Mud, tamarind monkeys, turtles, capybara, long-nosed bats, all kinds of birds, a snake, army ants, leaf-cutter ants, butterflies, squirrels, black caiman, and a tour guide named Elvis.

That’s the quickest way to sum up the two days we spent hiking the Tambopata-Candamo National Reserve, in the Peruvian Amazon Basin.

Staying at the Libertador Tambopata Eco-Lodge, we were limited by the programs they offered to visitors, but these didn’t disappoint. My only regret was that we didn’t spend more time there.

Each day’s hiking took us to a different ox-bow lake and, as I’ve mentioned, gave us a brilliant overview of the area’s flora and fauna. Our guide, Elvis, was a very entertaining local character with an infectious laugh. He knew everything about the area and was excited to share his knowledge.

Aside from the two day-hikes, we were also treated to a night walk to spotlight for nocturnal wildlife. Had we stayed an extra day or two, we could have gone swimming in the caiman-infested waters near the lodge (for some reason this idea excites me), and explored a whole lot more hiking trails un-guided.

Note: This is the combination of two posts from back in 2009, republished as a photo essay. Information in the aforementioned posts was mostly out of date, poorly written, and pretty much useless. I decided I’d like to keep the photos, since they were probably the highlight. I hope you enjoy.


The Tambopata River in the early morning

Each of the two day hikes during our stay was reached via an early-morning boat ride on the Tambopata River.


Leaf-cutter ants

Leaf-cutter ants were everywhere in the jungle. They’re fascinating creatures to watch.


Be careful of thorny trees

Some of the trees in The Amazon have trunks covered in massive spikes. Being the super-coordinated person that I am, it was no time before I had a very close encounter with one of them.


A snake in a tree

Fortunately this was as close as we came to any snakes during our jungle adventure. Unfortunately, this was the best photo I could get (and I didn’t catch what type of snake it was).


Our guide empties water from a banana boat on Lake Condenado

Our first day’s hike took us to Lake Condenado, where the guide took us out on a very well-used banana boat (which he is emptying of water in this picture). We floated around, soaking up the jungle atmosphere and hearing about the different wildlife around the ox-bow lake.


Long-nosed bats camouflage themselves on a log at Lake Condenado

Long-nosed bats camouflage themselves on a log at Lake Condenado.


The jungle floor is home to some interesting funghi.

The jungle floor is home to some interesting funghi.


Stuck in the mud

We were made to wear gumboots for both of our hikes. This was extremely uncomfortable but, as you can see, it was necessary.


Army ants

We encountered a lot of army ants during our hikes, which didn’t go down very well with some of the less brave members of our tour-group.


Unidentified flower - relation of the Bird of paradise

We came across some amazing and very different flora during our visit. However, some of it actually looked very familiar. Our guide said this is a relative of the bird of paradise flower.


Stink Bird

A stink bird (they do have another name but, funnily enough, this was the name that stuck in my mind) at Lake Sachavacayok.


Some of the butterflies in the Amazon are amazing

The butterflies in The Amazon were amazing. I’ve never seen so many different colours, shapes, and patterns.


A capybara on the banks of the Tambopata River

A capybara on the banks of the Tambopata River. This is one of my favourite animals from the jungle trip.


Hiking Tour Times & Distances: 11 km / 6 hrs and 6 km / 5 hrs (times included guided stops, food breaks, and boat / barge rides on each of the lakes)
Grading: Easy
Region: Madre De Dios Region, Peruvian Amazon Basin
Park: Tambopata-Candamo National Reserve
Closest Town: Puerto Maldonado
Getting there: We flew to Puerto Maldonado from Cuzco, but I’m sure you can fly there from other places (such as Lima). We booked in to a 3-day program with Libertador Tambopata Eco-Lodge. Both hikes were part of the accommodation package. The lodges in the area, and programs the offer, have probably changed over time.


Have you visited the Peruvian Amazon Basin? If you have any stories, updates or corrections, please let us know by commenting below.

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