MADIDI NATIONAL PARK
The National Park and integrated management area is in the northeast of the Province of La Paz. It covers an area of 1,895,750 hectares and was created in 1995 to protect the flora and fauna endemic to the region. It is located in the region of greatest biological richness in Bolivia. Its conservation is supported not only at the continental level but globally as well since it constitutes one of the most extraordinary natural reserves of genetic resources on the planet. This park has a varied climate with cold in the mountainous ridges to warm in the lowlands, it is within the areas of Puna (high Andean plateau), the humid forest of Yungas and the Madeira rainforest. It is estimated that there are 5000 to 6000 species of plants, 156 species of mammals and 1100 species of birds.
SAN MIGUEL DEL BALA
Pick-up from the hotel (or airport by minibus) in Rurrenabaque and a short walk to the boat that waits at the shore of the Beni River. From here you will take the 40 minute voyage along the river through the rainforest to San Miguel del Bala Eco-Lodge. Welcome and lodging in local style huts (just more comfortable) featuring a private bathroom and lights. Hike through the rainforest with the local guide, who teaches about the Tacanas’ traditional hunting techniques. Taking the traps set along the path, as point of departure, he tells you about hunting for jaguar, monkey, deer, tapir, and wild boar for their meat or for their fur. All this talking about food gives a good appetite for lunch, which is prepared with local ingredients following traditional recipes.
A short siesta gives energy for the afternoon program, which starts with a short walk to the San Miguel community. Here daily village life is experienced, and your skilled guide tells you about Tacana crops, building techniques, local traditions and customs, religion, and handicrafts. The highlight of the visit is the preparation of sugar cane to juice in the manual sugar cane press. Once you know about this long and laborious process, which is the first step in sugar elaboration, it will never again be the same to sweeten your coffee.
With the strength to return to the Eco-Lodge on foot long gone, the boat is ready to take you there. “Home” again, a well-prepared dinner is enjoyed. If you have energy for more, the guide is easily persuaded to tell the stories of the village and the rain forest until bedtime.
The day starts with breakfast with a view over the rain forest and the river. With filled bellies, the tour goes by boat a bit further up the river, where a challenging walk along a stream starts.
Taking it slowly (which is easily done since the surroundings are so stunningly beautiful) everyone can do the 1,000 meters walk and reach a natural pool fed by refreshing water from a beautiful waterfall. Here it is time to take a swim and let the power from the waterfall massage your back and feet. We then return to the Eco-Lodge on foot and by boat. Here a delicious and much needed lunch awaits followed by a well deserved rest in the hammock.
Maybe the guide must act as an alarm clock as many other adventures are waiting. This time the tour goes through an area with a lot of different medicinal plants – the “pharmacy of San Miguel”. The guide tells you about local understanding of various diseases and not least about how almost all diseases can be cured with herbal medicines found in the forest and a good relationship with Mother Earth (or Pachamama).
Filled with happy memories the tour ends going back by boat to Rurrenabaque in the late afternoon.
The tour includes: Airfare La Paz-Rurrenabaque- La Paz (optional by bus), 1 night accommodation, full board on the tour, transfer in Rurrenabaque, native guide who speaks Spanish.
The tour does not include: Entrance ticket to Madidi Park (10 $ us), airport taxes, drinks, English translator.
* It is also possible to have a programme of 1 Day, 3D/2N, 4D/3N.