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Sandoval Lake Lodge
Ranked #2 of 10 Hotels in Puerto Maldonado
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
38 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Go for it! You only live once...”
Reviewed 3 January 2010

I agree with the majority of the reviews on Sandoval Lake Lodge. So long as you have an idea of what to expect, Sandoval Lake Lodge will not disappoint. It is a very fine jungle lodge with affordable rooms, quality guides and plenty of opportunity to see and experience the Peruvian jungle.

We are 37 and 40, respectively, we're both fairly fit, and both of us had been to "the jungle" before. With an active sense of humor, you can get through the airport, bus, opportunistic "snake" sanctuary (complete with pet puma and a chicken or two), timing issues and various other mildly chaotic moments. Still, the "3km hike" that people here describe was no laughing matter--especially during the rainy season.

The hike: Upon arrival, you will be asked to re-pack your gear into hotel-issued bags not to exceed roughly 15-20 lbs. This is the limitation for the porters that transport your gear through the Hades-inspired mud hike. Anything else you will need to carry everywhere yourself - and you WILL be sorry. Then you are asked to pack your expensive hiking boots away and slip on pair of rubber ducky boots, which are used to prevent you from slipping in 6 inches of mud. The tricky part isn't the mud, but the gigantic tree roots buried in the mud, or the 2-3 inches you have to avoid giant, sinking mud-holes.

Once you survive the hike, everything else is smooth sailing, so to speak. The rooms are kept clean and the showers work fine albeit bit chilly during "prime time."

The food served at Sandoval Lake Lodge was some of the best we experienced in our 3 week visit to Peru. Excellent!

If you have never been to the jungle, you should trust that the jungle is not Disney, epcot, or the climate controlled local zoo. It is vibrant, animant, and unpredictable--looking for same. We saw the amazing giant otters, reptiles, black caymans, birds of all sorts, 6 species of monkeys, flora, fauna, spiders (and, yes, plenty of spider bites to boot).

The lodging at Sandoval is exactly as advertised: clean, hospitable, quasi-public in the sense that your conversations might very well be overheard. We had two irritating women from Chicago and Phoenix guessing various Rob Reiner/Penny Marshall films one night ad nauseum, and two guys from Spain that would not stop singing a la 3am-6am. Again, use your sense of humor and you'll be just fine. The rest of the guests had very nice hotel etiquette and you will meet people from all over the world: USA, UK, Aussies, Spain, Russia, Sweden, and Singapore were all represented while we were there.

Bring your 100% DEET, your best 18-200 and 300 lenses, anything Gortex or Paclite (cotton is not your friend in the jungle) and you will have a terrific experience with the Peruvian wildlife of Lake Sandoval. Enjoy!

  • Stayed December 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
8 Thank macandginger
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Chicago
Level Contributor
177 reviews
44 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 116 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 November 2009

This is a great lodge in a great area of the jungle to see a lot of wildlife. It sits about 50 feet oup n a bluff overlooking a beautiful oxbow lake. Just know what to expect...if you aren't on the adventurous side, this (and other lodges in the area) may not be for you. But my wife, who loves to be pampered and stay at really cushy places, and my kids (18, 17, and 12) REALLY enjoyed the lodge and its setting.

You need to be aware of the design of the lodge. Walls separate the rooms, but all rooms have no ceiling and are open to the roof (but are covered in screen to block mosquitos). When a breeze blows, you understand why...the design captures the breeze and really cools off the rooms quickly.

The only real downside...you can hear people in rooms next to you (including their bathroom habits). We stayed three nights, and were very concerned the first night with these arrangements. However, everyone else staying there is thinking the same thing, and somehow everyone adjusts to be much quieter and conscientious due to the building design. After the first night it really was a non-issue, and my family can be pretty picky.

The lodge itself is basic, with a large enough dining/bar/gathering area including 5 hammocks, where my teens loved hanging out. The food was very good in our opinion. The staff was very friendly and helpful. We found the beds and rooms to be basic (rustic) but comfortable. There are several trails around the area that you can wander, find a quiet area, and just enjoy the sights and sounds of the jungle while reading a book.

You go on adventures on the lake at sunrise (5:30 AM, returning for breakfast around 7:15) and toward sunset, before dinner. This is when the jungle is alive, and you will see and hear many animals, including monkeys and many types of birds including macaws and parrots. Our guide Daniel was extremely good at locating wildlife and allowing them to come toward our location. The midday walk was very interesting covering medicinal plants, local uses of plants around the jungle, and insects in the area, as well as a night time tour along trails near the lodge looking at night critters. This may sound a bit like a ho-hum filler type of activity, but it truly was a great experience itself. My wife and kids loved it.

