Day 1: Birding road and Piedras river to ARCC
After pickup at the airport and crossing the Madre de Dios River we continue on the new paved Amazon highway connecting to a short turnoff to the Las Piedras River. We are in no rush and shall bird the terra firme in quite good condition along this new sideroad. Species such as Ruddy Spinetail, Hairy-crested Antbird, and Slaty-capped Shrike-Vireo have been seen here. He we board a comfortable motorized canoe for the 2 hour journey to the Amazon Resources Conservation Center. En route we watch for wildlife along the riverbank like Capybara, Spectacled Caiman, Side-neceked Turtles, Brown Capuchin and Howler Monkeys and birds on the shores and overhead including Horned Screamer, Amazon and Ringed Kingfishers, Black Skimmer and Red and Green Macaw. Other birds to look out for include Drab Water-Tyrant, Sand-colored NightHawk, Large-billed and Yellow-billed Tern, Collared and Pied Plovers, Sunbittern and lots of herons including the beautiful Capped Heron. We arrive in the late afternoon at ARCC, a well-constructed lodge just steps from Lake Soledad. Walk the trails around the lodge at dusk, relax and refresh at the bar, or lounge in hammocks before dinner. Overnight at ARCC. Box lunch and dinner.
DAY 2. Giant Otter on Lake Soledad
A popular first activity is a Daytime Catamaran tour of Lake Soledad: On lake Soledad we use a catamaran canoe with comfortable chairs and powered by two local paddlers who keep a lookout for the giant otters and other wildlife on the lake. Tours depart from the boat jetty close to the center, and last 1-3 hours. The catamaran provides an excellent mobile viewing platform, suitable for photography and telescopes. Lake excursions will normally leave early in the morning or late afternoon. Guests to ARCC often opt to have several lake trips during their stay at ARCC, as it is a relaxing way to get good observations of wildlife on the lake and the surrounding forest. Lake Soledad harbours good fish stocks, including piranha and catfish. A canoe tour of the lake gives good opportunities for seeing the giant otters, the wildlife highlight of the lake trips. Most visitors to ARCC have good observations of the lake’s resident Giant Otters, fishing, playing, grooming or resting.Bird life on the lake is plentiful; the lake attracts many species which include; Blue-and-Yellow Macaw, Grey-necked Wood-Rail, Rufrescent Tiger-Heron, Wattled Jacana, Amazon, Ringed and Pygmy Kingfishers, Green Ibis, Black-collared hawk, Hoatzin, Black-capped Donacobius, Red-capped Cardinal and Yellow-rumped Cacique. Special birds include Agami Heron and Sungrebe.
Trails cover a variety of habitats from rich floodplain to stands of bamboo, giving you a broad introduction to the diversity of wildlife in the rainforest. The ARCC clearing is ideal for leisurely bird watching with Long-billed Woodcreeper, Yellow-tufted, Crimson-crested and Cream-coloured Woodpeckers, Cuvier’s (White-throaed) Toucan, Curl-crested Aracaris, White-bellied Parrot, Blue-and-Yellow Macaw, Paradise and Swallow Tanagers, White-vented Euphonia, Blue Dacnis, Gilded Barbet, Bluish-fronted Jacamar, Striated Puffbird, Blue-crowned Motmot and many more. The supports Pale-winged trumpeter, Blue-throated Piping-Guan, Semicollared Puffbird, Striated Antthrush, Curl-crested Aracari, and Banded Antbird. Of particular interest is the rare Rufous-fronted Antthrush. There are stands of Guadua bamboo easily accessible on the ARCC trail system, close to the centre, which holds a number of rare bird species, only found in such stands. These include Bamboo Antshrike, Peruvian Recurvebill, Rufous-headed Woodpecker, Ihering's Antwren, the recently described Rufous Twistwing, Sulphur-bellied Tyrant-Manakin, White-lined and Goeldi’s Antbirds.
Tours to ARCC regularly afford good observations of black spider monkeys, a species sensitive to human disturbance and absent from destinations closer to more populated areas. At ARCC, they are often seen in the forest immediately surrounding the eco-lodge clearing or on a short walk from the lodge. Other monkey species at ARCC areRed Howler Monkey, Brown Capuchins, White-fronted Capuchin, Squirrel Monkey, Night Monkeys, Dusky Titi-Monkey and Saddle-backed Tamarin.The rich fruit-laden floodplain forests surrounding Lake Soledad support high mammal densities. Other mammals in the forest include White-lipped Peccary, sometimes in huge groups passing through the forest; Tayra, Agouti, and Anteater may also be encountered. Animal tracks give an indication of the existence of harder-to-see species such as Brazilian tapir, Jaguar, Red or Grey Brocket Deer, Armadillo and Paca.
In the evening there is a first opportunity for a night walk. A short excursion into the forest at night is quite a different experience to a daytime walk. Accompanied by your guide, you experience the sounds and sights of the rainforest at night, with the chance to see elusive nocturnal creatures, particularly if you visit a mammal clay lick in the forest. A good flashlight is essential for night excursions. At night there is the chance to see night monkeys, armadillos, porcupines, brocket deer or tree frogs. There are an incredible array of nocturnal noises -from large crickets, the lake resonating with croaking frogs, the hooting of owls, the ‘coughing’ of the roosting hoatzins, the loud ‘belching’ of large caimans and even the occasional roaring of a jaguar can all be heard from your bungalow! Night at ARCC. Three meals.
