Chalalan Eco Lodge
Chalalán Ecolodge is a joint ecotourism initiative of the rainforest community of San José de Uchupiamonas and Conservation International (CI) in Madidi National Park in Bolivia. Created in 1995 by a visionary group of San José villagers, the ecolodge provides employment opportunities through nature-based tourism, a much-needed economic alternative to logging. Now, through a large research project that took two and a half years, scientists confirmed that Madidi is the world's protected area with the greatest biodiversity. The researchers added 1,382 species of animals and plants to the park's registration list and 124 other species are new candidates for further investigation.
DAY 1: LA PAZ-RURRENABAQUE
Reception at the airport and transfer to hotel in Rurrenabaque. Free afternoon to visit the colourful town at the edge of the Beni River. Overnight at hotel in Rurrenabaque.
DAY 2: RURRENABAQUE-CHALALAN-MADIDI NATIONAL PARK
After an early morning breakfast, we head up the Beni River in a dugout canoe passing through the spectacular "Cañon del Bala" (Bala George). 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 will take 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 take a sunset canoe ride around the lake and enjoy the afternoon activities of Chalalan's resident wildlife.
DAY 3: CHALALAN- MADIDI NATIONAL PARK
After breakfast, we will take an early morning trek through natural rainforest and gallery forest on our way to the Rayamayo and Eslabon Rivers. If we are alert, we may observe macaws, guans, brown capuchin and yellow squirrel monkeys and also black spider-monkeys, or with more luck cross herds of white-lipped peccary or tapirs. Our local guides will share their knowledge of plants, natural history, and wildlife behaviour on our 5-hour trek. Box lunch. We return to the lodge in early afternoon, stopping off at the "Mirador", which offers spectacular views of Chalalan Lake and the mountain ridges of Madidi National Park
DAY 4: CHALALAN-RURRENABAQUE-LA PAZ
After breakfast, we will walk to the Tuichi River where we board the boat to return to Rurrenabaque. The return trip is fast; it will take about three hours. Transfer to Rurrenabaque airport and flight to La Paz.
CI's goal at the outset of the Chalalán project was to create a viable ecotourism lodge that was wholly owned and operated by local managers and staff. To accomplish this, CI trained villagers in a broad range of activities, including marketing and management, house keeping, food preparation and how to guide tours. In February 2001, the community received full ownership of the lodge from CI. Today, 74 families receive regular direct economic benefits from employment and management of the ecolodge. They also receive indirect benefits from the sale of crafts that are made in a sustainable matter.
Chalalán ecolodge allows villagers to benefit economically from living in harmony with the forest in many ways. In addition to lodge management, for instance, villagers work in sustainable agriculture, handicraft activities and sell non-timber forest products. During their visit to Chalalán Ecolodge, ecotourists will have the opportunity to discover Madidi National Park through the eyes of the San José de Uchupiamonas community. An experience worthwhile.
Chalalán Ecolodge can accommodate 24 ecotourists in traditional Amazon-style "cabañas" (cabins) made from rain forest materials harvested in a sustainable manner. The ecolodge has four bathrooms and four shower facilities. Running water is supplied by a solar-powered plumbing system. There is a dinning room with capacity for 24 people and a library stocked with field guides and reference materials on biodiversity and its interpretation. The professional kitchen with a water-purification system is run by women from the community who cook traditional meals for visitors. A fully stocked bar is available for the tourists staying at Chalalán.
Twenty-five kilometers of trails within Madidi National Park traverse the different forest habitats that surround the ecolodge. Canoes are available for the guests, and two motorized boats with capacity for 12 passengers each are used for transportation from Rurrenabaque to the ecolodge. Handcraft items are sold by the local community members.
2020 Price per person: US$625 per person double occupancy.
Transfer IN/OUT at Reyes or Rurrenabaque Airport
Entrance fee to Madidi National Park
Overnight at hotel in Rurrenabaque
Full board at Chalalan Ecolodge
Meals at hotel in Rurrenabaque
Air Tkts La Paz/Rurrenabaque/La Paz (currently US$240 per person, subject to change)
Guided nature hikes
Local guides give expert interpretation as ecotourists traverse the varied forest habitats of Madidi National Park. There are over 25 Km of trails to choose from, where visitors will learn about medicinal, fruit and exotic plants, as well as a recently discovered archaeological site in the area. Hikes can be done during the day or at night.
Over 340 bird species live in the vicinity. Expert guides easily identify their songs and calls.
Ecotourism may have a glimpse of some of the wildlife that inhabits the area, such as monkeys, tapirs, capybaras, alligators and wild pigs, to name a few.
Ecotourists can enjoy canoe trips on Chalalán Lake at dusk when the birds and troops of monkeys are actively preparing for the night.
Swimming and relaxing
After a day of hiking, a refreshing dip in Chalalán Lake is always welcomed, or simply relax in a hammock while listening to the sounds of the forest.
Location & Access
Chalalán Ecolodge is located in Madidi National Park, Bolivia's Amazon reserve. The park spans 4.5 million acres from the snow-peaked Andes Mountains to the Western Amazon basin. With its species richness and diverse ecosystems, Madidi is one of the world's highest conservation priorities. Chalalán is accessible by short flight from La Paz to Rurrenabaque, where the rivers Tuichi and Beni converge. From "Rurre" a 6-hour boat trip up river takes you to Chalalán Ecolodge, where ecotourists will catch a glimpse of the wildlife from this area.