The Tambopata National Reserve was declared by means of the Supreme Law # 048-2000-AG, resulting from the proposition put forth by the area's committee planner. This proposition was elaborated in the background of the "Conservation of the Tropical Ecosystems Project and the sustainable use of the natural resources inside the Candamo Tambopata Reserve Area". Also, a damp area of the Tambopata National Reserve was determined as the Bahuaja Sonene National Park, formed by 271,582 hectares exclusive of the Candamo Tambopata Reserve.
The protected area features eight life zones: suptropical humid forest, tropical humid forest, suptropical high-humidity forest, suptropical high-humidity foothills cloud forest, subtropical rainforest, tropical cloud forest foothills, subtropical lower foothills cloud forest and semi-flooded subtropical premontane cloud forest.
The main rivers that flow through the area are the Tambopata, Malinowski, la Torre, Tavara, Candamo and Guacamayo. The main rivers flowing around the area are the Heath, Inambari and Madre de Dios. A series of smaller rivers and gullies make up the rest of the area's watershed.
There are several ways to access these protected areas. One can fly to the southeastern jungle town of Puerto Maldonado, the capital of the department of Madre de Dios. By road, one can drive from the Andean city of Cuzco to the northern edge of the protected areas or from Puno to the southern border. River access is down the Madre de Dios and Tambopata Rivers in shallow-bottomed boats. From Bolivia, one can reach the area via the Madre de Dios and Heath Rivers.
Tambopata features a high diversity of habitats, and therefore an incredible number of species are represented. In the Andes there are high levels of endemism, and this is true in the protected area as well. The protected area is concentrates rich biodiversity for several groups of organisms. The protected area features common species and concentrates a rich biological diversity in several groups of organisms. The Tambopata River watershed is considered to be one of the world's richest ecosystems in terms of biodiversity. An indicator of this vast wealth is the fact that in an area of just 550 hectares, researchers have found 91 species of mammals, 570 birds, 127 reptiles and amphibians and 94 fish, among other surprising records.
The Tambopata River in Madre de Dios near the Puno foothills is riddled with clumps of bamboo, the exclusive habitat of a variety of species of birds and mammals. The area features mature flooded forest and jungle typical of lower cloud forest. Flora in the national reserve is fairly typical of the southwest Amazon Basin. The Heath River and surrounding plains are a unique ecosystem in Peru. The pampas are pastures that are periodically flooded, and small groves of trees with varied plant life grow in isolated clumps on the plain.
Researchers have discovered in the protected area large numbers of species that are now rarely found elsewhere in the Amazon jungle due to poaching, particularly tapirs and spider monkeys, but also jaguars, white-lipped peccary, medium-sized and large monkeys and caiman. The rivers teem with giant river otters.
The Tambopata River watershed is one of the world's richest ecosystems in terms of biodiversity. The area features a major diversity of plant life, including forest species of economic importance such as cedar (Cedrela odorata) and mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla), and palm trees such as the pona (Iriartea ventricosa) and aguaje (Mauritia flexuosa) among others. The area is home to large numbers of giant river otters (Pteronura brasiliensis), an endangered species, as well as vulnerable species such as the anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), the giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus), black spider monkey (Ateles paniscus), the jaguar (Panthera onca), pink river dolphin (Ajaija ajaja), the yellow-headed river turtle (Podocnemis unifilis) and the anaconda (Eunectes murinus) among others.