The 4-day / 3-night Amazon Refuge
The Amazon Refuge is for you if you would like to surround yourself with the rainforest's incredible biodiversity and also experience local culture. Activities such as oxbow lake, clay lick and canopy tower visits are supplemented by excursions to an old-growth Brazil nut concession and ethnobotanical garden. Extra activities (see below) are available to order.
Arrival & Reception by your Guide. Our guides are biologists, tourism professionals, or community members. Unless noted otherwise, our guides speak English. We assign guides at a 10:1 ratio. This means groups smaller than 10 people will be merged with other groups under one guide. If you would like a private guide or a guide in a language other than English please let us know.
Transfer from the Airport to our Puerto Maldonado Headquarters. Upon arrival from Lima or Cusco, we will welcome you at the airport and drive you ten minutes to our Puerto Maldonado headquarters. While enjoying your first taste of the forest in our gardens we will ask you to pack only the necessary gear for your next few days, and leave the rest at our safe deposit. This helps us keep the boats and cargo light.
Puerto Maldonado to Tambopata River Port. Skirting Puerto Maldonado, we drive 20 kilometres to the Tambopata River Port, entering the Native Community of Infierno. The port is a local community venture.
Tambopata River Port to Refugio Amazonas. The two and a half hour boat ride from the Tambopata Port to Refugio Amazonas will take us past the Community of Infierno and the Tambopata National Reserve´s checkpoint, continuing into the buffer zone of this 1.3 million hectare reserve.
Refugio Amazonas is a charming 32 bedroom lodge well placed immediately adjacent to the Tambopata National Reserve. Each room has a private bathroom with hot shower. A limited number of special superior rooms are available, please enquire for details on this upgrade.
Orientation. Upon arrival, the lodge manager will welcome you and brief you with important navigation and security tips.
Caiman Search: We will be out on the river's edge at night, scanning the shores with headlamps and flashlights to catch the red gleams of reflection from caiman eyes.
Overnight at Refugio Amazonas
Oxbow Lake Visit: We will paddle around the lake in a canoe or on a catamaran looking for lakeside wildlife such as caiman, hoatzin and horned screamers, hoping to see the giant river otters infrequently seen here. You will be rewarded with overhead sightings of macaws.
Canopy Tower: A thirty minute walk from Refugio Amazonas leads to the 25-metre high scaffolding canopy tower. A staircase with banister running through the middle provides safe access to the platforms above. The tower has been built upon high ground, therefore maximising your view of the continuous primary forest extending out towards the Tambopata National Reserve. From here, sightings of mixed-specie canopy flocks as well as toucans, macaws and raptors are likely.
Farm Visit: Five minutes downriver from the lodge is a farm owned and managed by charismatic Don Manuel from the neighbouring community of Condenado. He grows a variety of popular and little-known Amazon crops - just about every plant and tree you see serves a purpose.
Ethnobotanical Tour: Along this trail we will find a variety of plants and trees that are used by the local population with at least the same variety of purposes. We will learn about the medicinal (and other) uses of Ajo-Sacha, Yuca de Venado, Uña de Gato, Charcot-Sacha, Para-Para, among several others.
Tambopata National Reserve Lecture: Nightly lectures prepared by the staff of Refugio Amazonas cover conservation threats, opportunities and projects in the Tambopata National Reserve.
Overnight at Refugio Amazonas
Parrot Clay Lick: A fifteen minute boat ride and sixty minute walk from Refugio Amazonas is a parakeet clay lick. From a blind you will see parakeets descend on most clear days to ingest the clay on a bank. Species such as dusky-headed and cobalt-winged parakeet descend at this clay lick. With luck we will also see some or all of the following species in the early morning rush: mealy and yellow-crowned Amazons, blue-headed Pionus, severe macaw and orange-cheeked (Barraband`s) parrot. We visit the lick at dawn, when the birds are most active or in mid-morning or early afternoon, when they are also active.
