Tambopata National Reserve

Tambopata National Reserve
IUCN category VI (protected area with sustainable use of natural resources)
Location  Peru
Madre de Dios Region, Tambopata Province
Nearest city Puerto Maldonado
Coordinates 12°55′14″S 69°16′55″W / 12.92056°S 69.28194°W / -12.92056; -69.28194Coordinates: 12°55′14″S 69°16′55″W / 12.92056°S 69.28194°W / -12.92056; -69.28194
Area 274,690 hectares (1,060.6 sq mi)
Established September 04, 2000, 048-2000-AG.
Governing body SERNANP

Tambopata National Reserve (Spanish: Reserva Nacional Tambopata) is a nature reserve in the Peruvian Amazon Basin south of the Madre de Dios River in Tambopata Province's Inambari and Tambopata districts. It was created on January 26, 1990, to protect the forests adjacent to the rivers Heath and Tambopata that have two important ecosystems and are noted for its biodiversity, representing native flora and fauna with 165 species and 41 families of trees, 103 species of mammals, 1300 species of butterflies and 90 species of amphibians.

The reserve is located across the regions of Madre de Dios and Puno:

Access is from Puerto Maldonado, where one can get to the preserve via the Tambopata River; or by car via the Puerto Maldonado–Cuzco Road (kilometer 30).[1]


It has a surface area of 1,478,942 hectares (3,654,550 acres).

The Sandoval Lake is located in this area. There is also a circuit of canoeing which is considered one of the most exciting and beautiful circuits of Peru.

The protected area features eight life zones: subtropical humid forest, tropical humid forest, subtropical high-humidity forest, subtropical high-humidity foothills cloud forest, subtropical rainforest, tropical cloud forest foothills, subtropical lower foothills cloud forest and semi-flooded subtropical cloud forest.

Average annual temperature is 26°C, ranging from 10-38°C; with average annual rainfall of 1600–2400 mm. Rainfall in the protected area is typical of most areas in the Peruvian Amazon. The climate is humid and (3000 mm and 25°C on average), sub-level humidity and semi-warm (1700 mm and 26°C on average), high-level semi-warm (4000 mm and 23°C).[2]


A conservation process in the Tambopata Province (Madre de Dios) was initiated in Tambopata, where a group of naturalists and biologists proposed the conservation of 10,000 hectares of rainforests in the middle Tambopata River (January 3, 1977). This was established as "Zona Reservada Tambopata" (ZRT), in the territory of the traditional tribe Ese'eja. It was created for the conservation of the Amazon forest and for scientific research, as well as for tourism. In July 1977, the government had an arrangement with the Peruvian Safaris, owner of Explorer's Inn. This operator got an agreement for only five years. Differently, in 1983, the Santuario Nacional Pampas Del Heath (SNPH) was established, with a surface area of 105.957 hectares (261.83 acres). The purpose was to protect the unique territory of Sabana Húmeda Tropical in Peru.

By the 1986s, a Peruvian conservation NGO Selva Sur (ACSS)((now Peru Verde)) and a senior Wildlife Conservation Society biologist (C. A. Munn) organized two biological expeditions to the Upper Tambopata and Heath River to propose a larger conservation area, as soon as oil exploration stopped and temporarily abandoned the region. At that time, Peru´s development bank system became in bankruptcy, then more ambitious plans to develop the Amazon forests in Madre de Dios, by means of cattle ranching, gold mining, poor yielding agricultural production, and other slash-and-burning schemes, no longer pressured large extensions of rainforests. Neotropical biologists such as A. Gentry, T. A. Parker, C. Munn, among others suggested to ACSS ((now Peru Verde)) to further explore the Upper Heath River, since teams of Bolivian and USA biologists were already interested in preserving the Upper Madidi area in Bolivia, right next to the Heath River in the Peruvian and Bolivian border, considering the possible establishment of a binational park for which they have already overflown the region and started field research.