You will notice at times a lot of people coming to the lake for their adventure...starting out when we were ending our morning outings. Wildlife really quiets down during the day, and if you come here from another lodge, you would not see and enjoy the variety and quantity of wildlife in the area.The sunrises and sunsets are spectacular, too.

I had a pretty good idea of what to expect, but was not sure of how the family would enjoy it. I kept telling them "this is nothing fancy, but it is in a great location and make the best of it." Each member of my family truly LOVED the experience and the lodge, but it was also in part because they had the right expectations. This was truly one of the highlights of our trip to Peru.

When we were at the lodge, there was a woman and her husband from California who obviously had different expectations of the lodge. She was constantly on a phone trying to make arrangements to get out as quickly as possible. It was a shame, but obviously a miscommunication between her and her travel agent.

Because you will not travel to Peru often, you have to experience the jungle. And Lake Sandoval lodge is a excellent place to locate yourself. It is not far from Puerto Maldonado, and the hike in to the lake itself is a good intro to the area. It was an experience we will not forget.

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank MeanderingMike1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hong Kong
Level Contributor
7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 June 2009

We might have been spoiled by having come from the excellent Heath River Wildlife Center, run by the same group. We found Sandoval to be overcrowded and less clean than the HRWC. They were both in the jungle, but somehow HRWC had a higher standard of cleanliness than Sandoval--for instance, the mosquito nets were not secured in place when we arrived, and the biodegradable/organic soap provided was apparently like cockroach catnip--we unwrapped it to wash our hands and when we came back into the bathroom 5 minutes later, there were three roaches feasting on the soap. We evicted them and later another joined the soap in the shower! This was pretty poor product selection!

The location is beautiful and we saw plentiful wildlife, however, the lodge is only accessible by a walk/portage from the river through to the oxbow lake. This is not a drawback in the least, however during mud season it is a long slog through mud that really is calf deep in MANY spots. Be prepared.

Overall this was certainly a decent stay, it just did not live up to our expectations after visiting the first lodge which managed to be far more isolated, and yet provide better service and cleanliness standards at the same time. Less value for the money.

  • Stayed April 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank monkk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Dallas
Level Contributor
102 reviews
75 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 263 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 June 2009

We have just returned from a 2 week trip through Peru. Our itinerary was as follows:

Morning flight into Cusco – met by private English speaking guide/driver for day to see Awanacancha and Pisac. Stayed Kuchi Rumi in Urubamba.

Private English speaking guide/driver for day to see Ollantaytambo, Chinchero, Moray, Maras, salt mines. Stayed Kuchi Rumi in Urubamba.

Took morning PeruRail train from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu. Met English speaking guide at Machu Picchu for full day tour. Stayed Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge.

Took afternoon PeruRail train from Machu Picchu to Ollantaytambo. Driver took us on to Cusco. Stayed Casa Andina Private Collection Cusco.

Private English speaking guide/driver for day to see ruins around Cusco and Cusco sights.

Took PeruRail Andean Express Train from Cusco to Puno. Stayed Casa Andina Private Collection Puno.

Full day tour by fast boat of Uros and Taquile Islands. Stayed Casa Andina Private Collection Puno.

Private English speaking guide/driver took us from Puno to Chivay for lunch and then on to Colca Lodge.

Guide/driver took us to Cruz de la Condor to view flight of condors and to visit small villages in the canyon. Free afternoon at Colca Lodge.

Guide/driver took us to Arequipa. Afternoon visit to “Juanita” museum and Santa Catalina Convent. Stayed Casa Andina Private Collection Arequipa.

Flew LAN from Arequipa to Puerto Maldonado. Stayed Lake Sandoval Lodge for 4 day/3 night program in Amazon jungle lodge.

Flew LAN from Puerto Maldonado to Lima and then home to USA.


