Monday, September 1st, 2014   Fieldnotes Blog feed

San Miguel del Bala


Website: www.sanmigueldelbala.com
E-mail: reservas@sanmigueldelbala.com
Phone: 591 389 2394



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Who they are

A small indigenous community-owned eco-lodge offering a wide variety of eco–tourism packages that allow you to discover the rich environment and Tacana culture while comfortably lodged in private cabins within close proximity of Rurrenabaque. Enjoy two eco-lodges, one set alongside the Beni river next to the community of San Miguel that allows guests to explore the Tacana culture, and the other set deep within Madidi National Park where visitors can experience the amazing biodiversity of the Bolivian Amazon.

All employees, from the cooks to the guides, are native to the Tacana community of San Miguel. Your eco-tour will directly benefit the community as all of the profits go towards improving health, education, and basic services in the village. You will have a chance to share in the culture and nature of this amazing place, but also see the good your money is doing within the community

What they offer

They have several different eco-tour programs from a one day package to a 5 day/4 night adventure.

- Community tour
- 5 activities to choose from
- Lunch in San Miguel del Bala lodge

Take a break from the noisy streets of Rurrenabaque and choose two of the five activities offered around the San Miguel del Bala Lodge. All guides are indigenous Tacana, and have lived in these forests their entire life. They will share with you their experience and knowledge as well as their hospitality during your time with San Miguel del Bala.

Activity 1: Community Visit
Visit the community of San Miguel, a Tacana village, and experience how tourism and your money has helped the San Migueleños improve their day-to-day lives. Take a stroll through the village as your guide explains how the community is organized. Visit the school and your guide’s home, learn how to weave, make a thatched roof, squeeze sugar cane yourself and enjoy a sweet and refreshing drink (best served with some lemon). Your visit to the community of San Miguel will give you a look at the Tacana villagers’ daily lives as well as let you see the great things your money your is doing as a client of the community owned lodge!

Meet your guide in the San Miguel del Bala offices across from the Amaszonas Airline office in the early morning. Your guide will take you to the motorized canoe that awaits you in the Rurrenabaque port. From the port it’s a 45-minute boat ride up the Rio Beni. Take in the beautiful vistas and landscapes as you speed upriver.

Activity 2: Waterfall/Swimming
Take the canoe a bit further upriver to the mouth of a stream that flows into the Rio Beni. From there your guide will lead you along the stream for a short 20-minute hike up to a waterfall that has a natural pool below where you can take a refreshing dip after your hike and relax in the soothing waters. The trek is a bit challenging, so make sure you consult with your guide before setting off to see if they feel you can handle it. The reward for your hard work is to sit underneath the waterfall and let this natural masseuse soothe your tired muscles.

Activity 3: The Hunt
Leaving from the lodge your guide will take you back in time as he takes you through the rainforest and shows you the ancient trapping methods of the Tacana. Learn how the Tacana outfoxed their prey with unique and interesting traps that helped them catch dinner. Your guide will show you how each trap works, as well as the medicinal plants the hunters would collect as they checked their traps.

Activity 4: The Canyon
Explore a canyon 150 meters long with all the wonderful creepy crawly things that dark damp places have to offer. This unique trek can be a short walk through the canyon to explore another world, or you can take a 3-hour trek from San Miguel del Bala along the river, which eventually runs through the canyon as a grand exit to the river. As you exit the canyon a boat will be waiting for you to take you to your next destination

Activity 5: San Miguel’s Pharmacy
Take a walk into the forest with your guide to explore the wonders of medicinal plant life. Your guide will share his knowledge of the forest and the abundance of plant life that the Tacana have used for years to help with basic ailments such as stomachaches and colds all the way to dealing with anemia and other more serious conditions. Experience what the forest has to offer, and even try to take some medicine with you for your next run-in with bad street food in La Paz.

