Journeys worth taking

San José de Uchupiamonas, Bolivia

The Uchupiamonas at Chalalan

Hidden tribes

An indigenous community invites you into their rain forest home

Lodging

Eco Lodge

Nights

2 - 6

Trip Details

Group excursions

Price

From $572 per person

Transport

Flight

Pygmy miles

979

Experience
Experience
Itinerary
Pygmy miles
Accommodation
Practical info

Experience

Journey

In the late 80s, the Uchupiamonas were preparing themself for a grim future. They were an impoverished indigenous group located north of La Paz in a sparsely populated area of rain forest. They lacked basic support from the Bolivian government in health, education and services. When 40 local families migrated in search of better conditions, the community realized they needed to take action. They looked towards the forest, animals, rivers and lakes, where their ancestors had looked before them. They decided that Ecological Tourism was the answer. With the support of Joseph Ginsber, an Israeli adventurer who was rescued in the Tuichi Valley after a harrowing strugle for survival, they launched the Chalalan Ecolodge, on the shores of the Chalalan lagoon. 

Today, travelers embark on a 30 minute flight from La Paz over the sprawling forest and take a five hour boat ride up river to reach the secluded Chalalan Lodge. Here, you can explore the forest with local indigenious guides who will help you spot the plethora of wildlife including howler monkeys, spider monkeys, tapirs, deer, capybaras, frogs, lizards and maybe even jaguars. You will also take part in a night of traditions. On the last evening of your stay in Chalalán you can try the traditional “dunucuavi” dinner (catfish wrapped in leaf) and then enjoy a night of traditional music, dancing and storytelling. A guide will be with you to explain the traditions and customs of the people from San José de Uchupiamonas.

Activities

Trekking

Around the Chalalán Ecolodge there is a maze of themed walks that wind along over 30km of paths that have been meticulously designed to show off the forest, ecological processes, natural history, medicinal plants, hardwood trees, birds, mammals, amphibians, insects and a variety of fungi native to the tropical rainforest.

In Chalalán, travelers are given the opportunity to plan activities according to their interests with the help of a local guide. Each group contains a maximum of six people.

Kayaking

Night-Time Canoe Trips
While gently paddling along the shores of the Chalalán Lagoon you can see nocturnal birds, amphibians and the glowing eyes of caiman.

Swimming

Swimming and Relaxing
After lunch we recommend that you take a dip in the lake or simply relax in a hammock to read a book or listen to the sounds of the forest.

And also

  • Insect Watching 
    The Madidi is a fabulous place to see a large variety of insects, which also make up the diet of most of the birds around Chalalán.
  • Bird Watching 
    Chalalán is home to over 340 species of birds including parakeets, parrots, toucans, wild turkeys, woodpeckers, etc. Our guides can easily identify their calls and songs.

Place

 

Itinerary

Track

Itinerary

Because of the isolated location of Chalalan in the Bolivian Amazon, it is recommend to spend one night in Rurrenabaque, the closest town to the Chalalan lodge. We will help you sort out accommodation in Rurrenabaque before departing for the lodge the following morning.  

Listed below is the 3 day, 2 night Tapacare program.

Day-1

Flight and Welcome

A guide will pick you up at the hotel to take you to the River Beni where you board the boat for Chalalán. The boat trip is a great way of seeing the Bala Canyon around the River Beni. The Madidi National Park is accessed by going up the River Tuichi. On your way, you’ll see a variety of animals and get a feel for the spectacular landscape of the Bolivian Amazon. We recommend you take binoculars. The trip takes around 5½ to 6 and you will have lunch along the way. After arriving at the port of Chalalán, take a 25 minute walk to the Ecolodge along a wide, easy, jaguar path. Enjoy a welcome snack on the shores of Lake Chalalán. The logistic's staff will help you with your luggage. Time to settle in at your cabin or room. After something to eat, you will have some free time to relax in a hammock or swim in Lake Chalalán. The next activity is a short walk along one of the themed paths to learn about medicinal plants. Return to the Ecolodge and choose from the following optional activities: Handicrafts, canoe trip or videos about the community and the Madidi National Park. Dinner is in the Ecolodge dining room. Short night walk along the Paraba or Silbador path to see amphibians, reptiles, insects, tarantulas, rodents, birds and nocturnal monkeys. This is a great chance to hear the sounds of the jungle.

