On this tour you combine community tourism with seeing some of the wonderful wildlife in Madidi National Park.
Madidi is one of the most bio-diverse, wildlife-rich rainforest areas in the Amazon where the flora and fauna is astounding.
In combination with the neighbouring Tambopata-Candamo Reserve, in Peru, it is thought to be the most bio-diverse of all the South American national parks.
You stay at Chalalan eco-lodge, a community tourism project designed to benefit the whole community.
The lodge has created a sustainable economic activity while preserving the resources of Madidi National park, whose varied eco-systems we explore.
Our native guide leads us on trails around lakes and to streams, and on boat trips to clay licks and wetlands where wildlife forages and congregates.
You can see caiman, monkeys, sloths and more among the canopy. Read our wildlife guide for more.
As well as wildlife, your guide will explain the the use of plants in the lives of native people for sustenance, construction, art and medicine.
More than 1,000 species of birds and almost half of all neo-tropical mammals and amphibians call Madidi home.
Native guides show you around different habitats, from forested Andean foothills to wide rivers, marshes and savannahs.
Visit Quetchua-Tacana, who have lived in San José for more than 200 years, the only settlement within the park.
Huge swathes of pristine rainforest untouched by loggers.
The canoe trip from Rurrenabaque to Chalalan was fantastic. Seeing the wild boar and monkey tribes. The remoteness of Chalalan.
S. Young, Chalalan
On arrival in Rurrenabaque, your guide will meet you, and transfer you to the office, advising you of any changes in plan etc. They will drop you off at the airport at the end of the trip.
You can access Rurrenabaque via flights from La Paz, and we can organise these for you. You usually need to overnight in La Paz before flying to the Amazon as the flights are usually early in the morning, and we recommend overnighting in these cities on the way out, as Amazon flights can be disrupted in bad weather, especially during the rainy season.
Flight from La Paz to Rurrenabaque (06.15 or 08.20) and reception at the airport by one of our guides. They will transfer you to the office in Rurrenabaque, and the you continue the trip by motor boat to the lodge.
The trip will take 5 ½ hours, sailing the Beni and Tuichi rivers, passing through the Bala cañón (Bala George) by the Beni River. We eventually enter Madidi National Park via the Tuichi River.
Here you can appreciate and enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Amazon, and also you can observe animals near the river throughout the trip to Chalalan port.
From the port, we have to walk 25 minutes to the lake, where the cabins are located.
After an orientation walk, and lunch, we will have a short walk to a mirador (a look out). Your guide will explain to you about the natural environment around you, the traditional uses for materials and the sustainability of these natural resources.
Once at the mirador, you can see the beautiful Chalalan Lagoon and the extensive primary rainforest of Madidi National Park.
We return to the lodge by canoe, hoping to observe the squirrel monkey near the lake.
At night, and after dinner, we take a short walk on a trail for 1-2 hours to observe animals and listen to the sounds of the rainforest.
Note: A rep will meet you in La Paz, give you your tickets, reconfirm flight times etc, a day or two before your trip starts.
In the morning after breakfast, we take a guided walk (3-4 hours) on the Tapare trail, where you can observe animals such as squirrel monkeys, howler monkeys, spider monkeys and capuchin monkey.
There are many birds to see too – toucans, macaws, parrots, eagles and guans.
We return to the lodge for lunch, and in the afternoon, after a rest, we take another trail for another opportunity to see more wildlife and learn more about plants and animal behaviour.
We head back to the lodge, where we can take part in activities such as handicrafts, canoe rides on the lake, video presentations about the community and the Madidi National Park, and then dinner.
At night, we will take a canoe ride, paddling around the lake for 1 to 2 hours to observe the animals.
After breakfast, we set off on a five-hour walk by the Silbador, Huaso and Penena areas to reach a salt lick (Colpa), a special rainforest place. Here, animals gather to eat mineral salts.
The guide will explain to you why the animals gather here, the importance of the licks in the rainforest and the role it plays.
