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Reviewed 7 May 2018

I just returned from two weeks at the Las Piedras Amazon Center (LPAC) in the Madre de Dios region of Peru. LPAC is a non-profit run by a group of like-minded scientists, students, interns and volunteers whose mission is to protect LPAC's eleven thousand acre tract of primary forest and to educate the public regarding the need for biodiversity and habitat protection. Working with local people they are also building sustainable economies, respectful of the surrounding forest.

I went as a ‘volunteer’ in their Tropical Fungi Program* but they have ‘Eco-tourism’ programs as well—all offering authentic rain forest experiences. Having been an eco-tourist previously at numerous lodges, I chose to volunteer during this visit in order to kick my rain forest participation up a notch with a more hands on approach. LPAC delivered exactly the experience I had hoped for. Besides the experience of this beautiful natural setting and the satisfaction of helping a worthwhile cause, a bonus was the feeling of having joined an extended family. While I was there, we had folks from Israel, Canada, The U.K., South Africa, Peru and the U.S. including me (grandson of a Welsh coal miner).

At meal times we shared stories of our day and what we saw or accomplished. During my two weeks, along with their on-site mycologist, Melanie Desch, we catalogued about 200 different fungi (it is estimated tropical rain forests host between 2 - 6 million types so we have a way to go!). Our family included herpetologists (reptiles) and primatologists (monkeys in the Neo-tropics) as well as adventurers and photographers but even as we focused on our specialties we all shared in the sightings of unusual and interesting animals and plants.

The first walk from the boat to the center along the path, herpetologist Pat Champagne caught a beautiful bright yellow snake (a non-venomous, docile little fellow). Later on, a real treat was a close-up viewing of an elusive emerald tree boa (not really docile but expertly handled by Pat!). The primatologists went off into the forest daily tracking monkeys but occasionally troops foraged right near the center: capuchins, spider monkeys and night monkeys. And always, early morning I could hear off in the distance the eerie wind-sound of howlers.

There is no shortage of activities if one desires them (and the opportunity to push boundaries). I faced my discomfort with heights and went up the rope climb half way to the canopy (next time all the way!) Of course Melanie (our leader and expert mushroom hunter), Clemencia (primatologist) and Tink (volunteer) went all the way up—Melanie actually swinging a machete three quarters the way up at a branch intruding on the rope (rain forest maintenance!).

No matter what level of participation you choose, LPAC will deliver a memorable, rewarding and authentic rain forest experience.

*LPAC offers volunteer programs in the natural sciences and field Research Internships for University students as well as Eco-tours.

Date of stay: April 2018
  • Trip type: Travelled solo
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2  Thank Brian P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 April 2018

I spent a week here during the rainy season and loved every second! The location is a pristine and picturesque forest and the living accommodations and comforts do not get in the way of you feeling like you are in a wilderness surrounded by life. There were new things to see every day. The staff were extremely friendly, knowledgeable and passionate about their work to protect the rainforest. I especially loved getting to know local people and experiencing their stories and culture. The work they do at Las Piedras is incredibly important and I was privileged to have seen it in action up close.

Date of stay: February 2018
  • Trip type: Travelled with friends
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Thank Karl U
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 November 2017

My wife and I, as well as two friends, spent a week at LPAC in July of this year. It was our first time in the Amazon and we were absolutely blown away by the experience.

David and his staff really welcomed us into the fold and were knowledgable and gracious hosts.

We were assigned a guide for the duration of our stay, who took us for numerous hikes thru the jungle, spotting all kinds of animals and plants, took us to a macaw claylick as well as a visit to a cacao farm. You can tell the staff are all deeply in love with their environment and it shows in the passion they have for their work. We all learnt a lot about the local flora and fauna.

Food was simple and excellent. Our party had several dietary requirements to contend with and this was no problem for the cooks.

Sleeping arrangements were fantastic - a raised platform in the jungle with two bunk beds. Mosquito nets and clean bedding provided and as there are no walls, you really get to absorb all the sounds of the jungle as you doze off. Often we'd be woken up in the mornings by the howler monkeys, which was amazing.

LPAC really care about their environment. I feel very good about supporting these wonderful people and their truly noble work of protecting the Amazon. I will return as often as I can.

Date of stay: July 2017
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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Thank Cccconrad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 November 2017

LPAC gives you a "once in a lifetime" experience. This was my first trip to the jungle and I was blown away. Staying here lets you experience Primary Amazon jungle first hand whilst gaining a wealth of knowledge about the surroundings. This is Eco Tourism at its best! On the Las Piedras River it is accessible only by boat.
Sleeping on an open platform means you literally breathe in the jungle air and sounds - the room is a raised wooden platform in a clearing with a roof and open sides. The beds are covered in mosquito nets and are very comfortable.
Each day we learned volumes of information from the experienced staff who took us out guided walks and boat excursions. The wealth of knowledge on the plethora of plant and animal kingdoms that was shared is quite overwhelming. As this is a centre conducting research on many different topics, we met some extremely fascinating people.

The vegetarian food was always good and delicious. With a cold beer after a long hike we couldn't ask for more.

The best part of the trip was supporting a group of people whose purpose is conserving the rain forest and who live each day to keep this area free from deforestation.

Highly recommended. I will be back for sure!

Room tip: All rooms / platforms are surrounded by primary forest. Absolutely exquisite!
Date of stay: October 2017
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
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    • Cleanliness
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Thank SezSchlaphoffSA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 November 2017

Visiting the LPAC reserve was easily one of the best adventures my life. It's difficult to translate such an incredible & memorable experience into words. There's so much see, do & experience....

I visited the reserve with 3 friends during July 2017. We spent 6 nights there sharing a secluded outdoor platform with 2 bunk beds. It was very peaceful quiet, allowing you to fully enjoy the sounds of the jungle. The beds were super comfortable. We were supplied with clean bedding, comfortable pillows and secure mosquito netting. A brand new outdoor shower & compost toilet were only 5 metres walk from our platform.

The daily Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner's were fantastic. All the produce is sourced locally and prepared a small team of dedicated locals who take pride in preparing tasty nourishing food for all the occupants staying in the reserve. Should you have any allergies or special dietary requests (as we did) - don't worry, you'll be kindly accommodated for.

There's lots of things to do during the days and nights. Each day's activities differs from the previous, and participating is always optional. We were never pressured to take part in any activities if we didn't feel like doing so.

Here's some of the activities we took part in:
- Daily guided walks along the numerous paths surrounding the reserve at night & day to observe all the different plants & animals.
- Climbing trees for breathtaking views of the surrounding canopy & beyond.
- Boat rides up the river to nearby waterfalls to swim.
- Caimen spotting at night by boat.
- River/Stream walks.
- A visit to the local cacao farm to make chocolate & cacao soap.

David & his team were so welcoming, warm & friendly. From the moment they collected us from Puerto Maldonado to the moment we departed, they always made sure we were comfortable & safe at all times. They constantly educated us all on the native plants, animals, people & resources in the reserve, for which all of us were very grateful.

I can't wait to visit again next year and see more of the beautiful reserve.

Date of stay: July 2017
  • Trip type: Travelled with friends
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Thank AdamBiesiot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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