PERU TRAVEL PLANNER
Puerto Maldonado Tour
- Madre de Dios
Sandoval Lake Lodge and Heath River 5 days
SANDOVAL LAKE LODGE AND
HEATH RIVER 5 DAYS AND 4 NIGHTS TOUR
Per Person Prices:$1109 based on Double occupancy
Per Person Prices:$1309 based on Single occupancy
Note: We require minimum two passengers traveling together If
single traveler ask for the supplement.
On this journey to the Heath River we encounter the best and
most astonishingly varied pristine rainforest that the Upper Amazon Basin has to
offer, while staying at the small and intimate Heath River Wildlife Center. This
is the only eco-lodge on the remote Heath River, the wild rainforest frontier
where Peru and Bolivia meet. Few other Amazon lodges can offer this unbeatable
combination of remoteness, and yet reachable distance by river from an airport
with daily scheduled passenger-jet flights.
||5 Days & 4 Nights
||Not included, available upon request
||2 Nights in Heath River and 2 Nights
in Sandoval Lake
||YES, feel free to ask for extra
DAY 1 PUERTO MALDONADO TO HEATH RIVER WILDLIFE CENTER
Our staff welcome you at Puerto Maldonado airport and we drive through
this bustling Upper Amazon Basin city to the Tambopata River boat dock.
Here we board a powerful motorized dugout canoe and set off to the
nearby confluence of the mighty Madre de Dios River, where we head
downstream for approximately three hours to the Peru-Bolivia border at
the mouth of the remote Heath River. Even beneath the vast sky of this
major Amazon tributary we glimpse the diversity of the riverine
environment, with its forest-capped red-earth cliffs, alternating with
low banks thick with Cecropia trees and giant grasses.
Now, after brief frontier-crossing formalities, we motor for about two
more hours up narrower and wilder waters, suddenly enjoying the intimacy
of mysterious forest looming close on either side. Occasional views of
native villages and children splashing by the banks, are interspersed
with long, quiet stretches where we may spot herons, hawks, cormorants,
Orinoco Geese, and perhaps a family of Capybaras -- the world’s largest
rodent, weighing up to 55kg./120lb, and looking like an enormous Guinea
Pig. We reach our simple, charming and comfortable quarters at the Heath
River Wildlife Center in time for dinner. (Box lunch,D)
(Please note that the lodge is located on the Bolivian shore of the
Heath River, so passports are required to clear Bolivian passport
DAY 2: HEATH RIVER WILDLIFE CENTER
Today we make an early start to visit the lodge’s most spectacular
feature: the Heath River parrot and macaw lick. Here these colorful
birds gather to eat a type of clay from the cliff-like river banks that
neutralizes certain toxins in their diet. They congregate early each
morning, sometimes by the hundreds, jostling and squabbling over the
best eating spots on the clay lick. This noisy and unforgettable show
can go on for two or three hours, and may begin with up to five species
of parrot and two varieties of parakeet, followed by Chestnut-fronted
Macaws and their larger, more boisterous cousins, the Red-and-green
Macaws. This extraordinary wildlife display occurs at only a handful of
sites in the Upper Amazon Basin, and nowhere else on the planet.
Our floating hide platform provides comfort and complete concealment, so
that we can eat a full breakfast here during pauses in the bankside
spectacle. For ultra-close-up viewing, our guides carry a tripod-mounted
spotting scope, which can also be used to get telephoto pictures with
even the simplest camera.
On our return we can land partway downriver and walk back along a
section of the lodge’s extensive network of forest trails. We encounter
numerous gigantic Brazil-nut, kapok and fig trees, along with the scary
strangler fig, whose life strategy is as sinister as its name suggests.
Our guide will point out and explain the medicinal and commercial uses
of dozens of plants and trees, while we keep our eyes and ears open for
birds, or one of the eight species of monkeys found in this region. We
might come upon a small herd of White-lipped or Collared peccary – two
kinds of wild pig that are quite common in this area. For purposes of
territorial marking they deploy a “stink gland” so potent that they are
often smelled long before they are seen.
After lunch we typically hike or bicycle along a major trail to a point
where the forest abruptly gives way to the spacious plains of the Pampas
del Heath, part of Bolivia’s Madidi National Park. This unique
environment -- the result of very poor soils, plus an extreme seasonal
cycle of dryness and flooding -- is the largest remaining undisturbed
tropical savannah in the Amazon, and is home to rare endemic birds and
mammals, such as the Swallow-tailed Hummingbird and the highly
endangered Maned Wolf. Shortly beyond the edge of the forest we can
climb a raised platform that allows us a grand view of this vast expanse
of grassland and shrub, studded with palm trees.
We can continue another hour or so to a swampy area thick with Mauritia
flexuosa palm trees, whose oil-rich palm nuts and hollowed-out dead
palms provide vitally important food and shelter for nesting pairs of
Red-bellied and increasingly rare Blue-and-yellow macaws. We aim to
arrive toward dusk, when the macaws are returning from their day’s
foraging to congregate in this very special breeding site.
