Nowadays, there are two main accesses to Puerto Maldonado city, capital of Madre de Dios in the amazonian region. From there, heading off towards the places of interest in Tambopata is very straight forward.
One access is by air, so there are daily flights operated by LAN, Star Perú or Avianca airlines. The flight departs from Lima, stopping over in Cuzco after the first hour of flying approximately and then an extra half an hour to reach Puerto Maldonado. During this one-and-a-half hour the plane go across coast, mountains and jungle, so, if the weather is on your side (and if you have a window sit), it is quite a spectacular view.
The other way of access, that is an attraction itself, is the road trip. Considered here as departing from Lima, taking the Panamerican highway due south and then connecting with the Interoceanic highway, from Nazca, will lead you to Cuzco. This will take you the whole day and an extra 8 hours will be needed to reach Puerto Maldonado the following day.
Starting from Lima, will give you the chance to go through interesting places like the Paracas National Reserve, where desert and sea form the richest marine ecosystem of the country. Then, you will go through the Nazca plains where gigantic figures traced in the soil were made by the culture of the same name. After that, the Pampa Galeras National Reserve, is a place where andean camelids can be seen in their natural habitat. And finally, right before getting to Cuzco you will have to go across the Apurimac Canyon, one of the deepest on Earth. Then you will enter Cuzco.
From Cuzco there are many up and downs but mostly ups until getting to Pirhuayani pass at 4735 masl (15,500 ft), from where you can see Mount Ausangate, Cuzco highest snowy peak (6372 m or 20,900 ft) considered and Andean God or “Apu”. On the way down the road goes through montane evergreen forests from where the amazonian rivers’ tributaries are clear waters that become murky near their confluence with the ones at the rainforest. And finally you arrive in Puerto Maldonado.
Most of the mentioned places count with all kind of services for the traveller. It is possible to do the road trip on your own car or rented, another possibility is to travel with bus companies as Cruz del Sur, Movil Tours, Ormeño, Tepsa, Cial, Civa, etc. Although, for greater comfort, it is also possible to rent a private minivan and a driver.
Ultimately, the Spanish written route guide recommended for the trip,“Aventura 757 km” is intended to provide detailed information on the first section of the journey described from the the coast of Ica to Cuzco. Complementarily “Guía de la Interoceánica Sur: de Cusco a Rio Branco” includes among its pages the part from Cuzco to Tambopata and the website www.interoceanica.pe is full of resources to get completely informed about all the concerning tips for that last part of the trip.
Fight in Perú by Cathrine Lindblom via Flickr.