The boat trip between Refugio Amazonas and the Tambopata Research Center (TRC) can take two to four hours depending on the amount of water in the river. Nevertheless, the time is well spent because passengers pass through some of the most biodiverse and remote rainforests on Earth. Other than a couple of farms along the route, the Tambopata River is flanked by the Amazon rainforest at its finest. As the boat moves along, the keen and ready eyes of the guides and boat driver also watch the shore and treetops in search of jungle wildlife.
Red Howler Monkeys are sometimes seen, macaws are often observed in trees and as they fly overhead, a flowering tree might be filled with parakeets, and the occasional Spectacled Caiman is spotted on the riverbank. The most fortunate of guests may even get looks at apex predators such as Jaguar or Harpy Eagle. While sightings of those animals do happen from time to time, you still have to be pretty lucky to see them. However, even if you don’t glimpse a Jaguar, there are still several other animals that are encountered on most boat trips. One of these is the Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris).
This large rodent frequently occurs at the edges of rivers and lakes in the Tambopata region and is commonly sighted by most guests visiting the Rainforest Expeditions eco-lodges.
Here are some interesting facts about this funny looking creature:
- The largest rodent in the world: If you thought that Capybaras looked a bit like a squirrel or muskrat, this is no coincidence. These large, rather pig-like animals are actually the biggest species of rodent in the world. The heaviest of Capybaras have weighed 200 pounds!
- Aquatic: Capybaras are very aquatic in nature and are thus never found far from water. Adaptations for life in rivers, marshes, and lakes include webbed feet and the ability to sleep in the water with their noses held just above the surface.
- An important source of food for predators: Capybaras are the preferred dinner item of Anacondas and are commonly eaten by Jaguars. Other animals such as Black Caimans and Ocelots also prey upon them.
- Grazers: Capybaras spend most of their time grazing on grasses and other riverside vegetation.
How to see Capybaras on an Amazon adventure tour in southeastern Peru:
- Visit protected areas: Although this large rodent is widely distributed in South America east of the Andes, they are heavily hunted in many areas and, as a result, can become very shy. Just the opposite is true in protected areas like the Tambopata Reserve. Although still wary, Capybaras that live along the stretch of river between Refugio Amazonas and TRC often relax on the riverbank and make ideal subjects for photography.
- Watch for them where grass is growing: Capybaras love to munch on new shoots of grass. Find places like this along the edge of a river and you have a fair chance of finding Capybaras.
To see Capybaras in the wild, take a Peruvian jungle tour with Rainforest Expeditions!