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MADIDI NATIONAL RESERVE

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LA PAZ

MADIDI NATIONAL RESERVE


Madidi National Park was created as such on September 21, 1995. With a surface area of 18,960 km2, it is located between the provinces of Franz Tamayo and Iturralde, in the north of the Department of La Paz. It borders on other National Parks, such as Manuripi Heat, the Integrally Administrated Natural Area of Apolobamba and Pilon de Lajas Biosphere Reserve. Its western edge is the Peruvian border, and it extends eastwards along the Andes Cordillera branches, plunging deeply into the Amazon area. The National Geographic Magazine classifies it as one of the world's largest bio-diversity reserves. With its humid, tropical climate, this Park contains one of the richest forest areas in Bolivia. Also, 988 species have been recorded in the area, this being only a partial tally. The population is around 1,700, grouped in different communities. It was established as a National Park by the government on September 21, 1995. Madidi hoards unimaginable treasures. There is no complete listing of the flora and fauna species within the Park as yet.

The Andean region of the Park is scored by multiple rivers that originate in the offshoots of the Cordillera and cross the area generally in a west to east direction. The Madidi and Tuichi rivers, tributaries of the Beni, are the most voluminous and are the main rivers within the Park. Around it live two native communities, the Tacana, hailing from the north of Bolivia and mainly inhabiting the mountain forest area of the Ixiamas and Tumupasa zone, as well as the Tutumo Hill forests; the Quechua, an ethnic group dispersed all over the Amazonian basin, who live on the banks of the Tuichi river, and near Apolo. Some Araona communities, who like the Tacana hail from the Pando and Beni, region, inhabit the low-lying rainforests in the center of the Park, on the banks of the Madidi, making an approximate total of 1,700 inhabitants. A sector of the native population, that near the Tuichi river, made a special agreement with the UNESCO allowing them to use the natural resources of the forest. There has also been talk about using the Park for oil prospecting and eventual drilling, as well as about building a hydro-electric power station on the Beni river.

The area's vegetation is closely linked to its varying height and jagged mountains, so among others, the following types of habitat are present: Permanent snows, Puna (high, dry plateaus), Mist forest, Dry tropical forest, Amazonian tropical rainforest and Savannahs or Pampas. It is thought that this area shelters 11% of all the bird species in the world, totaling some 1, 200 species; some large mammals, difficult to see or rare in other mountainous and Amazon environments, are also present here, such as the jaguar (Felis pardalis), the spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus), the tapir or danta (Tapirus terrestris) and various primate species.

Research in the surroundings of Rurrenabaque, in the mountain forests of Pilon de Lajas Reserve, in the southeast of the Park, and in Tambopata Reserve (Peru), to the northeast, show that the total number of flora species in the Park must exceed 5,000, that of mosses and hepatica is over 800 and that of the fungi is immeasurable, due to the absence of scientific data in this area.
Some basic information on this protected area before visiting it:

Location
It is located in the northwest of Bolivia, in the north of the Department of La Paz, in the provinces of Abel Iturralde, Franz Tamayo and Bautista Saavedra, 30 km west of Rurrenabaque.

When to go
The best time to visit the Park is May through October (the dry season).

Attractions
Flora and fauna, a diversity of habitats, rivers, mountains and native communities.

Activities
Wildlife watching, mountaineering, climbing, trekking, sailing, eco-tourism and biological research.

Climate
Its climate is of the hot, wet tropical type. Rainfall varies from around 700 mm in the driest areas to almost 5,000 mm in the wettest.

Services
There are no services, so all necessary equipment must be foreseen.

Access
From La Paz up to the city of Rurrenabaque by air transport (Amazonas or Transportes Aereos Militares), and afterwards along the gravel roadway up to Rurrenabaque.

Bear in mind you have to spend one night in the city and leave early the next day for Madidi Park. Tours to the Park scheduled by the travel agencies last from 3 to 4 days.

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

Rurrenabaque
It has an interesting tourist service offer such as travel agencies, hotels, restaurants, discotheques, karaoke bars, migration service agencies, an airport, overland bus fleets, and others.

This is one of the country's 21 protected areas. Its conservation is important due to its biodiversity, but this is no obstacle to its development. Over 180 communities living in the area can show you how this is done.

San Buenaventura
This town lies facing Rurrenabaque on the banks of the Beni river. Twenty km away from San Buenaventura lies the Angosto del Bala Narrows, a place where the Beni river flows through a gorge between the mountains.

Chalalan
This is a beautiful lake in the middle of Madidi National Park, one of the flora and fauna reserves with greatest diversity. Everything in Chalalan is about nature. The lodge is surrounded by a lake and a pristine forest full of birds and mammals.
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