- Wildlife and indigenous culture
- River navigation and lodging in bamboo huts with lights and private bathrooms
- Flora and fauna observation; hide away in pristine nature
- Traditional hunting techniques and visit to a Tacana community
- Hiking through the rainforest to a waterfall and visit to the “pharmacy” of the San Miguel community to learn about medicinal plants

Day 1
On the first day of your two-day adventure you will leave from the offices of San Miguel del Bala across from the Amaszonas Airlines offices. Your guide will take you and your bags to the motorized canoe that awaits you in the port of Rurrenabaque. From there, you will be taken 45 minutes up the Rio Beni to the lodge, where a refreshing tropical fruit juice will welcome you.

After settling into your private cabin your guide will take you back in time as he leads you through the rainforest and shows you the ancient trapping methods of the Tacana. Learn how the Tacana outfoxed their prey with unique and interesting traps that helped them catch dinner. Your guide will show you how each trap works, as well as the medicinal plants the hunters would collect as they checked their traps.
After returning to the lodge you can go wash up and sit down to a delicious lunch that includes all locally grown ingredients (vegetarian options included with advance notice). Go rest in a hammock after lunch and enjoy the tranquillity of the river and sounds of the jungle.

After you are recharged your guide will take you to visit the community of San Miguel, a Tacana village, to experience how tourism and your money has helped the San Migueleños improve their day-to-day lives. Take a stroll through the village as your guide explains how the community is organized. Visit the school and your guide’s home, learn how to weave, make a thatched roof, squeeze sugar cane yourself and enjoy a sweet and refreshing drink (best served with some lemon). Your visit to the community of San Miguel will give you a look at the Tacana villagers’ daily lives as well as let you see the great things your money is doing as a client of the community owned lodge!

Enjoy your dinner and relax the rest of the evening in your cabin or in the hammock hut.

Day 2
Your day starts with tropical bird songs and a nice breakfast by the river. Once you are done your guide will sit with you and explain the day’s activities.

After breakfast you will take the canoe a bit further upriver to the mouth of a stream that flows into the Rio Beni. From there your guide will lead you along the stream for a short 20-minute hike up to a waterfall that has a natural pool below where you can take a refreshing dip after your hike and relax in the soothing waters. The trek is a bit challenging, so make sure you consult with your guide before setting off to see if they feel you can handle it. The reward for your hard work is to sit underneath the waterfall and let this natural masseuse sootImagehe your tired muscles.
Return to the lodge and enjoy a nice lunch. You can go pack up your things and get ready for the ride back to Rurrenabaque.

There are two options for you to participate in on the final afternoon of your visit:

Activity 1: San Miguel’s Pharmacy
You can go with your guide and experience San Miguel’s pharmacy. Take a walk into the forest with your guide to explore the wonders of medicinal plant life. Your guide will share his knowledge of the forest and the abundance of plant life that the Tacana have used for years to help with basic ailments such as stomachaches and colds all the way to dealing with anemia and other more serious conditions. Experience what the forest has to offer, and even try to take some medicine with you for your next run-in with bad street food in La Paz.

Activity 2: The Canyon
You can go to the canyon and experience the cool and damp ecosystem. Explore a canyon 150 meters long with all the wonderful creepy crawly things that dark damp places have to offer. This unique trek can be a short walk through the canyon to explore another world, or you can take a 3-hour trek from San Miguel del Bala along the river, which eventually runs through the canyon as a grand exit to the river. As you exit the canyon a boat will be waiting for you to take you back to Rurrenabaque.

- Wildlife and indigenous culture
- River navigation and lodging in bamboo huts with lights and private bathrooms
- Flora and fauna observation: hide away in pristine nature
- Hiking through the rainforest to visit the “pharmacy” of the San Miguel Community to learn about medicinal plants
- Expedition to the rare red and blue macaws´ breeding area in Madidi National Park
- One night in the San Miguel del Bala cabins inside Madidi National Park

Day 1
On the first day of your three-day adventure you will leave from the offices of San Miguel del Bala across from the Amaszonas Airlines offices. Your guide will take you and your bags to the motorized canoe that awaits you in the port of Rurrenabaque. From there, you will be taken 45 minutes up the Rio Beni to the lodge, where a refreshing tropical fruit juice will welcome you.