DAY 3. Macaw lick and canopy platform
Full day at the Amazon Rainforest Conservation Center to continue the activities; in addition to the above activities you can select from the activities below. It is possible to add days to the program if you like. Calculate 250 dollars per night. Night at ARCC. Three meals.
Night time excursion of Lake Soledad to spot caiman: A catamaran tour at night after dinner is a good opportunity to experience the lake and forest at night. Flashlights can pick out the eyeshine of the otherwise difficult to see black caiman, and other nocturnal species. Birds possible at night include Great and Common Potoos, Boat-billed Heron and Parauque and Ladder-tailed Nightjar. Night tours typically last an hour.
In the evening one may alsodo a night walk visiting a mammal clay lick in the forest. With luck we may spot a Tapir. There is also chance to see Night Monkeys, Armadillos, Porcupines, Brocket Deer or tree frogs. Some owls we look for include Crested Owl and Spectacled Owl. There are an incredible array of nocturnal noises from large crickets, the lake resonating with croaking frogs, the hooting of owls, the ‘coughing’ of the roosting hoatzins, the loud ‘belching’ of large caimans and even the occasional roaring of a jaguar can all be heard from your bungalow!
Ascend to the tree platform: The ARCC tree platform is a sturdily built wooden structure, 35m (120 ft) up an ironwood tree at the edge of Lake Soledad, giving impressive views of the forest canopy and the lake below. Ascent is by a comfortable cage chair raised by a pulley system by the attentive staff, or for the more atheletic, a cable ladder can be climbed. All ascents are carefully supervised and safety harnesses are used, allowing any guest with a head for heights to enjoy this rarely seen view of the rainforest canopy. Once up on the platform, you are secured with a safety rope and are free to enjoy the view and the chance to see the tree top wildlife at eye-level. Ascents at dawn and dusk are popular, but the platform can be enjoyed at any time of day. From our spectacular canopy platform at ARCC, the undisputed highlight is the colourful mixed flocks of tanagers and other birds which pass close to the platform. Species include Blue Dacnis, Plum-throated Cotinga, Paradise, Green-and-Gold, White-shouldered, Turquoise, Opal-crowned and Masked Crimson Tanagers. Other species include Aracaris, Scarlet Macaw, Bare-necked Fruitcrows and Swallow-wing. Monkeys can be seen high in the canopy; the acrobatic Spider Monkey is often seen here swinging through the trees in search for fruit, or the passive Howler Monkey just laid out on a branch. Looking down from the 35m (120 ft) high platform you are undetected by the lake wildlife- the otters are regularly seen from the platform, and sometimes the rare and elusive black caiman, one resident individual of Lake Soledad is almost 5m long, an impressive sight if it surfaces and reveals its full size before subsiding into the water moments later.
Macaw clay lick excursion: There are 4 clay licks accessible from ARCC, the most impressive is a macaw and parrot clay lick just 20 minutes by boat up river from the center. A hide (blind) on top of the cliff just 25m (80 ft) from the clay lick affords excellent opportunities for observations and photography. Macaw clay licks are best experienced early in the morning, hence tours usually leave the lodge pre-dawn to catch the best of the day with a few hours of high quality bird watching. The species regularly visiting this clay lick include Red-and-green Macaw, sometimes a flock of 20 or more at a time, and flocks of up to 200 others including dusky headed parakeet, cobalt winged parakeet and tui parakeet. Other species visiting the clay lick include chestnut-fronted and red-bellied macaws; mealy, blue headed and yellow-crowned parrots, white-eyed parakeets, orange-cheeked parrots, white-bellied parrots, scarlet macaws, blue and yellow macaws, piping guans, and chachalacas.
Conservation activities: Las Piedras Amazon Tours encourages guests to actively participate in conservation. ARCC has a mahogany reforestation project in which young mahogany trees are grown, transplanted and maintained to augment the numbers of this species which has suffered from the attentions of illegal logging in the past. ARCC guests can help with planting and caring for these trees, hence you are directly contributing to the conservation of the forest.
Fishing demonstrations: Fishing is not a major activity for visitors at ARCC- we prefer to leave the fish for the giant otters! But our native staff can give a demonstration of their traditional fishing technique with bow and arrow, and if you want to see that famous Amazon fish, the pirahna, the guides can try and catch one- returning the live fish after the demonstration.
DAY 4 Puerto Maldonado - Lima
Rise before dawn for an early breakfast and depart ARCC to journey downriver connecting by car and boat again in order to catch the flight from Puerto Maldonado to Lima.
Hard-core birders Tipishca and Iberia 7 days
It s possible to arrange a side trip to work the trails at Tipishca Lodge (the lodge was seriously damaged in recent storm and is not operating) for several good species such as Humaita Antbird, Violaceous Quail-Dove, Black-faced Cotinga and Fulvous-chinned Nunlet. We stay two nights.
Afterwards we continue north to Iberia on the Interoceanica highway to Brazil, where there is an extensive Bamboo-patch where the new Rufous Twistwing and several other bamboo birds area common. Also very good for Black-faced Cotinga here.
Should we have seen all the targets available at the Bamboo in Iberia at Piedras, we shall spend the Iberia day in the vecinity of Puerto Maldonado where there are many good birding areas accessible for target species of the group.
Day 1. Arrival Lima-Piedras
Day 2. Piedras
Day 3. Piedras
Day 5. Tipishca
Day 7. Iberia. PM to Puerto Maldonado.
Note that there is more basic lodging at Tipishca and Iberia. Hotel an dinner in Puerto Maldonado is not included.