Sandoval Lake Lodge

The combination tour of the Macaw Clay Lick & Sandoval Lake Lodge is a fantastic experience in the Tambopata Amazon Rainforest of southern Peru. Enjoy the giant river otters, caiman, hoatzin, lake birds, and monkeys of Sandoval Lake and one of the largest macaw licks in Tambopata at the Heath River Wildlife Center.

The Sandoval Lake Lodge is nestled on the lakeside of one of Amazonia’s most beautiful and wildlife rich lakes inside Tambopata National Reserve. Because of its position, you can explore the Sandoval Lake early in the morning to see several different feeding monkeys like capuchins, squirrel monkeys, and howler monkeys. We will then explore the lake in catamaran to find different lake birds like hoatzins, toucans, herons, and more, and then the resident giant river otters and caiman. Your guide will talk about the animals, the region, and spot a wide diversity of Amazon Rainforest animals.

Giant River Otters, Sandoval Lake Lodge, Iquitos, Peru

Although Sandoval Lake Lodge has a nearby stand of palm forest, which large red bellied macaws love and has led to very high flocks congregating near the lodge to feed and nest in the tree holes, the area lacks nearby clay licks. Clay licks are great places to see animals, as macaws come to feed from the medicinal and nutrient rich clay. To see the clay licks and enjoy fantastic sights of different macaw parrots visiting to feed, you can enjoy the combination tour with Heath River Wildlife Center for a floating hide to observe one of the largest macaw clay licks in the Amazon. The floating blind helps visitors get close to the lick for great photographs without disturbing the birds.

On this tour, you will enjoy three nights at the Heath River Wildlife Center and two nights at the Sandoval Lake Lodge. The Heath River Wildlife Center not only offers a rainforest experience to explore the Amazon with your professional naturalist guide, but also a way to experience the savannah of the Pampas del Heath. This environment offers a contrasting habitat to the rainforest where you can find different wildlife, such as the rarely sighted maned wolves.

You will be met at the Puerto Maldonado airport then taken to the Heath River Wildlife Center, the only lodge on the Heath River, where opportunities to see larger and rarer wildlife increases compared to the Amazon lodges closer in. Even on the trip downriver, you will enjoy seeing various birds like Orinoco geese, cormorants, hawks, and mammals like capybara, a very large guinea-pig-like animal.

Heath River Peru - Macaws

While at Heath River Wildlife Center, you will first enjoy the bright and colorful display of the macaw clay lick. The clay lick usually sees five different types of parrots, two different parakeet species, then chestnut fronted macaws and red and green macaws. The parrots visit the lick to detoficy fruits and seeds they have eaten in the forest and to obtain much needed salts.

In addition to the macaw clay lick, we can also visit the tapir clay lick where you can choose to camp for a good opportunity to chance a sighting of South America’s largest land mammal. Seeing a tapir is well worth the wait as nothing on the planet resembles these strange horse-like creatures.

The Pampas del Heath is on the Bolivian side of the river in the Madidi National Park where the poor soils and extreme weather changes creates a fascinating environment. The tropical savannah sees rare endemic birds and mammals, including swallow-tailed hummingbirds and maned wolves. Enjoy an observation tower for views over the grassland and the palm tree studded shrubland. We can then explore the nearby palm tree swamp to find nesting pairs of red bellied macaws.

Explore the rainforest by night to see tarantulas, frogs and different insects, and even night monkeys, owls and various different night-active animals. We will also visit the waterways to find caiman lurking at the river’s edge.

You will enjoy the Heath River Wildlife Center’s extensive trail systems on guided rainforest walks to find various fascinating animals and plants, including different Amazon monkeys like capuchins, squirrel monkeys, howler monkeys, marmosets and tamarins.

Heath River Wildlife Center Jaguar, Puerto Maldonado, Peru

The following day we will head off to the Sandoval Lake Lodge to enjoy one of the Amazon Rainforest’s most attractive oxbow lakes. Oxbow lakes are arc shaped bodies of water where the river once flowed then changed direction leaving behind a curv shaped water body, which attracts a high amount of wildlife. At Sandoval this includes hoatzin, herons, arapaima fish, caiman and forest-dwelling species like squirrel monkeys, howler monkeys, capuchins, and sloths.

The main attraction of Sandoval Lake are the resident giant amazon river otters, which we will see playing, hunting, and feeding. Combined with the tapir and macaws of the Heath River Wildlife Center, this combination tour provides a great opportunity to see all three of these iconic Amazon animals. At Heath River Wildlife Center, you will also have a higher chance of seeing wild jaguar than in other Amazon areas.

The wildlife of both of these areas includes the 486 bird species seen from Heath River Wildlife Center and the 395 species seen around Sandoval Lake Lodge. Both the lodges offer around the same number of mammals at each lodge with 78 species seen around Heath River Wildlife Center and 74 species seen around Sandoval Lake Lodge. The mammals you will see will be different however, with a higher chance of seeing larger and rarer mammals at Heath River and a higher chance of giant river otters at Sandoval. Both of these lodges are home to diverse groups of monkeys, but you will probably see different species at each place. The combination of these two lodges in different areas of Tambopata, which focus on different wildlife spectacles, offers an incredible experience of the Amazon Rainforest you are sure to remember for a lifetime.

Ash - Author & Travel AdvisorAbout the Author: Ash Card is a frequent visitor to the Amazon and has a passion for helping visitors get the best experiences from tropical destinations. Ash is a contributor to both and writing about tropical destinations, rainforests and wildlife. Feel free to contact Ash for tour help in the Amazon. When not helping tourists with tours and info, Ash can be found salsa-ing the night away or posing near waterfalls.
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