After two expeditions in 1986 and 1987, and several visits to the Tambopata and Heath rivers, a new draft entitled Propuesta de Zona Reservada Tambopata Candamo was submitted to the DGFF Lima by Selva Sur (ACSS)((now Peru Verde)) in 1987. This proposal, led by Peruvian conservationists (D.G. Ricalde), included over 1.5 million hectares, including the proposed ZRT (presented by Explorer´s Inn manager T. Gunther and several UK biologists), and excluding indigenous territories already entitled whose territories should not be affected but consolidated under the new proposal. According to the Director General Forestal y Fauna Silvestre (M.Pastor), a debt-swap for nature project was suggested to help the establishment of a new larger conservation area. The debt-swap for nature approach did not work out. In 1988, the DGFF reconsidered the larger ZRTC proposal, as Lima's reps from the Ministerio de Agricultura were preparing an international summit to discuss and profile Peru´s National Forestry Strategy (1989), that should include conservation and forestry projects to be potentially funded. The main objective of the proposed ZRTC was to combine agricultural and forestry schemes along the road Puerto Maldonado- Cusco to help mitigate the future impact of the Carretera Binacional, to consolidate indigenous territories, also the establishment of eco-tourism areas to save unique wildlife attractions, and protection/conservation areas where healthy territories for Amazon wildlife such as the jaguar and other wild cats, giant otter, over 10 monkey species, black caiman, over 400 bird species, and thousands hectares of rainforests probably containing the richest botanical diversity found in the Amazon, according to researchers and observers.

In 1990, thanks to the effort of the government to protect the biodiversity, and lobbying from ACSS ((now Peru Verde))(E. Ráez-Luna and others) it was named as ZRTC. Tambopata-Candamo was officially created on January 26, 1990, as an initiative of the Peruvian government following recommendations from Peruvian and international researchers.[3]

The Tambopata National Reserve was declared by means of the Supreme Law # 048-2000-AG by the area's committee planner. This proposition was elaborated in the background of the "Conservation of the Tropical Ecosystems Project and the sustainable use of the natural resources inside the Candamo Tambopata Reserve Area". Also, a damp area of the Tambopata National Reserve was determined as the Bahuaja Sonene National Park, formed by 271,582 hectares (671,090 acres) exclusive of the Tambopata – Candamo Reserve.[2]


There is a tribe called the Ese'eja or Huarayos that live in the reserve, next to the Quechuas and Aymaras. They have activities such as agriculture (coffee), hunting, fishing and foraging.[1]

The limited presence of humans had done a wonderful conservation of different ecosystems. There are so many species that surprise any scientist: 1,234 types of different butterflies, 592 of birds, 127 of amphibians, 103 of mammals, 74 reptiles and a lot of varieties.[4]


The Tambopata River is one of the exclusive habitat of birds and mammals. Flora in the national reserve is fairly typical of the southwest Amazon Basin. The Heath River and surrounding plains are a unique ecosystem in Peru. The pampas are periodically flooded, and small groves of trees with varied plant life grow in isolated clumps on the plain.

The protected area is home of a wide diversity of plants, including exploited forest species such as cedar, mahogany, tornillo, Brazil nut, palm trees such as the pona, aguaje, huasaí and ungurahui.[2]


Opossum (Marmosa/Micoureus) in the Tambopata Reserve

Researchers have discovered in the protected area large numbers of species that are now rarely found elsewhere in the Amazon jungle due to poaching, particularly tapirs and spider monkeys, but also jaguars, white-lipped peccary, medium-sized and large monkeys and caiman.

Within the reserve, the lower elevation zone is dominated mostly by Amazonian bird species, the ones that are at or near their upper elevation limits, and by species that are restricted (or partially restricted) to the narrow band of rain forest found on the lower slopes of the Andes. Because of the growing deforestation rate along this latitudinal border in other parts of the Andes, this ecosystem is one of these most threatened in all of South America. A relatively large portion of this ecosystem is found within the Bahuaja-Sonene National Park.[2]

Economic activities

The economic activities of that area are fishing, hunting, agriculture and foraging. But the most important is the tourism. Madre de Dios is home of 25 registered tourist lodges, 11 of which lie within the buffer zone and two within the reserve. This zone is frequently visited by foreigners who love adventure.

Tourism in the protected area is concentrated around the Tambopata River and the lower Madre de Dios. Ever year, 7-8,000 tourists visit the area mainly from abroad.

Tourists are charged an entry fee to visit, and the amount depends on the activity: whether the tourist is spending the night, visiting the macaw clay lick or whitewater river rafting. The area features a rafting circuit which runs down the Tambopata River from Putina Punco crossing the entire national park down to Puerto Maldonado.

The best period of the year to visit it is between June and October as in those months the weather is very dry.


  1. 1 2 3 "Zona Reservada de Tambopata Candamo". Retrieved 2008-01-28.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Puerto Maldonado Travel Information - National Reserve of Candamo". Archived from the original on October 26, 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-28.
  3. "PERU Guia de Parques Reserva Nacional Tambopata - Candamo". Archived from the original on 2008-01-03. Retrieved 2008-01-28.
  4. "guia de CUSCO". Retrieved 2008-01-28.
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