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Parque Nacional Madidi Overview

Parque Nacional Madidi, which spans almost 19,000 square kilometers, has tremendous topographic diversity. Boasting 200 species of mammals, 1,000 species of birds, and 100,000 varieties of insects and arachnids, Madidi is one of the most biologically diverse protected areas on earth. Birders will be pleased to hear that nearly 1,000 species of birds call Madidi home (in contrast to the mere 800 in all of North America!). Countless plant species can be found in Madidi as well. The physical environs include rainforest and cloud forest, the Amazon’s only pristine savannah, not to mention a series of class five rapids and world class fly-fishing along the Tuichi, a major tributary to the Amazon.

Formerly a hunting area for the Tacana indigenous community, Chalalán was home to little wildlife a little over a decade ago. Today birders (and non-birders) can view the Amazon screamer, midget kingfisher, birds of paradise, nesting hummingbirds and more. With careful coaching from a guide, the less experienced birdwatchers can learn to spot the flocks of blue and gold macaws and handsome toucans socializing in dense canopy overhead.

However, if the idea of 1,000 species of birds doesn’t excite your senses, keep your eyes peeled for tree frogs bouncing along the branches of walking cypress trees or snakes slithering up one of the at least six varieties of palm trees or across the strangler vines. Besides creatures of avian, arachnid, and amphibian origins, the 25 kilometers of trails that wind through Chalalán harbor a host of other interesting creatures. Palm-sized, brilliant blue moths flitter alongside shimmering butterflies creating an intense kaleidoscope of colors. The lucky may see a puma or red brocket deer: fresh tracks often parallel the trail.

It is also possible to take a night hike through the through the boggy understory, where you might spy the laser-like red eyes of caimans and the hammock-shaped webs of social spiders (the ultimate arachnid extroverts of the rainforest, the social spiders congregate in groups numbering in the hundreds). You might even catch an anaconda or a tree boa in the beam of your flashlight. Visitors often come face to face with tapirs, peccaries or wild pigs and capybaras, the world’s largest rodent.

This bastion of biodiversity is also a great place to spot monkeys swinging from the trees. Bands of hundreds of yellow squirrel monkeys socialize along the rivers and lakes. Brown capuchin monkeys look like the monks for which they are named, while the piercing shrills of red and black howler monkeys crash through the canopy. Keep an eye out for the golden titi monkey, a shy family man that travels in small groups through this area.

It is not recommended to travel independently to Madidi, as it is not particularly safe to do so. There are many agencies in Rurrenabaque that offer fairly similar tours of the park, which usually include boat transportation and basic camping accommodations. Admission to the park costs $10, which is sometimes covered in the price of the tour. If not, you can visit the park´s headquarters in San Buenaventura to buy an entry ticket.

 

 

 










22 Feb 2010




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