At only ten kilometers from Puerto Maldonado, or a one and half hour hike, you find Lake Sandoval, bordered by aguajales (swampy areas full of palm trees), orchids, kapok trees, caoba trees, and Mauritanian palm trees that grow up to thirty meters tall. The lake is also the home for a large variety of species such as toucans, macaws, parrots, egrets, tapirs, turtles, and the refuge for river otters and black caimans, two species on the brink of extinction. In the areas around Lake Valencia, 60 kilometers from Puerto Maldonado by the Madre de Dios River, there are several indigenous communities where the people make their living from fishing for tiger shovelnose catfish, gilded catfish, and paiche; this area is the habitat for plenty of flora and fauna, too.
The Manu National Park (1,716,295 hectares), located in the departments of Cusco and Madre de Dios, protects more than 800 bird species, 200 species of mammals, gigantic trees, as well as being home to indigenous communities. This is the park that set the world record for the number of bird species seen in one day at one spot with 324 species. The Tambopata-Candamo National Park (274,690 hectares) is known to possess the greatest diversity of mammal, tree, insect, and bird species in the world as well as the world record for the amount of butterfly species.
Additionally, the only humid tropical savannah in Peru is found at the Bahuaja-Sonene National Park (1,091,416 hectares). The highlighted species here are the manned wolf and the marsh deer, both close to extinction, as well as the giant anteater, giant river otter, the bushdog, the black caiman, and the harpy eagle.
Bahuaja-Sonene National Park
90 km / 56 miles from Puerto Maldonado (4 to 5 hours in a 55 HP boat).
This national park was established in order to protect the only tropical humid savanna that exists in Peru. The park is located between the Madre de Dios and Puno departments in the provinces of Tambopata, Carabaya, and Sandia. It has an area of 1’091.416 hectares, and part of it is in Bolivia. The most important animals that can be found there are the maned wolf, the marsh deer, the giant anteater, the river wolf or giant otter, the bush dog, the black caiman and the harpy eagle.
Tambopata National Reserve
45 km / 28 miles south of Puerto Maldonado (2 hours by motorboat). There is also an alternative route: 25 km / 16 miles by land (by 4x4 vehicle) to the community of Infierno and then a river crossing to the reserve (2 hours by 55 HP motor boat)
Located between the basins of the Tambopata and Heath Rivers, the reserve covers an area of 274.690 hectares and is found in both the Madre de Dios and Puno departments. The wealth of its biodiversity is immeasurable, and scientist have already registered 632 bird species,
1200 butterfly species, 169 mammal species, 205 fish species, 103 amphibian species, and 67 reptile species. The vegetation is typical of tropical regions. To enter the reserve, prior authorization from INRENA is required.