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, which is 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 45 minutes up stream from Rurrenabaque. San Miguel is south of Rurrenabaque on the west bank of the Beni River, just outside of the Madidi National Park.
All visits to San Miguel del Bala must be arranged with the office of the 'San Miguel del Bala Community Eco-Tourism' in Rurrenabaque : Calle comercio, between Calle Vaca Diez and Santa Cruz, across from the Amasonas airline office.
You can also find operators in La Paz that offer a package to get to San Miguel del Bala. Some of these operators are
All tours to San Miguel del Bala are organized through the office in Rurrenabaque, where they will arrange comfortable river transport for you up to the lodge, where you can choose between a relaxed or active itinerary.
When you arrive to San Miguel del Bala Lodge your days will be filled with different activities (everything is optional) that let you experience the Tacana culture as well as the beautiful flora and fauna of the area.
2 eco-lodges are owned by the community :
The rain forest environment and the Tacana culture.
With tours from 1 to 2 days, at the first eco-lodge, visitors can see clean view of the Bala Gorge, the Beni River, and nearby mountains ranges covered by rainforest.
Near the lodge, it is posible to see and explore :
With tours from 3 to 4 days, the visitor can also go to the second lodge in Madidi National Park. 8 trails lead through the rain forest allowing visitors good chances to see wild life : caimans, capybaras, many birds (including parrots and toucans), butterflies (including the famous morpho), many kinds of monkeys, tapirs, and if you're very lucky, the terrible jaguar.
It is posible to do tours from 1 to 4 days, with local guides from the community.
Tours from 1 to 2 days :
Near the first eco-lodge, at 40 minutes from Rurrenabaque. Various activities are offered :
Tours from 3 to 4 days
Near the second eco-lodge in Madidi national park, in addition to the activities mentionned above, you can do :
It is posible, for those who are doing a 3 or 4 days excursion, to come directly to the second lodge in the national park and enjoy more trecking.
The restaurant in the lodge serves typical, international and vegetarian cuisine. The food itself is a cultural learning experience as the guide teaches you the different ways the Tacana prepare the bounty of the forest and rivers. Also learn the what foods were prepared for certain events within the community.
Enjoy rich natural juices made from fruit straight from the jungle. If you feel like a cocktail, a beer or wine, alcohol can be bought in the restaurant.
San Miguel del Bala Eco-lodge, .
The cabins are scattered, giving the feeling of living alone in the rain forest.
The restaurant, and a traditional round-house (an interpretation center with an exhibition about the Tacana culture and hammocks), are situated near the eco-lodges.
3 eco-lodges, each one with 3 beds, electrecity and shared bathroom, in the middle of the national park, along the Tuichi river.
Possibility to observ a lot of animals from the lodges. A restaurant is situated next to the eco-lodges.
The Eco-lodges are 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.
Madidi National Park is nearby.