After settling into your private cabin your guide will take you back in time as he leads you through the rainforest and shows you the ancient trapping methods of the Tacana. Learn how the Tacana outfoxed their prey with unique and interesting traps that helped them catch dinner. Your guide will show you how each trap works, as well as the medicinal plants the hunters would collect as they checked their traps.
After returning to the lodge you can go wash up and sit down to a delicious lunch that includes all locally grown ingredients (vegetarian options included with advance notice). Go rest in a hammock after lunch and enjoy the tranquillity of the river and sounds of the jungle.

After you are recharged your guide will take you to visit the community of San Miguel, a Tacana village, to experience how tourism and your money has helped the San Migueleños improve their day-to-day lives. Take a stroll through the village as your guide explains how the community is organized. Visit the school and your guide’s home, learn how to weave, make a thatched roof, squeeze sugar cane yourself and enjoy a sweet and refreshing drink (best served with some lemon). Your visit to the community of San Miguel will give you a look at the Tacana villagers’ daily lives as well as let you see the great things your money is doing as a client of the community owned lodge!

Enjoy your dinner and relax the rest of the evening in your cabin or in the hammock hut.

Day 2
Your day starts with tropical bird songs and a nice breakfast by the river. Once you are done your guide will sit with you and explain the day’s activities. Today you have the option of staying in San Miguel for the morning to enjoy some of the other activities offered in the area (canyon, natural pools/waterfall, or medicinal plant walk). If you want to spend more time inside Madidi National Park you can choose to leave early after breakfast to go up to the cabins inside the national park.

The trip to San Miguel’s cabins inside Madidi National Park is a wonderful 1 ½-hour boat right up the Beni and then into Madidi National Park by way of the Tuichi river, a smaller, more intimate body of water that allows for more animal and bird sightings. Once you have arrived at the cabins and are settled into your rooms, your guide will open your eyes to the magic of Madidi National Park, one of the most biodiverse protected areas in the world. There are 7 trails leading away from the cabins of varying difficulty and distance. Your guide will consult the group and determine where you want to go and what difficulty level you would like to take. Take walks by day and night to see how the forest changes with the setting of the sun. Enjoy the same quality meals you had in San Miguel during your stay in Madidi. Relax and enjoy being in the middle of the amazing Madidi National Park in between your adventures.

Day 3
Your final morning in Madidi National Park starts off with a breakfast that will get you ready for your morning activities and the journey back. On your last day you will receive lunch as well as you return to your cabin and pack everything up. On your way back to Rurrenabaque you will stop off to observe the magnificent macaws that make their nests in the cliffs along the Tuichi River.

You will get back to Rurrenabaque in the late afternoon ready for a bit of rest and relaxation before you set out for your next adventure.

- Wildlife and indigenous culture
- River navigation and lodging in bamboo huts with lights and private bathrooms
- Flora and fauna observation: hide away in pristine nature
- Traditional hunting techniques and a visit to a Tacana community
- Hiking through the rainforest to visit the “pharmacy” of the San Miguel community to lean about medicinal plants
- Expedition to the rare red and blue macaws’ breeding ground in Madidi National Park
- Hike through the Bolivian Amazon rainforest to the spectacular 150-meter long canyon – and have some free time
- 1 night in Madidi National Park

Day 1
On the first day of your two-day adventure you will leave from the offices of San Miguel del Bala across from the Amaszonas Airlines offices. Your guide will take you and your bags to the motorized canoe that awaits you in the port of Rurrenabaque. From there, you will be taken 45 minutes up the Rio Beni to the lodge, where a refreshing tropical fruit juice will welcome you.

After settling into your private cabin your guide will take you back in time as he leads you through the rainforest and shows you the ancient trapping methods of the Tacana. Learn how the Tacana outfoxed their prey with unique and interesting traps that helped them catch dinner. Your guide will show you how each trap works, as well as the medicinal plants the hunters would collect as they checked their traps.

After returning to the lodge you can go wash up and sit down to a delicious lunch that includes all locally grown ingredients (vegetarian options included with advance notice). Go rest in a hammock after lunch and enjoy the tranquillity of the river and sounds of the jungle.

