A twenty minute boat ride downriver from the Amazon jungle lodge of Posada Amazonas will bring you to Centro Ñape, a traditional community clinic that produces medicines from rainforest plants and administers them to patients who either cannot afford to receive treatment in town or prefer traditional medicines (link to articles about Ayahuasca, Una de Gato and or Traditional Uses of Rainforest Plants). An Eseeja nativa from the Community of Infierno will take you on a unique tour of Centro Ñape to explain the uses of various medicinal plants. After the tour, you will have the opportunity to sample some for yourself.
Prepare to be astounded because nowhere else on the planet can one find a forest that harbors more than 600 species of birds, well over 100 species of mammals, and more than 100 species of reptiles and amphibians. The insect diversity is even more incredible with literally thousands of species of beetles, bugs, and other six-legged creatures. There are more than 1,000 species of butterflies in the rainforests of Tambopata and the number of shapes, colors, and types of katydids seems to be simply endless.
Nevertheless, the impressive animal biodiversity in Tambopata has its equal in the numbers and types of plants that make up the foundation of the rainforest. There are literally thousands of species of plants in the rainforests around Posada Amazonas and most have developed an even more incredible variety of compounds as defenses against the countless herbivores that would eat their leaves and tunnel into their trunks. The natural chemicals developed by rainforest plants have been investigated and used by native Amazonian peoples for thousands of years. In the natural laboratory of the Peruvian rainforest, plants have been extracted and used for medicinal purposes long before modern techniques and treatments were developed. In Tambopata, many people from the native community still go to their local shaman (a traditional healer) to receive treatments for everything from sleeplessness to cancer.