Sandoval lake and National reserve Tambopata
30 May 2015

Sandoval lake and National reserve Tambopata

'What do you wanna see when we go to Peru?' was my question to my brother Anton. We were planning a trip to Peru and Bolivia. Even he has traveled a lot, he didn’t see a proper jungle.
It didn’t come as a surprise when he said; “Jungle!”

Nature has always a great attraction to me. The new trees and plants, the animals which you’re gonna discover. I just love to begin in a forest or jungle.

I started searching which jungle would be the most easy way to go to, fitting in our plan. We came to 2 jungles, National reserve Tamobpata, easily reached from Cusco and/or Rurrenabaque in Bolivia, only one flight away from La Paz.

Luckily I found cheap flights to Puerto Maldonado flying from Lima. Puerto Maldonado is the starting hub for the jungle. So this was an easy choice.
Cheap domestic tickets for Peru you can find at Star Peru flight. The website is really simple to use. You even can check in online!

Puerto Maldonado

From the airport it was a short walk to our lodge The heat and the moist was very high! We didn’t count on this but it felt good.

The Anaconda lodge was spot on! You can rent a cabin without bathroom for only 25 euros’s including a nice breakfast. The lodge is owned by a Swiss/Thai couple. They set up the lodge by themselves and with the nice swim pool, cute bungalows and very nice Thai restaurant they offer good value.

The lodge was set about 6 km from the city town, so after a quick dip in the pool we headed to book a tour to the jungle of Tambopata.

After a long search, comparing, arguing, we finally made our choice. We choose La Loutre expeditiones because they are one of the 2 tour agents who would actually stay around the Sandoval lake. This means we have more time to spend on the lake, searching for animals. Other agents stay down the river, this means more traveling, less time at the reserve.

The group was only the 2 of us, so that made the final decision.

We actually opted for a tour to parrot clay lick deep down the jungle. But this could only be done in a 4 day trip. As we thought we didn’t have the time, we choose Sandoval lake. The most change to spot animals.

After our trip we figured we had time left and we really regret we didn’t do it anyway. Sometimes time can be a beach.

Tour day 1

We got picked up the next day in the morning. We had to go on a boat for about 45 minutes. Here we got dropped of at the 3 km jungle path to the lake. We check in at the office, here we could get a stamp in our passports.

The 3 km path is muddy so you’ll get boots to keep your feet clean. Along the way we spotted a lot of caterpillars, butterflies and tarantula’s. We even heard blue and yellow Ara’s, we could see them in a distance.

Where the path ends, you have to change to a boat. The first part is trough the jungle, you can spot Cayman here but soon you’ll get to the Sandoval lake.

The lake was so quiet and serene. No motorboats, only paddle. Just a few people where on the move and soon we couldn’t see them anymore. We follow the edges of the lake, trying to spot giant river otters. Those animals live only here, unfortunately we didn’t see them.

The boat ride was really nice and we knew those would follow up for a few days. We got of the boat to see our stay. We stayed at Maloka Sandoval lodge. This one is basic but affordable. Because we were the only guest that night, it was really peaceful and quiet. The rooms don’t have walls to the ceiling, so I can guess with more people staying here you can hear each other. But for us it was perfect! A private bathroom which we used a lot with the hot climate

We ate our lunch and set of to a place where we could swim. The swim was lovely with turtles sunbathing on a branch and butterflies in all color ranges at the sand bank.

We again went back to the lodge to relax. We just settled down in a hammock when our guide run to us and only shouted 2 things; “Anaconda!” “Grab your camera!” We quickly grab our camera and followed him. At the complete back of the lodge, at the edge of the forest, there where a few employees standing around the big snake. The guide was so happy, but also said it was a baby snake. For us it didn’t matter the almost 2 meters anaconda was a highlight. We took many pictures and looked amazed by how calm the animals was.

We declined the offer to wrap the snake around our neck for the pictures.

Later we figured, our guide only see about 3 times a year an anaconda and this time it was 7 months ago he saw an anaconda. How special was it we have seen one!?

With our heart still beating of adrenaline we set off on the boat again. Afternoon sunset tour. We first paddle along the edges of the lake to spot animals. We didn’t see much, so we went to an observation tower. Here suppose to come monkeys at the end of the day. Unfortunately this day they were not here. We went back on the boat for another exiting search. Caimans! We had a flashlight to spot the eyes. When we saw one, we try to get close. Most of the time they disappeared in the dark water.
We got a nice dinner back at the restaurant of the lodge.

Tour day 2

We had to get up at 5 AM, ate a quick breakfast. We set of with the boat in the dark. The sun was rising slowly and at the place where we had to go trough the jungle with the boat we could see the jungle was waking up. Bats where flying around and different species of monkeys where gathering their breakfast.

Soon we could set foot on land and starting the 3 km walking track. Here there are some trails leading to parrot licks. Not the big clay licks, but just a spot where they’re getting their minerals from.

Soon we found the spot with different species of parrots and ara’s. They were chit chatting a lot and made noise. The birds where close enough to see them, but difficult to make pictures.

Jungle walk

After the lunch back at the lodge, we paddle to the other side of the lake. Here we had a jungle walk. We got a lot of explanation about flowers, trees and plants. The track was OK for walking, but at one muddy part my brother slipped and wanted to grab the tree next to him. Unfortunately that one had thorns of 5 centimeters! His hand was covered in thorns. The next few days we slowly took them out. After we visited the hospital and where assured it was not dangerous.

Overall this part was nice, very large trees, good explanation. We didn’t see animals, since it was midday. But we did see more monkeys later on.

How to book a tour in Puerto Maldonado

Overall this tour was really good! I can imagine it can be more crowded in the right season. Now it was really relaxing and we saw a good number of animals.

Our guide was friendly, calm and had good experience in tour guiding.

We paid 110 dollars for 2 nights including everything. I think that price was decent.

Again I really regret not taking another tour, deeper in the jungle where you can see the clay licks with loads of parrots. I rather would have skipped other places and enjoyed the jungle more.

But this would give me a reason to come back, right?!