Survival in the Madidi, immersion in Bolivian Amazonia

Trip description

The Amazon is a land of adventure, a territory of 7.3 million km2, crossing nine countries and home to the largest freshwater and biodiversity reserve on the planet. With 300 species of mammals, 1,000 species of birds, 2,000 species of fish, 60,000 plants, 2,500,000 insects... the natural treasures of our "lungs of the earth" are numerous.

From the Andes to the heart of the Amazon jungle, this trip takes us on a true return to the essentials, a dive into these virgin and mysterious lands.

We descend from the cumbre of the Andes at 4600m, by mountain bike by the death road, to Coroico. We will lose 100 meters of altitude and gain 1.6 degrees every 10 minutes. Green replaces gray, it is an explosion of colors, smells, oxygen.

We meet Vicky and Marcelo and discover their animal refuge, La Senda Verde. A true sanctuary for the preservation of Bolivian biodiversity.

We continue our descent towards the Amazon to Guanay, where we embark on a gold digger's pirogue to go down the river, crossing the Madidi and Pilón Lajas parks from one side to the other. The forest becomes thicker, the nature is virgin and intact. We will have descended more than 4000 meters from "La Cumbre", our starting point in the Cordillera.

In Rurrenabaque, our guide from the community of Mashaquipe, Madidi Park, takes us for 7 days of total immersion in the jungle. A course of survival in the Amazonian forest, where we learn how to listen to nature, from experts of the impenetrable jungle and its unusual animals.

In a few words:

Visit of the animal sanctuary, La Senda Verde

Descent by pirogue in Rurrenabaque, to meet howler monkeys, spider monkeys, tapir, pink dolphins, giant armadillos

Survival in Madidi Park, fishing, raft building, camp, with the Mashaquipe community.


We elaborated this trip in collaboration with local actors, committed to the protection of biodiversity and the conservation of natural and cultural heritage in the Bolivian Amazon, such as La Senda verde Animal refuge, the macaw sanctuary in Caquihuara, and the community of Mashaquipe.

This trip is in complete immersion, accompanied by local guides who are experts in their regions. We live at the rhythm of the populations and in respect of what surrounds us.

Discover the agency :
Terra Group

16 days

From : €2,215*

Day 1: El Alto Airport - La Paz

Day 2: La Paz - Coroico

Day 3: Coroico

Day 4: Coroico - Guanay

Day 5: Guanay - Kaka River

Day 6: Kaka River

Day 7: Kaka River- Rurrenabaque

Day 8: Rurrenabaque- Madidi Park

Day 9: Madidi Park

Day 10: Madidi Park

Day 11: Madidi Park

Day 12: Madidi Park

Day 13: Madidi Park

Day 14: Madidi Park- Rurrenabaque

Day 15: Rurrenabaque - El Alto Airport - La Paz

Day 16: La Paz - El Alto Airport

Day 1 : El Alto Airport - La Paz

La Paz. ©Patrice ALCARAS

Your driver will pick you up at the international airport of El Alto.

Today you will discover the most traditional side of the city, walking into the day-to-day life of the “paceños” (inhabitants of La Paz).

You will first enter the indoor market of the Plaza San Francisco (Mercado Lanza) where many workers have breakfast. You will then take the cable car going up to El Alto and enjoy an unexpected view over the city and the mountains that surround it. You will fly over different neighborhoods and the general cemetery, in which you will then enter to discover the Andean post-mortem traditions: here the families leave elaborated offerings on the graves. Walking from the cemetery down to the historical center you will walk through the traditions of clothing and traditional celebrations of the city.

In the Los Andes Street you will feel like carnival is coming. It is the tailor’s street and every shop is filed with colorful costumes and masks. You will end our tour in the Witches Market (“Mercado de las Brujas”) where the locals buy all the necessary artifacts for ceremonial offering to the Pachamama (Mother Earth): coca leaves and other medicinal plants, miniature figurines in sugar and lama fetuses.

You spend the night at the Anami Hotel.

