Are you looking for a once-in-a-lifetime journey to experience the jungle in Peru? Then you want to go out with Rainforest Expeditions. Rainforest Expeditions has three luxury lodges, that are located deep in the jungle around the Tambopata River in Peru. A place where luxury and nature come together in a beautiful way, including great attention to detail and service. You go out several times a day to experience the jungle in its purest form: You go for walks, sail on the Tambopata River, discover plants and trees, look for animals, birds and insects and become familiar with countless jungle sounds. The professional guides show you all corners of the Amazon rainforest in Peru. In this article I will tell you everything you want to know about Rainforest Expeditions, the lodges, the activities, best time to visit, how to reach the lodges, including a packing list and many useful tips.
- Tambopata National Reserve Peru
- About Rainforest Expeditions
- The jungle lodges
- Food & beverages
- Guides Rainforest Expeditions
- How long do you want to stay
- Dangers in the jungle of Peru
- Best time to visit Tambopata Peru
- How to reach the Rainforest Expeditions jungle lodges in Peru
- How to visit the Amazon in Peru
- What to do in Puerto Maldonado
- More about Rainforest Expeditions
- More about Peru
Tambopata National Reserve Peru
The Tambopata National Reserve is located in the province of Tambopata in southeastern Peru and consists of 274,690 hectares of nature. Comparable with the size of the Yosemite National Park in the USA. Because Tambopata is a remote and protected area, you will find a very large biodiversity. Many consider Tambopata to be one of the most biodiverse places on Earth! Numerous plants and animals have been recorded, including 1,200 species of butterflies, 600 species of birds, 100 species of mammals, 180 species of fish, 100 species of reptiles and more than 1,200 trees and plants. It is incredibly special to spend time here! The city of Puerto Maldonado is your gateway to an adventure in the jungle of Peru, about which more at the bottom of this article.
The Tambopata National Reserve in Peru is also home to several indigenous communities. Some live here completely isolated from the outside world. Others, including the Ese Eja People, live in small villages around the river from fishing, Brazil nuts, papaya, pineapple and cocoa production. In addition, ecotourism is playing an increasingly important role. That’s why these communities work intensively with the organization Rainforest Expeditions on the Amazon lodges, including projects in the field of culture and nature conservation in Peru. Tampobata, along with Manu and Iquitos, is the perfect destination to discover the Peruvian Amazon.
About Rainforest Expeditions
Rainforest Expeditions is a Peruvian travel company, committed to sustainable tourism. The conservation of the tropical rainforest plays a leading role. In addition, local communities are involved in their protection and care. Rainforest Expeditions has three lodges in and around the Tambopata National Reserve, each with its own atmosphere and characteristics. Refugio Amazonas and Tambopata Research Center, also serve as a major research institute, called Wired Amazon, where scientists and researchers are active in the field of wildlife. With your visit you contribute to the projects and researches of Rainforest Expeditions and this has a direct impact on the local indigenous population.
Each Amazone lodge in Peru offers a total package, including activities and food & beverages. This way you don’t have to think about anything, and you can fully enjoy the experience. Moreover, everything will be arranged for you: From the moment you arrive at the airport in Puerto Maldonado, until the meals, activities and the time of departure.
The jungle lodges
Posada Amazonas is located in the center of the Ese Eja Native Community, at the border of the Tambopata National Reserve and is the spot for observing the giant otter among others. Tambopata Research Center is the only lodge in the Tambopata National Reserve and therefore the most remote lodge in South America. In addition, Tambopata Research Center is home to Wired Amazon, an institution that has been engaged in scientific research and conservation of the Amazon rainforest since 1989.
Refugio Amazonas is located in between and a great starting point for visiting the famous clay lick. All three lodges are places where luxury and nature come together in a beautiful way. And by going on the different excursions and tours, you experience the jungle in its best way.