After you are recharged your guide will take you to visit the community of San Miguel, a Tacana village, and experience how tourism and your money has helped the San Migueleños improve their day-to-day lives. Take a stroll through the village as your guide explains how the community is organized. Visit the school and your guide’s home, learn how to weave, make a thatched roof, and squeeze sugar cane yourself and enjoy a sweet and refreshing drink (best served with some lemon). Your visit to the community of San Miguel will give you a look at the Tacana villagers’ daily lives as well as let you see the great things your money is doing as a client of the community owned lodge!

Enjoy your dinner and relax the rest of the evening in your cabin or in the hammock hut.

Day 2
Your day starts with tropical bird songs and a nice breakfast by the river. Once you are done your guide will sit with you and explain the day’s activities.

After breakfast you will take the canoe a bit further upriver to the mouth of a stream that flows into the Rio Beni. From there, your guide will lead you along the stream for a short 20-minute hike up to a waterfall that has a natural pool below where you can take a refreshing dip after your hike and relax in the soothing waters. The trek is a bit challenging, so make sure you consult with your guide before setting off to see if they feel you can handle it. The reward for your hard work is to sit underneath the waterfall and let this natural masseuse soothe your tired muscles.

Return to the lodge and enjoy a nice lunch. You can go pack up your things and get ready for the ride back to Rurrenabaque.

There are two options of activities for your final afternoon before heading further upriver:

Activity 1: San Miguel’s Pharmacy
You can go with your guide and experience San Miguel’s pharmacy. Take a walk into the forest with your guide to explore the wonders of medicinal plant life. Your guide will share his knowledge of the forest and the abundance of plant life that the Tacana have used for years to help with basic ailments such as stomachaches and colds all the way to dealing with anemia and other more serious conditions. Experience what the forest has to offer, and even try to take some medicine with you for your next run-in with bad street food in La Paz.

Activity 2: The Canyon
You can go to the canyon and experience the cool and damp ecosystem. Explore a canyon 150 meters long with all the wonderful creepy crawly things that dark damp places have to offer. This unique trek can be a short walk through the canyon to explore another world, or you can take a 3-hour trek from San Miguel del Bala along the river, which eventually runs through the canyon as a grand exit to the river. As you exit the canyon a boat will be waiting for you to take you back to the lodge.

Return to the lodge, enjoy a nice dinner, turn in for the evening and get ready for your big adventure deeper into the jungles of Madidi National Park.

Day 3
After an early breakfast your bags are put onto the canoe and you begin your journey 1½ hours up the Rio Beni into Madidi National Park. You then make a right onto the Tuiche River. The Tuiche is a smaller, more intimate river that allows for more animal and bird watching opportunities. Once you arrive at the cabins you can put your things down and head out to explore the area or rest and relax until lunch is served.
San Miguel del Bala offers 8 trails that will begin your Amazon adventure deep into the forests surrounding the cabins. Each trail varies in length and difficulty, and your guide will let you decide as a group where you would like to go and what difficulty level you would like to take.
After dinner your guide will take you out on a night trek. Take in the sounds and see how the forest really comes alive and transforms at night.

Day 4
You have a chance to explore the entire morning after eating a great breakfast. Wake up extra early if you want to go see the macaws leaving their nests for a day of hunting in the forest, or leave this activity for when you are about to return to Rurrenabaque. Just communicate your desires to your local guide, and this flexible last day will end with a lunch and a relaxing 3-hour boat ride back to Rurrenabaque.
Notice: If you have flights leaving that same day, lunch may need to be taken earlier or in San Miguel del Bala’s other lodge closer to Rurrenabaque. Be sure to alert your guide.

