Sandoval Lake Giant Otter

An oxbow lake which formed when a tributary of the Amazon changed direction, Sandoval is possibly the most attractive lake in the Amazon’s Tambopata National Reserve. Sandoval Lake is not only an attraction for Amazon Rainforest visitors but also attracts a diversity of many different rainforest animals. This is also one of the largest oxbow lakes in Peru and is home to giant Amazon fish called Arapaima, black caiman, and a resident family of giant river otters.

In addition to the lake’s life, the surrounding rainforest is home to many different monkeys, sloths, and features a breeding area of colorful macaw parrots. These animals, especially the many different monkeys, visit the lake’s edge regularly and you are sure to see a variety of types on your Sandoval Lake tour.

Sandoval’s environment, and why this is such an attractive area, is partly due to a high abundance of Mauritia palm trees, which form swampy areas called aguajales. These trees create a fantastic backdrop to the lake and provide habitat for a number of different animals and plants.

Sandoval Lake, Sandoval Lake Lodge, Puerto Maldonado, Peru

The most famous of Sandoval Lake’s wildlife, the giant river otters are an endangered species and one of the most social mammals on the South American continent. The largest otter species, you will see these fantastic mammals playing, resting, swimming and hunting fish as a group. Communicating to each other using a series of snorts and sounds, each individual otter can be identified by its unique throat patch.

A harder to spot species, but often seen making splashes in the water, the Sandoval Lake is also home to Arapaima fish, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish. Measuring around 4.5 m (15 ft) at their largest, these fish are certainly impressive and are an important food source for local communities. Overfishing, however, has seen their numbers plummet in many of their natural areas and there are now conservation initiatives in the Amazon Basin. Because of this, back in 1979 Arapaima were introduced from elsewhere in the Amazon Basin to the Sandoval Lake and a number of other lagoons in southern Peru.

Black caiman are a dominant predator in the Amazon Rainforest and make a fantastic wildlife sighting for Amazon visitors. In addition to the black caiman, around Sandoval Lake you can also spot spectacled and dwarf caiman species. These are best seen on night tours, but can also be seen during daytime lake excursions.

Sandoval Lake Giant Otters, Sandoval Lake Lodge, Puerto Maldonado, Peru

The bird life to be seen at Sandoval Lake is also fantastic. The surrounding rainforest and palms create habitat for macaw parrots and you’re sure to see a number of fascinating species on lake tours. Enjoy spotting macaws, cormorants, toucans, a diversity of herons, and hoatzin. Hoatzin are a strange bird that digests food by fermentation and the young possess a claw on their wing for piercing the egg shell and climbing through the vegetation. Hoatzin prefer to hop from branch to branch instead of flying and are very common around the Amazon’s lakes.

In addition to the giant otters, the monkeys of Sandoval often steal the show. On lake tours, you can see a diversity of species feeding and resting in the lakeside rainforest. Enjoy spotting titi monkeys, capuchins, squirrel monkeys, tamarins and howler monkeys. A great reason to stay at Sandoval Lake Lodge, as this is a lakeside lodge, you can be on the lake early in the morning, which is the best time to see the monkeys feeding and exploring the lakeside forest.

Sandoval Lake Lodge

The best choice for a visit to Sandoval Lake, the Sandoval Lake Lodge sits on the lake’s edge and provides professional guided tours around the lake itself to find many different animals. Enjoy different tours each day to observe the giant river otters, lake birds, several different monkeys, toucans and parrots. As the Sandoval Lake Lodge sits in the lake’s rainforest, enjoy spending your entire time in nature and even stand a chance of seeing different monkeys and other wildlife from your bedroom window.

In addition to exploring the lake, we will head out on some forest trails to spot animals a little further from the water. Here you’re likely to spot different macaws, such as the scarlet macaws, butterflies, and other rainforest inhabitants. You can also explore the walks at night to see a contrasting diversity of rainforest wildlife.

The Sandoval Lake Lodge was built with environmentally responsible driftwood mahgany and consists of cabins which radiate out from the main dining and relaxation area. Enjoy delicious meals in the dining room, read up on lake wildlife before your tours, or have a tropical cocktail or juice from the lodge bar.

Because the Sandoval Lake Lodge is close to Puerto Maldonado and home to incredible wildlife, Sandoval Lake Lodge is one of the best choices for a short Amazon Rainforest tour of one or two nights. This makes it a great experience for visitors wanting to experience the Amazon but have limited time of budget, or for visitors to Machu Picchu who want an add-on experience in the Amazon.

Sandoval Lake Lodge

Sandoval Lake Lodge

Puerto Maldonado, Amazon Rainforest, Peru, South America
Price per person from $
Sandoval Lake Lodge is located in the Tambopata National Reserve on the bank of the glistening Sando More info

Because of its wildlife, the Sandoval Lake Lodge also makes a great combination experience with the deep Amazon lodge of Heath River Wildlife Center. This deeper lodge provides access to a large and attractive macaw clay lick to see hundreds of colorful macaw parrots and a tapir lick. Tapir are South America’s largest land mammal and although rarely seen in other areas, they make frequent visits to clay licks such as the one at Heath River Wildlife Center. Enjoy the lake tours at Sandoval Lake Lodge to see monkeys, giant otters, witness arapaima fish and caiman then visit the Heath River Wildlife Center to see other wildlife, including several monkeys, macaw parrots, tapir, and hopefully some more elusive deep Amazon animals and plants.

Ash - Author & Travel AdvisorAbout the Author: Ash Card is a frequent visitor to the Amazon and has a passion for helping visitors get the best experiences from tropical destinations. Ash is a contributor to both and writing about tropical destinations, rainforests and wildlife. Feel free to contact Ash for tour help in the Amazon. When not helping tourists with tours and info, Ash can be found salsa-ing the night away or posing near waterfalls.
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