All Rainforest Expeditions lodges are about 10 to 15 minutes walking from the Tambopata River, which makes you realize even more that you find yourself deep the Amazon jungle of Peru. The good thing is that really all you have to do is to walk and enjoy: The trails are good and your luggage is carried for you.
Each lodge is made entirely of wood and has several rooms, which are connected to each other, the restaurant and the lobby by long walkways. And from these walkways you can admire the beautiful jungle vegetation, birds and monkeys.
The rooms of the Rainforest Expeditions lodges are spacious and completely open to the outside, to experience nature in its purest form. In the morning you can watch the howler monkeys climb over the trees from your bed. There is a mosquito net available to keep the insects at an appropriate distance.
This concept is quite a bit exciting but after one night, you are used to it and appreciate it even more. And the good thing is that you don’t have to worry about animals coming in, except maybe for a frog. It is important though to not leave any leave food in the room. Otherwise there is a big chance of encountering an opossum. You therefore have to put all your possible food in a specially developed safe.
The beds are large and just lovely. There is also a spacious bathroom including a shower, with hot water. Some rooms have a hammock and comfortable sitting area.
Do you want to know the differences between all lodges? Rainforest Expeditions Peru created this useful comparable chart and overview. In the next articles you’ll find my reviews including the most beautiful activities and useful tips for Refugio Amazonas, Tambopata Research Center and Posada Amazonas.
If you looking for a really unique experience, then book one of the suites at Tambopata Research Center. The room here is huge and you even have access to your own terrace, including a sitting area, warm outdoor shower and amazing bath. You never want to leave this room anymore. It is unbelievable that you can stay in the jungle of Peru in such a luxurious way.
Food & beverages
When you travel with Rainforest Expeditions, all meals are included within your stay. Upon arrival you’ll enjoy a local lunch in a banana leaf. Other than that, there is an extensive buffet in the restaurant every morning, afternoon and evening. Fresh and Peruvian products such as yucca, potatoes, quinoa and tropical fruits are part of the menu and everything is taken care of. It is also good to see that the choice of dishes is just enough. I personally don’t need a buffet tens of meters long, where you don’t eat everything and there is probably a lot left over.
Lunch and dinner are served at set times. Breakfast is something you discuss with your guide on a daily base. Yes, sometimes there is breakfast at 5 am in the morning and sometimes you have breakfast during an excursion with a view of the impressive clay lick. It is extra nice that after every morning and afternoon activity fresh juices, cake or something savory is waiting for you. In addition there is an extensive fruit buffet where you can always grab fruit for the road. Coffee and tea is available 24 hours.
All activities are included during your stay and tailor-made. Every day you discuss your program for the next day with your guide. Sometimes you head out with more people, but you always have your own guide with you, making sure you are really able to connect. There is a morning activity, starting early, sometimes at 5 am, sometimes at 8 am. After lunch there is time for a short siesta, followed by an afternoon program. And in the evening you definitely want to go for a night walk. Keep in mind that programs are intense but trust me, you don’t want to miss anything here. This is an overview with the most beautiful activities you can do with Rainforest Expeditions in Peru.
Enjoy views from the canopy tower
Both Refugio Amazonas and Posada Amazonas have their own canopy tower, located in the middle of the Amazon rainforest in Tambopata Peru. From the top you enjoy wonderful views, while you look out over the treetops of the jungle and the Tambopata River, which meanders through it. Everywhere you look, you see birds in the treetops and with the guide’s telephoto lens you can even observe the most beautiful toucans and parrots up close.
Especially at the end of the day, the colors become magical. Take in the jungle sounds and take your time, because you can be here for hours.
Often a visit is planned immediately upon arrival on day 1, as it is a great way to get an overview of the amazing area you are in.
Go for nightwalks
One of my favorite activities in the jungle of Peru is the night walk. This gives you the opportunity to experience the jungle of Peru in a completely different way than during the day. In the evening you see the most fascinating, yet somewhat scary insects on trees, underneath leaves and on twigs. During my stay was able to observe countless species of spiders, stick insects, fluorescent mushrooms, frogs, insects of which I do not know the name and even scorpions. You wonder where these creatures stay during the day. Sometimes you will be able to see some eyes with your flashlight and hear the most beautiful jungle sounds.
