The beautiful and peaceful Tres Chimbadas Lake is a smaller oxbow lake if you compare for example with other lakes in the Tambopata National Reserve, Peru, such as Lake Sandoval or Valencia Lake but is also a great place to see wildlife, especially Giant Amazon River Otters and river birds, and enjoy views of the exuberant vegetation around its shores.
This lake is 2 km (1.25 miles) long, 800 m (2,600 ft.) at its widest point and 3.5 m (11.5 ft.) at its deepest. Its waters are of a dark green colour.
Around the lake, on one side, visitors can see various types of tropical trees such as the Hymenaea that can grow up to 50 m tall, Cordonillo plants that are known for their anaesthetic properties and are used by some locals for tooth ache, as well as fruit and other trees. There are also palm trees growing in parts of the water.
However, the main reason people come to visit Tres Chimbadas is to get a chance to see the resident Giant Amazon River Otter family that is often seen here fishing or playing around in the early mornings.
This habitat is also shared by a host of other species such as the Black Caiman, turtles and many types of birds such as the peculiar Hoatzin, herons, kingfishers or the Horned Screamer. Much of the wildlife comes attracted by the abundance of fish such as various types of piranhas and catfish.
Visitors are quietly paddled around the lake on traditional, non-motorised catamarans looking out for the wildlife. Some lodges (for example, Inotawa) offer fishing trips to the lake.
To get to Tres Chimbadas Lake, some visitors are taken via the native community of Infierno, which is one hour by car from Puerto Maldonado, the nearest town. From there, they are sailed 45 minutes by boat to a 30-40 minute trail through the rainforest.
Other guests come via their lodge and the route is similar, including a boat ride and walk the same jungle trail.
You can book flights to Puerto Maldonado from Cusco o Lima.
Note: Giant River Otters are highly endangered and sensitive animals. You will be asked to remain on your seat in the boat, not to talk above a whisper, especially while they are less than 100 m (330 ft.) away, and to not use flash photography.
Visitors are sometimes taken here as part of their booking, for example, bookings at Posada Amazonas Lodge include a visit here or you can book a tour directly at your accommodation.
There is also a lodge on the lake itself, the Tres Chimbadas Lake Lodge, that hosts a small number of guests annually.
Some of the Wildlife in and around Tres Chimbadas Lake
Rufescent Tiger Heron
Banded Knife Fish
Candiru (also known as “Vampire Fish”)
Plecostomus (also known as “Sucker Fish”)
Fire Mouth Piranha
Red Bellied Piranha
Giant Amazon River Otter