Puerto Maldonado, the gateway to Manu National Reserve and to Tambopata Candamo National Reserve, is the Capital of the Department of Madre de Dios is located southeast of Peru its 230 Mts. above sea level, it has a tropical climate warm and humid. With a rainy season between December and March, therefore, it is better to visit it April through November. Puerto Maldonado is a small town on the confluence of the Tambopata and Madre de Dios rivers.
Puerto Maldonado was founded at the fall of the 19th century; mainly Andean migrants from Cuzco and Puno only populated it in the course of the present century. The region was one inhabited by the Mojos; a tribe that offered strong opposition to the Incas, until Inca Sinchi Roca eventually subdued it. A 200-km road passing close to the town leads to Iñapari on the banks of the Acre River, on the frontier. The area is a big producer of Brazil nuts. In recent years gold panning has increased, particularly on the banks of the Inambari and Madre de Dios rivers.
The Department of Madre de Dios, capital Puerto Maldonado, has the greatest biodiversity, and is possibly the least affected and eroded territory in the Peruvian Amazon. It contains three reservations or conservation units divided into well-defined zones.
Manu National Reserve
This 1.5 million-hectare reservation contains the richest genetic bank in the Peru and in the world. It has successive tiers of vegetation rising from 150 to 4,200 meters above sea-level. The tropical forest in the lower tiers contains an unrivaled variety of animal and plant species. Some 850 species of birds have been identified and rare species such as the giant otter and the giant armadillo have found refuge there. Jaguars are often sighted in the park and it also he world's largest macaw clay lick.
Tambopata Candamo National Reserve
This reservation comprises a territory of 1 million 478 thousand hectares, with an approximate perimeter of 850 km divided between the Departments of Puno (60%) and Madre de Dios (40%). 750 species of birds, and more than 1100 of butterflies are reported to live in its diverse habitats and forests, this being a true a true zoological world record. There are 181 species of trees on solid land, and 155 in the alluvial forest; many kinds of monkeys, gigantic otters, and four species of felines. The macaw clay lick can also be visited from Tambopata Reserve.
One hour away by peque peque (outboard motorboat). A beautiful lake on the right bank of the Madre de Dios river surrounded by high aguaje-palms, and populated by ducks, parrots, turtles, caimans, otters, crocodiles, herons and a great variety of fish. Fishing is permitted. To approach the lake there is a 5 km long path under the thick trees where monkeys can be seen early in the morning and birds out in search of food. Lake transport is easily hired in Puerto Tambopata and also in the port of the Madre de Dios river.
This lake is 60 Km from Puerto Maldonado and four hours by motorboat on the Madre de Dios river, almost on the Bolivian border. Gold prospectors can usually be seen along the way.
Town of Laberinto
50 km from Puerto Maldonado. As suggested by its name, this is an unorganized, chaotic and laberynthic town, inhabited by gold miners. Here you see the use of resources in the colonizing frontiers of tropical countries.