San Miguel del Bala
San Miguel del Bala is an indigenous community in the Bolivian Amazon rainforest on the banks of the Beni River, near Rurrenabaque. Its nearest neighbour is the Madidi National Park world famous as one of the places on earth with the widest biodiversity. San Miguel is a small community of 32 families.
San Miguel is Spanish for Saint Michael. "Bala" means "bullet" or "cannon ball". The landmark is the ’shot hole’ in the nearby Mountain range that is visible from the lodge.
San Miguel del Bala is only reached by boat 40 minutes up stream from Rurrenabaque. San Miguel is south of Rurrenabaque on the west bank of the Beni River.
All visits to and stays in San Miguel del Bala must be arranged with the office of the 'San Miguel del Bala Community Eco-Tourism' in Rurrenabaque.
You can walk around. The village community and the Eco-Lodge is close to the River Beni, and there is a short walk between the village and the lodge. The cabins in the lodge is about 30 meters above river level.
Do not leave the area without a guide.
Discover the rain forest environment and the Tacana culture.
From a viewpoint, 50 m over the canopies, the visitors can enjoy clean views of the Bala Gorge, the Beni River, and nearby mountain ranges covered by rainforests.
With the lodge as the point of departure many trails lead through the rain forest allowing visitors good chances to see wild life. The paths are designed to teach visitors about ancient hunting techniques, medicinal plants and ecological processes in the primary and secondary forest. Other paths take visitors to a ‘salitral’ - a cave with mineral earth that attracts all kinds of animals, a refreshing natural pool fed by a beautiful waterfall, and through a 150-meter-long canyon, whose darkness, coolness, and humidity is perfect for the hummingbirds’ nests.
Tours: Trekking through the forest, animal watching, mountain climbing or canoeing.
Tours to the Madidi National Park.
Participate in the daily life of the Tacana community, visiting a family in their house made of palm leaves and bamboo, processing sugar cane juice, working in the fields, making handicrafts or playing with the children.
Hide-away. Live without phone and internet in the quiet nature, comfortably lodged. And still close to things that you find in a town like Rurrenabaque.
The restaurant in the lodge is serving typical, international and vegetarian cuisine.
The San Miguel del Bala Eco-lodge has 7 comfortable cabins each with 3 beds, electricity and private bathroom, and a dormitory of 8 beds with shared bathroom.
The cabins are located scattered, giving the feeling of living alone in the rain forest.
The Eco-lodge is owned and operated by the indigenous community of San Miguel del Bala. The inhabitants of San Miguel has have built the Eco-Lodge with the help of NGO's: CARE, Conservation International, UNDP, and Wildlife Conservation Society.
In a traditional round-house there is an interpretation center with an exhibition about the Tacana culture.
Testimonials and journals
The Suijker family from the Netherlands visited Rurrenabaque, San Miguel del Bala and the jungle for 5 days in July, 2005. Their travel blog in Dutch can be read at  A translation into English:  Paul Suijker writes with such empathy and excitement about their experiences in Bolivia, that you see it all for you. Colourful first-hand impressions spiced up with peculiar anecdotes and useful background information.
Nancy from Brooklyn, New York City, USA, visited Rurrenabaque and San Miguel del Bala in mid-September 2006. She has written several comprehensive journals with many useful details: