Madidi National Park is one of Bolivia’s natural treasures. Located in the heart of the Amazon River Basin, Madidi is one of the most biologically diverse protected areas in the world. A trip to Madidi National Park is one of life’s unforgettable experiences and is one of the highlights of any visit to Bolivia. But in order to experience the breathtaking nature that is Madidi, you first have to get there.
Most visitors to Madidi National Park begin their journey in Rurrenabaque, a picturesque city on the banks of the Beni River. Most tour operators that offer trips into the Bolivian Amazon pick their clients up from here and if you chose to stay at one of the ecolodges located within the park, Rurrenabaque is also where you will start your adventure.
From La Paz it is easy to reach Rurrenabaque via one of many daily flights. Amaszonas Airlines runs six flights between the two cities daily departing La Paz at 06:20, 08:05, 10:00, 12:00, 14:00 and 16:30. The flight can last anywhere between 30 to 50 minutes and costs USD $108 to $121 one-way. The airline operates six departures in the other direction as well, from Rurrenabaque back to La Paz. TAM, a branch of the military airline also operates flights to Rurrenabaque a swell and at least once a day. The fare is a little cheaper, around USD$85-90 each direction but the flights not as frequent as Amaszonas.
Once you arrive at the Rurrenabaque airport, both airlines offer shuttles for 6 Bs. to the main town. Arriving to Rurrenabaque by bus from La Paz is another option for travelers who want to visit the Bolivian Amazon. The public bus from La Paz to Rurrenabaque takes 18 hours departing at 16:00 and arriving at approximately 08:00 the next day. However, it is not uncommon for the ride to take much longer than advertised. Additionally, because of the general road quality in Bolivia, the ride can be a rough and uncomfortable one. This option is not recommended for most tourists, especially those on shorter vacations.
Lastly for those looking for a real Bolivian adventure, it is possible to take a boat to Rurrenabaque and Madidi National Park. The trip upriver begins in the Yungas in the town of Coroico and takes 4 days and 3 nights to complete. The ride by boat is by no means luxurious and accommodations are at basic campsites along the way. The program is not recommended for those looking for comfort or are short on time. If, however you want more of an adventure and are willing to rough it, taking a boat to Madidi could be the escape that is right for you. No matter how you get to Madidi, you’ll be glad that you did. Madidi National Park is a nature lovers wonderland and a chance for outdoor enthusiasts to experience the wild unbridled Amazon like no where else on the planet.