Day 2 : La Paz - Coroico

Ville de La Paz. ©Patrice ALCARAS

We descend from our heights to the pre-tropical Yungas. We find there the heat and a green and luxuriant vegetation.

We start from La Paz and climb to almost 4,600 meters above sea level in La Cumbre. This is where the descent by mountain bike begins. From here we leave the Altiplano and enter the Amazon basin. From now on, we will lose 100 meters of altitude and gain 1.6 degrees every 10 minutes. We leave the llamas, the snow, the rock, to reach Yolossa, water, mangoes, coffee, parrots, monkeys, at 1,200 meters of altitude. The green replaces the grey, it is an explosion of colors, smells, oxygen.

This road is the only one that links the Andean capital to the producers of Amazonia, in case of social conflict, blocking it with a few trucks means stopping the transport of goods (meat, citrus fruits, coca, coffee) to the capital. The control of this route is essential.

You spend the night at the Sol y Luna Verde hotel.

Day 3 : Coroico

Paysage de Coroico. ©MisoKnitl - iStockphoto

Senda Verde Animal Refuge exists to save and shelter wild animals from cruelty and suffering, and to encourage people to appreciate and protect nature.

We are welcomed by Vicky and Marcelo, the founders, to discover this reserve, which preserves a multitude of animal species. True guardians of biodiversity in Bolivia. We discover the sanctuary where more than 800 animals of 64 different species are cared for and put back on their feet.

We have lunch with the volunteers of the reserve.

You spend the night at Refugio Senda Verde - Ecolodge.

Day 4 : Coroico - Guanay

VTT sur l'ancienne route de la mort, région des Yungas. ©mezzotint - Fotolia

Let's meet the coca producers of the Yungas, we put our hands in the fields and on this emblem of the country, which today is experiencing contradictions.

Its consumption is a thousand-year-old tradition on the altiplano, the coca leaf is sacred and has always been appreciated for its virtues. The production of coca is subject to quotas corresponding to traditional consumption (chewing or infusion).

We follow the Rio Coroico, soon joined by the Rio Zongo, to arrive in Guanay, village of the gold fever. If the history places the beginnings of the Eldorado's research towards Colombia, the whole Amazon is the field of exploration of the gold city's researchers. The Incas would have hidden their wealth in Moxos, under the name of Paiti, at the border between Brazil, Bolivia and Peru. Beyond this myth of the big Eldorado, the gold diggers continue to survey the rio in search of some nuggets.

You spend the night at the hotel Los Pinos.

Day 5 : Guanay - Kaka River

Paysage de la région des Yungas. ©Gfed - Fotolia

We embark on a gold-seeker's pirogue for 3 days of forest crossing following the course of the Kaka River which winds between the last "serranías", small mountain ranges of a few hundred meters high, the last traces of the Andes Cordillera.

We sleep on the banks of the river, in communities that take us to discover the riches of the territory that make up their daily lives. We cross waterfalls with crystalline water, monkeys, and thousands of birds.

Day 6 : Kaka River

Magnifique toucan de la forêt amazonienne. ©Swisshippo - iStockphoto

The river is now joined by the waters of the Río La Paz, which bypassed the entire Illmani massif before plunging in turn into the Amazon basin. On the right bank is the Pilón Lajas Biosphere Reserve, while on the left bank is the Upper Madidi National Park. We are well in the heart of a virgin and perfectly preserved nature. A jewel of our Planet.

Every day we imitate ourselves in the heart of the forest, meeting the communities and discovering the exuberant Amazonian flora and its more than surprising fauna: Capibaras, monkeys, birds by the thousands with strange cries...

We sleep in bivouac (in case of rain, possibility to take shelter under thatched roofs).

Day 7 : Kaka River- Rurrenabaque

Des chevaux qui traversent les rivères à la nage, pampa de Rurrenabaque. ©Arnaud BONNEFOY

We continue our navigation. We fish in the river for our lunch of the day.

We enter the Madidi park. A mixture of wonder in front of this virgin tropical forest, a concentrate of biodiversity, and mystery in front of this cradle of many legends about the researchers of Eldorado. It feels like the end of the world when crossing the park by pirogue.

