Herpetology and Photography Tour of the Peruvian Amazon
February 9 – 20, 2021
The amphibians and reptiles of the Amazon range from the incredibly beautiful to the stunningly weird. And there are lots of them! This 13-day expedition includes stays at two field stations where we routinely find more than 100 species of frogs, toads, caecilians, salamanders, lizards, snakes, turtles and crocodilians. Some species we encounter almost every trip while others are so rarely encountered that even jaded “veteran” herpers get excited. Of course, there is no such thing as “jaded” when it comes to these fascinating and diverse animals!
We’ll all fly to Iquitos, Peru, by way of Lima to meet and enjoy a Welcome Dinner. Then early next day, we’ll travel to the first site by motorboat.
Our expeditions are land-based at biology research stations operated by Project Amazonas. Splitting time between the stations lets us take advantage of the unique specialties of each site. We also have an open skiff for exploring aquatic habitats, and one station has some kayaks for paddling (and maybe fishing?) in the river. Our use of the field stations helps fund and protect these special sites, and we are also adding substantially to knowledge of the herpetofauna of the region. Having a “home base” allows us to explore the rain forest by day and night. Each field site has its own specialties.
The first site where we’ll stay is the Madre Selva Biological Station. The area is excellent for a large number of hylid frogs that favor aquatic emergent vegetation. Atelopus spumarius, the Amazon harlequin toad is fairly commonly found, and with some effort, a floodplain lake with a population of black caimans (one of three species of caiman on the preserve) can be sometimes accessed by kayak or dugout canoe.
The second site where we will spend the rest of our time is the Santa Cruz Forest Reserve, the site of Peruvian records for several frogs and caecilians. It has also become the “go-to” place for finding the legendary Lachesis muta, or South American bushmaster.
While at the two remote stations, we’ll sleep in comfortable “tambos” (a Quechua word meaning ‘wayside stopping place’) or little screened buildings on legs, see photo. Inside each tambo are two single beds with sheets, foam mattresses and of course pillows, all encased in mosquito netting. There are ‘Western’ toilets and air-temp showers in the bath block, so while you are experiencing a remote environment, you will be still be comfortable! We’ll eat three delicious ‘buffet-style’ meals a day in the dining hall, just off the kitchen. The Peruvian cook and his assistants who travel with us make an excellent variety of delicious dishes daily, often utilizing local fruits and vegetables such as yuca and cocona.
An amazing diversity of creatures will be encountered on this fabulous trip! In 2020, we found interesting birds, weird insects, and tropical flowers as well as 100+ species of herps! The organizing company, MT Amazon is the ONLY tour company in the Peruvian Amazon that dedicates 95% of its resources toward the preservation and welfare of the Amazon rainforest and its people.
(Organized by MT Amazon Tours.) Click here for more info about this MT Amazon tour.
Tour leaders for herpetology and photography tour:
Mike Pingleton: (Expedition Leader/Photographer/Herp & Bird Expert) For more than forty years, Mike has been pursuing amphibians and reptiles in the field. Along with covering much of the United States, Mike has also pursued herps in Mexico, Panama, Belize, Peru, and most recently, Thailand.
Mike has written extensively about field herping, including articles for Herp Nation and the International Reptile Conservation Foundation. Mike’s excellent new book, The Field Herping Guide: Finding Reptiles and Amphibians in the Wild (with Joshua Holbrook) was published in 2019. Mike is also the author of a how-to manual on Redfoot Tortoises; he has written several children’s e-books about herps. So Much Pingle is Mike’s entertaining and popular podcast about herpetology and herpers.
Matt Cage: (Expedition Leader/Herpetology/Photographer). Matt has extensive experience guiding trips and traveling to the American tropics. He has been a trip leader for MT Amazon Expeditions since 2010. Matt has traveled extensively and photographed wildlife in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America. You can see Matt’s photos in many published books and papers (and the boa and horned frog here). Matt is a Wildlife Biology major from Colorado State University and currently lives in the Denver metro area.