Peru's Tambopata-Candamo Reserve is located in the department
of Madre de Dios, just half an hour's plane ride from Cusco. In this amazing biological
reserve, three different ecosystems converge together: the Amazonian plain, the
eastern slopes of the Andes and the Pampas ecosystem. This environmental
diversity had allowed at least 11 different types of forests to co-exist leading
to an incredible biodiversity.
The number of species identified until
now have truly scored world records: 1,234 types of butterflies, 592 species
of birds, 152 varieties of dragonflies, 135 kinds of ants, 127 species
of amphibians, 103 types of mammals, 94 species of fish, 74 kinds of reptiles,
40 species of termites and 39 varieties of bees. Amongst these are 13 endangered
species including the jaguar (panthera onca), the
giant otter (pteronura brasilensis), the ocelot (felis pardalis),
the harpy eagle (harpia harpyja) and the giant armadillo (priodentes giganteus).
of the highlights of the reserve is the Colpa de Guacamayos which is one of the
largest natural clay licks in Peru. These copper-colored cliffs attract
thousands of macaws and parrots each day who come to feed on the mineral
salts contained in this area.
Tambopata-Candamo Reserve can only be accessed by boat, usually from the town of
Puerto Maldonado the capital of the Madre de Dios department. There are daily
flights from Puerto Maldonado to and from Cusco usually arriving and departing
early in the morning. When booking a tour with a jungle lodge check to find if
the flight is included. In most instances the tours offered start and finish in
Puerto Maldonado although transfers to and from the airport for connecting
flights are included. There are several airlines operating this route and the
price is about $60 each way. If possible, purchase these flights as part of a
package trip from the various tour operators. In this way if the flight from
Cusco is cancelled you are more likely to get a refund for your accommodation.
Check the contract first.
Although 2 day / 1
night packages are available, a minimum stay of 3 days / 2 nights is
recommended. Even with a 3 day trip the first morning is taken up just getting
from Cusco to the lodge. A guided trek/tour into the jungle is usually arranged
for the afternoon of the first day and again on the second day. You will
probably leave the lodge before sunrise on the third day to make the connection
with the flight back to Cusco (about 9am). So you can see even a 3 day trip only
gives you a full 1½ days of tours in the jungle. If you are a keen birdwatcher
then you are best to consider staying a few extra days so you can do you own
During your stay in the lodge you
will encounter a large variety of trees and plants as well as seeing many
different insects and birds. However you chances of seeing wild mammals is quite
low apart from the occasional sighting of monkeys. Don't go with high
expectations of seeing the elusive jaguar or tapir, although they have been
seen by some lucky visitors. Many lodges have a collection of semi-tame animals
that frequent the lodge looking for food which is often left out for them.