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As a frenchman residing in Santiago, Chile, I have many possibilities to discover the Bolivian National Parks.

Here are some good ideas at really low prices compared to neighboring Brazil and Peru.

 

1- Madidi National Park.

This is the masterpiece of the hug he Amboro - Manu corridor.

It was created thanks to the support of the WCS. On the Northern side of the frontier, in Peru, is the Bahuaja Sonene and Tampobata reserve. Both places are well known and luxury lodges operate in the Tambopata reserve.

Madidi is really wild. It streches from the icy peaks of the Chaupi Orco to the lowlands of the Heath pampas. It encompasses a really diverse set of habitat: andes and altiplano steppe, paramo grasslands, yunga cloud forests, amazonian forest, opened grasslands. Some few species present in the park: andean deers, spectacles bears, condors, ocelots, jaguars, amazonian and andean puma sub-species, white lipped and collared peccaries, brazilian tapirs, giant otters, blue throated, red and green and blue and yellow macaws, bush dog, giant ant-eaters, spider monkey, lerochi monkey.

I have travelled twice in Madidi and have seen so many animals, including puma, jaguar, and the really rare giant otters. The biomass is really high along the Tuichi river. Some studies determined that the jaguar density is even higher in Alto Madidi than in Pantanal...

 

Only the community land of the indigenous village of San Jose de Uchipiamonas developed tourism. Many lodge operate there while Alto Madidi

 

I stayed twice in the Berraco del Madidi ecocamp (80 dollars per day all included), which the wildest part of the park of easy access to tourists. Density of animals are amazingly high in this primary forest area, with huge groups of white lipped peccaries. The presence of a salt lick is a major asset for this place. It is the most pristine part of the park, with undisturbed wildlife populations.

http://www.berracodelmadidi.com

Another good place to stay is Chalalan ecolodge, owned by the indigenous community of San José.

 

I'll make a trip report as soon as posible.

 

2- Yacuma river in Beni

 

It is an amazing birding destination, especially during the dry season, when all the birds and migrants gather along the banks of the small yacuma river. Lots of swamps around the river where you can find anacondas and aquatic birds such as jabiru, storks, etc..

The trips are organized by boat on the river to see the fauna. During the dry season it's thousands of spectacled caimans and capybara that can be observed on the banks, the biomass is just outstanding. There are some squirrel, howler and brown capuchin monkeys. Can also be seen night monkey.

The star of the trip are the pink dolfins really playful. They start to migrate down to the Mamoré river during the dry season but still are easily seen throughout the year.

 

The best ecolodge to discover the "pampas" is Balatours. Another good place to stay is Mashaquipe ecolodge. Both have tours at 80 dollars per person. I have been twice to the pampas with bala tours and have seen: tens of howler and brown capuchin monkeys, squirrel monkey night monkey at the ecolodge, porcupine, southern tamandua, two giant ant-eaters, brazilian rhea, blue and yellow macaws, tens of pink dolfins, thousands of caimans and capybaras, agoutis, monitor lizard, coati... I have seen tapir footprints but local say they are really hard to see.

An amazing place to combine with Madidi. A paradise for birders.

 

 

3- Barba Azul Nature reserve

 

Set to protect the last breeding place of the re-discovered blue throated macaw in the heart of the Beni grasslands, the fundación Armonia is currently working on extending the size of the reserve, monitoring the macaws and working on research. While organized as a research ecological station, tourist are really welcomed. Access is really hard during rainy season. Aircraft has to be hired to avoid long, exhausting road transfer from Trinidad, only feasible during dry season.

 

The blue throated macaw was first thought to be extinct before Charles Munn from the WCS rediscovered it.

 

I am planning to visit this amazing place in the following years. Scientists say it is one of the best places to see maned wolf. Big specimens of black caiman are still there too.

 

4- Amboro National Park:

 

I have been to los Volcanes lodge in october and had a mitigated impression. While the place is just amazing - breathtaking landscapes - I did not see many birds due to the drought.

