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El Gato Lodge: Tambopata Part 1

February 13, 2011

Gabby birding in the jungle (Photo by Rick Stanley)

As part of our project, we are working in the Tambopata National Reserve – part of the Manu – Tambopata Conservation Corridor that protects land around the Interoceanic Highway. All transport to and from the reserve is by boat and this section of our trip proved to be the most difficult to plan.  There are no official research facilities in the reserve, so we had to be creative. Our final plan for Tambopata was to work at the park guard posts, the lodges owned by Rainforest Expeditions, and – a gem worth mentioning – El Gato Lodge. We recently spent 8 nights at El Gato and 7 nights at the Malinowsky Park Guard Post in Tambopata National Reserve. The next few entries will recount some of our adventures during this time. We return to the area in April to work with Rainforest Expeditions!

El Gato Lodge is owned by the Ramirez family. They have an agricultural concession on the banks of the Tambopata River, but have decided to preserve it for ecotourism rather than developing it for agriculture. With 3 rustic cabins, they offer an affordable alternative to the luxury lodges, and a complete jungle experience. Their property is located in the reserve zone of the Tambopata National Reserve and some of their trails spill over into the reserve itself. Rick and I stayed there for eight nights and had a blast. Three meals a day and lodging in a private cabin costs S/65 per person per day (around $25).  We’d recommend it to anyone.

One of the highlights was our adventure at the clay lick. We left the lodge at dawn and arrived at the bird blind at 6:00am, just in time to see hundreds of parrots descending on the bank. Blue-headed parrots, orange-cheeked parrots, and mealy parrots flew back and forth between the trees and the bank, fighting for space on the clay. After a few hours, the parrots departed and over 30 macaws swooped in (red and green, and scarlet macaws).

We also had a lot of luck with herps – a handful of incredible frog species and a spiky lizard. We found three species of poison dart frogs and were able to observe two species calling.

More on this soon – for now, a few photos!

El Gato Lodge - One of the Rustic Cabins.

El Gato Stream at Dawn (Photo by Gabby Salazar)

Dart frog under a mushroom (Photo by Gabby Salazar)


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