Trip Opening: Wilderness, Wildlife and Whitewater on the Rio Tambopata (Sept 20 – 30, 2013)


Trip Name: Wilderness, Wildlife and Whitewater on the Rio Tambopata
Dates: Sept 20 – 30, 2013
Rate: $2,804.00 per person

View additional trip details here –

Wildlife viewing on the Tambopata River.
Wildlife viewing on the Tambopata River.

The Tambopata River snakes through the Tambopata-Candamo National Park in southeastern Peru, originating high in the Andes and ending in confluence with the Madre de Dios at Puerto Maldonado.  For many travelers the Tambopata provides an avenue into Amazonia carting goods and people from Puerto Maldonado upriver into small jungle lodges nestled within walking distance of the river’s shore.  For the more adventuresome, the Tambopata River offers an unforgettable journey from the cold and windswept altiplano into the heat of South American rainforest.

My mom and I joined Amazona’s 12-Day group departure last year.  Hands down this is MY FAVORITE DETOUR TRIP!   I joined because I love rivers. I love the peacefulness and pace, the excitement of whitewater, and openness that comes from days without outside distractions.  No email, no phones, no mirrors or makeup – just you, your companions and the steady hum of river moving by . . . Total immersion in your environment.

Surprisingly, our diverse group of 8 (we had folks from the US, Switzerland, Peru and the UK), only had 3 people who had ever rafted before.  More than half joined because it sounded like a good adventure.  Whether through word of mouth or deciding on a whim radio advertisement, each of us seemed drawn by the idea of getting out of our comfort zones and fully experiencing this magical place.

Our group celebrating our fantastic journey and welcome back into "civilization"
Our group celebrating our fantastic journey and welcome back into “civilization”

We flew into Juliaca and used this as an opportunity to check out the floating reed islands of Lake Titicaca.  A solid day of driving, winding down a jaw-droppingly steep mountain road brought us to the tiny town of Sandia.  So tiny that our dinner’s restaurant owner took pictures of all of us.  Not too many tourists in these parts.  Another solid half day of driving and we made it to the put in.  Kids from a local community gathered for our send off.   And then it was on.

Local kids playing near our put in.
Local kids playing near our put in.

We spent 8 days total on the river, easing from the outskirts of civilization into complete wilderness.  The river is a great place to spot some of the jungle’s larger animals. We saw tons of tapirs, capybara, wild pigs, and the lucky few even spotted a jaguar!  We played in long stretches of warm, calm waters, had some exciting Class III & IV rapids and sometimes venture into the jungle hiking up small tributaries.

Hike to waterfall.
Hike to waterfall.

The trip ends with a stay at the Tambopata Research Center, a simple but beautiful lodge located next to one of the largest macaw clay licks in the world.  An overnight here is a perfect end to the trip and feels like a luxury after nights of camping.  A late afternoon hike on the grounds was a magical wildlife experience.  A whole family of 40 – 60 monkeys swinging overhead, raining leaves down onto us. At the same time a herd of wild pigs at our feet.  With the help of our guide, glimpses into all the life moving around us. . .   A tarantula under a leaf, birds hidden in the branches above and fascinating flora.

A motorized canoe ride down river brings us to Puerto Maldonado and our flight out.  Easy to add on a visit to Machu Picchu or leave for home revitalized, mystified, and full from the journey you completed.


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