Madidi National Park, into the Amazon rainforest (part 1)

One of the reasons we wanted to visit the Madidi National Park and the Madidi Jungle Ecolodge, was the opportunity to see some of the incredible wildlife that lives and thrives within the dense forests and along the rivers that make up the park. This is one of the most perfectly preserved and biodiverse areas in the world, a vast 19,000 square kilometre area ranging from tropical rainforest to the mountains of the Cordillera Real.

Scientists believe the area protected by the Madidi National Park contains the greatest variety of species anywhere on the planet – giving Madidi serious bragging rights. The statistics are mind-boggling, particularly as new species are still being discovered: the park is home to 867 species of birds, 156 mammals, approximately 109 reptiles and 88 species of amphibians. There could be upwards of 300 different species of fish. The variety of flora is off the scale.

Rainforest and river, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Rainforest and river, Madidi National Park, Bolivia

That said, your chances of spotting most of these species are pretty remote. Many are rightly keen to avoid contact with humans, many others only come out at night, quite a few live under water, while others keep to the tops of trees when they aren’t flying above the forest. Still, we were hopeful of some success in spotting wildlife, mainly thanks to our highly trained guide and native of the forests, Norman.

Norman, our guide, explains about the 'walking palm', Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Norman, our guide, explains about the ‘walking palm’, Madidi National Park, Bolivia

What Norman doesn’t know about the plants and animals of the forest could be written on the back of a stamp. He spotted an ocelot as we motored up the river from Rurrenabaque, and during our four days in the Madidi he led us on daily walks through the forest spotting numerous others beasties. When not spotting animals, Norman gave us the lowdown on medicinal plants that have been used by the indigenous peoples of the Amazon for thousands of years.

Rainforest, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Rainforest, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Toucans, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Toucans, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Toucans, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Toucans, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Flower, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Flower, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Spikey tree, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Spikey tree, Madidi National Park, Bolivia

On our first walk through the forest Norma suddenly stopped and motioned for us to be quiet (I thought we were being quiet, but apparently we sounded like a herd of elephants crashing about). He led us off the trail and we found ourselves in the midst of a group of tamarin monkeys. Tamarin’s are squirrel-sized and very agile, they didn’t seem to be bothered about our presence and we watched them moving from tree-to-tree, grooming and eating for 20 minutes.

Tamarin monkey, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Tamarin monkey, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Tamarin monkey, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Tamarin monkey, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Tamarin monkey, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Tamarin monkey, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Tamarin monkey with baby, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Tamarin monkey with baby, Madidi National Park, Bolivia

On ocelot and tamarin monkeys on the first day….but there was much more in the forest for us to see.

Tree with vine, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Tree with vine, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Red-bellied Trogon, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Red-bellied Trogon, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Fallen tree and fungi, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Fallen tree and fungi, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Howler monkey, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Howler monkey, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Poison dart frog, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Poison dart frog, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Rainforest, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Rainforest, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Capybara, Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Capybara, Madidi National Park, Bolivia

10 thoughts on “Madidi National Park, into the Amazon rainforest (part 1)

  1. Amazing Rain Forest ! I am very fond of exploring the jungle. Thank you very much for sharing your photos and story with us.

    1. Thank you, that’s really appreciated.

  2. I can understand the benefits gained by having a guide, and what a bonus to have one as marvellous as Norman!

  3. Spikey Tree is actually a Toborochi, if you wanna know… 🙂 I heard that they have the spikes when they are young, and they lose them with age. Not sure if it’s true, though.

    1. That would make sense. As the tree grows it needs less protection I guess, so it can lose the spikes. I still wouldn’t want to lean against one!

      1. A friend of mine has one in his garden. Some people played Catch around it. Bad idea. 🙂

  4. wow! beautiful place and photos!

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