- Wildlife and indigenous culture
- River navigation and lodging in bamboo huts with lights and private bathrooms
- Flora and fauna observation: hide away in pristine nature
- Traditional hunting techniques and a visit to a Tacana community
- Hiking through the rainforest to visit the “pharmacy” of the San Miguel community to lean about medicinal plants
- Expedition to the rare red and blue macaws’ breeding ground in Madidi National Park
- Hike through the Bolivian Amazon madrainforest to the spectacular 150-meter long canyon – and have some free time
- 2 nights in Madidi National Park

Day 1
On the first day of your two-day adventure you will leave from the offices of San Miguel del Bala across from the Amaszonas Airlines offices. Your guide will take you and your bags to the motorized canoe that awaits you in the port of Rurrenabaque. From there, you will be taken 45 minutes up the Rio Beni to the lodge, where a refreshing tropical fruit juice will welcome you.

After settling into your private cabin, your guide will take you back in time as he leads you through the rainforest and shows you the ancient trapping methods of the Tacana. Learn how the Tacana outfoxed their prey with unique and interesting traps that helped them catch dinner. Your guide will show you how each trap works, as well as the medicinal plants the hunters would collect as they checked their traps.

After returning to the lodge you can go wash up and sit down to a delicious lunch that includes all locally grown ingredients (vegetarian options included with advance notice). Go rest in a hammock after lunch and enjoy the tranquillity of the river and sounds of the jungle.

After you are recharged your guide will take you to visit the community of San Miguel, a Tacana village, and experience how tourism and your money has helped the San Migueleños improve their day-to-day lives. Take a stroll through the village as your guide explains how the community is organized. Visit the school and your guide’s home, learn how to weave, make a thatched roof, squeeze sugar cane yourself and enjoy a sweet and refreshing drink (best served with some lemon). Your visit to the community of San Miguel will give you a look at the Tacana villagers’ daily lives as well as let you see the great things your money is doing as a client of the community-owned lodge!

Enjoy your dinner and relax the rest of the evening in your cabin or in the hammock hut.

Day 2
Your day starts with tropical bird songs and a nice breakfast by the river. Once you are done your guide will sit with you and explain the day’s activities.

After breakfast you will take the canoe a bit further upriver to the mouth of a stream that flows into the Rio Beni. From there, your guide will lead you along the stream for a short 20 minute hike up to a waterfall that has a natural pool below where you can take a refreshing dip after your hike and relax in the soothing waters. The trek is a bit challenging, so make sure you consult with your guide before setting off to see if they feel you can handle it. The reward for your hard work is to sit underneath the waterfall and let this natural masseuse soothe your tired muscles.

Return to the lodge and enjoy a nice lunch. You can go pack up your things and get ready for the ride back to Rurrenabaque.

There are two options of activities for your final afternoon before heading further up river:

Activity 1: San Miguel’s Pharmacy
You can go with your guide and experience San Miguel’s pharmacy, taking a walk into the forest with your guide to explore the wonders of medicinal plant life. Your guide will share his knowledge of the forest and the abundance of plant life that the Tacana have used for years to help with basic ailments such as stomachaches and colds all the way to dealing with anemia and other more serious conditions. Experience what the forest has to offer, and even try to take some medicine with you for your next run-in with bad street food in La Paz.

Activity 2: The Canyon
You can go to the canyon and experience the cool and damp ecosystem. Explore a canyon 150 meters long with all the wonderful creepy crawly things that dark damp places have to offer. This unique trek can be a short walk through the canyon to explore another world, or you can take a 3-hour trek from San Miguel del Bala along the river, which eventually runs through the canyon as a grand exit to the river. As you exit the canyon a boat will be waiting for you to take you back to the lodge.

Return to the lodge, enjoy a nice dinner, turn in for the evening and get ready for your big trip deeper into the jungles of Madidi National Park.

Day 3
After an early breakfast your bags are put onto the canoe and you begin your journey 1½ hours up the Rio Beni into Madidi National Park. You then make a right onto the Tuiche River. The Tuiche is a smaller, more intimate river that allows for more animal and bird watching opportunities. Once you arrive at the cabins you put your things down and head out to explore the area or rest and relax until lunch is served.

San Miguel del Bala offers 8 trails that will be your access into the deep forests surrounding the cabins. Each trail varies in length and difficulty, and your guide will let you decide as a group where and what level of trails you would like to take.

