Tambopata Research Center – Expert Review with Vannesa Urritia

Take a trip deep into the Lower Peruvian Amazon with Vannesa Urrutia from Travel Just 4 U

Along with the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu, the Amazon was at the top of my travel bucket list and I was very excited to tick it off on my recent trip to Peru. A few years ago, I worked as a volunteer for a year in a monkey rescue centre in Chile called “Centro de Primates Peñaflor” and since then, I have always dreamt of seeing Howler, Squirrel and Spider monkeys live in their natural habitat.

My trip started with a direct flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado, where at my arrival, a guide from Rainforest Expeditions was waiting for all the people in my group travelling on the same flight. Once the group was complete, we were transferred to the main office to repack our suitcases into duffle bags, provided by Rainforest Expeditions, that we could use for the time we were in the Amazon. Our excess luggage was stored in the office. As I was carrying my 80 Litres backpack, there was no need to repack for me and all in all it only took 20 minutes before we were on our way.

The trip continued with a 45-minute drive over an unpaved road from Puerto Maldonado City to the pier in Chonta. Here we embarked our boat to sail for 4 hours on the Tambopata River and started to feel the adventure whilst admiring the beautiful jungle. From the river, you can appreciate the huge size of the Ceiba Trees (the tallest trees in the Amazon) and spot animals such as Capybaras, river Turtles with butterflies on their nose, Herons.



The Tambopata Research Center (TRC) is too far into the Amazon jungle to be reached on day one, so we spent the first night in the Refugio Amazonas Lodge, which is part of the same company – Rainforest Expeditions. We arrived at the Refugio in the dark, so had to use our headlamps and walk through the jungle for about 10 minutes to get to this beautiful Hotel. At our arrival we had a great reception that was hosted by Tania Olarte, she was very welcoming, funny and explained us all about the hotel facilities and the meal times.



The next morning, we had the choice of joining a group excursion to see the sunrise from a Canopy Tower or stay in bed until breakfast time. I opted for the Canopy Tower but unfortunately the weather was a bit cloudy, so I couldn’t see the sunrise. However, the view from the top of the trees was amazing and I saw a great variety of birds such as Tucans, Black Tailed Trogons and Parrots. After breakfast, we continued the trip to the Tambopata Research Center, which took another 4 hours by boat. On our way, we stopped for a short walk through bamboo forest to get to one of the Clay Licks and had our first encounter with Parrots and Macaws.

On arrival at the Lodge, after a 10-minute walk through the jungle, we had another reception to inform us all about the lodge. Our tour guide leader explained all the tour options available to us during our stay at the lodge. During the day, there are 4 tour departures; before breakfast, after breakfast, after lunch and after dinner. There are lots of tour choices, depending on your interests.



All the rooms in the lodge are open and face the jungle, which means that you could have visitors at any time and the sound of the jungle was so relaxing that I slept like a baby every night. It almost felt like a dream! I optimized my time spent at the lodge by doing as many tours as I could and saw many birds such as Parrots and Macaws, Black Turkeys, Lesser Kiskadees and Great Kiskadees, Little Cuckoos and a prehistoric bird called Hoatzin. I also came across many animals and insects such us Squirrels, Pacas, Caterpillar, many types of Butterflies, Dragonflies, Ants, Spiders, Frogs, Turtles, Caiman, Red Howler monkeys, Saddleback Tamarin Monkeys, Squirrel monkeys, Spider monkeys and Titi monkeys. For a nature lover like myself a TOTAL DREAM!



There is a chance to spot Jaguars in the in the vicinity of the Tambopata National Park. Unfortunately, I was not so lucky, but guests that arrived one day before us and a group that arrived two days after us, spotted two Jaguars from the boat while they were on their way to the Lodge.



On the fifth day, it was time to say goodbye. It was an early morning boat trip back to the pier near Puerto Maldonado, during which I witnessed a peaceful sunrise and watched how the jungle slowly woke up. It was magical! After 4 hours down-river we arrived and were transferred back to the luggage storage office and finally to the Airport. I had some extra time before my flight departure, so Rainforest Expeditions organised a short visit to a butterfly farm nearby.

After this unforgettable experience, I can see how important is for a traveller to choose the right lodge to stay at. Your experience will be very different when you stay closer to civilization (Puerto Maldonado), even when the lodge its beautiful and full in comfort, you probably won’t have the same exposure to the wildlife. There is a Jungle experience for everyone, so please always request advice, especially if you want to see specific animals.

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