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Overlook the river in a comfortable hammock

Heath River Jungle and Savanna

Example 4 Day Tour
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As loud as they are beautiful
Highlights
  • Hike to the plains of the Pampas of Heath
  • Search for the rare and endangered black caiman
  • Visit a parrot and macaw clay lick along the river
Places Visited
Activity Level: Easy Active
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Arrive at Heath River Wildlife Center

Staff will welcome you at the airport in Puerto Maldonado and drive you through the city to the boat dock on the Tambopata River. Here, board a motorized canoe and head towards the nearby confluence of the mighty Madre de Dios River to the mouth of the Heath River, which is the natural border of Peru and Bolivia. In the haven of this important Amazonian tributary we have a vision of the diversity of the riverside environment; cliffs of red earth with outreaching forest are interspersed with thick banks of Cercopia trees and couch grass. After brief formalities at border crossings, take the boat through the narrow waters for a couple of hours, enjoying the intimacy of the mysterious forest on both sides. Occasional sightings of native children splashing along the banks are interspersed with long, silent stretches where we can locate herons, hawks, cormorants, geese, orinoco, and perhaps a family of capybaras, which is the world's largest rodent and can weigh up to 55Kg. After this interesting trip, arrive at your simple, but comfortable accommodation at the Heath River Wildlife Center, just in time for dinner.

Day 2: Clay Lick | Pampas of Heath

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Begin the day very early to visit the most spectacular attraction of this area: the parrot and macaw clay lick along the river. Here these colorful birds gather to eat the clay in the cliffs on the riverbanks to neutralize certain toxins in their daily diet (poisonous berries and hallucinogenic plants). Sometimes they congregate in the hundreds, pushing and squabbling over the best place to eat. This noisy and unforgettable show can go on for two or three hours, and can collect varieties of parrots, parakeets, chestnut fronted macaws and their larger cousins, the red and green macaw. This extraordinary display occurs in only a handful of places in the Upper Amazon Basin. A floating platform will provide you with comfort and is completely hidden, so here you will enjoy a full breakfast during the show.

During the journey back down the river, walk along a section of extensive jungle trails. Here you can find huge Chestnut, Kapok and fig trees, along with the dark strangler fig whose strategy of life is as sinister as its name implies. Your guide will point out and explain the medicinal use and trade of dozens of plants and trees, while keeping eyes and ears open for birds or one of the eight species of monkeys found in this region. You could even run into a small herd of the two species of wild pigs that are common in this area. In order to mark their territory they use scent glands so powerful that they can be smelled long before being seen.

After lunch, hike along the trail leading to the point where the forest abruptly gives way to the vast plains of the Pampas of Heath. This unique land is a result of poor soil and extreme climatic cycles of droughts and floods. It is the largest intact tropical savanna in the Amazon and the habitat of endemic birds and mammals such as the fork-tailed hummingbird and the manned wolf. Just beyond the edge of the forest you can climb to an elevated platform that allows for a great view of this vast expanse of grasslands and shrubs, dotted with palm trees. The palm tree Mauritia Flexuosa produces nuts rich in palm oil and dry hollow stems that provide vital food and shelter for nesting pairs of red bellied macaws and the rare blue and yellow macaws. Aim to arrive around sunset, when the parrots are returning from their daily search for food to gather in this place. Return to the lodge at night using headlamps and flashlights, and perhaps stopping here and there in total darkness to listen to the ever-changing sounds of frogs, insects, and other animals; the magic of the jungle at night. You may run into frogs the size of small rabbits, homes of hairy tarantulas or night monkeys hanging from the trees; there is a huge and unpredictable collection of nocturnal creatures in the night. After dinner some guests may choose to visit the lick of mammals, with the hope of seeing the Lowland Tapir, the largest mammal in the jungle.

Day 3: Activities at Heath River

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
On your second full day at at the lodge you may choose from a wide range of activities available in this diverse and unique tropical environment. Many people choose to make a second visit to the macaw clay lick or spend more time on the trails. Later you can take a canoe tour around the Cocha Guacamayo, an oxbow lake that is home of a family of giant otters. The lake is located inside the Bahuaja Sonene National Park, a short distance by boat from the lodge. Return by boat after dusk looking for caimans, a crocodile cousin that lives in the Amazon. This region is home to the black caiman, which is endangered, and almost always distinguishable along the river’s edge with its glowing orange eyes.

Day 4: Depart for Home

  • 1 Breakfast
Leave at dawn for the return journey downstream. This is the peak of wildlife activity, so keep a sharp eye on the banks of the river where you may see families of capybaras, and perhaps be rewarded with a rare glimpse of a jaguar or tapir swimming through the stream. Return to Peru via the Madre de Dios River and head upstream to Puerto Maldonado, where you will be transferred to the airport for flights to Cusco or Lima.

**Please note all itineraries may vary slightly to maximize wildlife viewing. This will depend on the reports of researchers and experienced naturalist guides. Please note that the Heath Lodge is located on the Bolivian side of the Heath River so passports will be required to pass the Bolivian control of documents.

Photo Gallery

Overlook the river in a comfortable hammock As loud as they are beautiful The hoatzin bird Just hangin around Heath River Wildlife Center Friendly butterfly greets a traveler in Ecuador A "walking" tree -- yes, it WALKS!  See its legs? Black Caiman in the Amazon

Map

Accommodations

Heath River Wildlife Center

Double Accomodations
Lodge Restaurant
Heath River Wildlife Center

Dates & Prices

Deals

Flexible Departure Policy
For new bookings made from March 30, 2020, forward pay 2020 prices for 2021 departures, with the flexibility to change travel dates free of charge through December 2021. Some restrictions may apply. Contact us for more details.
Applies to all departures up to Dec 31, 2021

Per person starting at
$938

Notes

Select a Date
Included
  • 3 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 3 Dinners
  • 3 Nights Accommodations
  • Park Entrance Fee
  • Rubber boots are provided by your Amazon lodge. There are size limits for the following lodges in the Amazon.

    Hacienda Concepcion: Sizes 32-45
    Reserva Amazonica: Sizes 32-46
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Professional, bilingual guide service as listed
  • Excursions and activities as listed
Excluded
  • Meals not Included
  • Bolivia Visa Fee
  • International Flights
  • Bolivia Visa - Must be obtained prior to trip.
  • Internal Flights - Lima - Puerto Maldonado - Lima
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time

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Kate was great to work with in the planning stage. She was prompt, helpful, and efficient. Our tour guide, Edwin, was knowledgeable and passionate. We were very happy to have traveled with Adventure Life, it made the trip easy and a true pleasure. We could concentrate on enjoying the experience rather than the details of travel.
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