It is the highest biodiversity place in Bolivia for insects and birds. It is really endangered by the narco-trafficants and its Northern boundary. Amazing turn forest close to Samaipata that I really enjoyed. The tropical part is not really interesting compared to Madidi.

 

5- Kaa Iya National Park:

 

A small new agency called Nickadventure offers tour to the Chaco from Santa Cruz. They have been really successful for showing jaguars during dry season (from june to october), as well as brazilian tapirs. I will definitely visit the place in the following years. Accommodation is now really bad, we have to camp under 45 degrees which could be a problem for may people. Safaris are done along the gas pipeline between Paraguay and Bolivia. Animals gather around the last pounds during dry season.

Here is Nickadventures link:

http://www.nicksadventuresbolivia.com

 

6 - Noel Kempff National Park

 

Another out of the beaten track protected area. Some few operators go there. Nickadventures will soon offer fixed departures by aircraft as road access is definitely unpredictable. I now looks more as a adventure destination, with expensive aircraft, it will soon become an amazing destination.

Tourists stay at an ecological research station. Trips by boat on the river and by foot in the jungle. Giant otters almost guaranteed.

 

I will try to visit this place in the next 5 years.

 

 

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@ jeremie

 

Thank you for this valuable resource. I live in the United States and haven't seen much information on ecotourism specific to Bolivia. We spent a week at the Tambopata reserve in Peru in September/October (I'm tardy on my trip report), so I'd be especially curious to explore Madidi and see how it compares.

 

Are visits to Berraco del Madidi organized out of La Paz or is it necessary for one to travel independently to Rurrenabaque?

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Posted (edited)

@ Alexander33

 

I know there are many travel agencies in la Paz offering trips to Rurrenabaque.

I am not sure most of them offer trips in the best lodges as Madidi is today more a backpacker destination compared to Tambopata and Manu neighboring reserves.

 

Madidi Travel runs a lodge north to Rurrenabaque, in a small patch of land called Serere reserve surrounded by communities along the Beni river. They have an office in la Paz in Calle Linares, at one block from Sagarnaga street, in the core of the witches market.

 

Berraco del Madidi, Chalalan ecolodge, Mashaquipe and Bala Tours do not have any office in la Paz as far as I know.

 

However, it is really easy to travel to Rurrenabaque. By a flight ticket to Rurrenabaque on Amaszonas company. You must present yr credit card at the counter for travel insurances purposes (still don't understand).

From Rurrenabaque airfiled, take the small bus to Rurrenabaque center or a taxi directly to the office of your local agency.

The local agencies can help you for recommending and booking hotels in Rurrenabaque, and they can send you on demand taxi at the airport.

 

I will give further explanations about Madidi del Berraco in a future trip report. As they have been working in long adventure trips in the core of the national park, they are really flexible and can offer you basic camping trips in the jungle.

We have focused our trip on jaguars in september and have been camping close to small streams to increase our chances to see jaguars. It is really important to get to strategic places such as Ya Ya Po stream if you really want to see jaguars, and Berraco has always been really successful about it.

 

Please note the majority of the agencies operate in the buffer area that are secondary forests. As a consequence less animals are visible than in Chalalan and Berraco specific areas. In Berraco you can see in less than 2 hours different groups of brown capuchin, howler and squirrel monkeys as well as huge groups of white lipped pecaries.

 

Always use a green certificate agency (have a look on the Rurrenabaque website) to reduce your carbon footprint.

 

I highly recommend Berraco del Madidi, Pedro, Leopoldo and Gilder are just amazing guides. The few pictures you generally see in books were taken while guiding profesional photographic expeditions. If you choose Berraco just tell them I recommended them.

Berraco operates a tenting camp in the deep primary forest.

Private tents are mounted on wooden platforms and protected by a typical palm thatch roof. Matresses are really confortable and we really enjoyed staying in tents as it more fresher than usual accommodation. The camp was made with local wood thanks to dead trunks blocked in the river after the rainy season (no footprint). Each camp area is independent allowing privacy.

