Mysterious Behavior Of Amazonian Macaws

Wired Science recently did an article on the Mysterious Behavior of Amazonian Macaws of Tambopata.  They interviewed several researchers, including the director of the project, Donald Brightsmith.  Long-time readers of my blog know that Tambopata is a personal favourite birding location of mine and I plan a return trip in 2016.


The article is very interesting and gives a more in-depth look than most eco-tourists get.  I do find it sad that the younger chicks are no longer being rescued and hand-fed by the researchers.  They used to do this in the past, that’s why the “Chicos” still hang around the lodge and try to steal people’s breakfasts!  I would be much happier if the younger chicks were still being rescued, even if they were subsequently relocated to another habitat to interbreed with other Scarlet Macaws.

Call me a softie or whatever, but it would be a shame if these beauties had been left to die!




The Tambopata Macaw Project Talk

Dr Donald Brightsmith, the manager of the Tambopata Macaw Project gives a lecture on the use of the clay lick by the various parrot species.  He also shows how the researchers study the growth of the baby parrots.

If you would like to see this amazing place for yourself, start with my article here and also learn how the use of frequent flier miles can get you all the way to Puerto Maldonado so all you have to pay is the taxes and the cost of the Tambopata Research Centre package!

Inspiring The Next Generation

I make a point of “liking” all eco-tourism pages I find on Facebook and sometimes I see some great posts being shared.  One thing I think is extremely important is to share our love of nature and a sense of stewardship of planet Earth with the next generation.  They will inherit this world from us and pass it on to further generations in turn.  Have a look at this high school group vising Tambopata in Peru and learning about their wonderful native species!  Please share this post with any teenagers you know who may find this interesting.  Tambopata has some voluntourism positions available from time to time, what better way to develop an everlasting appreciation of nature and wildlife!  They also practice sustainable “green” tourism.

Maria Marta’s Jungle Photography

If these beautiful photos inspire you, visiting Tambopata is easier than you think.  Start here!  

Rainforest Expeditions Upgrades Guest Comforts, Adds New Activities For Spotting Creatures In Peruvian Amazon

How do you make the best better?  Upgrades!  If you’ve read my review of the 3 eco-lodges associated with Rainforest Expeditions, you may already be tempted.

Macaw Clay Lick

LIMA, Peru, Jan. 21, 2013 – Peru’s visionary leader in sustainable tourism, Rainforest Expeditions, announces accommodations upgrades and additions at two of its three eco lodges, the addition of sunset river trips, a new and secluded bungalow in the Amazon jungle offering total immersion with surprising luxury, and more.


New Transfer Boats and Shorter TRC Package
New motorized canoes with high tech 75 hp, 4 stroke engines can now make trip downstream from the most distant lodge, Tambopata Research Center (TRC) to Puerto Maldonado in just 5 hours. New scheduling now allows for a three-night jungle adventure at the TRC (instead of the previously required five). The per person double rate is $665.



Refugio Amazonas And Tambopata Research Center Lodge Reviews

Last week, I did a comprehensive post on all the lodges that are available in Tambopata National Reserve.   I have only been to two lodges so in the other post, I was only able to assess the lodges by their websites and what other had said about them on Trip Advisor.  Now I can give a more personal review.  I am reviewing these two lodges together as they are part of the same group and if you visit Tambopata Research Center (TRC), you will have one night at either Refugio Amazonas or Posada Amazonas before and after the TRC trip because it is a LONG way down the river!

Refugio Amazonas

The journey to get there is half the fun and the birding begins right away!  I have a full account on my main website Feathered and Free which actually reads more like a blog post so I won’t copy everything again.  The service was amazing from the moment we were picked up at the airport in Puerto Maldonado, given our safety gear and leaf lunches to the nature walks and birding.  Our guide, William was well trained, knew all the species and had a good eye for spotting them.

Refugio Amazonas Room

The lodges were both beautifully laid out and in harmony with the rain forest.  What I really love is how the rooms are open to the jungle and you can see and hear everything that goes on 24 hours a day!  Mosquito nets are provided and we found the beds very comfortable.  People are warned not to leave personal effects and food out as macaws and monkeys can and will take anything they find. Meals are done buffet style and the food was excellent!  We were amazed at how they could cook the variety of dishes they did out in the middle of the rainforest!  There is a well-stocked bar and library where you could take a book and relax in a hammock during the siesta time.

TRC Room

Macaws can and do come into the rooms!

At TRC, there are several semi-tame Scarlet Macaws that were rescued from nests in cases where the parents weren’t feeding them.  This often happens with a 2nd chick, the parents sometimes neglect the younger in favor of the elder one.  These semi-tame macaws are called “Chicos”, and they would not be alive today if they hadn’t beed rescued and fed by researchers.  Although they are totally wild and free, they have come to realize that free food is a good thing, so they usually come around at breakfast time hoping to steal as much from the buffet and people’s plates left unattended as possible.  It’s quite hilarious as they are experts at faking out the lodge staff and work in teams to distract the staff while their mate swoops in to steal something!



