Madidi National Park Travel Guide

Plan your perfect trip to Madidi National Park with our comprehensive guide, filled with information on places to visit, things to do, food and drink, where to stay, local culture and customs, safety and health, and much more.

Madidi National Park, located in La Paz department of Bolivia, is a spectacular natural wonder that boasts stunning scenery, diverse wildlife, vibrant cultural heritage, and exciting outdoor adventures. Covering over 19,000 square kilometers, this national park is a paradise for nature lovers, adventure seekers, and anyone who wishes to experience the beauty and diversity of South America. In this comprehensive tour guide, we will provide you with all the necessary information to plan your perfect trip to Madidi National Park.

Introduction to Madidi National Park

Madidi National Park is one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet, home to over 8,000 plant species, 1,000 bird species, 300 mammals, and many other fascinating creatures. The park is situated in the Altiplano region of Bolivia, near the country’s borders with Peru and Brazil, and encompasses a range of ecosystems, from cloud forests to lowland Amazon rainforests. The park is also of great cultural significance, as it is home to several indigenous communities that have lived in the area for thousands of years.

List of Places to Visit in Madidi National Park

Madidi National Park is a vast area with numerous attractions, both natural and cultural. Here are some of the most popular places to visit in the park:

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • San Miguel de Bala Fort: A historic fortress built by the Spanish in the 18th century to protect against indigenous uprisings.

  • Chalalan Ecolodge and Community Tour: A sustainable tourism project operated by the Tacana indigenous community, offering guided tours of the rainforest and traditional cultural experiences.

  • Rurrenabaque: A small town on the banks of the Beni River, with several museums showcasing the region’s history and culture.

Natural Attractions of Madidi National Park: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Apolo River Rafting: A thrilling journey down the Apolo River, through stunning canyons and rapids, with opportunities for wildlife sightings along the way.

  • Serere Sanctuary: A privately owned reserve within the park, offering guided tours of the rainforest, birdwatching, and wildlife spotting.

  • Pampas del Yacuma: A vast wetland area where visitors can spot a wide variety of bird and animal species, including caiman, anacondas, capybaras, and giant river otters.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Madidi National Park

Madidi National Park has many hiking and biking trails, ranging from easy walks to strenuous treks. Here are some of the most popular routes:

  • Chalalan Trail: A guided walk through the park’s rainforest, led by Tacana indigenous guides who share their knowledge of traditional plants and medicines.

  • El Chorro Trail: A challenging trek through the park’s cloud forest, with stunning views of the mountains and valleys.

  • Huarana Trail: A moderate hike that takes visitors through different ecosystems, from sub-tropical forests to high altitude grasslands.

Best Things to Do in Madidi National Park: Activities and Tours

Madidi National Park offers a wide variety of activities and tours, catering to different interests and preferences. Here are some of the best things to do in the park:

  • Wildlife Watching: Madidi National Park is home to an incredibly diverse array of wildlife, from monkeys and jaguars to tapirs and giant otters. Wildlife watching tours can be arranged, either on foot or by boat.

  • Community Tourism: Several indigenous communities in the park offer cultural tours, showcasing their traditional way of life, including hunting, fishing, and gathering.

  • Birdwatching: Madidi National Park is a paradise for birdwatchers, with over 1,000 species recorded in the area. Guided tours can be arranged to see some of the most spectacular birds, including macaws, parrots, and toucans.

Week-Long Itinerary for Madidi National Park

Madidi National Park is a vast area with many attractions, and a week-long itinerary is the perfect way to experience its beauty and diversity. Here is a suggested itinerary for a week in Madidi National Park:

Day Activity
1 Arrive in Rurrenabaque, explore the town, and visit local museums.
2 Take a guided tour of the Chalalan Ecolodge and rainforest.
3 Go hiking on the El Chorro Trail and enjoy breathtaking views of the mountains.
4 Visit the Apolo River for an adrenaline-charged white water rafting adventure.
5 Explore the Pampas del Yacuma and spot a wide range of wildlife.
6 Learn about Tacana traditions on a community tourism trip.
7 Take a birdwatching tour and see some of the park’s most spectacular bird species.

Food and Drink Scene of Madidi National Park

Bolivia’s cuisine is known for its hearty and flavorful dishes, and Madidi National Park is no exception. Here are some of the must-try dishes and local beverages:

Must-Try Dishes

  • Silpancho: A dish of pounded beef or chicken topped with rice, potatoes, and fried eggs.

  • Pacumutu: A soup made with yucca, vegetables, and meat or fish.

  • Pique Macho: A spicy and filling dish of sliced beef, sausage, onions, and chili peppers.

Local Beverages

  • Singani: A distilled spirit made from white grapes, often used as a base for cocktails.

  • Chicha: A fermented drink made from maize or other grains, consumed by indigenous communities for centuries.

  • Api: A hot beverage made from purple corn, flavored with cinnamon and cloves.

