(Minimum 02 persons)
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.
|Duration||5 Days & 4 Nights|
|Airfares||Not included, available upon request|
|Accommodation||2 Nights in Heath River and 2 Nights in Sandoval Lake|
|Customizable||YES, feel free to ask for extra services|
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 control.)
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 humans.
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, L, D)
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
WOULD YOU LIKE TO BOOK THIS TOUR ? ASK FOR AVAILABILITY
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 personal nature.