The Heath River in Peru is a tributary of the Madre de Dios River in the southern portion of Peru’s Amazon Rainforest. The river runs between the Tambopata Reserve – Bahuaja Sonene National Park protected area and the Madidi National Park of Bolivia. This area represents a continuous tract of Amazon Rainforest despite having different names and is one of the largest protected sections of continuous tropical forest on the planet.
The Heath River is in the middle of this gigantic 3.5 million hectare area and provides a way to penetrate this incredibly biodiverse forest. Running along the border of Peru and Bolivia, a great lodge to visit this section of Amazon Rainforest is the fantastic Heath River Wildlife Center, the only Amazon lodge on the Heath River.
Starting from Puerto Maldonado in Peru, you can visit the Heath River Wildlife Center, which is actually located on the Bolivian side of the river, and enjoy fantastic iconic Amazon attractions. Here you can enjoy a large macaw clay lick from a floating hide that enables you to get close to the activity without disturbing the birds. The most common macaw species are the chestnut-fronted macaws and the more boisterous red and green macaws.
You will also visit a tapir lick to wait for this large South American land mammal, a sight seen by few others. Observe the tapir lick from a well positioned hide. To maximize your opportunities to see this fantastic animal, the more adventurous can choose to camp right here on the observation tower in the middle of the rainforest. Your guide will then wake you when these animals come to feed on the medicinal and salt-rich clays.
As you’re now in the middle of this gigantic protected area of Amazon Rainforest, the wildlife here is incredible. From Heath River Wildlife Center, you can enjoy many different trails which wind their way through the Amazon Rainforest. Enjoy guided walks in the surrounding rainforest to find several different Amazon Rainforest monkeys, including capuchins, tamarins, marmosets, squirrel monkeys, howler monkeys and spider monkeys, and a huge diversity of other rainforest life.
Because of the abundant clay licks in this Amazon section, which draws in mammals like large monkeys, capybara, peccary and others, the area improves your chances of spotting elusive jaguars sunning themselves beside the river.
Naturalists have found a much higher amount of rare wildlife living in this section of the rainforest compared to other areas of the Amazon. These include jaguar and spider monkeys but also different species of peccary.
In addition to exploring the rainforest by day, you will also head out on night walks with your naturalist guide to find a whole different assemblage of Amazon Rainforest wildlife. Enjoy various frogs, moths, and night-living mammals.
The Heath River is also home to different habitats, for example the transition from lowland rainforest to the lowland savanna of the Pampas del Heath. This is the largest remaining undisturbed tropical savannah in the Amazon. As we are the meeting point of two different habitat types, the diversity of animals and plants is very high. Camera traps placed at the Heath River Wildlife Center have recently captured images of rarely seen maned wolves living in the area, an elegant tall, slender, fox-like mammal with a reddish coat.
On boat trips along Heath River, enjoy many different bird sightings, such as hawks, cormorants, Orinoco Geese, and some mammals including capybaras at the side of the bank. Capybaras are the largest rodent species in the world, reaching around 55 kg./120 lb in weight, and resemble a giant guinea pig.
In addition to enjoying the Heath River and the Heath River Wildlife Center, you can combine this tour with Sandoval Lake Lodge to enjoy tours of the sparkling Lago Sandoval deep inside Tambopata National Reserve. Enjoy various monkeys and the lake’s resident family of giant river otters. You will then be transported to the Heath River Wildlife Center to complete your visit with tours to the macaw clay licks and visiting the platform for a great chance of observing tapir. This combination tour would mean you have one of the best chances in Amazonia of seeing all of the main iconic Amazon Rainforest animals.