Hike through the Amazon rainforest of Peru
The best way to discover the jungle of Peru is by going on a hike. And hiking through the Amazon rainforest of Peru is something you can’t do often enough. To enjoy the beautiful surroundings, absorb the jungle sounds and look for animals. Especially because you never know in advance what you will encounter along the way, Are you looking for a macaw? Then you suddenly see a sloth in the tree. Are you going to a place to learn more about medicinal plants? Then you suddenly come face to face with a tapir. The guides really show you all corners of the jungle in Peru. Make sure you use all the opportunities and get the maximum out of your stay.
Observe the giant otter at Oxbow Lake
From Posada Amazonas you can visit Oxbow Lake, the habitat of the giant otter. And who doesn’t want to see this incredible animal? These river seals, as they are called, can grow up to 2 meters in length. You have to be lucky, but during my visit we were able to observe them beautifully up close through the telephoto lenses of the guides.
But you don’t just visit Oxbow Lake for the otters. Because part of the Tambopata River in Peru found a different route over the years, a unique lake with its own ecosystem was created. Due to the calm current and the high acidity, Oxbow Lake became a paradise for birds and caimans.
Oxbow lake can be visited by catamatan, consising of two wooden boats with a deck, chairs and benches. In order to not to disturb and pollute nature, there is no engine and the skipper manually uses all his forces to transport you. And the fact that you don’t have to be bothered by the sound of an engine makes your visit even more beautiful. The pastel morning colors together with the sound of the birds flying around are so relaxing. You will most probably end your visit with piranha fishing.
Seeing animals is of course never guaranteed. But because you will be with the best guides, deep in the Amazon of Peru, the chance of seeing wildlife is pretty high. During my visit I was able to enjoy countless animals such as the tapir, capybara, anaconda and many more snakes, the giant otter, caimans, turtles, jaguar (on nightcameras), spiders, scorpions, frogs, opossums, countless monkeys and so many bird species that are too many to list. Here is an impression.
Do you want to know what the chance is of seeing certain animals? Rainforest Expeditions created a useful overview per lodge here. Make sure to also buy one of the field guide books. Here you can recognize the different birds, butterflies and mammals and look back on them later.
Sail on the Tambopata river
During your visit into the Amazon rainforest you will sail many times on the Tambopata River in Peru. The lodges are only accessible by boat but you will also sail to different places during your stay. And on every trip, you’ll be amazed by the many resting caimans along the river, monkeys climbing through the trees, turtles on a log, capybaras and countless birds flying by. Try to schedule a trip during sunrise and sunset as well. These moments are magical.
Admire the clay lick
Have you ever heard of a clay lick? This is a place where countless parrots gather to lick clay. They do this because of the minerals in the clay and the social aspect: Looking for a new partner. It is really an incredible phenomenon to observe, especially in the summer months. That’s when the parrots are most active, because the mating season is about to start.
In Tambopata National Reserve you will find one of the very best clay licks: the Colorado Clay Lick. It is interesting to see that there is a recurring ritual for the parrots. First, the birds gather in the trees, which goes together with a deafening sound. This is to see if it is safe to move on. The small parrots settle on the wall first, followed by the large parrots. It is all convenient to observe from the beach on the other side of the river. The guides tell you about the species and the colored parrots can be admired from very close through the telephoto lens.
Combine your visit
The clay lick can be reached from Refugio Amazonas and Tambopata Research Center within 1.5 hours. If case you plan to stay in both lodges, you can proceed directly to your next destination after your visit to the clay lick. The clay lick is located halfway through the route, deep in the Tambopata National Reserve in Peru. Rainforest Expeditions will arrange this for you. In the following articles you can read more about my stay in Refugio Amazonas and Tambopata Research Center.