We return to the lodge by night, using our flashlights, and perhaps
pausing here and there in total darkness, to listen to the ever-changing
orchestra of animals, frogs and insects, and to experience the magic of
the night-time rainforest. We may come upon such bizarre nocturnal
creatures as camouflaged frogs disguised as dead leaves, toads the size
of rabbits, hairy tarantulas peering out of their dirt holes, night
monkeys lurking among the tree branches, and a seemingly unpredictable
array of other nightlife.
After dinner some guests may choose to visit one of our mammal lick
hides, in hopes of seeing a Lowland Tapir, the rainforest’s largest
mammal. Hardy adventurers can choose to camp here with their guide, in
order to experience a full night in the heart of the rainforest and
increase their chances of a major wildlife sighting. (B, L, D)
DAY 3 : HEATH RIVER WILDLIFE CENTER TO SANDOVAL LAKE LODGE
We set off early for the Madre de Dios River and Lake Sandoval. This is
peak hour for wildlife so we keep a sharp eye on the riverbanks, often
spotting families of Capybara, and perhaps being rewarded with a rare
jaguar sighting, or a tapir swimming across the current.
Around mid-morning we reach the boat landing at the trailhead to Lake
Sandoval, a protected lake in the Tambopata Reserve. We walk the 3km/2
mile trail and travel by canoe down the narrow channel that leads us
onto the open waters of this beautiful lake. As our crew paddle us
across to the lodge (motors are prohibited here) we may see the lake’s
surface roil as a massive Paiche – an Amazon fish that can reach
100kg/220lbs – breaks the surface. Or perhaps we will hear the strange
and haunting calls, and see the heads bobbing above the lake’s surface,
that will signal our first acquaintance with Pteronura brasiliensis, the
Amazonian Giant Otter.
After lunch we can take a leisurely canoe tour along the forested
fringes of the eastern lake, spotting for herons and other water-birds,
flycatchers, raptors and some of the six monkey species found in the
area, with a good chance of seeing one of the glorious sunsets for which
the lake is renowned. When permitted, we may climb the park authority
lookout tower that marks the border of Sandoval’s restricted zone, for a
superb view of the entire lake. On still, clear nights the mirror
surface of the lake is nature’s planetarium, glittering with the
millions of stars of the brilliant southern sky. Before dinner we can
round off this full day with a short night walk, spotting for nocturnal
creatures along one of the trails near the lodge. (Box lunch, L ,D)
DAY 5: SANDOVAL LAKE LODGE
We rise early to tour the lake shore by canoe once more, in quest of new
wildlife sightings. Our viewpoint from the canoe often allows closer and
more extended encounters with birds and mammals than on a typical forest
trail hike, and we may witness intimate feeding and mating behavior. On
Lake Sandoval monkeys, in particular, have almost lost their fear of
We return to the lodge for breakfast and rest for a while, perhaps
enjoying the panoramic view from our high point on the lake shore,
before setting out to walk a special circuit where we investigate and
learn the uses of dozens of Amazonian medicinal plants. We will see
palmicho, the plant that supplies the roof-thatch material for our
lodges, Candlestick Ginger for anti-inflammatory medicine, the
historically important Chinchona, or Quinine tree, whose bark has saved
countless thousands from the throes of malaria, and numerous other vital
plants. This route includes both wild forest and a small botanical
garden dedicated to cultivation of some of these species.
After the mid-day heat subsides we canoe our way around the shore to the
western end of the lake, and encounter the flooded palm swamps where
macaws make their home and monkeys abound. As we make our way back to
the lodge later, it is getting dark and we can use our flashlights to
spot the brilliant red eyes of caimans and get close to them as they
lurk along the bushy shoreline with their snouts just above water. (B,
DAY 5 TRANSFER OUT
After early breakfast we leave near dawn and we take a final, shorter
paddle around the west end of the lake to try and glimpse the Giant
Otters before returning by motor canoe for the 35 minutes return trip to
the Puerto Maldonado Airport, taking advantage of valuable early morning
wildlife activity along the river. From here you fly to Cusco or Lima,
where your jungle adventure ends. (B)
Please note that the program may vary slightly so as to maximize your
wildlife sightings, depending on the reports of our researchers and
experienced naturalist guides based at the lodge.
END OF OUR SEVICES
|Click to Enlarge
Journey by the river
Macaw clay lick
Madre de Dios River
INCLUDES: All hotel and lodge accommodations based on double or single
occupancy. All scheduled land, lake and river transportation. All transfers. All
scheduled excursions with English-speaking guide services. All entrance fees.
Meals as specified in the itinerary. B=Breakfast; L=Lunch; D=Dinner.
NOT INCLUDED IN THE FEE
Tambopata National Reserve entrance fee. International or domestic airfares,
airport departure taxes or visa fees, excess baggage charges, additional nights
during the trip due to flight cancellations, alcoholic and non-alcoholic
beverages or bottled water, snacks, insurance of any kind, laundry, phone calls,
radio calls or messages, reconfirmation of international flights and items of
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