DAY 1: PUERTO MALDONADO - POSADA AMAZONAS
Upon arrival from Lima or Cuzco, reception and transfer to our office in Puerto Maldonado. Puerto Maldonado is situated at the confluence of the mighty Madre de Dios and Tambopata Rivers and is a bustling, booming tropical frontier town. Its principal activities are gold mining, Brazil nut collecting, timber extraction, agriculture and ecotourism. After a brief survey of the town we will drive thirty minutes to the Tambopata river port in the community of Infierno. We will board our boats for a one hour trip by motorized canoe to Posada Amazonas. Depending on the arrival time of the plane we will have a boxed lunch aboard the boats or have lunch upon arrival at Posada Amazonas. During our voyage we may see bird species typical of the river or forest edge such as: Black Skimmer, Pied Lapwing, Capped Heron, Jabiru Stork, Roadside Hawk, and several species of kingfishers, swallows and flycatchers. When we arrive at Posada Amazonas we will unpack and unwind. Posada Amazonas is a comfortable yet unobtrusive 30 room lodge owned jointly by Rainforest Expeditions and the Local Community of Infierno. We will receive a short orientation and a complete briefing on the lodge and the Ecotourism Project before our afternoon activity : the canopy tower. In this activity, we will visit a 35 meter scaffolding tower that is 15 minutes walking from the lodge. The scaffolding tower is built so that you safely climb using the internal staircase with verandahs on each side, and rest in platforms present every 2 meters. From the top you not only get spectacular views of the river and the surrounding forest but also excellent opportunities to observe birds from the canopy including parrots, toucans and macaws. A video about the forest of Tambopata will be displayed after dinner.
DAY 2 POSADA AMAZONAS-TAMBOPATA RESEARCH CENTER
We will be up at dawn for a visit to the Tres Chimbadas oxbow lake. After an early breakfast we depart, fifteen minutes from Posada Amazonas by boat and a 30 minute walk take us to the lake shore. From here we take a long, easy canoe ride around it. We will look for giant river otters, turtles, hoatzin, and wading birds. The giant river otters that are seen in Tres Chimbadas belong to a resident family of nine. As we approach noon, animal activity decreases, and we will continue travel up the Tambopata River for 5 to 6 hours into the pristine heart of the reserve. After the first hour we will leave the final traces of human habitation behind as we cross the northern boundary of the 700,000 hectare, completely uninhabited nucleus of the Tambopata National Reserve. Differences in wildlife abundance will be noted immediately: we will begin to sight macaws, herons, kingfishers and cormorants frequently and improve our chances of encounters with capybaras, caiman, storks, ducks and other wildlife. Boxed lunch on the boat. We will arrive at Tambopata Research Center in the early afternoon, being greeted by the Chicos, our flock of semi-wild, rescued macaws. On arrival, we will hold an orientation session. After this we will hike the 1.5 mile Bamboo Trail, a trail that is famous for the abundance of rare birds that live exclusively in this habitat and are endemic to southern Peru. It is also the home of the frequently found Howler and Dusky titi monkeys. As we birdwatch our way through the trail we will end our hike at the overlooks which are good places to observe canopy birds like tanagers, jacamars, elaenias, guans, and oropendolas. We will return to TRC for dinner. After dinner, to cap off a fulfilling day we can have a frog walk through the forest, allowing the photo lovers to take beautiful macro shoots of american bullfrogs, horned frogs, tree frogs and an incredible variety of colorful insects.
DAY 3 TAMBOPATA RESEARCH CENTER
At dawn we will cross the river and enjoy the world's largest macaw clay lick where hundreds of parrots and macaws of up to 15 species congregate daily. The January 1994 issue of National Geographic features an article on Tambopata Research Center and the Tambopata Macaw Project. It begins with a description of the daily spectacle at the clay lick:
" When the morning sun clears the Amazon tree line in southeastern Peru and strikes a gray-pink clay bank on the upper Tambopata River, one of the world's most dazzling wildlife gatherings is nearing its riotous peak. The steep bank has become a pulsing, 130-foot-high palette of red, blue, yellow and green as more than a thousand parrots squabble over choice perches to grab a beakful of clay, a vital but mysterious part of their diet. More than a dozen parrot species will visit the clay lick throughout the day, but this midmorning crush belongs to the giants of the parrot world, the macaws."
You can expect to see ten to twelve of the following members of the parrot family: Red-and-green, Blue-and-gold, Scarlet, Red-bellied, Chestnut-fronted and Blue-headed Macaws; Mealy and Yellow-crowned Amazons; Blue-headed, Orange-cheeked and White-bellied Parrots; Dusky-headed, White-eyed, Cobalt-winged and Tui Parakeets and Dusky-billed Parrotlets. This show will continue until the macaws sense danger, usually in the form of an eagle, and depart simultaneously in an explosion of sound and color. Around mid-morning, when the most intense clay lick activity is over for the day, we will return to TRC for breakfast..
After breakfast we will hike the 1.5 mile Ocelot Trail, a trail which exemplifies the quintessential rainforest . Although at this time of day mammals and birds are not as active as in the early morning, we will concentrate on the forest itself and discuss general rain forest ecology. This forest, which is estimated to be 200 to 300 years old and includes truly huge Ceiba trees and Strangler figs is home to several mammals that are occasionally encountered: Saddleback tamarins, Squirrel and Brown Capuchin Monkeys and Collared peccary. This trail is the one which most often sports ocelot, puma and jaguar tracks, although any one of these three large cats is extremely difficult to spot. We will return to TRC for lunch and then embark on a 2 mile hike to the palm swamp, a nesting colony and preferred roost for Blue and Gold and Red-bellied Macaws. Although there are different degrees of macaw activity at the swamp year round, the most exciting time to visit it is from October to March, during the nesting season, when macaws will land on the nests and stand there for several minutes, interacting with other individuals at less then 20 feet from our observation tower. The scenes at the swamp, especially with late afternoon sun in our backs, make prized photo opportunities. After a lazy afternoon with the macaws we will hike back to the lodge for dinner.
DAY 4 TAMBOPATA RESEARCH CENTER - POSADA AMAZONAS
We will wake up at dawn once again to visit the macaw clay lick and then return for breakfast. After breakfast we will take a short five minute boat ride to a small, drying oxbow lake where we will spend the morning on a platform in the middle of the pond observing some of its birdlife, which may include hoatzin, duck, ibis, woodpeckers, chachalaca, parakeets, oropendolas and numerous flycatcher species. We will return to TRC and embark to Posada Amazonas, arriving at mid-afternoon. We will spend our last night in the rain forest in this wonderfully designed lodge enjoying its happy hour as we ponder over the exciting happenings of the past few days.
DAY 5 POSADA AMAZONAS-PUERTO MALDONADO
After an early breakfast we will return to Puerto Maldonado for our flight back to Lima. B.