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Beneath the sprawling green canopy of Tambopata National Reserve, troops of monkeys, brightly coloured toucans, vibrant macaws and the elusive jaguar can be seen.

Situated in the Peruvian Amazon Basin, the reserve is home to an impressive biodiversity of wildlife. The beautiful lowland rainforests support more than 600 bird species including the vibrant macaws, parrots and toucans, 200 mammal species from giant otter to opossum, more than 1,000 species of butterfly and an astonishing 10,000 species of plant – not to mention the vast numbers of insects, amphibians and reptiles that flourish here.

Tambopata National Reserve is joined to sister reserves in Bolivia: Bahuaja Sonene National Park and the Madidi National Park, creating a protected area of scarcely inhabited rainforest equal to the size of Belgium, and over 30,000 square kilometres in size. Researchers within the protected forest area have discovered that many species which are rarely found elsewhere in the Amazon Rainforest due to poaching actually thrive in Tambopata, including tapir, jaguar, white-lipped peccary, spider monkey and caiman.

Within the reserve are well known macaw clay licks which have been studied by scientists for many years. It was initially thought that macaws consumed toxic substances through their food, and that the clay licking behaviour neutralised these toxins. Further studies, however, have disproved this, and researchers have found that macaws and other birds select clay licks depending on their sodium levels - a vital element, which is often scarce inland from the ocean. This unique and fascinating behaviour attracts numerous macaws to the river banks, providing excellent photographic opportunities in the reserve.

View suggested itinerary

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: red-and-green macaw, capybara, giant otter, spider monkey, scarlet macaw
  • Where: Madre de Dios (Peruvian Amazon Basin), Peru

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itinerary:

Amazon’s Secrets: Rainforest Photography

Peru’s Manu Biosphere Reserve is one of the most biologically diverse places on earth and is the jewel in the crown of Amazon wildlife viewing experiences. Discover its secrets with wildlife photographer Nick Garbutt on a journey through highland Andean cloud forest and lowland Amazon rainforest.

  • When to go: Sep
  • Duration inc. flights: 20 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £7,495 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour
Suggested accommodation options are shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Heath River Wildlife Centre

Located near the remote Amazon-region border between Peru and Bolivia, Heath River Wildlife Centre offers comfortable accommodation in private bungalows within ten minutes of a large macaw clay lick, where up to 260 brightly coloured macaws can be observed.

Sandoval Lake Lodge

Deep within the wildlife-rich Tambopata National Reserve, Sandoval Lake Lodge has 25 en suite rooms overlooking a beautiful oxbow lake. Guests have exclusive access to Sandoval Lake in the early morning and late afternoon - the prime time for wildlife viewing and photography.