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.
One year ago 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 new 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?"
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!
About your Guide:
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.
Arrive in Puerto Maldonado. 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.