Day-2

Wildlife and "Dunucuabi" traditional dinner

Buffet breakfast in the Ecolodge dining room. You can talk to your guide about changing the time depending on your interests. (e.g. breakfast at 5:30 am for birdwatchers.) Next, take a morning walk along the Tapacare path or another of similar length to see and learn about the forest and wildlife of the Amazon. There are additional themes that can be explored, including: natural interpretation of the forest, natural history, ecological processes, medicinal plants and hardwood trees, animal behavior and bird and mammal watching. Return to the lodge for a snack. Lunch is in the Ecolodge dining room. After lunch, relax in a hammock or swim in Lake Chalalán. You will coordinate optional activities with your guide. Short walk along the Paraba path to the viewing point where you can see the beautiful landscape across Lake Chalalán, the mountains and the Madidi rainforest. Your guide will explain about the plants used for building - both hardwoods and palms - and the traditional and sustainable use of natural resources. Here your guide will talk about the park, the Ecolodge and the community. You return to the lake to go on a canoe trip along the shores of Lake Chalalán where you will be able to enjoy the sunset and see monkeys, birds, insects, bats, etc. Return to the Ecolodge for a snack Traditional “dunucuabi” dinner of catfish wrapped in leaves or fish á la “tacuara” inside bamboo from the Bolivian Amazon. *This traditional dinner depends on the availability of the fish and may be offered any night during your stay.
Short night-time activity (1 to 2 hours). Night trip by canoe to see amphibians, nocturnal birds, fish-eating bats and caimans easily spotted because of their glowing eyes. Upon your return to the Ecolodge you can take part in a traditional Quechua – Tacana night with music and dances from the San José de Uchupiamonas community. Your guide will explain the traditions of the Uchupiamonas people. *This activity will depend on the number of guests staying at the Ecolodge and may be offered any night during your stay.

Day-3

Chalalán Ecolodge – Rurrenabaque – La Paz

Buffet breakfast in the Ecolodge's dining room and then a short walk to spot wildlife. We will take a last walk to the river Tuíchi to take the boat back to Rurrenabaque. The return walk along the Jaguar or Wichi path can be modified to accommodate your interests. Please coordinate with your guide. Return by boat to Rurrenabaque (only 3 hours). The time is subject to the availability of boats and flights. We recommend you are alert during the boat trip, as this will be the last chance to see wildlife. Arrive at Rurrenabaque. Transfer to airport and return to the city of La Paz. NB: All of the walks described above are rated as easy. The activities and times may change depending on the weather, the interests of our guests or other factors.

Pygmy miles

Pygmy Miles Total

Challenge
Motorized Vehicle
Hiking
Bicycle
Sustainability
Miscellaneous
979pygmy miles

Base Miles

You earn 1 Pygmy Mile for every $1 you spend with us.

50pygmy miles

Boat ride to Chalalan

You earn 1 Pygmy Mile for every mile you ride in a boat to reach the lodge.

190pygmy miles

Hiking the trails

There is about 19 miles of path around the lodge that you can explore. We will give you three times that amount in Pygmy Miles.

143pygmy miles

Generates benefit for local communities

Through your visit, you help sustain the way of life for the Uchupiamonas and help secure their self determination.

143pygmy miles

Minimize environmental impact

Chalalan has implemented a liquid waste treatment system (for bathrooms, kitchen and showers) which combines the power of the sun and biological processes to guarantee a minimum impact on the surrounding environment. This technique is certified by the Bolivian Ministry of Sustainable Development and the Environment’s environmental manifesto. Solid waste is separated with organic waste going to a compost heap and inorganic waste is collected by the Rurrenabaque municipal refuse collection service. In Chalalán solar energy is used to light the bedrooms and shared areas of the Ecolodge. Batteries are only used for torches and the use of fossil fuels is kept to a minimum.
Water is purified by treatment with special filters. It is also boiled and then is stored in closed containers for later use in the preparation of drinks and food.

250pygmy miles

Spot local wildlife

We will give you 50 points for every howler monkeys, spider monkeys, tapirs, deer, capybaras, or jaguar that you spot and send us a picture of (up to 5).