Another good point about it is that we can hear all the sounds of the jungle during night: armadillos and night monkey in particular. Waking up with the toucans is something just exquisite.

Clean bathrooms are shared between the 3 private tents. They do not have hot water but it really does not matter in the jungle.

The camp is a couple of hundred meters form the Tuichi river so there are really few insects and mosquitoes annoying.

 

http://www.berracodelmadidi.com

 

This is Chalalan ecolodge community owned website:

http://www.nicksadventuresbolivia.com

 

Here is Rurrenabque touristic website but for one reason it does nor work right now:

http://rurrenabaque.com.bo

 

Hope this will helps some members, develop tourism in Madidi and enhance tourism conservation. San Jose of Uchipiamonas people made the choice of conservation while huge mining and hydroelectric and forestry plans are still jeopardizing this amazing National Park.

Edited by jeremie
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@ jeremie

 

This is great information to have. Thanks so much for taking the time and effort to bring attention to what Bolivia has to offer. I will definitely look into it.

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Does anyone know about Sadiri Lodge in Madidi? I think it's fairly new, but I'm not seeing very much information about it, so I wonder if it's still open for business.

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@@jeremie thanks for posting these very useful links.

 

I have wondered about the quality of wildlife sightings in Bolivia compared to the Pantanal in Brazil, after all the Pantanal almost backs onto Bolivia so it makes sense that similar species are well represented.

 

I have filed away a link to this post for future reference.

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Thanks so much for the helpful links, @@jeremie, which I hope to put to use some day! Gracias!

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Does anyone know about Sadiri Lodge in Madidi? I think it's fairly new, but I'm not seeing very much information about it, so I wonder if it's still open for business.

 

@@Livetowander Sadiri Lodge is still opened and is a place visited by BirdsBolivia as well as Barba Azul reserve.

If any one is interested in Barba Azul please send me a mail to give you the contacts of the scientists working there.

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Good to know as it's been on my list for a while. Thanks!

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Jeremie,

 

as you know the situation in Bolivia, how do you estimate the crime there?

 

We always have plans to visit Bolivia as self driver, if possible with a camping car. But always we hear about so much crime so we didn't dare to go there.

 

Beate

 

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@ReiseBeate

Where I have traveled I never had any problem. I sometimes wonder why some countries have a bad reputation. I know Cochamba suffers from coca plantations and coca factories but I have never heard of tourists been bothered there. If Pantanal is out of the beaten tracks so there is very little reports, I have never heard of tourists getting problems there, as an area where there are many narcotraficants.

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My guide has just spotted one jaguar during an hour and a half in the pampas. It was laying on the banks of the Yacuma river. Spotted from a boat at 5 meters from the jaguar. I am so happy to receive the news. If people from the surroundings accept the jaguar, the pampas del Yacuma might be a terrific touristic in the future!!!

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good to see that you have those leads

 

I just raise this as I have a problem .

 

All of Bolivia is at high altitude, so I assume that you have been to areas which are at high altitude and do not have a problem

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@@jeremie

 

Cool that you mention this! I'm actually thinking of going to Kaa Iya with Nick's Adventures Bolivia next summer (maybe Aug) for Jaguar, Puma, Tapir, Chaco Peccary, small cats (Geoffroy's, Pampas, Jaguarundi reported), Armadillos, Conover's Tuco Tuco and whatever else I can find. If you go before then, let me know how you do!!

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Posted (edited)

@@Anomalure

That's sounds great!!!! I will first go to Pantanal, but KINP is something I would really like to do!

San Miguelito sounds really nice too, Nick has amazing pictures from this place, if jaguars densities recorded by WCS are higher than in KINP, they are only recorded on camera trap and this might be better like this as ranchers around the estancia continue to kill them.

https://www.facebook.com/521048917937536/photos/pcb.974470902595333/974469585928798/?type=3&theater

 

https://www.facebook.com/521048917937536/photos/pcb.979758018733288/979756912066732/?type=3&theater

 

He will try to launch and expedition to Noel Kempff National park too, to do so they need to use an aircraft from Santa Cruz or more probably Trinidad. It seems really easy to see giant otters, delphins and much more there. Landscapes are amazing too.

