Protected Areas


With a total area of 18,958 square km and altitudes ranging from 180m above sea level in the depths of the Amazon basin, to 5,760m in the glacial peaks of the high Andes, Madidi National Park is one of the earth’s most biologically diverse regions, as well as one of the most striking. Designated a Park in 1995, the area closest to Rurrenabaque protects a remarkably untouched swathe of the Amazon rainforest, with only the native communities permitted to make use of the natural resources in order to preserve their traditional way of life.
The Park is estimated to contain between 870 to 1000 bird species, around 10% of all the species found on the planet. There are also 192 fish species, 71 reptiles and 156 mammals – including a recently discovered species of titi monkey, found nowhere else in the world.


Around 12 indigenous Mosetene, T’simane and Tacana communities inhabit this reserve, and they share their jungle home with 73 mammal species, 485 bird species and 103 species of fish – permitting them to continue their traditional low-impact hunter-gatherer lifestyle. They use the areas rich natural resources in a traditional and sustainable way, making use of products such as palm leaves for thatching the roofs of their homes.
This 4000 square km reserve receives fewer tourists than its neighbors, but the wildlife and scenery are no less impressive. Comprising hot and humid lowland rainforests, and the Pilon hills which peak at 2000m above sea level, Pilon Lajas Biosphere Reserve protects endangered species such as the South American tapir, black spider monkey, spectacled bear and the river otter, who was hunted near to extinction for its valuable skin.


The pampas of Santa Rosa del Yacuma became a protected area in 2006. The Yacuma River winds through the swampy grasslands that flood during the summer months, and the vegetation that lines its banks is a haven for birds, mammals and basking reptiles. The lagoons and islands are also rich in wildlife, and ideal spots for fishing, trekking or bird watching. Common species include caimans, pink freshwater dolphins, capybaras and squirrel monkeys, as well as many impressive bird species, including herons, hoatzins, spoonbills and the enormous jabiru stork, the tallest flying bird in South America.