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Big Cats and Camera Traps in the Amazon Rainforest

July 25 - August 3

| $2,175


This expedition will be taking place in the Madre de Dios region of Peru, one of the most bio-diverse areas on earth. The goal of this expedition is to gain a better understanding of large cat populations, their prey species, and their use of the trails around the station. We will do this with the use of camera traps, which are cameras that use a motion sensor to recognize when a wild animal is near and then begins recording. We will have multiple camera traps placed along the huge trail network that the expedition group will be monitoring, which will give us a view into the world of the Amazon’s big cats that is almost impossible to see otherwise.

The biggest threat to these cats is deforestation. Big cats have a large range so they need huge areas of intact habitat in order to keep their populations strong. If areas of rainforest are cut down, this destroys their habitat and also enables hunters and poachers to penetrate further into the jungle to kill wildlife and reduce the population numbers. The information we gather will help to benefit the wildlife, the habitat they live in, and the local community by providing evidence for the protection of habitat on the Las Piedras River by the development of a management strategy to protect wildlife.

The Madre de Dios region of Peru contains one of the largest wild cat populations in the world which includes jaguars, pumas, ocelots, margays, and jaguarundis. Although we know the cats live in the forest on the Las Piedras River, they can be difficult to see in the jungle, which is why the use of camera traps on this expedition will be so helpful. With the camera traps, our goals are to:

– identify the cat species to get an idea of their population in the area.
– identify the prey of the wild cats and their population in the area.
– determine the activity patterns of these species.
– observe the behavior of these species in the wild.

The expedition group will be taught how to set up and use camera traps, how to identify the species seen in the camera recordings, how to identify tracks left on the trails and jungle beaches, and how to identify wildlife encountered in the forest. Our guides will also give a presentation on the many uses of camera traps as a non-invasive monitoring method and conservation tool, which is being deployed across the globe by scientists and conservationists.

Accommodations and Setting

We will be staying at the Las Piedras Biodiversity Station, located in the Madre de Dios region of Peru. This area is the most bio-diverse place on earth, containing some of the most stunning flora and fauna in the world. There are 90 species of mammals, ~600 species of bird, and ~150 species of reptile and amphibian that seek refuge in the seemingly limitless expanses of towering rainforest trees.

Isolated deep in the lowland rainforests of Peru, the Las Piedras Biodiversity Station is a comfortable and safe place at which we base our operations. Surrounded by 7,000 hectares of primary rainforest reserve, you will have the opportunity to be truly immersed in the rainforest. Because of the remote location and pristine forest, wildlife is extremely abundant. Often the morning is filled with the calls of parrots, toucans, and howler monkeys. You can expect to have regular sightings of macaws, caiman, peccaries, capybara, parrots, snakes, frogs, toucans, and eight different species of monkey. Other more difficult to spot wildlife includes jaguars, ocelots, Brazilian tapirs, giant armadillos, giant anteaters, and deer. However, careful planning and soft quiet footsteps can reveal many of these species.

Our activities include hiking, boating, wildlife viewing, tree climbing, wilderness skills, local knowledge hikes, and a variety of experiences designed to bring you close to the environment. Amidst the raw materials of life – water, sun, clean air, and biodiversity – you will be reconnected to the simple and utterly fantastic orchestra of the rainforest landscape.

The Las Piedras Biodiversity Station is fully equipped with running water, toilets, and showers. We have comfortable beds with mosquito nets and hammocks to relax in. On the main deck you can find a library of field guides and biodiversity surveys. We have a fully staffed kitchen and employ local chefs who cook authentic local cuisine that will help power your mind and body. We can confidently say that your presence at the station will not only place you in one of the most bio-diverse regions on the planet but it will also make you an important part of it’s security for generations to come.


$2,175. This includes transportation to the lodge once in Peru, food and accommodations at the lodge (double occupancy), personal guiding throughout the vast surrounding jungle, hotels in Puerto Maldonado (double occupancy). Not included in this fee is airfare to Puerto Maldonado, Peru, travel insurance, and meals in Puerto Maldonado.


For more information or to reserve a spot on this trip, contact us at


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Take Off!

Grab your bags and head to the airport. Time to set off for an inspiring journey to Peru! Your trip will be a once in a lifetime adventure in the Amazon Rainforest.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Arrive in Puerto Maldonado, Peru

Land at the airport and take a short cab ride to the hotel. Our guide will meet the group to discuss the plans for the expedition. Spend some time in town to absorb the local culture and cuisine before resting up in a hotel room for the next day’s adventure.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Travel to Las Piedras Biodiversity Station

Set your alarms because today we will begin our trek to the lodge. The group takes a car ride for about 4 hours then an hour boat ride through pristine rainforest directly to the station where the group will settle into their rooms and get acquainted with the station and surroundings.