Attend lectures by Wired Amazon
In both Refugio Amazona and Tambopata Research Center it is possible to attend lectures, given by the scientists of Wired Amazon. Subjects range from jaguars to insects and monkeys. I myself listened to a lecture about different types of monkeys living in the Tambopata National Reserve. It is truly interesting to attend these lectures and gain some extra knowledge during your stay.
Head out with the scientists of Wired Amazon
Do you want to feel like a real investigator? In Refugio Amazonas and Tambopata Research Center, you can go out with the scientists of Wired Amazon Peru. You can learn more about insects and try to discover a new species. In the evening, the lights of a large white screen are turned on, attracting countless insects. The insects are then collected, photographed and examined. Maybe a little scary but you will get used to it and it is a lot of fun!
But the best thing is to place a camera together with one of the Wired Amazon researchers. With the Amazoncam Tambopata Peru project, Wired Amazon is researching the population of jaguars, monkeys and the harpy eagle. By placing numerous cameras in the area, the animals can be properly observed. For example, you learn that most animals walk on exactly the same trails as we do.
What is special is that you will receive the camera images after two weeks. And my images were beautiful: a jaguar and ocelot. And because you first take an image of yourself when you start your camera, you can be 100% sure that it is really your camera images.
Are you curious about Wired Amazon’s projects? Be sure to check out the Wired Amazone website for more information.
Guides Rainforest Expeditions
It will not surprise you when I tell you, that a good and professional guide is important when you are in the Amazon rainforest of Peru. And over the years, I have been on the road with many great and mediocre guides. But with Rainforest Expeditions you really realize what a great guide means. During my stay I was able to go on an adventure with different guides and scientists, each with its own specialties. But what they have in common is professionalism, knowledge and genuine passion. The fact that guides themselves are enthusiastic and proud of what they see, makes your experience extra special. In addition, they carry telephoto lenses with them, so that you can take beautiful photos. The Rainforest Expeditions guides really show you all corners of the Amazon jungle in Tambopata Peru, and even more than that.
Luggage and packing list
What to bring to your Amazon rainforest trip? First of all, it is good to know that Rainforest Expeditions lodges are exceptionally luxurious and comfortable. Even though you have to bring some essential items, it is recommended to leave your large luggage at the Rainforest Expeditions office and travel only with small luggage. Do you want to know what to take with you during a jungle trip in Tambopata Peru? Here you will find an extensive packing list.
- Good walking shoes (boots are available when it is muddy)
- Lots of anti-mosquito spray
- After bite
- Light clothing (no bright clothing)
- Something warm for the evening (for when it cools down)
- Hat against the sun
- Water bag and/or water bottle
- Comfortable slippers or sandals (always leave your shoes in a special closet before entering the lodge)
- Binoculars – you can also rent these on site.
- Cameras + long lens
- Medicines and other personal items
There is a small shop in the Rainforest Expeditions office for any final purchases. There is nothing available around the Rainforest Exedition lodges in Peru.
How long do you want to stay
Depending on your budget and time, I would recommend to stay at least 2 and ideally 3 nights per Amazon lodge in Peru. The best thing is to combine your visit and stay at two different lodges such as Tambopata Research Center and Refugio Amazonas, to get the maximum out of your stay. On the first day you leave around 2 pm from Puerto Maldonado to your jungle lodge in Tambopata Peru. You get a simple but tasty lunch on the boat and on arrival you immediately set out for a first introductory walk and sunset moment.
On day 1 and/or 2 you have plenty of time to discover the Amazon rainforest in Peru by going on different activities. On the last day, you can opt for an early morning excursion before returning to Puerto Maldonado. To catch your flight or continue your overland adventures.
