If you’re planning for 3 or 4 days in Puerto Maldonado for your experience of the Amazon Rainforest, you’re in one of the best places in the entire Amazon for a short tour. The Tambopata National Reserve is located very close to town and represents the Tambopata part of a continuous protected area, which is one of the world’s largest tracts of protected tropical forests at over 3 million hectares. Combined with this area being home to the most clay licks in Amazonia, you are in one of the best places for incredible wildlife sightings.
Enjoy fantastic clay licks at ideal lodges for tours of 3 or 4 days to see mealy and yellow-headed Amazons, blue-headed parrots and dusky headed parakeets. Tour lakes to see giant river otters, hoatzins, and waterbirds, and rainforest walks to see several different monkeys. At the Posada Amazonas and Refugio Amazonas, you can also enjoy the canopy towers to see a range of bird species, including different toucans and macaws.
Our recommendation to see many different monkeys, lake wildlife, such as giant river otters, arapaima, caiman, and waterbirds is the Sandoval Lake Lodge located inside Tambopata National Reserve. Explore the lake to see Amazon Rainforest wildlife, enjoy a comfortable lodge, and head out on a night walk to see some interesting nocturnal wildlife.
We’ve selected a few different lodges for a 3 or 4 day visit which offer a shorter trip to the lodge itself and excellent wildlife after only 30 minutes from the Puerto Maldonado port, such as the community owned Posada Amazonas Lodge and the Sandoval Lake Lodge. This short travel time means you maximize your experience in the rainforest for a short 3 day tour. If you’re after a deeper experience in the Amazon Rainforest you can also choose the Refugio Amazonas Lodge.
For a much deeper Amazon Rainforest experience to have the highest diversities of animals and plants, and the highest chance to see larger and rarer Amazon wildlife, the Tambopata Research Center and Heath River Wildlife offer fantastic experiences.
These are two of the deepest lodges in the Amazon Rainforest and offer a 4 day tour to take you deeper in the rainforest for a higher chance of seeing some iconic Amazonian animals. Both of these lodges are located closeby to some of Tambopata’s largest clay licks where you can enjoy many different macaw parrots.
The Tambopata Research Center is located deep in the middle of Tambopata National Reserve and the Heath River Wildlife Center is the only lodge on the Heath River, which flows between the Tambopata and Madidi National Park.
Examples of 3 day itineraries at Posada Amazonas & Sandoval
Here we’ll provide itineraries for 3 days at the Posada Amazonas Lodge and the Sandoval Lake Lodge to show an example of the differences at both of these fantastic choices for a 3 day Amazon Rainforest experience.
Posada Amazonas 3 Day Itinerary
The community owned Posada Amazonas Lodge offers a fantastic 3 day itinerary where you will get to explore the Amazon Rainforest, enjoy clay licks, explore Amazon lakes, and experience a rainforest canopy tower.
After arrival to Puerto Maldonado from either Cusco or Lima, you will be met by Posada Amazonas staff and taken to the Posada Amazonas Lodge via boat up the Rio Tambopata.
Your first day will be spent exploring the canopy tower to see different birds, such as toucans, mixed species flocks, and parrots, and enjoying the wonderful views.
Day two is then spent exploring the lake and walking through the rainforest. Explore the lake on catamaran to find the resident giant otters, caiman, hoatzin, and horned screamers. We will then go visit the clay lick to see parakeets and parrots at the most active time of day.
We now explore the ethnobotanical trail around the community who administers and produces natural medicines from the rainforest. Learn about medicinal plants and the uses for the different species.
You will also enjoy a night walk to find nocturnal wildlife, such as owls, frogs, nocturnal mammals, and caiman.
Sandoval Lake Lodge 3 Day Itinerary
After your flight from either Cusco or Lima to Puerto Maldonado, you will be taken from the airport to the port on the Madre de Dios River and after 25 minutes will reach the trailhead to the Sandoval Lake Lodge in the Tambopata National Reserve. After a walk through the rainforest, we will cross the magnificent Sandval Lake to read the lodge on the riverbank.
After enjoying lunch at the lodge and avoiding the hottest part of the day, we will learn about the lodge history and board the catamaran for your first lake exploration. Enjoy spotting and hearing macaws, monkeys, and as night falls spot caiman and other nocturnal wildlife.
Red bellied macaws are commonly seen around Sandoval Lake and flocks have been seen from Sandoval Lake Lodge tours of up around 500 to 800 birds, which is the highest reported flock size for this specialized macaw. Of an evening, we will then head out to see the black caiman, the dominant lake-living predator, while listening to the sounds of the rainforest.
The next day, we will wake early to see the many different types of monkeys that visit the lake to feed. These include the squirrel monkeys, capuchins, titi monkeys, howler monkeys and others.We will also explore the lake to find the resident giant otters, which are frequently seen feeding, playing and resting.
After this we will visit some Brazil nut trees and talk about how this nut is helping the local communities and how their harvesting helps protect the surrounding rainforest.
