Accessed from Puerto Maldonado in Southern Peru, three extraordinary, contiguous Amazon reserves - the great Tambopata National Reserve, Bahuaja Sonene National Park, and Madidi National Park, all lie along the Peru-Bolivia border. Taken together, these parks are two-thirds the size of Costa Rica and protect the most species-rich natural habitats in the world (January 1994 and March 2000 cover stories, National Geographic Magazine). No other area can offer you as much wildlife viewing as the greater Tambopata - Madidi region.
The Heath River running along the Peru-Bolivia border provides the fastest and easiest route to the uninhabited, un-hunted core of these parks, a vast 2.5-million-acre wilderness full of the five top predators of the Amazon... Jaguar, Giant Otter, Black Caiman, Harpy Eagle, and Anaconda. The un-hunted region of Manu (the other great Peruvian nature reserve) is only 750,000 acres and demands more money and time to visit.
The Heath River features the world's most accessible large macaw lick, which has registered up to 260 large macaws in one day, making it one of the five largest recorded macaw licks in the world. Though all five of these licks are spectacular, the Heath Lick is by far the most economical to visit, making it ideal for a short Amazon itinerary to combine with the Inca sites of Cusco and Machu Picchu. While the Macaw Clay Lick is active year-round, the best months are July through October.
Travelers enjoy warm pancakes and coffee while viewing the photogenic Heath Macaw Lick from a comfortable floating blind anchored only 100 feet away, a fraction of the distance from which one views the more remote clay licks in Tambopata. Finally, the rainforest on both sides of the Heath River is fully representative of the world's most biologically diverse habitat - the Amazon forest at the foot of the eastern slope of the Andes.
Sandoval Lake Lodge
Heath River Wildlife Center with Macaw Clay Lick