Guide to the Tambopata National Reserve
Peru's Amazon jungle is famous throughout the world, but since the Amazon basin covers almost half the country, which part of the rainforest should you choose to visit?
If you visit the northern Amazon basin around Iquitos, you might be able to take a boat trip out onto the River Amazon itself, but for our money if what you really want is to enjoy an amazing wildlife experience, then head for the southern Tambopata Reserve instead.
The Tambopata National Reserve, to give it its full title, is located in the south-eastern corner of Peru, covering 3.5 million acres and provides a refuge for some of the Amazon's most endangered wildlife.
Wildlife in Tambopata
In fact, partly because Tambopata has some of the best-protected rainforest in Peru, and partly because it also contains elements of the rather different Amazonian savannah ecosystem, it is one of the most bio-diverse areas of the entire Amazon rainforest and so it's possibly the best place to see wildlife in the whole of South America.
Nearly 700 bird species have been observed in Tambopata, together with 1300 butterfly species, 90 types of amphibian, and over 100 species of mammals, including many that are now almost unknown elsewhere in the Amazon. Jaguars, tapirs and spider monkeys, as well as large numbers of other monkeys, caiman, peccarys, giant otters and sloths. It really is an amazing place for wildlife-lovers, as the conditions mean you can get really close to normally reclusive wildlife and enjoy spectacles like the morning feeding fenzies at macaw licks, which are some of the most exciting in the Amazon.
Weather in Tambopata
Probably the best time to visit Tambopata is from June to the end of September, when temperatures are a little cooler and conditions are relatively dry. In fact you're likely to see rain throughout the year, and it's not always a bad thing - higher water levels make it easier to access some otherwise hard-to-reach sections of the rainforest.
However, a combination of high temperatures and high rainfall does make things quite humid, so if you're not keen on that then the Peruvian winter months are the time for you...
Getting to the Tambopata Reserve
Most journeys into both Tambopata and the neighbouring Manu reserve begin with a scheduled flight from either Lima or Cusco to the small town of Puerto Maldonado. From here, you can take a riverboat journey along the Madre de Dios river, before continuing on to one of the smaller tributaries like the Rio Tambopata, where you find most of the area's jungle lodges.