Skip to navigation, or go to main content.

WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Peru: Rainforest Lodges of the Madre de Dios

Tour Information

Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for Tours to Peru: Rainforest Lodges of the Madre de Dios. Its purpose is solely to give readers a sense of what might be involved if they take this tour. Although we do our best to make sure that what follows here is completely accurate, it should not be used as a replacement for the formal document which will be sent to all tour registrants, and whose contents supersedes any information contained here. 

ENTERING PERU: For United States citizens, a passport valid on the day of entry and with at least one blank page for an entry stamp, and return airline ticket are required. Visas are not necessary, and recently tourist permits and customs forms have been dispensed with; only your passport will be stamped upon arrival. If this changes, and you are given an immigration form, keep the tourist permit stub with your passport at all times — it may be required for departure from the country.

A valid Yellow Fever vaccination is required if you are arriving from a country where the disease is a risk. See http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2014/chapter-3-infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/yellow-fever#1948 for more information.

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information here: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/peru.html, and the CIA World Factbook background notes here: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/pe.html .

PACE OF THE TOUR: Sunrise in southern Peru this time of year is around 6:00 a.m. and sunset is at about 5:40 p.m. We plan to be in the field at dawn, with breakfast at about 5:30 each day in order to be out during the best birding hours. On one day we’ll depart at 5:00 a.m. before breakfast to see parrots at a clay lick, followed by a later breakfast. Except on travel days we’ll schedule time off after lunch for an hour or so before a late afternoon outing.  We’ll always have at least an hour off before dinner and typically end most days, having eaten and completed the day’s bird list, by 8 pm. On some days we’ll schedule optional owling/nightjar outings either in the evening or before dawn.

All of our walking will be on trails, and we’ll do a fair amount of walking on this tour. Arriving at lodges by boat means ascending the riverside banks or bluffs, via well-built staircases, upon which the lodges are built. In the case of Los Amigos, the bluff is very high and the staircase a daunting 280 steps, but we do this just once when we arrive. The remaining trails are mostly flat with some sloping stretches, which we take slowly. Footing can be very unstable with rock and roots in places. We sometimes make it less than a mile in morning of birding, but the longer walks are could be up to three and a half miles in length round-trip (1.75 miles each way). In any event we go slowly and spend a lot of time standing and looking. Anyone with balance issues should carry a hiking stick. One should be prepared for long periods of standing and walking slowly; a small travel stool is handy for those who find this tiring. The forest trails may be muddy in spots, and short roadside vegetation could be wet from dew or rains, so waterproof footgear is highly recommended – waterproof hiking boots or even rubber boots are best, but if you don’t mind having wet feet, a cheap pair of sneakers also works, as long as you have something dry and clean to change into back at the room.

HEALTH: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. 

They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A and Typhoid. 

Malaria: The CDC considers Peru to be of low risk for travelers contracting malaria. While malaria is not common in the Madre de Dios area, it does exist, and the CDC has determined that a traveler who is on an appropriate antimalarial drug has a greatly reduced chance of contracting the disease.

Zika: This virus is expanding northward from tropical South America into the northern Caribbean and southern United States and health authorities are still trying to gauge its full impact. Couples who expect/hope to become pregnant should consult their physician. The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes of the genus Aedes, a day-flying mosquito typically found near people in crowded urban environments that have only a minimum of public services like sanitation, window screens, and drainage.  We will be spending all of our time in natural areas where the Aedes aegypti mosquito is altogether absent.

Yellow Fever: Yellow Fever vaccination is recommended by the CDC. 

Please contact your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure, as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure. 

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations for Peru can be found on the CDC’s Travel Health website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/peru

Elevation: This tour does not go to any high elevation areas.

Insects: Many potential health problems can be prevented by adequate protection against insects. Even when mosquitoes may be sparse, biting gnats and chiggers can still be a nuisance. To be protected, bring plenty of spray repellent and wear long sleeves and pants when in the field. We recommend using insect repellents with a concentration of DEET of at least 20%. 

Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail. 

Miscellaneous: We do not often encounter snakes and take time to observe them whenever possible; most are not venomous, and venomous ones are not aggressive.  At times we will be remote, and while the lodges have emergency medical supplies, professional medical assistance will be several hours away from some of them. 

One can never completely escape the risk of parasites or fungal infections. Please consult with your physician. We avoid tap water but filtered and bottled water are readily available. 

CLIMATE: At the time of our visit, the austral spring, coastal Lima is seasonally foggy, damp, and chilly, necessitating a sweater. But in the lowlands at Puerto Maldonado and our lodges, expect temperatures in the high 80s°F each day with high humidity – though a heat wave can see temperatures into the upper 90s°F, and a long day of rain keeps temps in the mid-70’s. Rain is probable at least occasionally on a few days though highly unpredictable. To deal with such an unpredictable contingencies we recommend light weight warm weather clothes for the lowlands (long pants and long sleeve shirts in the field), in addition to a rain jacket, poncho, and a compact umbrella for birding in light rain.

ACCOMMODATIONS: Our hotels and lodges are always among the best available, comfortable and modern, and all have rooms with private baths at all locations. In Lima we stay in a standard modern airport hotel, as in Puerto Maldonado, though the rooms there are much simpler. At our two lowland lodges, the accommodations are more basic eco-lodge quality, but still very nice, wooden construction with hot water and private baths. At Los Amigos there is solar-powered electricity in the rooms, while at Tambo Blanquillo there is at present no electricity in the rooms. Batteries can be recharged at the central buildings during certain hours where electricity is provided by diesel generators.

As is typical in the tropics, small lizards, amphibians, harmless small mammals, or unusual insects occasionally may visit a hotel room.

INTERNET AND MOBILE PHONE ACCESS: Mobile phone access is limited on this tour and is only available in and around Lima and Puerto Maldonado. Wifi internet is available at our hotels in Lima and Puerto Maldonado, while at Los Amigos there is wifi from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the common areas. As of this writing there is no internet at Tambo Blanquillo, but that may change by the time our tour runs.

FOOD: Food on our southeastern Peru tours is quite good. We’ll start all days with warm breakfasts, almost always including scrambled eggs or an omelet. Lunches are either back at our lodge or, during transfer days, a boxed lunch prepared by the lodge, usually including something like a chicken-pasta dish, fruit, juice, and cookies. All dinners are at our lodges and, like the sit-down lunches, usually start with a delicious soup and then follow with a main dish with trout, chicken, or beef, rice, potatoes, cooked vegetables, and sometimes a salad. Dinners are followed by a simple dessert. We have no reservations about eating fresh vegetables or drinking beverages with ice at our lodges, which cater largely to foreigners like ourselves. Los Amigos has only beer and wine, while all other places have a full bar and can prepare pisco sours, the Peruvian national cocktail.

Drinks: Bottled water and/or a soft drink or a beer is provided at lunch and dinner, as is coffee or tea. All other drinks or ‘personal’ drinking water for use in your room etc. is the responsibility of the individual; our lodges typically have filtered water available for refilling your own bottles. We also keep bottled water on the bus for ‘emergency’ use during the day.  

Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions. 

TRANSPORTATION: The flights to and from Puerto Maldonado will be in modern, full-sized jets (such as an Airbus 320), and our transportation from there will be in a small bus provided by our ground agent. There is limited road travel on an unpaved, often bumpy road (about an hour), but we’ll travel for 3 hours by long, motorized, dug-out style boat with comfortable seats and a covered roof.

Updated: 30 November 2017