We did the 4 day /3 night program at Lake Sandoval Lodge last week. Guides pick you up at the airport and take you to the office where you transfer items needed for the trip into a small duffel bag. All other luggage is left and stored in the office. From here you are transferred to the river for the boat ride down the river. The dry season usually begins in May but this year it was still raining in June. Although it did not rain while we were there, the trail into the lodge was a muddy, yukky mess and difficult to navigate. The lodge provides knee length rubber boots to use when using the muddy trails but it is a work-out to walk this trail into the lodge. But once you cross the muddy trail and take the canoe ride across Lake Sandoval to the lodge, the magic of this Amazon experience begins. The lodge is situated on the edge of beautiful Lake Sandoval and is really very similar to a childhood camp setting. The lodge is built of native wood with screens over windows, etc. There are two wings of rooms with the reception/dining area in the middle. The rooms have private bathrooms with showers and toilets but do not have individual ceilings – the ceilings are open to the rafters that cover the buildings. We quickly became used to the jungle environment and schedule. The wildlife is active in the early morning and late afternoon so there is a canoe trip around the lake each morning and afternoon. There are nature walks mid-morning and guests usually rest after lunch until the 4pm afternoon canoe ride. Breakfast is usually 7:30am; lunch is 1pm and dinner is 7:30pm. All are served buffet style. Wildlife videos are shown after lunch or dinner. Most guests go to bed early in order to be able to wake up for the 5:30am morning canoe ride.

We were interested in seeing the macaws so our guide took us to a dead palm tree where 20 to 30 or so red-bellied macaws feed early each morning (similar to a clay lick). This palm tree is located on the side of the trail that we took to enter the lodge so we had to walk the muddy trail again to see the birds but it was worth it to see the macaws. We also saw a sloth, weird caterpillars, capuchin monkeys, squirrel monkeys, howler monkeys, yellow and blue macaws, scarlet macaws, emerald and hermit hummingbirds, hoatzin, kingfisher, vultures, kiskadees, bats, nighthawks, skimmers, caimans and several other kinds of birds. We did not see the otters but other guests did see them.

Our second day in the jungle was cloudy and overcast and the birds and animals are not as comfortable going about their normal activities on cloudy days so they are quiet and not as easy to spot and view. We did not see much wildlife on our second day which was disappointing but we did have a relaxing day at the lodge.

We did enjoy this Amazon visit and felt like this was important in order to experience all the parts of Peru.

We loved seeing the wildlife and thought this was a fun and comfortable way to visit the jungle.

  • Stayed June 2009, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Trip Advisor from Dallas, TX
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
dallas
Level Contributor
73 reviews
36 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 88 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 June 2009

It's an incredible experience if you set your expectations properly. You will get very dirty, and you really can't take enough clothes to be clean all the time. No big deal for a couple nights. I loved the muddy hike in and out. (Yes, they give you rubber boots to wear.) Once there, it's relaxing. You go out on a tour, come back, rest, and then go out again. We didn't see any otters, but we saw tons and tons of monkeys. I wasn't disappointed. The main area of the lodge with the dining area, bar, and (most importantly) hammocks is nice. The rooms are only meant for sleeping and getting cleaned up. You don't hang out in your room. They're small. Yes, at night you can hear other guests snoring. But you can also hear all the sounds of the jungle. Bring a powerful flashlight for the night activities. I had one dirty set of clothes for the tours and one clean set for resting and dining. I showered a couple times a day. I was comfortable. Our guide was great. Send me a message if you want more details.

  • Stayed May 2009, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank john0105
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
palo alto, CA
Level Contributor
10 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 May 2009

We just returned from a 4 day stay at the Sandoval Lodge. What an awesome experience! My husband and I are both in our 50's - and sure, the muddy hike to the lodge left us pretty beat - but once we paddled out of the swamp and got our first glimpse at Lake Sandoval - it was suddenly worth all of our efforts!

Our guides were fantastic - they led us on 3 excursions per day. Many of these were actually boat trips around the lake to view the wildlife, fauna and flora. Some of the animals we saw included several speciees of beautiful macaws which live in the palm trees surrounding the lake. We also saw a 15 foot cayman - plus many baby caymans living near the lakeshore in marshes. At night, the cayman's eyes glow a bright red and are visible with flashlights. We also experienced a lot of monkey business including the crazy little spider monkeys as well as a group of the larger capuchins. And last but not least, we watched 3 of the local giant river otters swimming past our canoe.

The night before my husband's birthday we sat in the middle of the lake to watch the full moon rise. When the stars came out, we were pleasantly surprised to see the Sourthern Cross very clearly - which was a first for us! As we sat enjoying the stars, the piranhas were jumping out of the lake around our boat and bats were zooming past us like giant birds! Just a really great adventure alll the way around!

Yes, the rooms are small, but you do have a private bathroom and ceiling fans that work when the electricity is on. The food was awsome - and the bar was good as well. I think our guides really made the trip for us - they kept us entertained the entire time. I certainly came back with a greater appreciation for the Amazon and its amazing ecosystem. You can really can sense that the area is so delicate and so vulnerable to exploitation by large energy companies and some strange local politics.

