About the TripAbout_the_Trip.html
Shine A Lighthttp://www.shinealight.org
Itinerary
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Itinerary

2 October: Arrival

The trip begins in the world’s highest capital, La Paz. After clearing customs at the El Alto International Airport, you will be shuttled into the modern heart of the city and the La Maison guest house. This french-run hotel is comfortable with most modern conveniences including internet access. Depending on your arrival time, you may wish to venture out to explore the city. Please do, but remember to carry a map: La Paz’s confusing layout can disorient even the most seasoned traveler! At 7pm we will meet for an opening dinner at Dali-catessen, an award winning restaurant featuring French-Aymara fusion cuisine.


3-4 October: La Paz and El Alto

The beautiful mornings in La Paz give us the chance to explore the city, visit museums, and head out on hiking and birding in the dramatic nearby mountains.  After lunches at some of the city’s most interesting restaurants, our van will climb almost 3000 vertical feet into the sprawling shantytown of El Alto. Though the view from the rim of the canyon would make the trip worthwhile, it isn’t what motivates our visit: El Alto is home to one of the most innovative theater troupes in the world, where young Aymara and Quechua locals have learned to use art as a tool to fight poverty and marginalization.  In addition to watching theater and hearing music, we will work as a crew on the weekly television show the children produce about their lives.  In addition to helping a marginalized community to share its cultural wealth, we will have a unique opportunity to live daily life with Bolvians, a privilege few tourists are afforded.


5-6 October: Tiwanaku and Titicaca

The rich cultures of the Andes began more than 2000 years ago in Tiwanaku, a huge ritual center on the Bolivian altiplano, and now one of the most striking ruins in South America.  After visiting the huge site with a local, bilingual guide, we will continue westward to Lake Titicaca, its impossibly blue waters reflecting the glaciers of the 20,000 foot Cordillera Real.  We will spend the night in the colonial city of Copacabana, which began as an Inca ritual site and continues to be a destination for pilgrims from around the Andean world, before returning to La Paz and our flight to the Amazon.


7 October: Rurrenabaque

Our dramatic flight  to the lowland city of Rurre takes less than an hour but will carry us more than 12,000 feet down the Andes and over the Amazon Basin. We will land on the grass runway at Rurrenabaque and take a van the short distance into town to the office of the Chalalan Lodge.  After some routine paperwork for the next day’s trip up the river and into Madidi National Park, we’ll head over to the Hotel Oriental in downtown Rurre. In the afternoon, guides can help you explore the rainforests just outside of town, wander the streets of the city to understand life in a remote jungle outpost, or walk the shore of the Rio Beni to watch the diversity of bird and riverine life.


8 October- Rurre to Chalalan Lodge

After breakfast at the hotel we will join our guides and boatmen onboard a motorized dugout canoe for the journey up river to the Chalalan Lodge. Chalalan is located in the heart of Madidi National Park, one of the most biologically rich places in the world. Thousands of species fill the park, so along the way we will keep our eyes peeled for toucans, macaws, wading birds, and raptors along the shore. We should see caiman sunning on the riverbank and monkeys foraging high in the canopy. If we are very, very lucky we may catch a glimpse of a jaguar stalking through the riverside brush. We will have lunch along the river then walk half a mile through the rainforest to arrive at the lodge in the early afternoon. The lodge, situated beautifully on the shores of an oxbow lake, is operated by the indigenous community of San José de Uchupiamonas. Unlike many communities in the upper Amazon, the people of San Jose de Uchupiamonas are Quechua with their cultural origins in the highlands. However they have lived for many hundreds of years as hunters, gatherers and farmers in the Madidi region. As part of a local conservation effort the community started Chalalan, which has become a model for responsible, sustainable ecotourism throughout the world. The lodge is comfortable with multiple individual cabanas spread across the primary rainforest surrounding the main lodge and dining areas. After our arrival, the local English-speaking guides will show us the rainforest where they live.


9-11 October- Chalalan Lodge

The Amazon basin and its vast rainforests are famous for their life, but what is less known is that the upper Amazon, and particularly the region of southeastern Peru and northern Bolivia, is the most diverse part of that great basin. Madidi National Park, and its neighbor across the Peruvian border, Manu National Park, are keystones in the Amazon’s biodiversity. More species of birds occur in these two parks than in any other place in the world, more species of plants, monkeys and insects. There may still be uncontacted tribes in the border regions and possibly even in Madidi itself. At Chalalan we will have three full days to explore this incredible forest during the day and night, experience the culture of the locals, watch the abundant wildlife, swim in the lake, and hike down little-traveled rainforest paths. Nearly 400 species of birds have been recorded in the vicinity of the lodge. Monkeys, caiman, and other large wildlife are seen daily. This is your chance to explore one of the world’s last great biological treasures. Take advantage of it!


12 October- Chalalan Lodge to La Paz

Shortly after breakfast we will depart Chalalan and head back down the Beni River (keeping our eyes peeled for wildlife) to Rurre where we will transfer to the airport and then catch a dramatic flight over the 20,000 foot Illimani and Huayna Potosí to La Paz.


13 October: Return

Most flights from La Paz to the United States leave early in the morning, so we'll arrange for your transport up to the airport in El Alto for a flight that will have you home by early evening.

Contact Us

About the TripAbout_the_Trip.html
Shine A Lighthttp://www.shinealight.org
Itinerary
GuidesGuides_1.html
Lodging/MealsHotels.html
VolunteeringVolunteering.html
Contact UsContact_Us.html