Package Nature

Heath River Wildlife Center

  • 4 days / 3 nigths
  • Tambopata

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 the remote Heath River, the wild rainforest frontier

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 four 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.

Meal Plan: Lunch and Dinner

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 specially-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.

Meal Plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

We breakfast in the floating blind at the macaw and parrot clay lick for a last round of looks and photos. Then we return to the lodge to explore some trails.

After lunch we could visit the Ese'Eja native community of Sonene, where there will be an opportunity to interact with the community and purchase local handicrafts or explore the trails.

After dinner we'll explore the forest by flashlight, including a visit to a small mammal clay lick if it is active.

Meal Plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Early morning departure to Puerto Maldonado. 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. If time permits If time permits we will also Upon arrival, reception and transfer to the airport for the flight back to Cusco or Lima.

Meal Plan: Breakfast

Important Notes:

All macaw and parrot licks in southern Peru are less active in May, June and early July than in other months.

All rainforest itineraries may vary slightly so as to maximize wildlife sightings, depending on the reports of our researchers and experienced naturalist guides.

Price Information

We can customize this journey and add tours or destinations according to your expectations for an absolute once in a lifetime experience.

Hotel Category

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Ask for our best deals according to the number of people in your party and the hotel category of your preference.

Pre-Departure Information - Heath River Wildlife Center

Only 5-6 hours by river from P. Maldonado, the Center is the best-located lodge in the world's largest pristine rainforest. Within easy reach are an excellent macaw clay lick, Capybaras (120-pound Guinea Pigs), oxbow lakes with Giant Otters, 480 bird species, and 6 monkey species. Furthermore, we feature healthy populations of Tapirs and Jaguars.

Heath River Wildlife Center offers the world's only large macaw clay lick reachable in less than a half a day from a jetport. Visitors have seen up to 260 macaws there at one time, making it one of the top 5 of the world's 100 known licks. Travelers view this spectacle from a roomy blind floating only 100 ft (30 m) away. A trail grid with mapped fruiting trees allow our guides to take you straight to the wildlife. At the end of one trail, the rainforest suddenly melts away, offering a startling, open vista reminiscent of East Africa--the only lowland pampas accessible from Peru. Downriver is the Ese'Eja Indian village of Sonene, where you can learn about tribal traditions and life in the rainforest. Everyone in Sonene speaks their native language, with Spanish reserved for school and for trading handicrafts with outsiders, including you.

The Heath's unique combination of comfort, macaw lick, pristine forest, unique pampas, and traditional culture offers what we believe is the Amazon's finest all-around value for money. 

Weather Conditions

Rainfall in the Tambopata and Heath River area is around 2500 to 3500 millimeters per year, with most rainfall occurring in the rainy season months from November to April. The average temperature in the National Reserve is 28° C (82° F), with daily highs of 34° C (94° F) and nightly lows of 22° C (72° F). During the dry season cold fronts from the South Atlantic (friajes) occur every month or so, with daily temperatures dropping as low as 16° C (59° F) and nightly temperatures to 13° C (55° F).

How To Get There

A daily commercial flights from Lima (2 hours) and Cusco (30 minutes) brings you to Puerto Maldonado, a bustling frontier town and the gateway to the Tambopata National Reserve. Here one of our resident naturalist guides will meet you as you leave the airport arrivals area, and will remain with you until you return to the airport to board your flight back to Cusco or Lima.

HRWC has a 15-minute bus transfer from the airport to the Tambopata River port, and then take a motorized canoe for 2 hours down the Madre de Dios River and 2 two up the Heath River to the lodge. (Returning trip to Puerto Maldonado may take 45 additional minutes). Boats are equipped with a 65 HP engine, a roof to protect from the sun and the rain, cushioned seats, and carry a spare motor in the unlikely event that the principal engine breaks down.

About The Lodge

Heath River Wildlife Center is constructed almost entirely of ecologically-harvested "driftwood" mahogany trees collected from the floods that naturally carry logs downriver out of Manu National Park. The Lodge consists in a large screened main dining room/lounge and 10 double ( or triple) bungalows with private bathrooms with hot shower and toilets.

Main room area has electricity and the rest are supplemented by kerosene lamps and candles. Camcorders can be recharged from our generator, but please note that guests may need to bring a special adaptor to plug into the generator.

What To Bring

Good binoculars and cameras (electricity available for recharging)

Two or three pairs of lightweight, long trousers

Two or three long-sleeved, lightweight shirts

Three or four T-shirts

One or two pairs of shorts (mostly for around the lodge)

Lightweight sweater or jacket

WARM coat for May-Sept cold front (10-15 degrees above freezing)

Raingear, telescoping small umbrella (put in check-in luggage)

Three or four pairs of absorbent socks

One pair of sneakers and/or light hiking boots

Sandals for around the lodge (Teva type or similar)

Small day pack for excursions,

Water bottle for hikes

Ziplock-type plastic bags to protect optics or other gear

Insect repellent (>20% DEET product, consider pre-trip Permethrin application to trousers, socks to prevent chiggers and ticks).

Two flashlights bright enough for use on night walks

Hat for sun protection (that stays on during windy boat rides)

Sunglasses, high SFP sunscreen lotion, sunblock for lips

Personal toiletries and medications (hand carry medications when you are in transit to and from lodge)

Passport, and a photocopy of your passport (always good to have)

Cash (Euros, US$, or Peruvian Soles) for bar bills, tips, etc

Please note: Guests should arrive in clothes which they do not mind getting slightly dirty or wet, and should wear footwear that is suitable to walk on a rain forest trail. Sun cream, insect repellent, hat and waterproof clothing should be carried in hand luggage and kept accessible for the journey to the lodge.

It's not necessary to bring all of your luggage with you to Heath River Wildlife Center. You will enjoy your trip more if only the essentials are brought. WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU PREPARE YOUR DAY PACK A DAY BEFORE YOUR TRIP. YOUR MAIN BAGGAGE CAN BE LEFT IN STORE ROOM AT HEATH RIVER WILDLIFE CENTER OFFICE IN PUERTO MALDONADO.

Important: Though HRWC has never heard of anyone contracting yellow fever anywhere in Peru or neighboring countries HRWC nevertheless recommends a current yellow fever vaccination for those who will visit any of rainforest lodges, and that they consult their physician.

Additional information : This vaccination, which is valid for 10 years, must be administered AT LEAST 10 days before the guest's arrival in Peru. HRWC has a basic first aid kit which also includes anti-venom. The lodge is equipped with a short-wave radio and is in contact with its Cusco office every morning and evening.


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