We return by boat to Chalalan port from where we have to walk to the lodge. This walk is long (up to 7 hours), but within capabilities and means we can see all Chalalan has to offer – the black spider Monkey, Howler Monkey, capuchin monkey, peccary, macaws, parrots.
We arrive at the lodge, and for those with energy – swim and relax in the lake.
After dinner, you can choose to take short walk on the trail, or canoeing in the lake, or relax.
After breakfast, we will have a walk by one of the trails to get to the Eslabon River.
This is a longer walk (6 hours in total), taking us deeper into the pristine rainforest. Again, we have great opportunities to see animals like the black spider monkey, tapir, deer, peccary etc.
We eat a box lunch at the Eslabon river, and, after a short rest, we return to the lodge by the same trail.
After arrival, we rest or swim in and enjoy the lake.
Tonight’s dinner will be typical food of the area, after which, we hop back into the canoes to look for wildlife and the eyes of the caimans in the water.
Tonight is also ‘Traditional’ night (Quechua – Tacana) where our guides will explain the customs, habits and rituals of the Uchupiamonas indigenous tribes, an activity in which you’ll also enjoy a local traditional drink, local music, and dance with the people of the community – San José de Uchupiamonas.
After breakfast, it’s a short walk to the river Tuíchi to take the boat back to Rurrenabaque (3 hours). At 11.30 you are at Rurrenabaque ready for your flight back to La Paz.
Note: The times can be changed as guests wish or because of the weather, flight delays, etc
Prices From $851 / £722 per person
Enquire about booking
All land transfers, river transfers by boat, all meals while in Madidi from lunch day 1 to breakfast on departure day, lodge shared accommodation, local English-speaking guide in Madidi.
Return flights from La Paz (we can book for these for you, approx USD 210), National Park entry fee (120 Bolivianos), insurance, personal items, alcoholic and soft drinks.
The lodge has been built using as many traditional methods as possible.
The walls are made from the Copa Palm (Iriartea Deltoidea) and covered with matting, the roofs are woven with Asaí palm leaves (Geonoma Deversa) and the floors made of fine hardwood.
Accommodation is traditional Tacana-style cabins with a total capacity for 30 people.
The cabins are surrounded by virgin forest which resonates with birdsong and the cries of howler monkeys, especially at dawn and dusk.
The Eco-lodge offers three types of accommodation:
Doubles: Cabins with double beds and private bathrooms (3 in total)
Twin/triples: Rooms with private bathroom (7 in total)
Twins: Cabins with shared bathroom facilities (4 in total).
All cabins are equipped with mosquito nets, bedside tables, wardrobes, comfortable armchairs, verandas, balconies and hammocks where you can relax and read.
Shared bathrooms – Unisex and are regularly cleaned without disturbing our guests. The bathrooms are either tiled or clad with stones for your comfort and as another elegant detail.
There is a large dining room which seats up to 40 people sitting either separately or in groups.
The dining room has a well-stocked bar where our guests can relax with an alcoholic beverage or a soft drink.
Local native guides come from the community and/or the area surrounding the lodge. Some specialist guides do come from other parts of Bolivia.
They speak English and will bring the rainforest and lake alive for you. Each has a speciality/interest as well as a broad overview of the forest.
The lodge itself is staffed by members from the local Quetchua-Tacana community living in San José.
Almost all dietary requirements can be catered for – please ask in advance.
The lodge’s dedicated kitchen staff serve up a mix of local dishes and international plates using food from the rainforest wherever possible.
This means a delight for the tastebuds as there are so many tasty treats growing around the lodge.
Breakfasts are usually early and there are fruit juices made from local plants, along with teas and locally-grown coffee. There are usually cakes, jams and a choice of eggs, toasts and cereals.
Lunch and dinner are usually three courses – a soup to start followed by a hearty main and then pudding.
Fish, chicken and beef all feature, and there is always a vegetarian option, too (almost all dietary requirements can be catered for). Side dishes include yams and potatoes and rice, plus more rainforest delicacies.
Pudding is often fruit or a cake made in the local style.
