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Travel Guide to Chalalan, Bolivia’s Amazon jungle lodge in Madidi National Park

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River view, Rurrenabaque, Chalalan, Madidi, Bolivia

The journey started with a short, 30-minute and spectacular flight from La Paz (sit on the left), up and over the Bolivian Andes before dropping down into the steamy Amazon at Rurrenbaque airport.

A tiny airport increased the special feeling that accompanies visiting a remote area.

My backside did not feel so special after the 5-hour journey upstream, which started among dramatic hills and plantations and ended in thick rainforest.

Chalalan Eco-Lodge was our secluded base – complete with lake – from where we had the chance to see some of the Amazon’s most wonderful wildlife.

 

Chalalan eco lodge Madidi Bolivia

Chalalan Eco Lodge

 

Wildlife in the Bolivian Amazon

The day’s rhythm was dictated by the weather and animal activity.

Invariably, we were up and out before or around sunrise (6am) and then relaxing and snoozing (like the wildlife) during the hottest time of day (11am-3pm).

As the afternoon cooled, we would set off on one of the many trails around the lodge. There is a great canopy tower offering a wonderful panoramic view with the forest’s symphony as a soundtrack – we saw macaws glide by and a sloth gently climbing a nearby tree.

Evenings and night walks offered an excellent chance to see insects, frogs and moths. One night we took to the lake, while silently gliding along and spotting caiman.

tree frog-chalalan-bolivia

Tree frog

 

A trip to the clay lick was a highlight, too (weather permitting). We watched dozens of macaws and parrots congregate to eat clay and seemingly chat, a marvellous spectacle.

With more than 1,000 species of birds and almost half of all neo-tropical mammals and amphibians call Madidi home – you are guaranteed to see plenty.

When there were no animals around, our excellent guide would often stop to explain how the locals used fauna for all sorts of ailments, constructions and tools.

hoatzin-chalalan-bolivia

Hoatzin

 

Around the Jungle Lodge accommodation

The lodge itself is staffed by members from the local Quetchua-Tacana community living in nearby San José.

We were in a very comfortable double room with private ensuite bathroom and mosquito nets, and all sheets and towels provided. There was no warm water (not needed in the heat).

Some of our favourite moments were sitting in the hammock and watching our resident bats waking up as the sun set, catching the mosquitoes which circled around, slurping on a cold beer.

Chalalan takes a lot of effort to get to, but it’s worth it.

drinking-beer-chalalan-bolivia

Cold beer time!

Check our other Amazon adventures here.

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