We arrive at the end of the day in Rurrenabaque, a small town at the foot of the jungle-covered mountains, with a peaceful atmosphere. We walk there on foot or by motorcycle cab to have a break on the mainland.

You spend the night at Hotel Maya.

Day 8 : Rurrenabaque- Madidi Park

Balades sur la rivière Yacuma pour observer la faune et la flore ©Arnaud BONNEFOY

We leave by boat from Rurrenabaque towards Mashaquipe Ecolodge, the starting point of our immersion in the Amazon jungle. We leave for a 7 day trek in the forest, a real adventure to learn how to live and survive in the Amazon, learning about our environment and learning about ourselves.

We leave in autonomy with our guide from the Mashaquipe community, a true expert of the region and wilderness survival.

We will explore the biodiversity of Madidi Park, playground of howler monkeys, tapir, deer, giant armadillo, spider monkey, hooded monkey, titi monkey (endemic species).

Day 9 : Madidi Park

Singes hurleurs dans la pampa près de Rurrenabaque. ©Arnaud BONNEFOY

We familiarize ourselves with our environment, learn how to feed ourselves with what surrounds us. We learn to recognize lianas that have water to drink, edible palms, types of mushrooms.

Every day we set up our camp, install hammocks, tents, look for dry wood to make fire.

Day 10 : Madidi Park

Capibara dans la réserve de Santa Rosa, la pampa près de Rurrenabaque. ©Arnaud BONNEFOY

Finding your way around is key in the jungle, our guide teaches us his orientation techniques. His advice is even more important during night excursions. It is at these hours that we may see monkeys, deer, tapirs, night monkeys, giant armadillos.

At night the noises are amplified, the shadows are distorted, we are listening to this powerful nature that surrounds us.

At the camp, we feel very small, with only a mosquito net or a tent for shelter.


Day 11 : Madidi Park

Le Serere, véritable emblème de la pampa de Rurrenabaque. ©Arnaud BONNEFOY

Waking up in the morning in the middle of the jungle is a magical moment, the sun passes through the leaves, the song of the howler monkeys brings us out of sleep.

We are never far from small rivers and rio, small resting places, but above all hosts of catfish and piranha.

Day 12 : Madidi Park

Martin pêcheur dans la pampa de Rurrenabaque. ©Arnaud BONNEFOY

The park shelters a very large variety of monkeys, it is by getting up before dawn that we will have the best chance to cross some on our way. Spider monkeys, howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys, we are guided by the sound of their cries.

Cradle of many medicinal plants, our guide shares their secrets with us.

Day 13 : Madidi Park

Un caïman dans la rivière Yacuma, pampa de Rurrenabaque. ©Arnaud BONNEFOY

On the 6th day of walking we reach the Tuichi River which we will have to cross to return to Rurrenabaque.

The boat... we make it ourselves. We begin the elaboration of our wooden raft that will be our means of transport.

Day 14 : Madidi Park- Rurrenabaque

La jungle près de Rurrenabaque et ses magnifiques couchers de soleil. ©Arnaud BONNEFOY

We are coming out of our Amazonian bubble and are counting on our work of the day before to bring us back to port. On the way we will visit Caquihuara, a sanctuary of macaws, a superb species of birds.

We reach the mainland at the end of the day.

You spend the night at Hotel Maya.

Day 15 : Rurrenabaque - El Alto Airport - La Paz

La place Murillo à La Paz où siège la Présidence et le Congrès. ©Arnaud BONNEFOY

We enjoy a few hours in Rurrenabaque, this small town at the foot of the jungle covered mountains, with a peaceful atmosphere. We walk there on foot or by motorcycle-taxi, we observe the activity of the dugout canoes, markets, in this atmosphere of Amazonian port.

Domestic flight Rurrenabaque - La Paz.

Your driver will pick you up at the international airport of El Alto.

You spend the night at the Anami Hotel.

Day 16 : La Paz - El Alto Airport

Congrès de la République à La Paz. ©Arnaud BONNEFOY

Your driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the airport.

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