Bahuaja Sonene National Park
It is situated in the departments of Madre de Dios and Puno, and belongs to the provinces of Tambopata and Sandia, respectively. It has a surface of 1,091,416 hectares, which includes what was the Heath’s Plains National Sanctuary and part of the Tambopata Candamo Reserved Zone, bordering with Bolivia’s Madidi National Park, and it is located 90 km. from the city of Puerto Maldonado, 5 hours by motorized river boat. Its altitudinal range goes from 200 to 2,450 m.a.s.l. and its average temperature varies between 10 and 38?C.
The protected area preserves a wonderful diversity of flora and fauna, sheltering populations of a variety of wild species of fauna, such as the giant otters or river wolf (Melanosuchus Niger) and the harpy eagle (Harpia harpija). The park is a bio-diversified place which shelters 450 bird species, 28 of amphibians and 74 of mammals, an immense diversity of insects, butterflies, dragonflies and tree ants. Its rich and abundant flora is represented by its aguaje trees, tornillo cedars, as well as by gigantic nut tree and mahogany. Unfortunately, some of these are endangered species.
Inside the park are the Heath’s Plains; Peru’s only sample of the humid tropical savannah ecosystem, in an area of grasslands, with grass reaching up to two meters in height, palm trees and marshes which are the habitat of endemic species of flora and fauna, such as the mane wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus) and the marsh deer (Blastocerus dichotomus). It is the only area of the Peruvian jungle, with savannah characteristics and because of this, it was initially considered as a National Sanctuary and later on, it was incorporated to the Bahuaja Sonene National Park.
The Tambopata and Heath rivers are a special ecosystem. In their basins, there are great extensions of clay terraces, where the main macaw and parrot Collpas (Licks) are located.
Tambopata Candamo National Reserve
The reserve is situated between the jungle regions of Madre de Dios and Puno, about 60 km. from the city of Puerto Maldonado, close to the borders with Bolivia and Brazil, between the Tambopata and Heath river basins. It covers a surface of 274,690 hectares, which includes three ecosystems, being one of the places, that contains the greatest biodiversity on the planet. It is the habitat of a rich and abundant flora and fauna, as 165 species and 41 families of trees have been registered, along with 575 bird species, 1,200 species of butterflies, 103 of dragonflies, 135 of tree ants, 103 of mammals and 90 species of amphibians. Its altitudinal range goes from 200 to 400 m.a.s.l. and its average temperature varies between 10 and 38?C.
The protected area is composed of different ecosystems which are adequate places for the eco-conservation of flora and fauna, like the sachavaca (Tapir), jaguar, maquisapa monkey, giant ant eater bear, caimans, lizards, fish, turtles, giant otters, water hogs (Capybaras), huanganas, giant armadillo, monkeys, macaws, parrots, anacondas, snakes, batrachians, insects and many other species that maintain nature’s balance.
In its virgin forests, there is a rich and exuberant diversity of flora, as the Tambopata River Basin is one of the ecosystems with great biodiversity, in which there are forest resources, such as the cedar, mahogany, tornillo, chestnut tree, aguaje tree, palm trees and many other species of trees. The reserve’s tropical forest is abundant and it is a propitious place for the generation of wild life.
The Esseeja and Tacana populations are the only Amazonian natives that occupy the reserve. They live from hunting, fishing, recollection and eco-tourism, still maintaining their traditional customs.
Colorado Collpa (Lick)
Colorado is the greatest known macaw lick (Collpa) in the world. It is situated on the banks of the Tambopata River, about 120 km. upstream, from Puerto Maldonado. It is located in a huge 50 meter high cliff which extends over 500 meters, along the Western part of the Tambopata River. That Collpa is rich in nutrients which birds, mammals and insects feed on, forming colonies in its surroundings. It is unique, as it concentrates rare species of macaws and parrots, and offers one of the reserve’s most beautiful and fascinating spectacles, considered as being among the best in the Peruvian Amazon.
