Deep in the Amazon, where Bolivia, Peru and Brazil meet, Madidi National Park is one of the largest protected areas in the world and among the most bio-diverse places on the planet. Madidi Park is a Mecca for botanists, birdwatchers and travelers looking for an authentic Amazon experience. The park is home to more than 1000 types of birds and an estimated 12,000 plant species, as well as many endangered and endemic species. Madidi’s wildlife includes jaguars, Andean condors, freshwater dolphins, and the recently discovered titi monkey, which is believed to be endemic to Madidi.
Biologists and researches from around the world travel to Madidi to search for new species and study plants and animals that are found nowhere else.
For most travelers, the best way to experience Madidi Park is in one of the isolated eco lodges that dot the banks of the Tuichi River. These eco lodges, which can only be reached by boat, provide varying levels of simple but comfortable accommodation deep in the jungle.
Guests drift down the river by day, explore the rainforest at night, or spend time with the indigenous communities that live in isolated villages in the rainforest.
Chalalan Eco lodge, which is operated and managed by the indigenous community of San Jose de Uchupiamonas, was the first eco lodge in Madidi National Park. The ecolodge opened in the late 1990s with support from several international organizations including Conservation International and the Inter-American Development Bank. Today, Chalalan Ecolodge is internationally recognized as a model for sustainable, community-based tourism. The lodge offers rustic luxury accommodation, fresh, local food, and first-rate service in the heart of Madidi National Park.
Getting to Madidi National Park
Rurrenabaque, Bolivia, a smallish town on the Bení River, is the gateway to Madidi National Park.
Rurrenabaque is served by daily flights from La Paz and can be reached by bus from La Paz, Triniadad, Santa Cruz and other cities. From Rurre, visitors can catch boats to the ecolodges upriver or join organized trekking expeditions and jungle tours.
From Rurrenabaque, travelers can also arrange trips to the pampas, Bolivia’s savannah lowlands that stretch east toward Brazil. Like Madidi, the pampas offer isolated ecolodges and immersive experiences for travelers.
Though the pampas region does not contain the diversity of wildlife that Madidi is famous for, its lack of high flora make spotting wildlife much easier. Travelers to the pampas frequently spot freshwater dolphins, capybara, anaconda, jaguar, and hundreds of species of exotic birds.
Our Favorite Things To Do in Madidi National Park:
- Hike through the jungle on a multiday trekking expedition
- Spot a brightly colored macaw, guacamayos, or one of the 1,000 other species of birds
- Learn how local communities gather local plants for medicine, diet or rituals
- Explore the jungle after dark with a nighttime rainforest hike
- Swim with a pink dolphin, and spot capybara or jaguar on the riverbanks