Where to Stay in Madidi National Park: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Madidi National Park offers a range of accommodations to suit different budgets and preferences. Here are some of the best options:

  • Chalalan Ecolodge: A sustainable tourism project operated by the Tacana indigenous community, providing comfortable and eco-friendly lodging in the heart of the rainforest.

  • Hotel Rurrenabaque: A budget-friendly hotel with clean and spacious rooms and a convenient location in the center of town.

  • Madidi Lodge: A luxury lodge with spacious rooms, private balconies, and stunning views of the Beni River.

What to Buy in Madidi National Park: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

Madidi National Park is home to several indigenous communities that produce unique and beautiful handicrafts. Here are some of the best souvenirs and local products to bring home:

  • Textiles: The Tacana people are known for their intricate and colorful woven fabrics, including blankets, shawls, and table runners.

  • Woodcarvings: The Mosetén people are skilled woodcarvers, producing beautiful masks, figurines, and other decorative items.

  • Jewelry: The Yuracaré people create stunning beadwork and silver jewelry, including necklaces, bracelets, and earrings.

Local Culture and Customs of Madidi National Park

Madidi National Park is home to several indigenous communities with rich and vibrant cultural traditions. Visitors are encouraged to respect the local customs and learn more about the indigenous way of life. Some of the cultural practices to be aware of include:

  • Traditional Dress: Many indigenous communities in the park have unique and colorful traditional dress, which varies from group to group.

  • Shamanism: Indigenous communities often practice shamanism, a traditional healing practice that involves using plants and animals for medicinal purposes.

  • Hunting and Fishing: Indigenous communities rely on hunting and fishing for their livelihoods and traditional way of life. Visitors should respect these practices and not interfere with them.

Best Time to Visit Madidi National Park

Madidi National Park can be visited year-round, but the best time to go depends on your interests and preferences. The dry season (May to October) is ideal for wildlife watching and outdoor activities, as the weather is generally sunny and dry. The rainy season (November to April) is the best time to see the rainforest in its full glory, with lush vegetation and plenty of waterfalls and streams.

Do’s and Don’ts of Madidi National Park

To ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience in Madidi National Park, here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind:


  • Respect the local customs and traditions of indigenous communities.

  • Hire a reputable guide for outdoor activities and wildlife watching.

  • Bring appropriate gear and clothing for the climate and terrain.


  • Litter or leave trash in the park.

  • Approach or feed wild animals.

  • Venture off the designated trails or areas.

Safety and Health

Madidi National Park is generally safe for visitors, but there are some precautions to take to ensure your health and safety.

Safety in Madidi National Park

  • Hire a reputable guide for outdoor activities and wildlife watching.

  • Stay on designated trails and areas.

  • Be aware of the weather conditions and potential hazards, such as flooding and landslides.

Health in Madidi National Park

  • Get up-to-date vaccinations and medications before traveling to Bolivia.

  • Use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants to protect against mosquito-borne diseases.

  • Drink bottled water and avoid raw fruits and vegetables that may be contaminated.

Getting to Madidi National Park: Transportation Options and Logistics

Madidi National Park can be accessed by air or land, depending on your starting point. Here are some of the transportation options and logistics to consider:

Airports Near Madidi National Park

  • Rurrenabaque Airport: The nearest airport to Madidi National Park, with regular flights from La Paz and other cities in Bolivia.

  • Trinidad Airport: An alternative airport for those traveling from the eastern side of Bolivia.

Bus Stations Near Madidi National Park

  • La Paz Bus Terminal: Buses to Rurrenabaque and other nearby towns depart from here.

  • Trinidad Bus Terminal: Buses to Rurrenabaque and other nearby towns depart from here.

Other Options

  • Private Car: Private cars and taxis can be hired from La Paz and other cities to take visitors to Rurrenabaque.

  • Boat: The Beni River can be accessed by boat from several towns along its banks.

How to Get Around in Madidi National Park

Madidi National Park can be explored on foot, by bike, or by boat, depending on your preferences. Guided tours are the best way to see the park’s attractions safely and properly.

Where to Go Next from Madidi National Park: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

Madidi National Park is just one of many breathtaking destinations in Bolivia. Here are some nearby places to visit and excursions to take:

  • Lake Titicaca: The world’s highest navigable lake, located a few hours from La Paz, with stunning scenery and vibrant indigenous culture.

  • Amazon River Cruise: A multi-day cruise down the Amazon River, with opportunities for wildlife watching and cultural experiences.

  • Tiwanaku: An ancient archaeological site near La Paz, showcasing the impressive engineering and cultural achievements of the pre-Columbian Tiwanaku civilization.


Madidi National Park is a spectacularly diverse and beautiful destination that offers something for everyone. From its vibrant cultural traditions to its breathtaking natural scenery, this national park is a must-visit for anyone traveling to South America. By following our comprehensive guide, you can plan your perfect trip and make the most of your time in Madidi National Park.