Archive for the 'Rain Forest' Category

Chalalan: a community owned eco-lodge in the heart of the Bolivian Amazon

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

Bolivia is a country of contrasts. The capital of La Paz is situated in the bleak, high-elevation Andean plateaus, the southwest is a hot place of wetlands and Chaco desert, savannahs replete with wildlife roll across much of the east, and untouched, Amazonian rain forests blanket the northeast. A large chunk of those evergreen forests are protected within Madidi National Park, one of the wildest, most biodiverse areas of the planet.

Madidi has retained its wilderness flavor because of its inaccessibility. Veritable expeditions were required to set foot in this park due to the lack of roads until the Chalalan Ecolodge was built during the 1990s. Although it’s still an adventure to get there, guests of the ecolodge will find solace in the form of comfortable rooms in an amazing jungle-wilderness setting. The place is entirely owned and operated by a local native community who would have otherwise made clearings and hunted in the forest for survival. Instead, they use their tracking skills and forest knowledge to show tourists the wildlife of Madidi and various medicinal plants that grow in the forest.

Because the area is pretty much untouched, sightings of large macaws are common, seven species of monkeys are encountered on the trails (including large troops of Squirrel Monkeys accompanied by Brown Capuchins), tapirs occur in good numbers, and even jaguars are occasionally seen. Local guides increase the chances of finding these and other shy, rain forest animals and since each guest of the lodge gets their own guide, most visitors to Chalalan come back with unforgettable sightings of rare, rain forest wildlife.

The community was in touch with their natural surroundings before the lodge was built and incorporated this into the design and function of the buildings by using locally grown palms fronds for the roofs, composting systems to treat waste, and solar power for electricity (which is limited but you don’t need much in the heart of the Amazon rain forest).

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Luxury in one of the wildest rain forests of Central America

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Honduras has been catching up to other eco-destinations in Central and South America as entrepreneurs realize the potential of this country’s large areas of lowland rain forests, gorgeous coral reefs, and jade-green cloud forests. Intact ecosystems are what eco-travelers want to experience and this is what they will find in Honduras. Sure, they will also come across animal-empty banana fields and deforested areas but they will definitely have the chance to visit beautiful, untouched tropical habitats.

Some, roadless areas of the country still require major expeditions to adequately explore them but why do that when you can stay at the Pico Bonito Lodge? You will need a fair amount of money to do so but no more than what you would pay for staying at comfortable hotels in other parts of the world. Most of those other hotels also probably aren’t situated in a lush, rain forest valley filled with colorful birds and exotic animals.

Guests stay in beautiful large, furnished rooms because the lodge was built with comfort in mind, but they will also see dozens of species of birds and other wildlife because it was also designed for this purpose. The nearby rain forest is always in view through large, open windows and balconies, and highly trained local guides are on hand to help visitors see things like colorful Keel-billed Toucans, the incredible blue and purple Lovely Cotinga, Blue-crowned Motmots, Tayras (a large weasel), Coatis, Sloths, tree-frogs, and much more. Birders and non-birders alike will also love the lodge’s canopy platform for the rare glimpse it provides into this little explored level of the forest.

When guests tire of hanging out and relaxing at the lodge and canopy tower, they can hike trails that access the huge Pico Bonito National Park, including one that heads right up to the “Pico Bonito” (Pretty Peak) itself. All hiking should be done with a local guide because despite the comforts of the lodge, this is a true rain forest wilderness that harbors venomous snakes, jaguars (rarely seen but present), and the greatest danger in the forest, the chance to get lost.

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