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Tambopata Research Center

Listed under Wildlife Reserves in Peru.

  • Photo of Tambopata Research Center
  • Photo of Tambopata Research Center
  • Photo of Tambopata Research Center
Photo of Tambopata Research Center
Photo by David Lee
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Tours to the Tambopata Research Center benefit from a 6:1 ratio of visitors to guides. The small groups allow more interaction, as well as improving the odds of spotting wildlife during the walks.

Kurt, one of the co-founders of the Tambopata Research Center, previously told me the best chance to spot a jaguar was on the boat rides. And the more time you spent on the river, the better your odds.

I was so preoccupied with trying to process everything that was happening, I hadn’t thought to keep an eye out along the river banks. The Tambopata National Reserve is filled with wildlife, from a dizzying number of birds, to five kinds of primates, caiman, and piranha.

But the jaguar is one of the most elusive, in part because the density of vegetation limits visibility, and cats are nocturnal. An apex predator, it stands proudly atop the local food chain. And I wanted nothing more than to see one in the wild during my 6-day trip.

One hour into our boat ride, as we were cruising along the left bank of the Tambopata River, we came right upon a jaguar, sitting and watching the world go by. Several kids were looking out that side of the boat as we passed it, and a cacophony of shouts soon broke out.

Despite the commotion, the jaguar remained seated. We were no more than 20 meters from the shore, and the mental picture I snapped at that moment, of this beautiful, spotted creature, will be one I never forget...

Read more on Gobackpacking.

Written by  David Lee.

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