Total Pygmy Miles

1755pygmy miles

Accommodation

 

Chalalan Ecolodge

San José de Uchupiamonas.

The Ecolodge offers three types of accommodation; luxurious cabins with double beds and private bathrooms (3 in total), twin/triples rooms with private bathroom (7 in total), and twin rooms with shared bathroom facilities (4 of them). All of the accommodation is equipped with mosquito nets, bedside tables, wardrobes, comfortable armchairs, verandas, balconies and hammocks where you can relax and read.

Practical info

Price

TAPACARE PROGRAM 3 DAYS / 2 NIGHTS

USD 380 per person in Twin Room (Two single beds) with shared bath 
USD 410 per person in Twin, Double or Triple Rooms with Private Bath 
USD 440 per person in Exclusive Cabin Matrimonial Bed with Private Bathroom 

ESLABON PROGRAM 4 DAYS / 3 NIGHTS

USD 490 per person in Twin Room (Two single beds) with shared bath 
USD 530 per person in Twin, Double or Triple Rooms with Private Bath 
USD 570 per person in Exclusive Cabin Matrimonial Bed with Private Bathroom

PENENA PROGRAM 5 DAYS / 4 NIGHTS

USD 590 per person in Twin Room (Two single beds) with shared bath 
USD 640 per person in Twin, Double or Triple Rooms with Private Bath 
USD 690 per person in Exclusive Cabin Matrimonial Bed with Private Bathroom

SAN JOSÉ DE UCHUPIAMONAS PROGRAM 6 DAYS / 5 NIGHTS

USD 790 per person in Twin Room (Two single beds) with shared bath 
USD 840 per person in Twin, Double or Triple Rooms with Private Bath 
USD 890 per person in Exclusive Cabin Matrimonial Bed with Private Bathroom

Service category

Consult & Book

We help you understand Chalalan's service offering and coordinate your trip with the Uchupiamonas.

Pygmy Elephant provides: 

  • Transfer arrangement: flight from La Paz to Rurrenabaque and further on to other locations
  • Pre-departure support: what to pack, arranging travel insurance and informing on travel advisories
  • 24 hour customer service: if something goes wrong, we have your back
  • Best Price Guarantee: if you find a better price on the internet, we'll match it
  • Pygmy Miles: receive discounts off future travel


There are no fees for booking this trip through Pymgy Elephant, other than an international wire transfer fee (Chalalan does not accept credit cards).

When

jan
feb
mar
apr
may
jun
jul
aug
sep
oct
nov
dec
not available
average
optimal

Rainy season begins in November and ends in February while the dry season spans the months between May and October. Average temperature is 25 °C, temperature highs reach 33 ºC between October and January, while temperature lows usually occur between March and June with southern fronts lowering the temperature to well below 10 ºC with sudden increases in humidity due to.

The Chalalán Ecolodge is open 365 days a year. The best time of year is between April and November. Between December and March activities can be disrupted because of the rains and you should check flight schedules carefully so as to avoid disappointment.

How

Join a guided tour

You can book this trip with the dates that best you and your travel itinerary. Everyday, you will join other guests (Chalalan has a policy of a max 6 guests per guide) on excursions into the Amazon. All of the guides are from the local community, San José de Uchupiamonas, and have been professionally trained in environmental education, natural interpretation of the forest and natural history. They have their ancestors’ knowledge of medicinal plants, hardwood trees, edible fruits and beliefs about the plants and animals. All guides speak English, Spanish and their native language, Quechua.

Challenge Level

Technical Ability

Level : Low

Mental Strength

Level : Low

Physical Conditioning

Level : Medium

A trip to Chalalan offers something for everyone, regardless of physical fitness. Still to get the most out of your vacation you should be in good physical condition to take advantage of all the activities that Chalalan offers. 

Talk to our Adventure Expert

Our Managing Director, Andrew, has been to over 40 countries in his quest for the perfect adventure. He has biked the death road in Boiliva, trekked 500 miles across northern Spain on the Camino de Santiago, cycled from Brussels to Florence and hiked the five sacred mountains of China. Pygmy Elephant is how he spreads his love for adventure and self discovery in the world.