Brazil Nut Trail and Camp: A few minutes hike from the lodge is a beautiful old growth patch of Brazil Nut forest that has been harvested for decades (if not centuries) where the precarious remains of a camp used two months a year by Brazil Nut gatherers can still be experienced. We will be demonstrating the whole process of the rain forest's only sustainably harvested product from collection through transportation to drying.
Mammal Clay Lick: Twenty minutes walking from Refugio Amazonas is a peccary clay lick. These wild rain forest pigs show up in herds of five to twenty individuals to eat clay. Chances of spotting them are around 15%, but well worth the short hike. Other wildlife that may also arrive includes deer, guans and parakeets.
Night Walk: You will have the option of hiking out at night, when most of the mammals are active but rarely seen. Much easier to find are frogs with shapes and sounds as bizarre as their natural histories..
Overnight at Refugio Amazonas
Transfer by Boat from Refugio Amazonas to the Tambopata River Port.
Transfer from the Tambopata River Port to our Puerto Maldonado Headquarters.
Transfer from our Puerto Maldonado Headquarters to the Airport. We retrace our river and road journey back to Puerto Maldonado, our office and the airport. Depending on airline schedules, this may require dawn departures.
* IMPORTANT: Transfer times. Due to our set program start and end times, we will send you suggested flights for your rainforest experience. Other flights incur extra fees for private boat transfers which would need to be added at your cost.
Transfer-in (From Puerto Maldonado to Lodge): we have two departures daily at 13:00 and 14:30 and your flights need to link up with these.
Transfer-out (Lodge to Puerto Maldonado): Two daily departures at 07:00 and 08:00
Private transport by bus and boat can be arranged at extra cost for families or groups.
Cost per person sharing double, twin or triple room: US$700 + US$13 park entry fee
Single (if you do not wish to share accommodation): US$970 + US$13 park entry fee
More luxurious room upgrades also available
Included: All meals, accommodation, and services as detailed above, all river transportation, as well as transfers from and to the airport in Puerto Maldonado.
Not Included: International or domestic airfares, airport departure taxes or visa fees, excess baggage charges, additional nights during the trip due to flight cancellations, alcoholic beverages or bottled water, snacks, insurance of any kind, laundry, phone calls or messages, reconfirmation of flights and items of a personal nature.
Boat Transportation: Our boats are 20-foot long, roofed canoes. Outboard boat engines are 75hp 4 stroke, eco-friendly, low emission motors.
We reserve the right to change the order of activities or trails due to weather or other local conditions.
A number of add-on activities are available at the different lodges, please contact us for more details, to confirm availability and to book:
At Refugio Amazonas
Kayaking on the Tambopata River, cost US$75 per person.
A boat will take us upriver and then we will paddle down a portion of the Tambopata River with some rapids, although most of the progress presents low difficulty. At the shores we will observe fragmented parts of the forest and come across local people who work at the few farms in the region. To finish our experience, we´ll stop on a sandy beach and have a well deserved swim. No previous experience is required, only swimming knowledge.
Stand-up Paddle Boarding on the Tambopata River, cost US$75 per person.
We will paddle up a portion of the Tambopata River that presents no difficulty. At the shores we will observe fragmented parts of the forest and be accompanied by the sounds of nature. Some of the wildlife we may observe includes birds, caimans and turtles. To finish our experience, we´ll stop on a sandy beach and have a well-deserved swim. No previous experience is required, only swimming knowledge.
Canopy Climbing up a 30m-high tree, cost US$75 per person.
Replicating the daily work of macaw researchers, we will climb a 30-metre high tree with a rope, harness and jumar. From this vantage point we will have a macaw’s-eye view of the forest. This demanding exercise is perfectly safe and requires no previous experience.
Jungle Mountain Biking, cost US$75 per person.
Our ride begins 10 minutes from the lodge, and then loops 10 kilometres through mature forest and numerous creek beds.
Rainforest Tatoo, cost US$30 per person.
At the lodge, we will prepare a paste from the fruit of huito and achiote to draw dark blue and red tattoos on ourselves. They last several days.
A variety of holistic treatments ranging from aromatherapy to mud baths, massages, herbal baths and meditation. Available at the Wellness Center.