One of the most interesting activities in the jungle happens after the sun sets, when you start looking for nocturnal wildlife up-close. From a boat that slowly floats downstream with the current, you can easily spot the largest predator in the Amazon in the light of your flashlight, as its eyes glow in the dark. Caiman population is widely distributed in the Amazon basin, so most of the lodges carry out activities such as guided night tours by boat searching for these cute reptiles or capybara families that live next to them, on the river banks.
Tips&Tricks: Caimans can only be found in Central and South America. There are six different species, of which the black caiman is the largest (reaching up to 4m). As an adult it has no predators, animals like jaguars, deers or capybara being part of his diet.
We’ve traveled to the Peruvian Amazon at the end of the rainy season when walking through the mud is part of its charm. There are a few main areas of the jungle that you can visit, all of them with unique attractions, landscapes and characteristics. Therefore, we wanted to spend four nights at Amazon Planet Lodge, on the banks of Madre de Dios River (in Taricaya Reserve) and two nights at Chuncho Lodge, on the banks of Tambopata River, one of the main tributaries of the Amazon.
A night-time boat trip to look for nocturnal wildlife
Venturing out on a night-time experience is a great way to discover a completely new perspective of the jungle, by the light of the moon. Because we visited two regions of Tambopata National Reserve, during our daily activities and excursions (that usually take place in the early hours of the morning and evening, when wildlife is most active) we encountered different species of caimans floating near our boat or prowling along the shallow riverbanks.
Due to their glittering eyes, caimans are easy to spot at night, with the help of a flashlight. In Taricaya Reserve a few of them were hanging out almost every night just outside the lodge’s dinning area, so it was never really necessary to go too far upstream to see one. Regardless, taking advantage of the opportunity to explore the narrow canals of Madre de Dios River, with the help of our guide we were able to spot not only caimans but also a capybara family with babies.
Tips&Tricks: Being mainly nocturnal, caimans spend most of the day resting in the water or sunbathing on the shores. After about a 30 minutes adventure by boat to the world’s largest clay lick, Chuncho Macaw Clay Lick, we were lucky to encounter a huge sleepy caiman basking on the banks of Tambopata River.
In search of black caimans along the shore of Lake Sandoval
As one of the largest oxbow lakes in Peru, Sandoval Lake is a great place to spot black caimans in Tambopata National Reseve during the day. Close to Puerto Maldonado, the lake and the surrounding forest are home to a large population of black caimans, giant river otters, monkeys, macaws and countless other endemic species. Gliding along its calm waters is one of the best experiences you won’t want to miss in the Peruvian Amazon.