by Frank, InkaTerra’s transfer person. We were transported to the Inkaterra Butterfly House located at about 5 minutes from the airport and here they processed our check-in. Only 30 minutes into Puerto Maldonado and we already started to feel the heat and humidity making the fresh (and ice-cold!!) juice together with a cold towel a more than welcoming “welcome gift”.
As the staff were processing our check-in and took our flight details for the return flight we had some time to enjoy their beautiful butterfly house. While walking through this large “netted tent” built around a tropical garden we learnt that the Tambopata National Park holds about 1,200 different species of butterflies and in this house they were exposing just a few. The butterflies were much larger than you would see in any park in the US and their colors quite impressive. After this “starters” excursion in the butterfly house we were now ready for the real stuff.
We hopped back on the bus again, many of us a lot lighter dressed than on arrival at the airport and the bus took us through the city of Puerto Maldonado to the pier to embark by boat to the lodge. Here we enjoyed the breeze of the river while our luggage was being transferred to the boat. 5 minutes later it was our turn and we set off for our lodge. Puerto Maldonado is located on the confluence of two rivers; the Madre de Dios, a tributary of the Amazon River and the Tambopata River flowing out into the Madre de Dios. People mainly come to Puerto Maldonado to visit the Tambopata National Park. The Tambopata National Park is located downstream from Puerto Maldonado, nestled in between the Madre de Dios and the Tambopata River. The region has several lodges all scattered along both these rivers and lodges can be located from 30 minutes from Puerto Maldonado all the way to about 7 hours from the city. The lodge we were heading to the Reserva Amazonica is likely one of the better lodges in the region and is located about 45 minutes in boat from Puerto Maldonado. The boat trip takes you over the impressive Madre de Dios River lined on both sides with walls of green that signalize the jungle borders.
On arrival to the lodge we were guided to the main house, an impressive wooden building of about 15 meters high all made of local materials such as wood and palm leaves. The main house is the common area where meals are served and on the second floor one can find comfortable couches to relax and enjoy the surrounding jungle. After another more than necessary cold juice and a short briefing we were served a spectacular lunch of typical Peruvian and jungle dishes. At 5.30pm we were expected back at the research center to receive the briefing for the next two days. At InkaTerra Reserva Amazonica the activities and excursions are more or less a la carte and therefore together with another couple in our group we were able to put together our program for the next two days based on our preferences. We agree that in the evening we wanted to do the boat tour on the river to spot for nocturnal animals and that on the next day we would visit the Lake Sandoval and Hacienda Concepcion and in the evening do another evening walk. On day three we decided to do the Canopy Walkway before heading back to Puerto Maldonado and Cusco. We were presented with our guide Alberto who would take care of us for the next days and had another hour to relax and enjoy the lodge before setting off for our first actual excursion. We took advantage of this time to go and explore our lodge. Our luggage had already been taken to our lodge and Frank showed us around our lodge and the grounds. The lodge was situated on the banks of the river among about 20 other lodges, they were located at a distance from each other to give you a sense of privacy. The lodges were connected with the main building though a network of wooden paths and the area was very well taken care of.
The lodge was divided into three parts; the first part being an open porch with two chairs and two hammocks that could be separated from the second (the sleeping part) by a blind that could be pulled away. In the middle of the second part you can find a large bed with a mosquito net above it and some nice wooden furniture. The third part is together with the second part and has a large shower and toilet and between a sink and mirror to freshen up. The second and third part can be closed in the evening so that you have some privacy but still feel the jungle as the high sealing allows all the jungle noises to come into the lodge.
At 6.30 we were expected again at the research center to start our first evening excursion. We left the lodge in a smaller boat and set off for the other side of the river. By the time we got there the night had completely fallen and our guide with the help of a huge flashlight started searching the river banks for wildlife. It did not take long before the first signs of life started showing up; turtles, bats, and we even saw a small capybara (small jungle rodent) before our guide spotted the price of the night; a caiman…and another and another…meanwhile during all this we were enjoying the cool breeze of wind running though our hair on the boat and the cacophony of jungle noises all around. Before we realized we were already on the boat for over an hour and it was time to head back and enjoy dinner at the lodge. Dinner was a la carte and provided us with the necessary full stomach to head back to our lodge and fall asleep peacefully with the sound of hundreds of birds and plants in the background.