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Touring the Tambopata National Reserve

Tierras Vivas Travel > Touring the Tambopata National Reserve

Touring the Tambopata National Reserve

The Tambopata National Reserve is located south of the Madre de Dios River in the Tambopata and Inambari districts of the Tambopata province, Madre de Dios department; and its extension is 274 690.00 hectares. The presence of this important protected natural area seeks to conserve the flora, fauna and ecological processes of a sample of the tropical rainforest. Likewise, the Tambopata National Reserve generates conservation processes that ensure the sustainable use of natural resources and the landscape.

The Tambopata river basin has one of the highest rates of biological diversity in the world. The Tambopata National Reserve is located in the middle and lower zone of this basin, neighboring the city of Puerto Maldonado. Among its most common ecosystems are aguajales, swamps, pacales and riparian forests, whose physical characteristics allow local people to take advantage of natural resources. 

It is also located adjacent to the Bahuaja Sonene National Park that surrounds it entirely to the south, forming with it a highly important protection unit for the country. The existing connectivity with the protected natural areas of the department (the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve and the Alto Purús and Manu national parks) and those of neighboring Bolivia, supports the existence of the proposed Vilcabamba – Amboró biological corridor. 

The Tambopata National Reserve is home to mainly aquatic habitats that are used as stopovers for more than 40 species of transcontinental migratory birds. The national reserve protects important species considered to be in danger of extinction and offers tourism a privileged destination for observing the diversity of flora and fauna. 

In the buffer zone are the native communities of Palma Real, Sonene and Infierno belonging to the ethnolinguistic group Ese ’Eja; and the Kotsimba native community of the Puquirieri ethnolinguistic group.

Flora and Fauna

In the Tambopata National Reserve, the presence of more than 632 species of birds, 1,200 of butterflies, 103 of amphibians, 180 of fish, 169 of mammals and 103 of reptiles has been reported. Inside there are healthy habitats for the recovery and refuge of threatened populations of species such as the river wolf (Pteronura brasiliensis), the otter (Lontra longicaudis) and felines such as the yaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi), the puma (Puma concolor), the jaguar (Panthera onca), the ocelot or tigrillo (Leopardus pardalis) and the margay (Leopardus wiedii). 

Among the species of primates are the maquisapa (Ateles chamek), the pichico (Saguinus fuscicollis), the emperor pichico (Saguinus imperator), the preserve monkey (Alouatta seniculus), the black-headed monkey (Aotus nigriceps), the woolly monkey (Lagothrix lagotricha), the friar (Saimiri boliviensis), the squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus), the white machín (Cebus albifrons) and the black machín (Cebus apella).

Other species of mammals that stand out among the wild fauna are the sachavaca (Tapirus terrestris), the huangana (Tayassu pecari), the sajino (Tayassu tajacu), the red deer (Mazama americana), the gray deer (Mazama gouazoubira) and the sloths. two-toed (Choloepus hoffmanni) and three-toed (Bradypus variegatus). 

Regarding birds, the presence of the harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja), the crested eagle (Morphus guianensis), the common curassow (Mitu tuberosa), the unicorn curassow (Pauxi unicornis) and the carunculated curassow (Crax globulosa) stand out. In the Tambopata National Reserve there are almost all the species of macaws that inhabit Peru. 

The reptiles are represented mainly by the emerald boa (Corallus caninus), the machaco parrot (Bothrops bilineatus), the boa constrictor (Boa constrictor) and the shushupe (Lachesis muta). It is also common to observe the black caiman (Melanosuchus niger), the white caiman (Caiman crocodylus) and the taricaya (Podocnemis unifilis). 

The fish also present a great variety, among them the boquichico (Prochilodus nigricans), the jumping zúngaro (Brachyplatystoma filamentosum), the yahuarachi (Potamorrhyna latior), the dorado (Brachyplatystoma flavicans) and the paco (Piaractus brachipomun). Non-commercial fish include tarpon (Brycon spp.), Mullet (Schizodon fasciatus) and catfish (Pimelodus sp.). 