It possesses the world’s greatest mineral and clay deposit. In its walls and clay cliffs, huge quantities of 32 species of parrots and macaws congregate, which corresponds to 10% of these species in the world. Among common species sighted in these places, are the blue and golden, scarlet, red and green macaws, blue headed parrots and parakeets. Monkeys, tapirs, deer and water hogs (Capybaras) are also being frequently sighted there. Scientists consider that the clay’s properties allow these animals and birds to neutralize toxins contained in some of their diet’s components (Seeds, leaves and fruit).
Collpa Chuncho (Lick)
The Chuncho Macaw Lick (Collpa) is situated inside the National Park, 90 km. upstream from Puerto Maldonado, at a 5 hour motorized boat ride on the Tambopata River. In the same way as on the Colorado Lick, every morning, great quantities of large macaws gather there, to form colorful flocks of birds, such as blue or red headed macaws, parrots, dark or blue headed parakeets and yellow cheeked parrots that perch on the clay cliffs, to ingest these concentrated minerals.
With the first rays of the Sun, the Great Lick converts itself into a fascinating show, as though it were a ritual, in which bird species fly over the cliffs, in great flocks and start their lick session (Ingestion of clay), announcing their arrival, flapping their wings, in the squeaking of parrots, parakeets and macaws. Depending on the species, they may arrive in couples or great flocks.
It is situated on the right bank of the Madre de Dios River, 10 km. from Puerto Maldonado or a 25 minute boat ride, on the Madre de Dios River and a one hour walk from the river’s edge. It is located inside the Tambopata Candamo National Reserve, and is 3 km. in length by 1 km. in width, with a variable depth that goes from 50 cm. to 3 meters, an average temperature of 26?C (78.8?F) and is very rich in fish.
It is the ideal place for the habitat of a varied fauna, such as caimans, black lizards, turtles, giant otters and a great variety of fish. Among the birds, we’ll have a chance to observe wild ducks, wild hens (Shansho), toucans, macaws, small parrots, herons, the kingfisher, monkeys and many other species. The hike will take us amidst the Amazonian forest, contemplating varieties of orchids, small banana trees, ungurahuis, mahogany, giant palm trees, etc. Around the lake, there are large marshlands (Aguijales), in which grows the aguaje (Endemic native tree), along with other local tree species. It also is a propitious place for the giant otters and macaws´ nests.
Condemned Lake 1 and 2
It is situated on the right bank of the Tambopata River, 4 hours from Puerto Maldonado, on a motorized river boat. There is an abundant presence of birds, such as striped and white herons, tuqui tuquis, the black headed noisy bird (Donacobius), the hoatzin or shansho (Ophisthocomus hoatzin), a weird bird, as its physical aspect and customs make it look like a primitive bird. There also is a great quantity and variety of fish and one can observe families of giant otters. Around the lakes, there are trails that take us to other parts of the jungle, in the habitat of felines and mammals, such as tapirs, wild hogs, huanganas and at night, one can observe caimans.
To get to the place, a hike on trails will lead us through the tangled jungle, to then go on a rowboat ride, on the lakes 1 and 2.
It belongs to the District of Las Piedras and it is located 60 km. from the city of Puerto Maldonado, close to the Bolivian border, at about four hours on a fast boat, navigating on the Madre de Dios River. It is next to Tambopata’s Reserved Zone, and part of the Reserve’s Tampon Zone.
It is the area’s largest lake; a place of exuberant and beautiful landscapes, as well as of abundant wealth in flora and fauna, such as turtles (Charapas and motelos), lizards, paiches; the largest fish in the Amazon, which can reach 3 meters in length and other varieties of fish, like the el dorado bass and the doncella, among others. One can also observe a great variety of birds, such as the mountain turkey, fishing eagles, herons, vultures, flocks of macaws, etc. In the surroundings, there are lots of wild fauna, like on Monkeys´ Island.
Lake Three Chimbadas
It is located on the right bank of the Tambopata River, 55 km. from Puerto Maldonado or three hours of navigation on a motorized boat, inside the Tambopata Candamo National Reserve’s Tampon Zone. After landing on the beach, we’ll go on a 30 minute hike, on a footpath. It is a small lake, but it is rich in flora and bird species, and its landscape is most beautiful, as it is surrounded by exuberant vegetation inhabited by various bird species, and it is quite close to the traditional and ancestral native community of Infierno.
