Madidi National Park is one of Bolivia’s great national wonders. Located in the country’s upper Amazon River Basin, Madidi is considered to be the world’s most biodiverse region. From high altitude grasslands to dense tropical jungle Madidi National Park has it all. With the vast and varied geography and ecological life systems of the park, preparing properly for your trip there is tricky yet essential.
1. Go in the Dry Season
The first choice for many considering a trip to Madidi is when to go. This is the rainforest and the rain season is no joke; visit the region during the dry season between May through October to make travel in the area a whole lot easier.
This is not to say that during that time you will see no rain, there is just less of a chance of torrential downpours getting in the way of your travel plans.
In June and July, the area is particularly festive. During the Fiesta de la Santisima Trinidad and the San Ignacio de Moxos fiesta in mid-June and July respectively, the entire region breaks out into colorful celebration. If you plan on making a trip to Madidi during this festival season, make your reservations way ahead in advance- hotels and tours are likely to sell out as the festivities near.
2. Book With a Reputable Tour Operator
Once you’ve decided when to visit, the next step is to decide which operator to book your tour with. Take extra care when choosing your Madidi tour operator. There are numerous agencies that offer guides trips to the area but the quality and cost vary greatly from one to the next.
A trip to the Amazon is usually a once in a lifetime experience; don’t let an unprofessional agency with cheap rates ruin your time there.
As with the rest of Bolivia, quality and price and intrinsically connected. Ask to see photos of your transportation and accommodation before settling on an operator, and also be certain you will get a bilingual guide. There is nothing like a trip to the Amazon if you can’t understand what your guide is pointing out the whole time.
Visiting the park independently is possible but not recommended. If you do chose to go this route, you must pay the entrance fee of 125 B.s. to the SERNAP office in San Buenaventura before you enter and you still must be accompanied by an authorized Madidi National Park Guide.
3. Protect Yourself Against the Bugs
Madidi National Park is the jungle and the jungle has bugs. You to take extra precautions to protect yourself from bugs and disease. Though Malaria is not common in the area is does exist; be sure to bring appropriate medicines with you to protect against the mosquito-born disease. Remember that Malaria pills often require you to begin to take them in advance of your trip so check with your doctor about your prescription before you leave.
Using a bug spray with the chemical DEET can safeguard against other mosquito-born illness. Additionally, wearing lightweight cotton pants and long sleeve shirts can help prevent any nasty bug bites. Mosquitos tend to come out in the early morning and late evening, so mosquito nets over your bed are very important.
4. Dress for the… Cold?
Though the rainforest is typicaly hot and humid, the temperature does occasionally drop to unexpected lows. A meteorological event called surazo occurs here, where winds carry bone-chilling air in from the Andean highlands to the south. When the surazo occurs, cold weather can set in for days at a time. If you’re dressed in just shorts and a t-shirt, you’ll regret leaving the sweater at home. Bring a couple of warm layers, just in case.