Tambopata National Reserve: everything you need to know to visit the beautiful reserve

Tambopata National Reserve: everything you need to know to visit the beautiful reserve

02 September 2022

In the Amazonian department of Madre de Dios, the Tambopata National Reserve displays its richness in the form of colors, sounds, warmth and life.


Mammals, birds, reptiles and butterflies are shown without reserve; thousands of kinds of trees and flowers greet us as we pass by; and aquatic creatures in their natural habitat play on our curiosity, sometimes posing for the camera. Tambopata is perfect to discover the jungle. And fall in love with her forever.


What is Tambopata?


Most people know Tambopata for the Tambopata River and the huge Tambopata National Reserve that protects it. Tambopata is also one of the provinces of the Amazonian state of Madre de Dios. However, we will refer to the Tambopata National Reserve when we say “Tambopata”; in this article.


Tambopata is a Quechua word, Tambo means "structure or building", and pata means "high place". The name comes from the Tambopata River, which rises in the highlands of Puno, near Lake Titicaca, and descends towards this part of the country.


The largest city in Tambopata is Puerto Maldonado, and that is where most travelers fly to begin their jungle trek. Best of all, Tambopata is right next to other rainforest reserves, including the Bahuaja Sonene National Park.


What can I see there?


The Tambopata National Reserve is huge, protecting 274,690 hectares (1,061 square miles) of pristine nature. To give you an idea of ​​how big it is, it's about the size of the iconic Yosemite National Park in the United States. It contains a great diversity of habitats, from old-growth Amazon rainforest to bamboo forests, from floodplains and wetlands to Horseshoe Lake and palm swamps.


Thanks to this variety of well-preserved habitats, Tambopata is one of the most biodiverse areas in the world. There are more than 1,000 species of butterflies, 100 species of mammals, 600 species of birds, and hundreds of species of trees and plants. During your visit, you are likely to see monkeys, parrots and macaws, caimans, toucans and much more.


Who lives there?


Tambopata is home to the Ese Eja Native Community, an indigenous nation that has lived in the rainforest region for many years. “Ese Eja” literally means people. There are three native communities of Ese Eja around the Tambopata National Reserve: Infierno (about 200 families), Palma Real (about 50 families), and Sonene (about 20 families). Rainforest Expeditions has collaborated with the Ese Eja community in Infierno for more than two decades, working together on nature and heritage preservation projects, and jointly running the Posada Amazonas lodge.


Traditionally, the Ese Eja are hunters, fishermen and farmers, although many families now also have business or tourist connections. Today, tourism and Brazil nut harvesting (a type of sustainable food production) are the two main economic activities within the Tambopata National Reserve. In the areas surrounding the reserve, the cultivation of tropical foods such as papaya, pineapple and cocoa is more common. Although tourism has grown in Tambopata in recent years, the region and the reserve are so large that they are never crowded, providing an intimate, deeply wild experience.


Tambopata is now one of the main tourist destinations in Peru. If you like or love nature then Tambopata is for you.


How to get to Tambopata?


To get to the Tambopata National Reserve you must first go to Puerto Maldonado. Puerto Maldonado is the entrance to the reserve and the capital of Madre de Dios. There are daily flights to Puerto Maldonado. These flights arrive from Lima or Cuzco, at least three times a day.


Flights from Lima depart from the domestic flight terminal at Jorge Chávez airport. The trip lasts 1 hour and 40 minutes. Flights from Cusco depart from the domestic terminal at Velasco Astete airport. The trip lasts between 3.5 hours and 4.5 hours as they make a stopover in Lima before continuing to Puerto Maldonado.


*From June 1, 2022, LATAM has 3 frequencies a week (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) from Cuzco to Puerto Maldonado with a duration of 45 minutes. Take note that this varies according to the airline.*


**We do not recommend arriving or leaving Puerto Maldonado by bus, as the road is not safe**.


In Puerto Maldonado, Rainforest Expeditions and most tour companies will be waiting for you at the airport arrivals terminal. From there, hop on the bus for a quick stop at the Main Office before continuing on to the river ports. Once in the port, we will embark on boats to continue towards the lodges. The accommodations are located at a distance of 1 to 4 hours by boat from the port. Please note: the longer you go, the greater your chance of spotting wildlife.


Boat departure times are designed to accommodate incoming and outgoing flights, but you should not arrive later than 3pm because then you may have to travel down the river in the dark. Boat rides are great. You will probably see capybara or alligators in the Tambopata River and with a lot of luck, a jaguar!


When to travel to Tambopata?


Tambopata is slightly seasonal. Although it can rain at any time of the year, it is driest from April to November, when the rains stop and start, respectively. The wettest months are January and February, but even then it rarely rains.


The advantages of visiting in the dry season are that there is very little chance of your activities being affected by rain.


The advantages of visiting in the rainy season is that the macaws are more active in the clay beds and are nesting. If you like macaws, come between December and February, when nesting season is in full flight.


What to pack on a trip to Tambopata?


  • Binoculars
  • Camera crew, bring your long lens!
  • Light-colored, light-weight cotton long pants
  • Long-sleeved, tightly woven, light-colored cotton shirts
  • Ankle-high hiking boots and shoes
  • Flashlight (headlamp) with batteries
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Wide brim hat
  • Rain suit or poncho
  • Insect repellent
  • Small denomination banknotes
  • Small backpack
  • Slippers or sandals to walk around the cabins.
  • Most Rainforest Expeditions Lodges lend rubber boots so you don't have to wear them.

The best destinations in Perú


Once you decide to visit Palccoyo Mountain, you could add the best destinations to combine the history and experience for your trip to Peru. Peru offers the most beautiful destinations, culture and naturals. we recommend to extend your holidays and choose these best destinations and prepare your itinerary:

Best Peru Treks


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