Peru's so-called "Biodiversity Capital", the Madre de Dios department is one of the most stunningly megadiverse places on earth. Home to record numbers of bird, butterfly, mammal, tree and insect species, it is also inhabited by numerous indigenous groups, some of which remain uncontacted to this day. To the south its terrain consists of mountainous highland rainforest, which pans out into vast stretches of flat lowland rainforest in the center and north. Its capital and largest city, Puerto Maldonado, serves as the region's economic center as well as a gateway to many of its national parks and nature reserves.
The Manú National Park is among the country's largest and most impressive, encompassing one of the world's most species-rich tropical forests and maintaining the world record for number of bird species spotted in a single place in a single day. Many endangered species can be found here, including jaguars, spectacled bears, red-faced spider monkeys and oncillas. The Tambopata-Candamo National Reserve is also known for its species richness, possessing the world's greatest number of butterfly species as well as the largest collpa of the Peruvian Amazon. Peru's only tropical wet savannah is protected in the Bahuaja Sonene National Park, where anteaters, giant otters, bush dogs and other unique animals can be found. The department also contains two beautiful lakes, Sandoval and Valencia, which provide habitat to a variety of fish, exotic flora, turtles, toucans, caimans, tapirs and other animals.