The Bolivian Amazon is in the far north-east of the country bordering Brazil. The rainforest is filled with rich vegetation and wildlife, contains areas of savanna and swamp as well as jungle, and is home to many indigenous peoples. Many large rivers flow from the mountains and eventually empty into the Amazon River, and trips generally include both river cruises and walking trails.
The Amazon has several national parks. These include Madidi in the west which spans the Andes and the Amazon and has a range of habitats including wide flood plains, tropical forest, cloudforest and mountains. Given this diversity it’s little surprise that the park supports an equally broad range of animal and bird life, with some 700 and 850 plus species respectively. You can expect to see capybara, caiman, tapir, several types of monkey and, if lucky, jaguar. Toucans, parrots and macaws are among the many birds. There are 6 different tribal groups here, and spending time in a local community is definitely a highlight of a visit to Madidi.
Over in the east, Noell Kempff National Park, named after a prominent Bolivian biologist, is a spectacular mix of rainforests, rivers, plateaus, cliffs and waterfalls. This unspoilt wilderness of 16,000 square metres is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is believed to have over 4,000 plant species including many orchids. Among the mammals you can hope to see are the long-legged maned wolf, pampas deer and tapir. Pink river dolphin, caiman and alligator are found in the rivers. Ornithologists won’t be disappointed as some 620 species of birds have been recorded here.
Manuripi Wildlife Reserve, situated between the Manuripi and Madre de Dios rivers, is one of the few places in Bolivia where you can see pumas and jaguars in the wild. The reserve was created in 1973 to protect the humid tropical forest and its inhabitants, which include large numbers of amphibians, reptiles, fish and birds as well as mammals. Another attraction within the reserve is Lago Bay, formed by the Manuripi River. This is a restful spot where you can watch tapir, caiman, birds and fish.
There are 2 seasons: rainy (summer), from October to April, and dry (winter) from May to September. The Amazon is best visited in the dry season, despite the weather being cooler, as walking trails are drier and less slippery, more wildlife can be seen by the rivers and there are fewer mosquitos. Of course you do have to bear in mind that in a rainforest it rains in the dry season too! In the rainy season it is not unknown for visits to be disrupted due to heavy rainfalls.
A community owned and run lodge in the heart of Madidi National Park, offering guided walks and canoe trips in the Amazon.
La Isla de los Tucanes is a quiet stopover enroute to or from the Amazon, with an outdoor pool, pleasant gardens and homely guest cottages.
Time: Bolivia GMT -4 hours
approximately 21.5 hours (no direct flights from the UK)
Language: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara
Visas – not required for British nationals for stays of up to 90 days
Yellow Fever vaccine should be given to travellers 9 months of age and upwards if travelling to areas below 2,300m east of the Andes Mountains. These areas include the whole departments of Beni, Pando and Santa Cruz, and parts of the Chuquisaca, Cochabamba, La Paz and Tarija departments. No other vaccinations are compulsory.