Home > Peru, Travel > The Amazon Jungle: Tambopata National Reserve & Lake Sandoval

The Amazon Jungle: Tambopata National Reserve & Lake Sandoval

This is my second post in a series on my recent trip to Peru. In my first post, I talked about hiking Huayna Picchu at Machu Picchu. Stay tuned for thoughts on Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Lima, and more.

When my girlfriend and I were planning our trip to Peru, we had a big decision to make: Spend our final three days at Lake Titicaca or spend them in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest. We chose the latter.

Why? We thought it might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and the reviews of the Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion lodge were stellar. I’m hoping to go into more detail about the wonderful lodge, its employees and our other excursions in the Amazon in another post. But for now, I wanted to detail our experiences on a day-hike inside Tambopata National Reserve to Lake Sandoval.

Lake Sandoval Water Peru

Lake Sandoval in Peru’s Tambopata National Reserve.

Our trek to Lake Sandoval began around 4:30 a.m. on a Saturday in early September. We quickly ate a wonderful breakfast in the lodge before heading out on the Madre de Dios River. We were presented with the following Amazonian sunrise.

Peru Amazon Sunrise

Do sunrises get much better? I wouldn’t know. I’m usually not up this early.

Once upriver, we began making the hike with our tour guide through the Amazon. It would end up being about 3.5 miles (about 7 miles roundtrip). Luckily, the entire thing was flat — my legs were still a bit sore from Huayna Picchu a couple days before. The hike was tremendous because our tour guide would take time to point out different animals. As a sidenote, I can’t say enough about the terrific Inkaterra guides. It seems like they can spot any animal with the naked eye from long distances.

The weather would get into the 90s (fahrenheit) later in the day, and being from Seattle, I’ve never felt humidity like this in my life. I was literally sweating from the time I arrived in Puerto Maldonado to the time I left. If I’m being honest though, it wasn’t much of a concern while I was there. You kind of forget how much you’re sweating when you’re seeing nature you never thought you’d see in your life. Below are some more photos from the hike to Lake Sandoval.

Tambopata National Reserve Map

A map of the Tambopata National Reserve.

Tambopata National Reserve Sign

Five kilometers to Lake Sandoval.

Peru Amazon Butterfly

A very beautiful butterfly.

Peru Amazon Birds

Up close with nature.

Peru Amazon Tambopata National Reserve

Pretty clear it’s a reserve.

Hiking Through Tambopata National Reserve

This bridge was pretty lengthy. Definitely don’t want to fall.

Peru Tambopata National Reserve

Getting close!

Bird Amazon Peru

Cool bird just chilling.

Butterfly Peru Tambopata National Reserve

Warning: This isn’t the last butterfly photo.

At the end of our hike, we waited while our guide fetched a canoe. We hopped in and made our way down a narrow inlet, looking out for caimans and not putting our hands near the water for fear of piranhas.

Inlet Canoe Lake Sandoval Peru Tambopata National Reserve

Inlet leading to the lake. Our tour guide pointed out a caiman later on, and I was a little freaked out.

Entering Lake Sandoval Peru

Entering Lake Sandoval.

Peru Lake Sandoval Boat Butterfly

Another cool butterfly.

Once we were out on Lake Sandoval, we mostly stayed near land. We saw plenty of bats, birds and even some rare giant otters. Check it out in the below photos.

Lake Sandoval Trees Peru

Closer look at the trees.

Sleeping Bats Lake Sandoval Peru

Sleeping bats.

Lake Sandoval Peru Anhinga

An anhinga fishing on the water.

Peru Lake Sandoval Giant Otters

Giant otters. Apparently these are pretty rare to see and there’s only a handful in the entire reserve.

Lake Sandoval Canoe Peru

Yeah, it was pretty hot out there.

Kapok Tree in the Amazon

Suzanna and I next to a kapok tree.

Madre de Dios River Peru

Waiting for the river taxi back to the lodge after an amazing outing.

It was an awesome day I’m sure neither of us will ever forget. We got back to the lodge around 1 p.m. if I remember correctly, and we still had two more excursions to go on later in the day. I’ll probably write about this is another post sometime, but one of those excursions took place 120 feet up in the trees…

Canopy Walk Amazon

Saving this for another post.

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