One of my favorite places in the world to visit is Lago Sandoval in the Tambopata National Reserve just outside of Puerto Maldonado in Peru’s southeastern Amazon rainforest region. This the easiest place to access primary rainforest where the abundance of wildlife is overwhelming.
I made the trip a couple of days ago for the first time with my Canon 90D DSLR camera and new Sigma 100-400 lens — part of Sigma’s Contemporary series. I’ve never had a really good long lens and this one was bought a month ago specifically with Lago Sandoval and the rainforest in mind.
The most important thing to keep in mind when visiting Lago Sandoval (or anywhere outside) is that everything is completely dependent on what nature decides to show you that day. This week, as always, I’m constantly reminded that photography in the wild is often a matter of looking for opportunities that present themselves rather than seeking seeking specific objectives.
With such a long lens, obviously I wanted to shoot wildlife, but since I didn’t plan on changes lenses, I also was looking for details that I could focus on closely. Often, those are the things that most people completely miss when walking through the rainforest. I wish I’d gotten a lot more, but that can wait until my next trip which will hopefully be very soon.
[Be sure to click on each photo to see a larger version.]
The amount of birds we saw this time was impressive — especially how they seemed to be “posing” for us in many situations rather than hiding in the dark recesses of the jungle.
We saw far more monkeys than I have seen, but they were very active in some extremely dense parts of the rainforest making them easy to hear as they scurried through the trees, but very difficult to photograph. I still managed to grab some photos that I really was happy with.
I was a bit disappointed that the only black caiman we saw was a small one that was not in a good place to photograph so I passed on that one, but there still were plenty of other animals waiting for the camera.
Of course, the lake itself is always spectacular. When the water is calm, the views across the lake are magnificent. It is as peaceful a place as you can imagine. There’s never a sound other than those of the jungle. (We even heard the distant call of the red howler monkey who can be heard for several kilometers.)
One of the great things about visiting Lago Sandoval is that no matter how tired you are, you are very likely to be rewarded with a gorgeous sunset on the way home as you cruise up the Madre de Dios River when returning to Puerto Maldonado. This trip was certainly no exception.
This was an amazing trip made made better by the small group we had which included my new friends, Dave and Kirk, who were particularly great at spotting animals all day long.
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It can be a real challenge getting good photos from a moving canoe, but I think I managed to grab a few decent ones. I’d love to hear any comments you might have. If you like this, please share it with others.