In the Tambopata National Reserve there are different types of vegetation, among the main plant associations are the aguajales in the sedimentation plains, the pacales, the terrace forests and the gallery forests. 17 plant associations by forest type and a total of 1,255 plant species have been identified. 

A very important species that is conserved in the Tambopata National Reserve is the chestnut (Bertholletia excelsa), which grows in non-flooded terraces of the Amazon lowland forest. In Peru it is located exclusively in the eastern fringe of the department of Madre de Dios and is the most important commercial non-timber species, with great impact on the local economy. It is a valuable part of the habitat of numerous species of mammals as it constitutes a source of food, as well as a shelter for the nesting of birds of prey.

Location and access

The Tambopata National Reserve is located south of the Madre de Dios River in the Tambopata and Inambari districts of the Tambopata province. 

It limits by the North with the province of Tambopata of the department of Madre de Dios; by the East with Bolivia; to the South with the Bahuaja Sonene National Park; and to the West with the Native Community of Kotsimba. 

To get to the Reserve, you must start from Puerto Maldonado, where the Tambopata and Madre de Dios rivers meet; access is by river. 

Tourist routes

The most visited tourist destination is Lake Sandoval, located in the Madre de Dios river basin. This 127-hectare body of water is surrounded by palm trees full of macaws and is only half an hour by river from Puerto Maldonado. In its waters, which can be traveled in tour boats rented by local people and shelters, there is a large family of river wolves that can be seen hunting and preening on the logs. There is also an observatory tower for a panoramic view. 

In the Tambopata river basin, upstream, there are other important lakes, such as Cocococha, 2 hours from Puerto Maldonado and also with the presence of river wolves; and Sachavacayoc, located 3 hours from Puerto Maldonado where there is a camping area to spend the night. 

Crossing the Tambopata river is the El Gato creek with its waterfall. Very close to there are the Baltimorillo rapids. The characteristic attractions of Tambopata are the clay licks that are found on the banks of the rivers, gathering hundreds of birds (macaws, hawks and parrots) offering a spectacular show of color and sound (all this especially between 5:30 and 9: 00 am). 

Mammals such as sajinos, huanganas and sachavacas flock to the mountain or inland clay licks, generally at night. The Chuncho and Colorado clay licks are located on the left bank of the Tambopata River. The latter is considered the largest known clay lick in the entire Peruvian Amazon. Within the Tambopata National Reserve, various places with various clay licks and various beaches have been identified where, in addition, you can see alligators, sachavacas, ronsocos and other species. 

What to do in the Tambopata National Reserve?

The Tambopata National Reserve has an interpretation center on the way to Lake Sandoval and 8 checkpoints. In Lake Cocococha there is a hideout-viewpoint, camping areas in the Chuncho and Colorado clay licks, a camping area and jetty in Lake Sachavacayoc, an observation tower and jetty in Lake Sandoval, and piers in the Condenado lakes and in the La Torre checkpoint. 

There are also private companies that provide accommodation within the protected area, which guarantees that the stay in this imposing corner of the country is pleasant and that it can be used to the maximum. 


The average annual temperature is 26º C, fluctuating between 10º and 38º C. Low temperatures are conditioned by cold Antarctic winds that come through the Andes and enter the Amazon basin. The presence of cold winds occurs with greater intensity in the months of June and July. The rains occur in the months of December to March.

Other Tours in the Amazon of Perú

There are the top tours in the Peruvian Amazon such as Iquitos Explore JungleAmazon Rainforest in Puerto Maldonado and Manu in Cusco. These services involves the experience inside to the jungle, you could view flora and fauna of Peru. But you could upgrade the experience of your holidays to Peru. You can extent your holiday to add the Cusco city in your itinerary and hike to Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail is the most famous pedestrian path in the Americas. After flying from the capital of Peru, Lima, you will arrive in Cusco to walk for four days along a path through forests and dense fog, millenary stone steps and discovering the ruins of ancient fortifications and Inca cities, and all the time enjoying majestic views.

If you want to visit Machu Picchu, we recommend you to book your Machu Picchu Ticket in advance, so you will enjoy your Vacation in Machu Picchu without any problem. 

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