Heath River Wildlife Centre is a 20-bed lodge located about 6 hours by boat from Puerto Maldonado on the east bank of the secluded Heath River. This river marks the remote Amazon-region border between Peru and Bolivia. The lodge is actually on the Bolivian bank and the spectacular macaw clay lick is on the opposite Peruvian bank. The lodge also borders two radically different ecosystems of rainforest and lowland savannah. Heath River runs through the heart of the Tambopata- Madidi reserve areas of Peru and Bolivia, a vast and largely inaccessible wilderness totalling more than 13,700 sq. kms. It is best known for the large clay lick nearby, but offers general wildlife and nature tours.
A 10 minute boat ride from the lodge brings you a comfortable floating hide just 30m from the lick, where you witness one of nature’s most spectacular displays – a tumultuous gathering of brightly-coloured macaws and parrots. Visitors have seen up to 260 macaws there at one time, which makes it one of the top 5 of the world's 100 known licks. Red-and-green macaws predominate, joined by smaller chestnut-fronted macaws. They visit the clay lick throughout the year, with numbers peaking from July to September.
There are walking trails allowing you access to the rainforest to view the variued flora and fauna, the latter including 6 monkey species and some 480 spcies of birds. Tapirs are regularly seen in and around the river and nearby lake and at the mammal clay licks which are sometimes visited at night, as well as capybaras by the river and giant river otters at a nearby oxbow lake. The viewing platform built into a huge tree, reached by climbing a steel and cable ladder, gives you an amazing view over the jungle canopy. Another special feature of Heath River Wildlife Centre is the proximity to the only lowland pampas accessible from Peru. This is a different ecosystem and a place where large blue-and-yellow macaws go to roost each evening.
The lodge consists of 10 bungalows built in the style of, and using the same materials as, the local indigenous communitiess, sustainably harvested or brought in from distant areas. Each bungalow has good quality foam mattresses and all beds have cotton sheets and blankets. All rooms are screened with insect netting and beds are furnished with individual mosquito nets. Every bungalow has a private bathroom with a flush toilet and hot shower. Electricity is porivded for a few set hours a day.
Communal areas are housed in the main building. Food is good home fare and uses a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, grains and meats in the menu, and there's a comfy lounge-cum-bar where you can relax when not out eploring, chatting to other guests and enjoying views of the forest through the large windows. There are chargning points in the main building for cameras and batteries.
A stay at Heath River Wildlife Centre can be combined with a stay at Sandoval Lake Lodge.
Open: Open all year.
Location: The lodge is on the east bank of the secluded Heath River on the border between Peru and Bolivia in the Tambopata-Madidi region.
Rooms: Guests are accommodated in 10 double or triple cabins with en-suite bathrooms with flush toilets and hot showers. The cabins have screened windows and mosquito nets.
Activities: Visit the floating hide to watch macaws and parrots, take guided walks through varied scenery and habitats including forest trails and walks to the open grasslands of the pampas, observe wildlife at the clay licks. Guests can also take canoe trips on the lake and boat trips on the river. The lodge has a double viewing platform, for viewing birds, monkeys and scenery. There are also nocturnal excursions and walks.
Facilities: The lodge has a spacious, high-ceilinged main area incorporating the dining room, lounge and bar. The main lodge has electricity for a few hours each day and it is possible to charge camera batteries, but there is no electricity in the cabins which are equipped with candles for lighting.
Dining: Meals are taken in the dining room, sitting at individual tables.
Children: Children of all ages are welcome.
Health: We recommend visitors take malaria prophylactics. You will also need a valid Yellow Fever certificate.
Communication: There is no mobile coverage, phone or internet access . The lodge communicates with Puerto Maldonado by radio.
Cusco and Machu Picchu plus the Peruvian Amazon. History, culture and nature.
This rainforest lodge on the border of Peru and Bolivia is owned by Peruvian tour operator, InkaNatura, and run by the Ese'eja Indians of Sonene. Since this is such a remote lodge, they are very careful with energy usage, and have strict waste policies. The employment provided by the lodge has been very welcome, and member of the local community have been trained as naturalist guides. The Ese-eja community also benefits from profits made by the lodge and from the sale of brazil nut plantation on the lodge grounds.
"An amazing experience. We arrived at dusk after travelling 5 hours up river, taken to our bungalow lit by candle light. we were very well looked after by the firendly staff, we even had to ask for portion sizes to be reduced."