The Amazon is a suitable destination for most ages and fitness levels. The main challenges are the humidity, heat and getting in and out of small boats or canoes.
The Amazon is very hot between midday and early afternoon, so we rise early, between 06.00 and 07.00, to catch the animals at dawn when they are very active. Some trips require an earlier start. We leave the lodge early, go on an activity, and then relax when the sun is at its hottest.
As the day cools, we head off in the afternoon and in the evenings go on hikes or caiman spotting.
Evening meals are usually around 1930-2000, after which we relax at the lodge and listen to the sounds of the Amazon.
Land-locked Bolivia is a country of dramatic landscapes and fascinating native cultures and traditions.
The Altiplano or “High Plain”, averaging 3,800m, is its most populous region. The vast, luminous plateau is flanked to east and west by parallel Andean ranges.
La Paz, the world’s highest capital, lies in a deep canyon at the edge of the Altiplano, and at the foot of Illimani (6,400m). It is a striking city for its dramatic setting and its strong Indian character.
Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake. It was sacred to the Incas; according to legend, their founding emperor-gods rose from these waters to give birth to their empire. Just south of the lake stands the sacred pre-Inca site of Tiahuanaco.
On the south-western Altiplano are the Uyuni Salt Flats, the largest in the world. Here, the shimmering white salt pan and deep blue sky combine to create a truly magical spectacle.
The stunning Cordillera Real is a mountain range dominated by huge snow peaks, including Illimani and Illampu (6,380m). The Real divides the northern Altiplano from the tropical forests to the east. The Cordillera Real’s eastern slopes are characterized by the deep, sub-tropical Yungas gorges.
Further south, the tropical Chapare is the agricultural heart of Bolivia. East of this band of high forests and plantations lies Bolivia’s Oriente, a vast swathe of Amazonian jungle and savanna accounting for 2/3 of the country and featuring some of the last untouched wilderness on earth.
In the north-eastern Department of Beni, some 50% of the country’s mammals and birds reside. Below, and in no special order, we outline some of the top places to go and things to do.
Good kit is vital for every trip.
Book with Andean Trails and get 15% off Páramo’s fantastic ethical and high performance outdoor gear.
You can also read our blog about a day in the Amazon rainforest of Peru.
Detailed kit list
Please note: Guests should arrive in clothes which they do not mind getting slightly dirty or wet, and should wear footwear that is suitable to walk on a rainforest trail. Sun cream, insect repellent, hat and waterproof clothing should be carried in hand luggage and kept accessible for the journey to the lodge.
You may want to keep your binoculars and camera handy, too.
All bedding, toilet paper etc. is provided at the lodge (or camp, if camping).
Official name: Republic of Bolivia
Country population: 10,700,000
Capital city: Sucre (1.6 million)
Largest cities: Santa Cruz, La Paz, Cochabamba, El Alto, Sucre
Languages: Spanish (official), Quechua (official), Aymará (official)
Latitude/Longitude: 17º S, 65º W
Official currency: Boliviano
Major industries: Mining, gas, tin, textiles
Time zone: GMT-4
It is a condition of booking any of our holidays that you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover you for trip cancellation (by you), activities involved and destination. This cover should include repatriation costs, air ambulance and helicopter rescue.
We work with Travel Nomads, who offer insurance solutions to people in more than 140 countries across the world.
Should you decide not to purchase this insurance, you must provide us with details of your alternative insurance with or before your final payment.
Many of our tours travel through remote areas.
We believe our clients should be aware that the remoteness of some of our tours so very special could also cause certain problems.
Thus, whilst we endeavour to minimise the chances of anything unexpected happening, it has to be noted that no itinerary can or should be rigidly adhered to.
This is the very nature of adventure travel and we expect our clients to be prepared for delays and slight alterations in our programmed events.
Also, shared tours may include travellers from all over the world whose native language is not English.
Select an available date to view pricing and information for that particular trip.
2023 price, 5 days, shared cabin, per person
3 days: USD 567 per person
4 days: USD 768 per person
Single supplement applies
$851 / £722
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