Day 1: Lima or Cusco / Puerto Maldonado
Transfer from Puerto Maldonado airport to the river port on the Madre de Dios River. A 25 minutes journey down the Madre de Dios River by motor canoe brings you to the riverside trailhead to Sandoval Lake Lodge. From here the trail takes you on a 2-miles (3,2-kilometers) walk through secondary forest, until we reach a small canal where we board canoes and are paddled 220 yards (201 meters) through a flooded forest of 100-foot (30-meters) tall Mauritia palms. As the canal opens onto the shimmering surface of the lake, we transfer to a catamaran and are leisurely paddled across half the lake to the lodge. After lunch and a brief rest to avoid the early afternoon heat, we will learn about the history of the lodge and the philosophy of its founders. Then we once again board the catamaran and set off to explore the entire west end of the lake. Here, in the flooded palm forest we drift to the sounds of hundreds of Red-Bellied Macaws as they return to the palm forest for the night. This macaw species is found locally in parts of the Amazon, always living in flooded palm forests such as the beautiful palm stand at Sandoval Lake. At 500-800 birds, this flock of macaws at Sandoval Lake is currently the largest reported in the world for this highly-specialized macaw. As night falls we will look for the large and extremely rare Black Caimans. If it is a clear starlit night, we will also be able to float in the middle of the lake to marvel at the brilliance of the sky and listen to the sounds of the forest. We return to the lodge for a short video or slide presentation and dinner. At any point, you could step out from the bar to admire the wide variety of nocturnal moths, beetles and praying mantis attracted to our black light in the lodge clearing. For those with lots of energy, our guide will take us on a short night-walk into the forest behind the lodge. (L,D).