Chuncho Claylick | The tallest clay wall in the Amazon
The Amazon Rainforest is located inland and is several hundred kilometers away from the coast, which means that the wildlife living there generally have limited access to saltwater. As a result, most of the animals in the rainforest have adapted to a diet that consists primarily of freshwater and foods that are free of salt. This includes a variety of fruits, nuts, seeds, and insects, as well as other animals, such as fish and amphibians.
The majority of the minerals and nutrients in the jungle are commonly found on the banks of the rivers, deposited in clay walls (also known as saltlicks or claylicks). Although these areas are quite rare and most of them very small, every morning they attract large flocks of colorful Amazonian parrots, macaws, tapirs, jaguars, or monkeys.
Deep in the heart of Tambopata National Park, Cuncho Claylick is the largest clay lick in the world. The region is the most complex and biodiverse area in the world, with many species of butterflies, mammals, and birds. Although the distance between most of the lodges and Puerto Maldonado is quite large and the road is difficult to travel, 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.
Accommodation near Chuncho Claylick
We stayed for three days at Chuncho Lodge, where we traveled from Puerto Maldonado with our guide and a driver. Because the region is considered not very safe to visit, we opted to take the longer but highly recommended route, on the highway. This transportation option included a car, boat, and a short walk through the jungle.
The journey lasted more than one hour on the highway and two hours through the jungle, along a road covered in mud. At the end of it, we continued to walk for about 20 minutes until we reached the banks of Tambopata river. The lodge was just on the other side, so we had to take a boat ride across the river.
Tips&Tricks It is important to arrange transportation in advance, as there are no public transportation options available. Many lodges in the area offer transportation services to their guests, so be sure to check with your lodge before your trip.
One day expedition at Chuncho Claylick
Visiting the Chuncho Claylick in the Peruvian Amazonia is a unique and unforgettable experience. Our journey began early in the morning, with a boat ride down Tambopata River, one of the many rivers that flow through the Amazon rainforest, witnessing the most beautiful sunrise in the jungle. As we traveled along the water, we had the chance to spot a variety of animals, such as a jaguar, caimans, and various species of birds and wildlife living along the riverbanks.
Soon after we arrived at Chuncho, we were able to observe the birds as they gather at the exposed cliff to eat the mineral-rich clay. A large flock of loud macaws appeared first, followed by dozens of tiny colorful Amazonian parrots flying close to each other creating the most unique spectacle in the Amazon. After a while, a large number of incredibly colorful birds were flying above us and began to gather in the nearby trees, which seemed a surreal experience.
Tips&Tricks The medium-sized parrots are the first who dare to taste the clay, while macaws keep their distance and carefully observe the whole area from the distance. Only after they are fully convinced there is no nearby danger, they fly down from the top of the trees to enjoy snacking on the wall.
In addition to the birds, we also had the opportunity to observe other wildlife in the area, such as monkeys, toucans, and a few capybaras.
Tips&Tricks Parrots are very alert, so visitors typically stand on a nearby observation site, which provides a clear view of the claylick while minimizing disturbance to the animals.