Cochas – Lakes of the Amazon Rainforest

Photo: Charlie Hamilton James

Photo: Charlie Hamilton James

Oxbow Lakes – locally known as Cochas – are the only kind of lakes present on the western Amazon rainforest. These lakes host an incredible array of biodiversity, being home Jaguars, caimans, piranhas, Giant River otters, and over 400 species of birds.

First of all, we should talk about their peculiar shape. The Cochas are always U-shaped, and this is due the way they’re formed. An oxbow lake starts out as a curve, or meander, in a river. A lake forms as the river finds a different, shorter, course. The meander becomes an oxbow lake along the side of the river.

These lakes host so much biodiversity, due to its heterogeneous composition. The amount of diversity a place hosts, is directly related to the size of the area, and how homogenous of habitat is. Lets say for example, a bamboo forest can only host X number of birds that are specialized in that habitat. Now, the thing is, Oxbow Lakes have a lot of different habitats. Deep waters for Caimans, fishes, and Giant River Otters. Shallow waters for herons, egrets, kingfishers, flycatchers and other birds. Secondary forest that hosts a wide spectrum of wildlife, and sometimes even primary forest, where the giants live.

One of the longest-lasting ‘Big Day’ (a competition where birdwatchers try to observe as many species as possible within 24 hours) records was done by Ted Parker, and Scott Robinson, in Cocha Cashu, Manu National Park. Ted and Scott managed to spot over 330 bird species in one Oxbow Lake. And they still hold the record for the Biggest Day without the use of any motorized vehicles.

Here in Tambo Blanquillo, we own and operate 3 Oxbow Lakes. If you wish to come to see these lakes, and see the amazing fauna that inhabits them, contact us so we can help you plan the trip of a lifetime to the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest.