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Sandoval Lake Lodge

Sandoval Lake Lodge is located on a high bluff overlooking Sandoval Lake inside the protected Tambopata Reserve of southeastern Peru. The lodge is a partnership between Peru Verde, a local conservation organization, and five local Brazil nut gathering families, to protect Sandoval Lake and the surrounding rainforest from development. The lodge is constructed largely of ecologically-harvested "driftwood" mahogany from the Manu River and palm-thatched roof.

Twenty-five double occupancy rooms (50 beds) are arranged in two wings. Each room has private bath and hot showers, ceiling fans, electric lights, mosquito nets covering beds, and a 220V outlet with power in the AM and PM. Although rooms are fully screened in, walls do not extend to the roof so sound from neighbors carries between adjacent rooms. Meals are served in the large, thatched-roof central area that houses the dining room, bar and reading area. Cooks prepare a variety of international and Peruvian dishes using fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and fish. Vegetarian and special diets are provided on request. A selection of chilled non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages is available in the bar.

Access to the lodge is an adventure in itself! After borrowing rain boots from the office in Puerto Maldonado, it is 25 minutes by motorized dugout down the Madre de Dios River to the trailhead into Lake Sandoval. At this point you walk (or ride a specially built rickshaw) two miles on a flat, wide and sometimes-muddy rainforest trail to a flooded forest of 100-foot-tall Mauritia palms. Here you board small paddle canoes to glide 220 yards through a narrow channel in the jungle that opens onto the scenic Sandoval Lake. You transfer to a larger canoe that takes you across the lake to the dock of the lodge from which it is a short, steep walk up a long stairway to the reception area 100 feet above the lake level. Luggage is transported for you during the entry and exit process, but you are requested to pack light.

Compared to other lodges, lake excursions form a large part of a visit to Sandoval Lake Lodge, although during your stay you also hike on some of the 15 miles of rainforest trails in the area. Resident naturalist guides explain the ecology and natural history of the area and bring the rainforest alive. Most of your explorations from the lodge are aboard specially built paddle catamarans at dawn and dusk with expert naturalist guides. Guests usually see Black Caiman, Paichis (huge Amazonian fish that can grow up to 10-feet long), colonies of prehistoric-looking Hoatzin birds, plenty of other lakeside birdlife, and six species of monkey including groups of up to 100 Bolivian Squirrel Monkeys who forage in the lakeside vegetation. Large groups of Red-bellied macaws usually swirl overhead or can be seen nesting in palm trees. And after dark, guests can experience the nocturnal life of the lake beneath a star-filled sky. Sandoval Lake has one of the largest populations of the endangered Giant Otter in southeastern Peru. The resident naturalist guides at the lodge are familiar with the daily movements of the otters and lead catamaran excursions that usually result in prime otter sightings. Guidelines are carefully followed to avoid disturbance and on occasion the otters fish in parts of the lake that are inaccessible to the catamarans, so viewing may not be possible.