All I can say is just go for it and do this trip! It absolutely worth your time and effort!

  • Stayed May 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Rebecca R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
new york
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 May 2009

I know I am going against the other reviews, but someone has to speak out. I wish someone else did before I booked my trip. Just for the record, this was my 5th visit to a rain forest, so I am not some spoiled gringa looking to get my nails done in the middle of a jungle.

First, they kept me waiting in the office until they were ready to leave. O.K., but then to push me and tell me to hurry up after waiting for them! Second, the booking office states that there is a 3km level path. No problem, right? Wrong! The knee high mud was ridiculus, not only was it an environmental mess, but a phyical danger to the guests of the lodge and the employees carrying the luggage on their backs. In the scorching hot day, people were getting dehydrated, slipping, falling and were down right miserable. All I heard were unhappy people hating every minute it. The other reviews don't tell you that. I will say that the butterflies were beautiful. However, when I stopped to take a look at them, I was told to HURRY UP!

Finally, we get to the other side. Now that I am covered head to toe in mud, I ask my guide: "Where can I rinse off my boots and where I can clean off the mud from my clothes. Their answer: "You can't." They really expect you to put the dirty from sweat and mud clothes back into you bag. (Try getting through customs with that) When I expressed my disbelief on this matter , they replied with a what do you know, "Its the rainforest." They used the rainforest as an excuse for everything.

So I decided like many others to wash off as much mud as I could from my clothes in the shower. The problem is that due to the high humidity, the clothes won't dry. But wet clothes are better than muddy clothes. They do have clean sheets and towels, so I know there is laundry somewhere. They could have cleaned off your things for you. A little customer service please, I did not join the army.

So O.K., a rough day. Now for sleep. Forget it. The rooms are more like cubicles in a larger room. You hear everything. All night, I heard the men in other rooms snoring, 2:30am I wake up hearing the neighbor taking a pee. At 3:00am I hear the other neighbor taking a pee. This goes on all night. I don't want to hear my own husband snore and pee, so why do they think I would want to hear total strangers.

The food didn't make me sick, which was a treat for me. I am grateful for that. The animals, scenery and sunsets were beautiful. Thank goodness for that. I would have liked some guide-free activities, which they didn't offer.

I did take a rickshaw ride back for $25. But they do take the opportunity to pack up the rickshaw with way too much luggage making it extremely heavy and hard for the poor guys to push through the mud. Those poor guys. Don't worry I did tip them well enough to put a smile on their face.

Unfortunately, I could not with a good conscience recommend this place. The bad was really bad and put a black cloud over my trip to Peru. They could put an environmentally friendly path in the really damaged areas, or at least hose the mud off of you. Only the guests of Sandoval lake were arriving at the airport filthy. Speaking with people from other lodges, they did not have these issues. For the price STAY SOMEWHERE ELSE!!!

Helpful?
5 Thank szjb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Sandoval Lake Lodge

Property: Sandoval Lake Lodge
Address: Puerto Maldonado Peru, Puerto Maldonado, Peru
Region: Peru > Madre de Dios Region > Puerto Maldonado
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 10 Hotels in Puerto Maldonado
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:1 star — Sandoval Lake Lodge 1*
Number of rooms: 25
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Sandoval Lake Lodge: Located deep in Peru's Tambopata National Reserve, our Sandoval Lake lodge overlooks sparkling, palm-rimmed Sandoval Lake, the most beautiful and wildlife-rich of all lakes in Tambopata-Madidi. This privileged location gives you exclusive access to the lake in the early morning and late afternoon, the choice hours for wildlife viewing and photography. No other lodge in Tambopata-Madidi is on the banks of a protected oxbow lake. Our short Sandoval Lake Lodge program includes two nights of fully-screened accommodation in 25 double-occupancy rooms complete with en suite facilities with hot-water showers, electricity (*), fans, meals, airport transfers in Puerto Maldonado, naturalist guides, lake excursions by day in search of Giant Otters, monkeys, and macaws, forest excursions, night excursions in search of caimans, and evening slide shows. Our lodge specializes in small groups and individualized attention in our overriding quest to conserve the lake and surrounding rainforest. Sandoval Lake Lodge is built out of ecologically-correct driftwood mahogany and is owned jointly by a nonprofit conservation group and five families of indigenous Brazil nut collectors. (*) Three times per day: from 5:00 to 6:00 am, from noon to 4:00 pm and from 17:30 to 22:30 pm. ... more   less 
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