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Bolivia: The Bolivian Amazon

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Land-locked and sitting in the heart of the South American continent, a third of Bolivia lies within the Amazon basin. A tight blanket of tropical rainforest stifles valleys and rugged foothills, a whopping 1,000km from the river itself, and utterly remote from the country’s centres of population and economic activity. The biodiversity is intense, and much of the jungle remains intact, although increasingly under threat from loggers, farmers and developers as elsewhere in Amazonia. The extraordinary Madidi National Park embraces a swathe of rainforest heaving with exotic foliage and wildlife.

Remote, yes: nevertheless, the region has witnessed transformational economic upheavals: historically, the rubber boom and then the cocaine trade impacted on the landscape. Nowadays however, ecotourism is offering conservationists a lifeline. Far-flung, scantily populated and rarely visited, this is the authentic South America of the romantic imagination, a region for true adventurers.

The principal point of entry - just an hour’s spectacular flight over the snow-drenched Andes from La Paz - is quaint Rurrenabaque, a folksy riverside port with a grid of streets lined with low wooden houses, dwarf palms, mango trees and flowery bowers. A promenade runs along the river banks by the fish market, a popular place for sunset walks. Jungle lodges are few and far between and only accessible by boat: the watery journey is stunning.

Our holidays to The Bolivian Amazon

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Market life in Bolivia

Signature Bolivia: The final frontier

Private journey

14 days from £3,854pp

Our insider tips for The Bolivian Amazon


Stuart Whittington

Explore the astonishing Madidi National Park, a protected area of diverse landscapes and ecosystems, ranging from 500-5,500m in altitude, from the Andes down to the rainforest. Flora and fauna here lives undisturbed: the staggering statistics (over 700 species of mammal, more than 1,100 of bird, 5,000 of flowering plants) are only surpassed by the thrill of spotting a jaguar or anaconda.


Isabelle Mazille

Get up early, at dawn, to enjoy the symphonic dawn chorus of birds, backed by the thunderous growl of howler monkeys, on the shores of Lake Chalalán, Madidi.  

Ben Line

Ben Line

Cool down with a sunset beer at a pavement bar in the ramshackle but nevertheless attractive riverside town of Rurrenabaque. This lively frontier-feel town prospered from the rubber, timber and Brazil nut booms but is now an excellent base for visitors to the nearby rainforest and indian reserves.


Natalie Paiva

Head out wildlife-spotting on the banks of River Yacuma in the Pampas de Yacuma: Bolivia’s answer to the Brazilian Pantanal. Cattle ranches share the savannah grasslands, swamps and lagoons with a riotous wildlife: over-flown by toucans and macaws, black caimans laze on the beaches, while roseate spoonbills and giant storks paddle in waters where pink freshwater dolphins play.

What our experts say

The Bolivian Amazon region is still mostly only visited by backpackers, so few and remote are the lodges accepting visitors. But this is not a bad thing: it is still pretty much undisturbed as you venture further in, with an excellent chance of spotting wildlife on guided explorations. Bolivia has won awards for its conservation efforts here and Rurrenabaque and the Madidi national park have been nominated third in a list of the best 52 places to visit in the world by the New York Times.  

Claire Milner

Claire Milner

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