Dangers in the jungle of Peru
So many times people ask me prior to stay in the jungle: Are you not afraid? Is it scary? How do you sleep? Please be careful? A visit to the jungle will always be exciting. And while a visit to the jungle is certainly an adventure, with Rainforest Expeditions you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Everything is so well organized and clean that you almost forget you are in the jungle. In addition, all staff and guides are professional and will do everything they can to make your stay as pleasant as possible.
It is also good to know that animals and insects in the Amazon are in general more afraid of you. That is why it is often so difficult to see them in real life. If you follow the rules of the jungle, behave normally and listen to the recommendations of the guides, you will experience little to no danger. Of course there are always exceptions, meaning you can get bitten by a scary ant, insect or worse. But that’s what the guides are for. They grew up in the area and know exactly what to do.
Myself and my traveling partner were both stung by a bullet ant. This sting is described as the worst pain, coming from an insect. And yes, it was an indescribable pain that lasted for a long time but due to the quick and good actions of the guides, the pain was manageable. So go for the adventure. You won’t regret it!
Best time to visit Tambopata Peru
Tambopata has two seasons: The dry season, which runs from April to November, and the rainy season, from November to April. In the dry season, the chance of rain is the least and the trails are less muddy. In the rainy season you regularly suffer from showers, but it doesn’t have to affect your experience. The lodges offer boots free of charge. The advantage of the rainy season is the beautiful nature and the macaws that are fully nesting. This period is therefore the best time to experience the clay lick and spot macaws. The average temperature in the Tambopata jungle of Peru is between 24°C and 31°C. Between May and October, temperatures can drop to (9°C), when a cold front from Patagonia moves across the Amazon.
How to reach the Rainforest Expeditions jungle lodges in Peru
From the Rainforest Expeditions headquarters in Puerto Maldonado, you will travel by bus to the small community of Infierno in about one hour (for Posada Amazonas) or in one hour and a half to Filadelfia (for Refugio Amazonas and Tambopata Research Center). From here you go on a boat and sail on the Tambopata river to your jungle lodge in Peru. The trips take around 1.5 hours, but as there is a big chance of already seeing many caimans, monkeys, turtles, capybaras and birds on the way, you will stop several times to take pictures and get to know the beauty of the Amazon rainforest in Tambopata Peru!
How to visit the Amazon in Peru
Puerto Maldonado is the capital of the Madre de Dios department and your gateway to Tambopata Peru. There are daily flights from Lima (1,5 hours) and Cuzco (30 minutes) to Puerto Maldonado. Rainforest Expeditions will pick you up at the airport and take you to their office, from where you start your adventure. Puerto Maldonado can also be reached by land from Cuzco, but this is a long and bumby road.
What to do in Puerto Maldonado
Puerto Maldonado is a chaotic jungle city in Peru with around 80,000 inhabitants. It is the place where the Tambopata River and Madre de Dios Rivers meet and the starting point for your jungle adventure in Peru. If you want to spend the night somewhere before or after your Rainforest Expeditions, you will end up in this city. One of the best places to stay in Puerto Maldonado is Kapievi Ecovillage. This lodge is located in a natural environment, just outside the center. The rooms are comfortable, there is a swimming pool and a nice restaurant where delicious dishes are served.
During the day it is nice to take a look at the Plaza de Armas, the surrounding shopping streets and a walk along the river. Don’t forget to have lunch or a drink at Cacao center with a nice river views.
More about Rainforest Expeditions
Want to read more about Rainforest Expeditions? Have a look at the website and follow them on instagram and facebook. In the next articles you’ll find my reviews, about Refugio Amazonas, Tambopata Research Center and Posada Amazonas. including the most beautiful activities and useful tips per lodge.
More about Peru
Do you want to discover more of peru? Check out my city guide with the things to do in Lima and experience the city the best way! Are you planning to visit Cusco? Don’t forget to check out the best restaurants & cafes in Cusco and Cusco’s coolest places to shop. For all articles about Peru, have a look in the Peru archive
Disclaimer: I was invited to stay with Rainforest Expeditions but this review is based on my personal view and is independent from the invitation.