Macaws Casing the Joint

Pancake Thieves


TRC will give you a lifetime of memories and if you do stay here, the only thing you will regret is that you didn’t stay longer!


Getting to Peru

Gateway Lima

Getting to Tambopata

Choosing an Eco-Lodge

Tambopata Eco-Lodges

Review of Refugio Amazonas and Tambopata Research Center

Tambopata National Reserve


In the previous post of this series, we have used miles and points to get from your hometown to Lima, Peru and have an overnight stay to get you refreshed before you arrive in our destination, the Tambopata National Reserve aka Tambopata-Candamo National Reserve.  So where exactly is the Tambopata National Reserve?  As the crow, Macaw flies, it’s not really that far from Cuzco, and it’s close to the border with Bolivia.



To get here from Lima, most people will fly in from Lima or Cuzco.  If you are going to do a stopover in Cuzco, I advise you do it on the return.  Cuzco is at very high altitude and unless you are already acclimated to high altitudes, you may suffer from altitude sickness which can leave you feeling lethargic and ill for days.  There are medicines to combat that, but I prefer to err of the side of caution as I know that I personally don’t deal well with high altitudes.  Here are the flight schedules on LAN Peru (One World) and Avianca/Taca (Star Alliance).  If you used One World or Star Alliance miles, these flights will have been included in your ticket.  If they weren’t, this is a typical situation when it is nice to have some BA Avios on hand for a cheap 4500 Avios redemption.  Later on, I will go into more detail about this but you can always ask in the comments if you need info urgently.  Depending on the rules of your airline’s FF program, you may be able to book the whole trip as a RT from your home to Puerto Maldonado with a stop in Cuzco or as an open jaw Home-Puerto Maldonado /-Cuzco-Home and buy a separate ticket between Puerto Maldonado and Cuzco.  As you can see, most flights are very early in the morning, making it well worth getting those Wyndham points so you can use the airport hotel.  I won’t show fares here as they vary widely but be aware that the cheapest fares are usually for Peruvians only.  Use miles!


Yes, you can take a bus between the two and many backpackers do choose this option because buying flights can be very expensive.  The trip will take between 12-20 hours depending on if you go in the rainy season or not.  Just be grateful you have miles! 😀


Blue-and-yellow Macaw  (Ara ararauna)

Scarlet Macaw   (Ara macao)

Red-and-green Macaw                 (Ara chloroptera)

Chestnut-fronted Macaw  (Ara severa)

Red-bellied Macaw  (Orthopsittaca manilata)

Red-shouldered Macaw  (Diopsittaca nobilis)

White-eyed Parakeet    (Aratinga leucophthalmus)

Dusky-headed Parakeet   (Aratinga weddellii)

Peach-fronted Parakeet  (Aratinga aurea)

Black-capped Parakeet(Pyrrhura rupicola)

Blue-winged Parrotlet   (Forpus xanthopterygius)

Dusky-billed Parrotlet    (Forpus sclateri)

Cobalt-winged Parakeet  (Brotogeris cyanoptera)

Tui Parakeet       (Brotogeris sanctithomae)

Amazonian Parrotlet      (Nannopsittaca dachilleae)

Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlet      (Touit huetii)

White-bellied Parrot   (Pionites leucogaster)

Orange-cheeked Parrot      (Pionopsitta barrabandi)

Blue-headed Parrot   (Pionus menstruus)

Yellow-crowned Parrot     (Amazona ochrocephala)

Orange-winged Parrot   (Amazona amazonica)

Mealy Parrot      (Amazona farinose)

Orange-cheeked Parrot


WAY too many to copy here, but I found a good comprehensive list online.  Some of the most highly sought-after birds are the toucan species:  Channel-billed and White-throated Toucans, Chestnut-eared Aracari, Curl-crested Aracari, Emerald Toucanet and the Golden-collared Toucanet.  Raptors include:  Harpy Eagle, Bat Falcon, Gray-lined Hawk, Great Black-Hawk and Roadside Hawk.  And there there are numerous species of Tinamou, Caracara, Owls, Nightjar, Kingfishers, Tanagers, Mot-Mots, Trogons and the enigmatic Hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin) just to name a few!



Monkeys are always popular and fun to watch.  Tambopata has several species:  Brown Capuchin, Dusky Titi Monkeys, Red Howler Monkeys and White-bellied Spider Monkey.  If you are REALLY lucky, you may see a Jaguar!  You are much more likely to see Giant River Otter, Capybara, Brown Agouti, Armadillos, Peccaries and Brown-throated three-toed sloth.  A more comprehensive list can be found here.

Brown-throated three-toed sloth

In the next post, I will show you what kinds of lodges are in the Tambopata National Reserve, how to choose one and show options for all budgets.


Getting to Peru

Gateway Lima

Getting to Tambopata

Choosing an Eco-Lodge

Tambopata Eco-Lodges

Review of Refugio Amazonas and Tambopata Research Center