Night Trek (optional)

Day 4
Enjoy a delicious breakfast

This day will be spent exploring Madidi National Park in greater depth. Take a trip further up the Tuichi to explore other paths the Tacana have created for forest exploration.
Return to the lodge for lunch

In the afternoon you may relax in hammocks or, if you still have energy left, get back out there on the trails exploring all the wonderful things Madidi National Park has to offer.

Dinner

Night Trek (optional)

Day 5
Breakfast

You have a chance to explore the entire morning after eating a great breakfast. Wake up extra early if you want to go see the Macaws leaving their nests for a day of hunting in the forest, or leave it for when you are leaving to return to Rurrenabaque. Just communicate your desires to your local guide, and this flexible last day will be a perfect finish to your amazing trip.

After lunch take a nice relaxing 2.5 hour boat ride back to Rurrenabaque.

Notice: If you have flights leaving that same day, lunch may need to be taken earlier or in San Miguel del Bala’s other lodge closer to Rurrenabaque. Be sure to alert your guide.

Tailor-made tours
It is possible to organize tours of San Miguel and Madidi National Park that are tailor-made to fit your interests and needs – lasting as long or as short as you want.

Location

San Miguel del Bala Lodge is located just 45 minutes up the river Beni from Rurrenabaque, the famous gateway town to the Bolivian Amazon. The lodge has an office in town just in front of the Amaszonas Airlines offices. All tours leave from Rurrenabaque which is accessible from La Paz, the Bolivian capital, by two ways.

The Slow and Cheap way (La Paz to Rurrenabaque by land)
Taking the bus is always an experience, but this is the bus ride of a lifetime. You leave La Paz, the highest capital city in the world at over 12,000 feet (over 3,500m) and you take the twisting, turning road 18 hours down toward Rurrenabaque. This trip will cost you around US$10.

The Fast and a bit more expensive way (La Paz to Rurrenabaque by air)
There are two airlines, TAM and Amaszonas, with have daily flights from La Paz El Alto airport to Rurrenabaque. This trip takes you over breathtaking mountainscapes and down over the rivers of the Amazon. The trip takes only 45 minutes, but will cost you around US$150 round trip on Amaszonas and around US$110 on TAM (please note that TAM has only one flight per day).

If you make a reservation with San Miguel del Bala, they will pick you up on your arrival. If you don’t make a reservation and want to explore your options, remember their offices are always open and are located on the main street (Calle Commercio) across from the Amaszonas Airlines office.


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What you need

- Insect repellent
- Torch
- light waterproof jacket
- Recommended clothing consists of lightweight long pants and light shoes with socks and a lightweight long-sleeved shirt to keep the insects away.

Accommodation & Amenities

  • bed San Miguel del Bala lodge – 7 private cabins (one with a double bed, 6 with 2 twins), and a dormitory cabin for larger groups.
    Caquihuara lodge (only available on 3 to 5 day itineraries) – There are 3 private rooms.
  • San Miguel del Bala lodge – private bathrooms
    Caquihuara lodge – Shared bathrooms
  • Solar powered lighting in both lodges
  • All meals are prepared from locally grown produce and are cooked by our specially trained chefs from the community of San Miguel. There is free coffee and tea at all times.
  • Full day tour:
    For a minimum group number of 2 people: US$65
    For one person tours: Full day Tour: US$100

    2 days / 1 night:
    For a minimum group number of 2 people: US$150
    For one person tours: US$300

    3 days / 2 nights:
    For a minimum group number of 2 people: US$225
    For one person tours: US$450

    4 days / 3 nights:
    For a minimum group number of 2 people: US$300
    For one person tours: US$600

    5 days / 4 nights:
    For a minimum group number of 2 people US$375
    For one person tours: US$750

    What do these prices include?
    Guide, all meals while on the tour, transport, lodging, bottled water

    What isn’t included
    - Entrance fee to Madidi National Park which is 125 bolivianos (around US$18) for foreigners and 45 bolivianos for Bolivians
    - All alcoholic beverages and sodas will be extra

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