Its small extension allows for safe observation of giant otters and other animal species, as it has a small refuge composed of a large sleeping room for about 18 people, with restrooms, showers and a dining room. There also are camping areas, as an alternative, to be in direct contact with nature.
Infierno Native Community
This community is inhabited by the Esseejas, a native ethnic group that still keeps its customs and ancestral experiences alive. There, the natives produce an interesting handicraft, and their community is very often visited by tourists. From Puerto Maldonado, one can get there on vehicles or motorcycles, in just 45 minutes. Nearby, there is a Collpa (Lick) of parrots and macaws, a watch tower and a lake, with families of giant otters, many species of fish and a great variety of birds.
This population has many myths and legends – some of them, esoteric – and they make an important use of traditional medicine and healing based on the great quantity of medicinal plants that grow in the area. This direct contact allows you to share that ethnic group’s live experiences and understand their customs and traditions. It is recommendable to go for spiritual sessions and baths, with the Ayahuasca Sacred Master Plant of great power, with the Shamans experts in healing and local natural medicine.
In order to complement our excursion in the reserve and make it more exciting, the Tambopata Research Center offers you an eco adventure tour in canopy which consists in walking on camouflaged hanging aerial bridges, over the jungle.
Inkaterra Canopy offers you the possibility to enjoy the jungle, walking around in the air, on a distance of 344 meters (1,135 feet, on a network of seven hanging bridges, six platforms for tree canopy observation and two of 29 meters (95 feet) high. From the high towers, on top of the highest trees, visitors can observe a very interesting flora and fauna which is impossible to see from the ground.
The Inkaterra Canopy is considered as one of the most modern and sophisticated in the world, as much due to its camouflaged design, as for the technology used, with ecological materials, to prevent negative impacts on the environment. The tour allows visitors to enjoy an in depth insight of one of the jungle’s most productive ecosystems and includes a visit of the Interpretation Center, where visitors can learn about the ecological characteristics and work which is being done in some of the area’s native communities.
Lake Chorrillos and Túpac Amaru
It is an ancient meander of the Madre de Dios River, which is located about 14 km. from Puerto Maldonado. The area is not a protected natural space and can be accessed by land, on trikes, crossing picturesque rural landscapes. It is a beautiful lake, with greater human intervention than the neighboring lakes. But still, the jungle always holds surprises and it is possible to observe some water hog families, monkeys and other mammals. It is ideal to row, fish and bathe, without danger. The tour is worth it, because it is fun and one can observe aspects unseen on other tours, like the local inhabitants´ lifestyle and the region’s agricultural activities, in a surrounding of magnificent views of the Madre de Dios River that meanders alongside the path. It also serves as a warm up to help you take better advantage of your experience around wilder lakes.
The Heath River’s Plains
They are located on the border with Bolivia. There, high grasslands cover great extensions of over 100,000 hectares, where there are no forests and only small bushes grow. This area is rich in fauna, and there, two endemic species live: A kind of fox called the mane wolf and the marsh deer. In addition, one can frequently observe jaguars and large anacondas. During the rain season, the area gets flooded and it is the only region of the Peruvian jungle, with the features of a savannah. This is why it was initially considered as a National Sanctuary and was later on integrated into the Bahuaja Sonene National Park.
There are five linguistic groups and more than thirty ethnic groups dispersed around the whole department. Part of them live separate from the original clans and got mixed with the foreign population, but there are still a good amount of natives who live in their reservations or communities. There also are several groups that have not yet been contacted. They live in the Northern part of the department and do not wish to have any contact with us, because they fear our weapons and diseases. They are nomadic groups and there is now a movement lead by the CAR (Madre De Dios Regional Environmental Commission), to declare that region as a protected reserve, allow the pacific survival of these groups and avoid the felling and depredation of their forests´ natural resources.
The Harankbut ethnic group was the last to be integrated to the Occidentalized world, in 1954. Therefore, they were never submitted by the rubber hunters. Today, it is possible to get to know their territories and visit them, organizing a one day expedition, from Puerto Maldonado, to the Amarakaeri Native Community.