Our first day in the jungle will be an exciting one as the group will be introduced to the primary rainforest that surrounds the research station. The group can join our guides for a walk along the extensive trail system, allowing everyone to get familiar with their jungle surroundings. This will be a great way to scout locations to place the camera traps during the expedition. In the evening, the group will get an introduction on how camera traps work and go over plans for the expedition.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

After a delicious breakfast we will spend some time exploring the trails, looking for potential camera trap locations. We will split into teams to cover as much ground as possible. From the previous night’s presentation you will have a good idea of where the camera traps will be best placed. The sooner we set up the cameras, the greater our chances of recording some of the elusive big cats!

In the evening, after dinner, our guides will lead you on a Mammal Night Walk where we will quietly walk along the trails with flashlights, looking out for eye shine of mammals.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Another great way to see what big cats are around is track traps. At this time of year the ground in the forest will be fairly dry, meaning the wildlife will leave less visible footprints. And so to help us see what cats are walking around on the trails, we will create a few 1x1m squares of wet mud. The guides will show you how to create these, and we can check them daily to see what has walked across them. We will have some footprint guides ready to help you ID the species. As well as big cats we will also see the footprints of prey species, such as Agouti, Peccary, Tapir and Paca.

In the evening the guides will give a presentation on conservation camera trapping.

Monday, July 29, 2019

This morning will be an early start – our guides will take you on a dawn mammal walk. The focus will primarily be to record any mammals that we encounter. The Jaguar has over 80 species of prey so it is important to understand the diversity and abundance of the general mammal population. Populations of species such a White-Lipped Peccary have been known to fluctuate here over the years and we are interested to see how this is potentially affecting the top predators.

In the afternoon there will be the opportunity to hike in the forest and retrieve some camera traps left in the forest earlier in the season. When we return to the station we will download the camera trap images to see what wildlife is moving around in the jungle all around us.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

After breakfast we will walk the trails, checking our track traps for any mammal footprints, identifying them, and refreshing the traps as necessary.

After lunch there will be the opportunity to walk in a stream and visit the nearby waterfalls. Refresh, cool off, and enjoy swimming in the great Las Piedras River!

In the afternoon we will take a boat ride upriver to a sandy beach. Dinner will be juanes – a traditional “packed lunch” of fried rice wrapped in a leaf. After the sunset we will don our headlights and slowly take the boat back downriver, scanning the beaches for the eye shine of mammals. We might see Capybara, Tapir or, if we are lucky, a cat. As well as mammals there will be plenty of Caiman to see and, if it is a cloudless night, the stars and Milky Way will be a sight to remember!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Today there will be the opportunity to go for a long hike after breakfast, taking a packed lunch. We will watch for mammals along the way, and the guides will be sure to show the hidden treasures of the rainforest, from the huge Brazil Nut and Kapok Trees, down to the tiny leaf-cutters ants. Take this opportunity to immerse yourself in the rainforest and appreciate the vast biodiversity here.

In the evening there will be another opportunity for a night walk, or an observation session on the beach by the station to again look out for nocturnal mammal activity.
We want everyone to have a personal journey, so if there is an activity that someone would like to experience, we will work to make it happen. This is your trip, and we want you to enjoy your time in the jungle!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

It’s time to check what’s on those camera traps! After breakfast, you will head out in teams with a guide to collect the cameras traps that we set up at the beginning of the week. As well as some that have been in place for a couple of months already.
Once everyone has returned to the station you will have the opportunity to download the images to a laptop ready for viewing. Settle down with a delicious Peruvian coffee and let the excitement begin – you never know what you might record on a camera trap!

Along the way we will give our track traps one final check.

In the late afternoon, we will take a short trip downriver to the viewpoint– a natural cliff on the side of the river. Enjoy the breathtaking view of endless miles of Amazon as the sun sets over your final night in the rainforest.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Morning Return to Puerto Maldonado

Pack your bags and say goodbye to the Amazon. The group will head back to Puerto Maldonado to enjoy a night out in town before turning in for the night in a hotel.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Fly Out!

Tamandua guides will see you off to the airport. Until next time!


July 25
August 3


Peru Retreat
Puerto Maldonado, Peru


Tamandua Jungle