On the last day, we will have a short paddle around the lake before we return to Puerto Maldonado for your return flight to Cusco or Lima.
Puerto Maldonado 4 Day Options
Although both the Sandoval Lake Lodge and Posada Amazonas Lodge offer a 4 day program, as you have an extra day available you can now enjoy the 4 day programs offered at some deeper Amazon lodges. These include the Heath River Wildlife Center and Tambopata Research Center.
Heath River Wildlife Center 4 Day Itinerary
After arriving in Puerto Maldonado, you will be collected from the airport by Heath River Wildlife Center staff and taken to the Puerto Maldonado dock for the Tambopata River. Enjoy a trip down to the Heath River Wildlife Center on the remote Heath River, the only lodge in this section of rainforest.
Your adventure begins down the Heath River on the way to the lodge where we will be scouting the waterways for herons, kingfishers, hawks, giant rodents called capybaras and other wildlife. We then reach the Heath River Wildlife Center in time for dinner and you can enjoy your comfortable quarters ready for the next day of exploration.
Your first day of adventure begins at the Heath River clay lick to see fantastic macaw parrots from the floating hide, which lets you get close to the action without disturbing the birds. The birds visit the clay to detoxify fruits they have eaten in the forest and the congregation of many parrots creates a spectacular display.
Enjoy exploring the forest to find several different monkeys, Brazil nut trees, fig trees, different birds, and others. After lunch we will then head into the Madidi National Park on the Bolivian side of the river to explore the Pampas del Heath, a fantastic area of savannah home to some contrasting wildlife to the Amazon. Enjoy searching for maned wolves, hummingbirds, and other animals.
We will now explore the palm forests, which macaws love. This means we have a high chance of seeing red bellied macaws and blue and yellow macaws feeding off the oil rich food and nesting in the tree holes.
In the evening, we will explore the rainforest to find fascinating nocturnal wildlife, such as different frogs, nocturnal mammals like night monkeys, and an unpredictable array of different wildlife. You can also choose to camp out at the tapir hide to wait for South America’s largest land mammal.
Your second day begins at the clay lick if you wish for a second visit (which many visitors enjoy) and then a canoe tour to Cocha Moa, an oxbow lake to see some lake living wildlife, such as hoatzins, water birds, and monkey that visit the lake-side forest.
In the evening after dinner, we then visit the lake and canoe again on the lookout to caiman, and especially black caiman, the largest and most dominant species. Seeing these fantastic animals wild if an extraordinary experience.
On the 4th day, we will leave the Heath River Wildlife Center and head back to Puerto Maldonado. We will be traveling at a great time for wildlife viewing so we will make the most of wildlife spotting on the journey, such as seeing different birds, capybaras, and sometimes guests are rewarded with a jaguar.
Tambopata Research Center 4 Day Itinerary
Another deep Amazon Rainforest, after arrival at Puerto Maldonado, Tambopata Research Center staff will greet you at the airport and down the Tambopata River to Refugio Amazonas Lodge, a stepping stone to the Tambopata Research Center.
At Refugio Amazonas, you will enjoy caiman searching and exploring the rainforest for nocturnal rainforest wildlife and a night at the lodge.
The next morning, we will enjoy the Refugio Amazonas Lodge canopy tower to spot different birds like toucans, parrots, and mixed flocks, and enjoy the fantastic views over the Amazon Rainforest.
We will then resume the journey deep into the Tambopata National Reserve to the Tambopata Research Center. We leave the last traces of human inhabitation behind where sightings of large animals become more frequent.
After three hours, we will reach the Chuncho Clay Lick for fantastic sightings of colorful macaw parrots. Dozens of macaws visit the lick to feed from nutrient rich and medicinal clay. The clay licks attracts more macaws than any other in the world and makes for a fantastic experience.
After this, we visit one of the rainforest trails to spot howler monkeys, titi monkeys, and other Amazon wildlife. This area has great stands of bamboo providing a diversity of ecosystem than in other Amazon areas.
We then return to the clay licks to maximize the best times for activity to see different macaws, such as green-winged, scarlet and blue-and-gold macaws.
We now head out on another rainforest trail to more typical rainforest and walk between figs, ceibas, and shihuahuacos to find squirrel monkeys, brown capuchins, spider monkeys and other wildlife.
As a different experience, we now visit a pond platform to see different rainforest waterfowl like hoatzin, muscovy duck, sunbitten and also woodpeckers, oropendolas, and parakeets.
In the evening we head out to see some nocturnal wildlife like different frogs, owl monkeys, interesting birds, and others.
On the last day, we head back to Puerto Maldonado retracing our footsteps and spotting wildlife enroute.
In addition to these itineraries, there are some other great 3 or 4 day experiences we recommend, such as the Manu Wildlife Center to experience the Manu region or the Amazon Villa. The Amazon Villa is great if you’re looking for a more private Amazon Rainforest experience in Tambopata where you can enjoy home comforts, such as a bath, WiFi, and more intimate meals.