Explore the biologically diverse Tambopata National Reserve for three nights and learn about the wonders of the Amazon basin. See how the local Brazil nut industry contributes to the rainforest conservation, visit a parrot clay lick, and get a bird’s eye view of the rainforest canopy from an observational tower.
Refugio Amazonas is built on a 200 hectare private reserve in the Tambopata National Reserve buffer zone. Refugio Amazonas cooperates with neighboring communities of Brazil nut harvesters, extending the benefits of ecotourism to those families committed to the sustainable use of the forest within this buffer zone.
Day 1: Puerto Maldonado – Refugio Amazonas
Upon arrival in Puerto Maldonado, you will be met by our guides and transferred to the river port, where our boat journey to Refugio Amazonas will begin. The two and a half hour boat ride from the Tambopata river port to Refugio Amazonas will take us past the community of Infierno and the Tambopata National Reserve checkpoints, before we enter the buffer zone of this 1.3 million hectare protected natural area. Upon arrival at the lodge, the manager will welcome the group and provide you with a brief presentation which includes safety information. After dinner, we will return to the river and scan the banks with headlamps and flashlights, in search of the red eye shine of caimans.
Day 2: Refugio Amazonas
Today you will have a very active morning. After an early breakfast, we will visit an oxbow lake by canoe or catamaran, watching out for lakeside wildlife such as hoatzins, caimans and horned screamers, and also hoping to spot the giant river otters that can be seen occasionally here. You will almost certainly be rewarded with sightings of macaws flying overhead. From the lake, we will visit the Canopy Tower located just a thirty minute walk from Refugio Amazonas. A secure staircase provides access to the canopy platforms of this twenty-five meter tower. The tower has been built on high ground, thereby increasing the panoramic views of the primary forest of Tambopata National Reserve. From here it is possible to observe the flight of mixed species flocks of birds in the canopy, as well as toucans and macaws.
After returning to the lodge for lunch, in the afternoon we will take a short boat ride to the farm owned and managed by charismatic Don Manuel, from the neighboring community of Condenado. He grows a variety of Amazonian crops. In the Amazon, just about every plant and tree you see serves a purpose. We will then continue our day by walking an ethno-botanical trail, along which we will find a variety of plants and trees used by the local population. We will learn about the medicinal (and other) uses of ajo-sacha, yuca de venado, uña de gato, charcot-sacha and para-para, to name just a few local plants.
Day 3: Refugio Amazonas
After an early breakfast, we will start our day with a fifteen minute boat ride and one hour walk from Refugio Amazonas to a clay lick used by parrots and parakeets. From a strategic viewpoint, it is possible to observe parrots and parakeets as they arrive to ingest the clay on the riverbank. Species such as dusky-headed and cobalt-winged parakeets are frequent visitors to this clay lick. With luck, we may also see some or all of the following species in the early morning rush: mealy and yellow-crowned Amazons, blue-headed parrot, severe macaw and orange-cheeked parrot. We will visit the lick at dawn, midmorning and/or the early afternoon, when parrots are most active. After this dazzling spectacle, we will return to the lodge for lunch and a rest.
In the afternoon, we will make a short hike to an old growth patch of brazil nut forest. This forest has been harvested for decades, possibly centuries. Here we will find a camp used only two months a year by brazil nut gatherers. We may even be lucky enough to meet some of these local people and witness the harvesting process, from collection through to transportation and drying. Later, we will hike to a nearby peccary clay lick. These wild rainforest pigs show up in herds of five to twenty individuals to ingest clay. There is around a 15% chance of spotting them, making the short hike well worth the effort. Other wildlife also visits the clay lick, including deer, guans and parakeets. After dinner, we will have the option of hiking out into the forest at night, when most mammals are active but are difficult to see. We will certainly hear and possibly spot some of the many species of frogs that fill the night air with their distinctive calls.
Day 4: Refugio Amazonas – Puerto Maldonado
After an early breakfast, we will return to Puerto Maldonado by boat, where you will be transferred to the airport for your flight back to Cusco or Lima. Depending on airline schedules, this may require a dawn departure.
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