Sandoval Lake

Located deep in Peru's Tambopata National Reserve, our Sandoval Lake lodge overlooks sparkling, palm-rimmed Sandoval Lake, the most beautiful and wildlife-rich of all lakes in Tambopata-Madidi. This privileged location gives you exclusive access to the lake in the early morning and late afternoon, the choice hours for wildlife viewing and photography.

No other lodge in Tambopata-Madidi is on the banks of a protected oxbow lake. Our short Sandoval Lake Lodge program includes two nights of fully-screened accommodation in 25 double-occupancy rooms complete with en suite facilities with hot-water showers, electricity, fans, meals, airport transfers in Puerto Maldonado, naturalist guides, lake excursions by day in search of Giant Otters, monkeys, and macaws, forest excursions, night excursions in search of caimans, and evening slide shows. Our lodge specializes in small groups and individualized attention in our overriding quest to conserve the lake and surrounding rainforest. Sandoval Lake Lodge is built out of ecologically-correct driftwood mahogany and is owned jointly by a nonprofit conservation group and five families of indigenous Brazil nut collectors.

Sandoval Lake Lodge Facilities

Two wings stretch from a large central hall, one with ten double rooms and the other with 15 double rooms. These 25 rooms include:

  • Private bathrooms with hot water showers and flush toilets
  • Screened windows and mosquito nets
  • Electric lights, fan and 220V outlet (available in the early morning and evening only)


Meals are served in the large, thatched-roof central hall that houses the dining room, bar and hammock-filled reading area. The lodge chefs prepare a variety of international and Peruvian dishes using fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and fish. Vegetarian and other special diets can be provided upon request.

A selection of chilled non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages is available in the bar.

Sandoval lake itinerary

Day 1 : Lima or Cusco/Puerto Maldonado

Transfer from Puerto Maldonado airport to the river port on the Madre de Dios River. A 25 minutes journey down the Madre de Dios River by motor canoe brings you to the riverside trailhead to Sandoval Lake Lodge. From here the trail takes you on a 2-miles (3,2-kilometers) walk through secondary forest, until we reach a small canal where we board canoes and are paddled 220 yards (201 meters) through a flooded forest of 100-foot (30-meters) tall Mauritia palms. As the canal opens onto the shimmering surface of the lake, we transfer to a catamaran and are leisurely paddled across half the lake to the lodge.

After lunch and a brief rest to avoid the early afternoon heat, we will learn about the history of the lodge and the philosophy of its founders. Then we once again board the catamaran and set off to explore the entire west end of the lake. Here, in the flooded palm forest we drift to the sounds of hundreds of Red-Bellied Macaws as they return to the palm forest for the night. This macaw species is found locally in parts of the Amazon, always living in flooded palm forests such as the beautiful palm stand at Sandoval Lake. At 500-800 birds, this flock of macaws at Sandoval Lake is currently the largest reported in the world for this highly-specialized macaw.

As night falls we will look for the large and extremely rare Black Caimans. If it is a clear starlit night, we will also be able to float in the middle of the lake to marvel at the brilliance of the sky and listen to the sounds of the forest.

We return to the lodge for a short video or slide presentation and dinner. At any point, you could step out from the bar to admire the wide variety of nocturnal moths, beetles and praying mantis attracted to our black light in the lodge clearing.

For those with lots of energy, our guide will take us on a short night-walk into the forest behind the lodge. (L,D).

Day 2 : Sandoval Lake

A pre-dawn wake-up call will enable us to be on the lake for sunrise and a hopeful encounter with the family of Giant Otters who frequent the lake and are most active at this time of day. Sandoval Lake offers abundant wildlife including over 40 species of birds resident to its lake margins, most of the fish-eating water birds around the lake actively fish in the early morning as well, and this outing should provide excellent views, of the prehistoric- looking Hoatzins, These are easy to observe and also photograph from the paddled canoes or catamarans.

After returning for a late breakfast we set off into the cool under story of the tall virgin forest near the lake to see some towering wild Brazil Nut trees and a demonstration of how our hosts collect, open and commercialize this important natural product.

After lunch and an hour or so to relax we once again board the catamaran to explore the eastern part of the lake, where we might see one or more of the five species of monkeys who live in the forest near the lake, such as the Brown Capuchin Monkey and Squirrel Monkey.

Before dinner we will again enjoy an informative natural history video or slide presentation. We will leave after dinner to try and spot some Black Caimans on the lake, or to go on a short night walk through the primary forest. (B,L,D)

Day 3 : Sandoval Lake Lodge

After a dawn breakfast, we will cross the lake by catamaran and take a short walk into the interior of the Mauritia palm forest to stand beneath and closely view the impressive morning congregations, this place has a very interesting concentration of parrots, parakeets and large and small macaws that can be observed using dead Mauritia palm trees, some of them are resident nesters (Yellow headed Parrot, Mealy Parrot, Blue headed Parrot, Scarlet Macaw, blue and Yellow Macaw, Red and Green Macaw, Chestnut fronted Macaw, Dusky headed Parakeet, Red bellied Macaw, Cobalt winged Parakeet, Tui Parakeet).

Returning from the macaw show we will cross the lake to explore a primary forest trail and admire the impressive ancient rainforest trees and lianas with our knowledgeable resident naturalist guide. As we walk, the forest will be brought to life as your guide explains the ecology of the rain forest and its diverse flora and fauna.

We return for lunch, and then there is an optional rest for those who would like to escape the early afternoon heat. For those still full of energy, there is an option to independently explore some of the forest trails using our trail map. You might stroll through our medicinal plant garden or watch hummingbirds visiting the nectar feeders, or the tanagers visiting our fruit feeders.

In the cooler late afternoon we will once again board the catamaran to explore the eastern end of the lake, and hopefully experience a spectacular sunset over the lake before returning to the lodge for dinner. For some people, an alternative afternoon activity would be to relax on benches inside the forest perched above a clear running stream in which a variety of bathing hummingbirds and forest birds visit.

After dinner, there is a final chance to look for Black Caiman on the lake, or to go on a short night hike through the forest. (B,L,D)

Day 4 : Puerto Maldonado/Cusco or Lima

After early breakfast we leave near dawn and we take a final, shorter paddle around the west end of the lake to try and glimpse the Giant Otters before returning by motor canoe for the 35 minutes return trip to the Puerto Maldonado Airport, taking advantage of valuable early morning wildlife activity along the river. From here you fly to Cusco or Lima, where your jungle adventure ends. (B)

Important: Please note that the program may vary slightly so as to maximize your wildlife sightings, depending on the reports of our researchers and experienced naturalist guides based at the lodge.