Amazon Jungle | Experiences you won’t want to miss
We visited the Peruvian Amazon at the end of the rainy season when walking through the mud is part of its charm. We spent 7 days in Tambopata National Park, the most biodiverse place on Earth. Because every area of the jungle is unique, we stayed at two different ecolodges located on the banks of Madre de Dios and Tambopata rivers.
Although the Amazon Jungle is a dangerous place, at the same time is very special, so once in a lifetime you should have the courage to discover it, through:
Day and night walks
Mornings in the jungle begin with the echoing screams of macaws and Amazonian parrots that wake up the entire jungle at sunrise. Activities at every lodge usually start in the early part of the day, when animals and birds very active, but they continue until the evening before dinner. Starting with 5 pm, when the darkness settles over the jungle, the whole rhythm of the forest changes. At night, the voice of the jungle becomes more pronounced, the paths you walked during the day look completely different, and in total darkness, you can see new wildlife in the light of the flashlight. Even if you follow the same trails, you can encounter new nocturnal wild animals or birds.
Birdwatching at a claylickay and night walks
Because Amazon is far from the ocean, both rainwater and natural food sources for birds and animals are salt-free. Most of the minerals and nutrients are found next to a river, in clay walls known as salt licks or clay licks. These are rare and most of them quite small, but they attract large flocks of colorful parrots, tapirs, jaguars or monkeys. Chuncho Claylick is the largest clay lick in the world and can be visited in Tambopata National Park. The whole area is spectacular and visiting a clay lick is a unique experience. Nothing can compare to the spectacle of dozens of free birds that are flying above you, just after the sunrise.
Interacting with indigenous tribes
We spent half a day on the banks of Madre de Dios River, with one of the native families of the amazonian tribe Ese`Eja. We learned tribal dances, made bows and arrows, and saw how jewelry is made from seeds found in the jungle.
In the few hours we spent in their modest household, the head of the family proudly told us about their way of living. He was eager to share his family’s customs, to show us how they hunt with bows and arrows, how they start a fire, or how they make their own clothing from dried tree bark.
Discovering the wildlife around Sandoval Lake
Enjoy one of the most beautiful view of Tambopata National Park on a boat, in the middle of Sandoval Lake. Reflection of palm trees on the water, giant otters, caimans and noisily pairs of macaws flying above, are making this a must-see destination while visiting the Peruvian Amazon. Also, the 4 km trek in the jungle is a great opportunity to see many species of monkeys and butterflies the size of a human hand.
Searching for caimans at night
One of the most interesting activities in the jungle happens at night when the caiman search starts. From a boat that slowly floats along the banks of the river, you can see with a flashlight the glowing eyes of the largest predator in the Amazon.
Caiman population is widely distributed in the Amazon basin, so many lodges organize night tours by boat to look for them. Because we visited two parts of the jungle, we could observe different species floating near our boats or sitting on river banks.
Climbing a canopy tower
Hike through the jungle trying to see the wildlife up close in their natural habitat. Amazon Rainforest is home to around 16000 tree species that support an abundance of plant and animal species. Enjoy a day walk in the company of your guide from the lodge, along narrow trails ( cleared by him with a machete) lined with numerous giant trees.
Tips & Tricks
Most of the trees in the Amazon have been growing for hundreds of years, but some are emptied inside by parasitic plants, and others are completely destroyed by termites. In the jungle, you will find many interesting species like the walking palms (trees that move about 2 cm a day in search of the sun), trees inhabited by fire ant colonies that protect them from predators, or trees with vines up to 200m hanging from their branches.
Taricaya Canopy Tower is considered the highest tree platform in South America. Is used every morning after sunrise by biologists working in Taricaya Rescue Center for the monitoring of birds in the reserve. It reaches 45 meters in height and is built around a kapok crown, one of the tallest species of trees growing in the Amazon. From above, the view over the jungle and Madre de Dios River is incredible. If you’re lucky, you can even see around you flying macaws, toucans, or maybe even the biggest vulture in the world, the harpy eagle.
Tips & Tricks
To reach the tower you need to climb a 5-story metal structure, then walk across a 90 meters suspension bridge. The experience itself is an adventure and at the same time a challenge for anyone who is afraid of heights.
Visiting a research center
Since 2001, in Taricaya Reserve has been set up a rescue center for the wildlife in need. Taricaya Rescue Center seeks to reintegrate injured animals and birds to their natural habitat. The center is the first of its kind established in Peru, and volunteers from all over the world participate here in various conservation projects aiming to protect the Amazon.
It’s 1 km away from Amazon Planet Lodge and hosts dozens of animals and birds. They are so attached to the volunteers, that some of them remained nearby even after they were released back into the wild.
Watching the sunset on the river
Amazon is a unique destination around the world with incredible biodiversity and beautiful landscapes. When the sun has set, the caimans begin their prowl along the shallow riverbanks while small groups of macaws and amazonian birds fly above in search of a perfect tree to sleep.
Tips & Tricks
At the end of our first day spent in the jungle, the staff from Amazon Planet Lodge prepared us an inflatable boat, so we could see the sunset on Madre de Dios River. This was the moment we first discovered how special the Amazon Rainforest actually is.
Visiting a exotic plantation
Amazon Jungle is the world’s largest tropical rainforest, filled with evergreen trees. An exotic tree plantation established here is the perfect place to observe so many birds, wildlife, or dangerous insects as the banana spider (the most venomous and aggressive spider in the world). You will walk through the jungle among banana, cocoa, mango, soursop, breadfruit, or papaya trees, and taste freshly harvested sugar cane or pineapple cut directly from the ground by your guide from the lodge.
Tips & Tricks
At Amazon Planet Lodge you will visit an exotic tree plantation, from where most of the fruits served at the lodge are picked. Through various programs, the volunteers are studying trees like mahogany, one of the endangered species of tropical forest, disappeared outside the protected areas.
One of the most relaxing activities in the Amazon is fishing at sunset in Tambopata National Park. With our guide and a “captain” who was known at Chuncho Lodge as a lucky fisherman, we spent a quiet afternoon just before leaving Peru.
We used fishing poles improvised from branches and chicken or worms as bait. The experience was fun, the view amazing and although we caught more parasite fish than catfish, in the end, they were enough for one meal at dinner.