Only four hours by river from Puerto Maldonado airport, Heath River Wildlife Center is the gateway to the largest uninhabited and un-hunted rainforest in the Amazon. An immensely photogenic macaw clay lick, capybaras, oxbow lakes with Giant Otters, hundreds of birds and mammal species and a lodge 100%-owned by the Ese'eja Indians of Sonene make the Heath the best combination of nature and culture in the entire Amazon. No other lodge in Tambopata is 100% owned and operated by a community of lowland Indians.
Every person in Sonene speaks the original indigenous language, with Spanish being a distant second used mostly in school and to trade with outsiders and, now, to chat with pampered guests. Women from Sonene hold daily crafts workshops at the lodge, teaching visitors tribal traditions handed down through the millennia.
Though very traditional, the lodge in Sonene does not sacrifice comfort in the least. Guests enjoy roomy, private, double-occupancy bungalows with electric fans and en-suite facilities with hot showers. The combination of the most accessible and most photogenic large macaw lick and the warmth and uniquely traditional hospitality of our Indian hosts make Heath River Wildlife Center and Sandoval Lake Lodge the Amazon's best value in wildlife and authentic rainforest adventure.
This special program combines a trip to Sandoval Lake Lodge (SL.) plus a visit to Puerto Maldonado's closest large Macaw Clay Lick (from a comfortable floating blind) at the new Heath River Wildlife Center (HRWC) and a visit to the extraordinary bio-diverse Pampas del Heath (savanah). Accommodations, excursions, visit to Sonene Indian community, full board and National Reserve entrance fee included.
Please note that all macaw and parrot licks in southern Peru are less active in May, June and early July than in other months.
We meet at the Puerto Maldonado airport and drive through town to the Tambopata River port. After boarding motorized canoes, we travel downriver to the mighty Madre de Dios, which we follow for approximately five hours to the Heath River. We then travel up this wild and intimate river, which forms the wilderness border between Peru and Bolivia, and arrive at the Heath River Wildlife Center. Note that the Lodge is located on the Bolivian side of the Heath River so passports are required to clear Bolivian passport control. After dinner we'll explore the forest by flashlight, including a visit to a small mammal clay lick if it is active. L,D
We rise early in the morning to board a motorized canoe for the 10-minute journey up the Heath River to the macaw and parrot clay lick. Brightly-colored parrots and macaws fly in by the hundreds to feed on the clay that detoxifies certain seeds and nuts they eat. Marvel at the cacophony of sound and color as Red-and-green macaws vie for the best clay-eating position. A secially-designed floating blind allows for proximity and complete concealment -- so you can even have breakfast and coffee while the birds are performing their morning ritual.
When we return to the lodge, the guide leads us on an ethno-botanical walk through the forest, pointing out flora used in the daily lives of rainforest people. The guide explains how certain plants are used for medicinal or healing purposes, which ones can be made into the best bows and arrows, and how to select trees and leaves for home construction.
After lunch and a short rest, we hike through the rainforest to the Pampas del Heath, the largest remaining undisturbed savanna in the Amazon. The contrast is striking as we emerge from the mature rainforest onto the grassland plain of the Pampas. B, L, D
We breakfast in the floating blind at the macaw and parrot clay lick for a last round of looks and photos. We return to the lodge to pack, and then it's back on the Madre de Dios River, box lunch in hand, for the trip to Sandoval Lake Lodge, located on the banks of one of the most beautiful lakes in Amazonian Peru.
During the river trip back downstream, families of Capybaras are often spotted on the banks of the river. Weighing up to 120 pounds (55 kilograms), this giant, three-toed relative of the guinea pig is the largest rodent in the world.
On the journey to Sandoval Lake Lodge we will also visit the Ese'Eja native community of Sonene, where there will be an opportunity to interact with the community and purchase local handicrafts.
We embark at the trail head to Sandoval Lake Lodge and walk for 45 minutes on a wide, flat trail through the forest, stopping to look at birds, butterflies, and towering trees. At the end of the trail, we board dugout canoes or catamarans, and are paddled across the lake in the golden afternoon light. We drift through flooded palm forest and listen to the babbling of Red-bellied Macaws overhead as they roost in treetops for the night. We arrive at the lodge around nightfall, and walk up the torch-lit path to dinner in the dining hall. B, L, D.
After an early breakfast, explore the western end of the lake in the catamaran or canoe. We might see Giant Otters that live on the lake, or encounter a Black Caiman lazily crossing the water, or see the huge splash of the Paichi, a 10-foot-long Amazonian fish, as it rises to the surface of the water to gulp down bubbles of air.
Later that morning, your naturalist guide will lead a hike through the forest, pointing out plants with medicinal uses, interesting insects, and colorful birds and butterflies.
Following lunch and a short siesta, in the late afternoon we once again board the catamaran or canoe and set off to explore the eastern end of the lake. Capuchin, Squirrel and Titi monkeys often forage along the lake's edge, and energetic guests can take another hike through forest on the other side of the lake.
After dinner, we go out on the lake to search again for the Black Caiman since they are most abundant on the lake at night as they forage. Floating in the middle of the lake, the brilliant stars light up the sky as the night sounds of the rainforest surround you. B, L, D.
After a dawn breakfast, we paddle across the lake, perhaps encountering a family of macaws leaving their roost to forage or a troupe of monkeys greeting the day. We hike back out to the river and return to Puerto Maldonado for the flight back to Cusco or Lima. B
|Nights at||Fixed Departures||Departures on other days|
|Programs||HRWC||SLL||Operates||in DBL||2||3/4||5/9||10/up||Sing. Suppl.|
|5 days/4 nights Itinerary||2||2||not available||-||US$1354||US$1217||US$1019||US$914||US$218||5 days/4 nights Itinerary||3||1||Mon/Thu||US$1019||US$1354||US$1217||US$1019||US$914||US$218|
|6 days/5 nights Itinerary||3||2||Mon/Thu/||US$1162||US$1553||US$1368||US$1162||US$1046||US$272|
Rates may fluctuate in accordance with current exchange rates.
For further information or booking inquiries please contact Sacred Earth Travel