Operation Malinowski: Herping in the Tambopata/Malinowski Watershed

      Puerto Maldonado, Peru

      12 reviews
      Jan 5 - 12, 2023
      Group size: 5 - 10
      Operation Malinowski: Herping in the Tambopata/Malinowski Watershed
      Puerto Maldonado, Peru

      12 reviews

      Jan 5 - 12, 2023
      Group size: 5 - 10

      About this trip

      The foundation of Tamandua is making travel mean something. That has never been more relevant than for this trip.

      Illegal gold mining in Peru is a major problem. Just look it up. The devastation can be seen from space as a scar across the Amazon – over 350,000 acres have been lost. And because the gold in this part of Peru comes mixed in with the sediment, miners have to cut down forest, burn it, suck up the earth, and then use mercury to separate the gold from the soil. It’s a horrendous process that completely annihilates forest, wildlife, and poisons the land forever in the process.

      We traveled to the Malinowski River to better understand what was happening. What he found is that the miners killing the forest weren’t doing it because they were ‘bad guys’, but because there were no other options for work. This began the collaboration that lead to this trip. All around the mining camp we saw incredible and unexplored lakes. Streams that wound through the jungle. There were signs of anacondas, jaguars, and macaws in the air. All of this could be lost if the forest was cut. And so began the process of talking to the miners. We spoke to them, showed them photos, and got some friends to vouch for the work we do elsewhere

      A year later, the miners have shut down their operation. What have they been doing since? Building accommodations for visitors. That’s right. These miners, who were about to destroy an entire river, stopped and went for ecotourism because we asked them to.

      -Because they believe in a better future for themselves.

      -Because even illegal gold miners care about the earth and will do the right thing if given the chance.

      This trip has become the most exciting addition to the Tamandua schedule. This is your chance to actively take part in Rainforest Conservation. Come explore the lakes and streams, help us compile a species list! This is a whole new river, whole new chapter, and the chance to do something positive for the local people. In the process, you joining this trip will help to protect hundreds of acres of wild, primary forest that is packed with wildlife!

      Now you are probably thinking, "I thought this was a herping trip?"

      Trip Synopsis:

      On this first-of-its-kind expedition, we'll not only learn about the impending threat of illegal resource extraction in the amazon, but the trip will be extremely focused on tracking down some of the Amazon's most cryptic and elusive lifeforms- Reptiles & Amphibians (Herps). We call searching for them "Herping" and as a group we'll dive into the jungle every night to find, photograph, and appreciate as many of them as possible. Diversity trumps quantity in the jungle, so we'll see new kinds of herps every single night- many either undescribed or understudied. We'll do early morning walks as our cold-blooded friends bathe in the soft sunlight and search for all 4 species of caiman in the region by boat. 

      Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the expedition will be a consistent, committed and muddy search for the unrivaled king of the jungle- the Green Anaconda. Anacondas can grow up to 20 feet and are the heaviest snakes on the planet. While able to attain massive sizes, they're incredibly hard to find, imperiled in the region due to habitat loss, climate change, and local myths & legends leading to uneducated killings. We'll have access to pristine Anaconda habitat of which many behemoths have been spotted in the past, and will work our hardest as a team to get a once in a lifetime look at these apex predators. 

      One more notable snake in the area we'll search for is the Bushmaster, another cryptic predator often residing in primary rainforest and Brazil Nut concessions. They're the 2nd largest venomous snake in the world, and maybe the closest we can get to seeing dragons in real life. We'll also hold extensive and fun wildlife photography workshops to help those interested in best capturing the beauty of these animals attain the most awe-inspiring shots as possible. Buckle up!

      Lead Guide - Ian Breland

      Ian Breland is a Wildlife Filmmaker and Conservation Photographer with a burning passion for helping show others the Amazon's infinitely biodiverse ecosystems and the bottomless depths of adventure that the jungle provides. He is a Reptile and Amphibian specialist, with years of experience in the relentless pursuit of the ones that call the Peruvian Amazon home. Throughout his career Ian has amassed a wealth of knowledge and curiosity regarding all kinds of Neotropical flora & fauna, and will learn alongside you as we push forward into the unknown.

      Payment Terms

      The deposit to secure your spot on the trip is non-refundable for any reason. 

      The balance of payment is due on December 1st and is non-refundable for any reason at this time. 

      What’s included

      • Puerto Maldonado Hotel
      • Jungle Accommodations
      • Jungle Meals
      • Guides and Staff
      • Airfare
        Not Included
      • Puerto Maldonado Meals
        Not Included
      • Travel Insurance
        Not Included. This is required to go on an expedition

      Available Packages

      Trip Price


      January 5
      Arrive in Puerto Maldonado, Peru

      Arrive in Puerto Maldonado (airport code PEM) and take a short taxi ride to the hotel. Tamandua guides will welcome you into the jungle town and make sure you are settled in your hotel. We’ll all go out for dinner and an orientation before getting a good night of rest before tomorrow. 

      Your Organizer

      Tamandua Expeditions
      12 reviews
      Tamandua Expeditions originally began running trips out of the Peruvian Amazon Basin over 10 years ago. Today, we offer adventure-packed, hands on, expeditions through some of the most beautiful and challenging wilderness on earth. With locations in Peru and India. Our focus on wildlife research, conservation, and responsible adventure travel.


      This was the trip of a lifetime. The food was amazing and the camp was comfortable. The people who work there made this trip though. From start to finish it was just amazing. You have to come see for yourself. I will definitely be back
      By Zachary B for Become a Junglekeeper on Jun 12, 2023
      It was amazing - the team leader (Empe) was fantastic, Ian was so knowledgeable and great at finding snakes and amphibians and making everyone feel like they could do it too, the camp hosts and family (Borian) were spectacular hosts and cooks and guides, and the camp was comfortable and fun. I couldn’t have had a better time!
      By Amy J for Operation Malinowski: Herping in the Tambopata/Malinowski Watershed on Jan 24, 2023
      This was my fourth trip with Tamandua Expeditions. If you have an adventurous spirit this is the team you want to go with. My most recent trip to Africa provided more wildlife encounters with Africa's big game, endangered and at-risk animals all within a huge yet well-protected wildlife reserve. It gave me hope seeing the work being done here, and to see so many magnificent animals living within a healthy ecosystem.
      By Grant P for South Africa on Nov 14, 2022
      The trip to South Africa with Paul and the VetPAW guys was an incredible experience! They get you up close and personal to give you raw wildlife exposure, while always maintaining control of your safety and respecting the animals. Paul and Sterling are authentic and welcoming people who go above and beyond to give you the best trip possible. 10/10 recommend any Tamandua trip.
      By Laura K for South Africa on Nov 13, 2022
      Trips with Tamandua are always one of a kind, adrenaline pumping dventures! It's the people, the places the wildlife! Can not recommend them highly enough for anyone looking for a one of a kind, life changing experience!
      By DEBBIE G for South Africa on Nov 08, 2022
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