 

@@COSMIC RHINO

Really sorry for the delay I did not see your message before. Actually the lowlands of Bolivia stretch upon two thirds of the territory. It is true the majority of the tourists arrive at la Paz at altitude sickness is a real problem for many of them. I personally do not have any problem at 4000 meters high but it can be really hard for some people.

You could check flights to Santa Cruz de la Sierra, which is actually the biggest city of Bolivia. It is also the economic capital of Bolivia and is located in the lowlands, in the South of the country. There might be different flights to reach Rurrenabaque to get to Madidi or to the pampas.

Edited by jeremie

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you are lucky and adapted

 

I hyperventilate from around 10,000 feet and even start to feel uneasy if I try to walk quickly at 5,500 feet

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you are lucky and adapted

 

I hyperventilate from around 10,000 feet and even start to feel uneasy if I try to walk quickly at 5,500 feet

 

~ @@COSMIC RHINO

 

Have you been trekking or mountain climbing at such lofty altitudes?

I haven't done so in about four decades.

I'm sorry that your breathing is affected at higher elevations.

Tom K.

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1984 trip included a walk up the lower peak of mt kenya

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1984 trip included a walk up the lower peak of mt kenya

 

~ @@COSMIC RHINO

 

Ah, I see.

I admire your willingness to do so.

Where I work and live, weekend ‘outings’ invariably involve a strenuous segment of ‘mountain climbing’.

The severe pollution here is such that heavy breathing while heading upward is detrimental to respiratory health.

The views of surrounding landscape are minimal, due to intense particulate air pollution, hence unattractive.

Therefore I decline invitations for mountain walking.

Tom K.

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it was the only affordable tour of Africa on offer , other than the overland truck tour of nthn Tanzania which had a mt Kilimanjaro climb in it

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mt Kenya and Kilimanjaro are promoted in brochure as no technical skills or ropes required , ok for anyone with reasonable fitness and health who has done a bit of prior training.

 

well you wait to you get there to find out that this is not the case , your guides talk about altitude sickness and how it is you can either cope or not, no prior training changes this , and no prior medical test can predict it.

 

I was very unimpressed when the head guide and another guest who was a trainee doctor made jokes about pulmonary and ceberal odema around the camp fire at night

 

well mountain gorillas are at that hight so they are too off limits

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Last news from Nick from Nickadeventures in Bolivia:

 

https://www.facebook.com/521048917937536/photos/pcb.1066406320068457/1066404413401981/?type=3

 

Last weeks trip to the San Miguelito Jagaur Reserve with a group of the worlds leading Jagaur specialists from Panthera and other organizations.

Sadly just after this group left we discovered a pair of Jaguars which we had been following by camera traps were shot and killed by a neighbouring Cattle Ranch.

This set back has only made us more determined to develop this Eco Tourism project and help convince Cattle Farmers that Jagaurs and other wildlife are worth more alive than just skins on their cattle farms walls which sadly is the current reality.

Ways to help is to visit this amazing private Reserve, this helps the Rancher cover costs from Jaguar predation and also convinces locals that Jagaurs are worth more alive than dead !!

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/521048917937536/photos/pcb.1063050593737363/1063050480404041/?type=3

 

Today we heard very sad news that 2 more magnificient Jaguars, an old Male and Female were killed in Bolivia due to cattle conflicts

émoticône frown

Unknown to most is the fact that thousands of Cats around the world including Lions, Tigers, Leopards, Snow Leopards, Pumas and Jaguars are intentionally shot , trapped or hunted by farmers whom are protecting lifestock.

If we the consumers dont demand for predator friendly farms/meat then we are all equally to blame for the future extinctions of these species.

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Sobering news indeed. Thanks for the update.

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Thank you for sharing the challenges of preserving jaguars in Bolivia and a few things we can do, whether visiting the area or not.

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