We took an excursion to a nearby lake where indigenous giant river otter supposedly live. I don't know if it was the time of year that we went or what, but we never saw any otter, giant or otherwise! In fact, I didn't really didn't see much of anything during the 2 hour boat-float...the biggest thrill was observing a family of bats resting on a tree at the river's edge, and a flock of parrots flapping around the trees overhead. To be honest, I don't even know what a giant river otter looks like, so this one might be worth studying before you decide to go on this particular excursion vs. another one that might be offered at the same time. There are usually several different programs going on simultaneously, so there's always a rotation of activity from which to choose.
The thing I enjoyed the most about staying at this eco-tourism lodge was walking with the local Ese'ja indian shaman through the dense jungle forest surrounding the compound. Our shaman guide was amazing. He could see things hidden in the leaves on the floor that took me a full half minute to discern, and that was with him pointing it out! He showed us the different leaves and tree barks and what their medicinal properties were; he pointed out which plants and roots were used for what purpose; and he told us stories about how he'd survived malaria several times, using just the natural medicines available from these plants and trees. He was very humble, very knowledgeable, and the walk through the rainforest which lasted about 2 hours, was altogether fascinating.
Unfortunately, I don't have any lovely photos to share because I never was able to get up early enough to join the morning excursions down the Tambopata River to hopefully see the colorful Macaws visiting the "clay licks"...but I wish I had! These "clay licks" are exposed sides of small hills and cliffs by the river's edge, with the clay providing iron and minerals instinctively sought out by the birds. Sometimes it's just one or two birds that will visit at a given time in the morning - other times, you may be treated to a sight of a dozen or so. The experience has been written up in National Geographic and is well worth the early morning rise to see this.
DON'T MISS THE WAKE-UP CALL FOR THIS ONE, LIKE I DID!!!!
If you're on a Rainforest mission and an Amazon eco-tourism type is on your agenda, then you'll most likely get there by canoe. The canoes depart from Puerto Maldonado and depending on where it is that you're going, the ride down the Tambopata River (tributary of the Amazon River) usually takes about 3 hours, and this is considering that the canoes are usually motorized.
If it's not raining, then it can be a perfect time for great photo opportunities! I recall seeing many natives washing clothes by the sides of the river, or naked children splashing and playing by the water's edge; local fishermen would drift by in their boats...and occasionally, the flock of parrots flying overhead. It feels like a National Geographic special.
This may sound like an odd "tip", but if you are going into the Amazon area of Peru (for example Tambopata), be aware that giant sized insects are anticipating your arrival! Be careful about placing open luggage on the floor, unless you know for sure that the piece is closed. Actually, this holds true even for your hotel in Lima. Cockroaches don't just hang out in the Amazon...they're alive and kicking in most of our large cities and Lima is no exception! Just make sure your luggage is not left open and unattended, because you'll bring home an unauthorized - and very unwelcome - truly "native" souvenir!
The government of Peru requires that visitors provide proof of certain vaccinations, such as Yellow Fever, Typhoid, and one of the Hepatitus groups. Check online or with your local consulate to determine what the latest health requirements are. Do NOT make the mistake of assuming that some other vaccines you received on a past trip, will suffice for entry into Peru.