Trips Talks Books Actions Resources

Bolivia: Andes-Amazon

Archaeologists generally agree that the civilization that spawned Tihuanaco rose around 600 BC. Whether it was or not, Tihuanaco was certainly a great ceremonial center. At its height it was a city of possibly 20,000 inhabitants, encompassing approximately 1.6 square miles (2.6 Km2). This civilization might have disappeared due to long periods of geological droughts that affected South America some 2,000 years ago. Later on, their knowledge and science were inherited by the Inca Empire, Although only a very small percentage of the original site has been excavated, Tihuanaco does include the most imposing megalithic architecture of pre-Inca in South America.

Lake Titicaca is unique in that it is the highest navigable lake in the world (over 12,500 feet / 3,750 meters). The clean, clear air often allows one to see for more than 100 miles. You will enjoy horizons adorned by blue skies, gorgeous clouds and some of the highest snow peaks in Bolivia. This is a perfect location for photography.

A dozen of those snow peaks visible belong to the Cordillera Real including Illimani, Huayna Potosi, Illampu and Ancohuma, with heights of more than 20,000 feet / 12,500 meters above sea level. Near these mountains and the lake, indigenous peoples still inhabit the area preserving their cultures and traditions that have been maintained for more than 4,000 years.

Madidi National Park was created in 1995, in the northwest of Bolivia. It protects a full array of ecosystems, from the high Andes to the Amazon basin, a vast wilderness of 4,500,000 acres, that encompasses unparalleled biological diversity, ranging from cloud forest to dry tropical forest, humid lowland rainforest to savannah, wild rivers to lakes. This park is home to more than 1000 species of birds, 44% of all New World species of mammals and an estimated 38% of neo-tropical amphibians. It is also a critical global hotspot for endemic plants. Our clients will get to visit the heart of Madidi National Park, where the Tuichi River is located, with a nal destination of the Chalalan Lake and Ecolodge. The scenery in this region has been shaped by ancient geological and glacial processes resulting in spectacular landscapes.

One of the many communities we support as operators support, is the village of San Jose de Uchupiamonas, a Quechua-Tacana ethnic group. This community owns and runs the Chalalan Ecolodge. The Ecolodge has been built using the philosophy of minimum impact, using local materials and traditional techniques. The design also includes the treatment of all waste waters and the use of solar energy.

The San Jose community hopes that by participating in responsible tourism, it can be successful in the preservation of thousands of hectares of pristine rainforest that belong to them and were inherited from their ancestors. Therefore, their operations were developed under standards that respect local culture, traditions and the amazing natural surroundings.


Day 1: Arrival in La Paz. Welcome at El Alto airport; transfer to your hotel. In the afternoon city tours.

Day 2: La Paz - Tihuanaco - Copacabana. Morning departure to the Tihuanaco ruins. Then we depart to Copacabana. During the drive we will be able to see the magnificent, Lake Titicaca. At the half way point, we will take a ferry the Strait of Tiquina. We will reach Copacabana in three hours, Hotel registration and walking tour of Copacabana to visit the cathedral, main plaza and "Horca del Inca".

Day 3: Copacabana - Isla del Sol. In the morning we will walk to Yampupata for 4 to 5 hours and then take a bout to the Island of the Sun. Accommodation at a local hotel and in the afternoon we will venture out to look at the sun setting over the beautiful lake and island.

Day 4: Copacabana - La Paz. After breakfast we will take a bout to Copacabana. After lunch we return to La Paz. Transfer to the hotel.

Day 5: La Paz - Rurrenabaque. Transfer from the hotel to the airport. Flight to Rurrenabaque. Transfer to the hotel, where we have lunch. Free afternoon to explore this colorful town on the bank of the Beni River.

Day 6: Rurrenabaque - Chalalan - Madidi National Park. After an early breakfast, we travel up the Beni River in a dugout canoe, passing through the spectacular Can del Bala (Bala Gorge). The wild and scenic Tuichi River is our gateway to Madidi National Park, and our access to the Chalalan Ecolodge, our well-designed and comfortable accommodation. The river trip to Chalalan takes about 5 hours followed by an easy 30-minute hike from the river’s edge to the lodge, which is nestled in the rainforest on the shores of Chalalan Lake. After checking in, guests will have the opportunity to explore several short forest trails, including a stop off at the "Mirador" (lookout), which offers spectacular views of Chalalan Lake and some of the mountain ranges in the area.
After dinner, an optional night walk or canoe trip on the lake to look for wildlife such as caiman, frogs and nocturnal birds.

Day 7: Chalalan - Madidi National Park. After breakfast, we will take an early morning trek through the forest. If we are alert, we may observe macaws, guans, and a variety of other birds, as well as brown capuchin and squirrel monkeys, or with more luck cross herds of white-lipped peccary or tapirs. Our local guides will share their extensive knowledge of plants (including their traditional medicinal uses), natural history, and animal behavior. After lunch at the lodge and a relaxing afternoon (a swim in the lake is recommended), we can walk another of Chalalans trails, to observe some of the amazing variety of birds found in the area. After dinner, learn about the San Jose community, its history, stories and traditions.

Day 8: Chalalan - Madidi National Park. Today we will go on the longest of our hikes, passing through primary rainforest and gallery forest on our way to the Rayamayo and Eslabon Rivers. On this 5-hour trip, we explore some of the rainforest further from the lodge, and hence with luck, we can see howler and spider monkeys, and a variety of other wildlife, as well as learn more about the ecology of the forest. Boxed lunch. Return to Chalalan in the afternoon. Participate in, and learn about, the making of traditional Tacana handicrafts, for example chonta seed rings. Dinner tonight is "dumoquavi", a traditional dish (river catsh wrapped in leaves), a delicious feast and a great way to spend your last evening in Chalalan!

Day 9: Chalalan - Rurrenabaque - La Paz. After an early breakfast, we walk to the Tuichi River, where we board the boat to return to Rurrenabaque. The return trip (down-river) is fast; it takes only about three hours. Transfer to Rurrenabaque airport and ight to La Paz. Transfer to your hotel.

Day 10: La Paz. Transfer to the international airport.