A morning flight takes you to the jungle town of Puerto Maldonado where you meet your guide and board motorized canoes. Admire the stunning virgin rainforest as you travel down the Madre de Dios River for approximately five hours to the Heath River, which forms the wilderness border between Peru and Bolivia. Arrive at the Heath River Wildlife Center where guests enjoy spacious double-occupancy bungalows with electric fans, private bathrooms, and hot showers. Your guide leads travelers on an afternoon walk in search of the hundreds of bird and mammal species that call this region home. This evening, explore the forest by flashlight, including a visit to a small mammal clay lick. Note that the lodge is located on the Bolivian side of the Heath River so passports are required to clear Bolivian passport control.
Rise early for a visit to the most photogenic macaw clay lick in the Amazon. Brightly-colored parrots and macaws arrive by the hundreds to feast on the clay. Enjoy breakfast on your specially-designed floating blind while admiring the emerald green and electric- lue parrots and the impressive red and green macaws.
When you return to the lodge, your guide leads you on a cultural trek through the forest, pointing out which 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, hike through the rainforest to the Pampas del Heath, the largest remaining undisturbed savanna in the Amazon. This grassland plain is home to such endemic species as the maned wolf and marsh deer. The contrast is striking as you emerge from the mature rainforest onto the grassland plains of the Pampas.
Return to the macaw lick for a final look at these magnificent birds before heading back up the Madre de Dios River. Families of capybaras, giant three-toed relatives of the guinea pig, are often spotted on the banks of the river. Time allowing, you might visit the Ese Eja native community of Sonene, where you can observe the women villagers making local handicrafts and then continue onwards to Sandoval Lake Lodge, located on the banks of one of the most beautiful lakes in the Amazon.
Take a short walk along a wide, flat trail to the lakeside where you board catamarans to cross the lake in the golden afternoon light. Drift through the flooded palm forest and listen to the babbling of red-bellied macaws overhead as they roost in treetops. Arrive at the lodge as the sun is setting over the lake and walk up the torch-lit path to dinner.
After an early breakfast, explore the western end of the lake by catamaran or canoe. You might see giant otters that live on the lake, 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 leads a hike through the forest, pointing out plants with medicinal uses, interesting insects, and colorful birds and butterflies. Following lunch and a short siesta, 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 the forest on the other side of the lake. After dinner, take flashlights in search of black caiman foraging in the night. Floating in the middle of the lake, the brilliant stars light up the sky as the night sounds of the rainforest surround you.
Enjoy an early breakfast before returning to Puerto Maldonado for the flight back to Lima and connecting flights home.
$415 single supplement