Neither the Incas nor the Spanish could explore, let alone colonise, the expanse of Bolivia's inaccessible Amazon. It was only recently that it became possible for travellers to reach some parts of this intriguing area.
Think of dense forest with ancient trees towering above innumerable plant species, with countless exotic birds, monkeys and sloths. Think winding rivers populated by pink dolphins, alligators and piranha, and river beaches where turtles lay their eggs. Think isolated communities along the river banks, just in contact with the the modern world but living traditionally and making their living from the worlds of forest and river. Bolivia's lowlands represent 60% of its territory.
The Madidi National Park is Bolivia's most accessible Amazon destination. It is close to La Paz: just 40 minute flight from La Paz to Rurrenabaque where the forest edge meets pampas and savannah.
It is much harder, but certainly possible, to reach the remote Ibare Mamore National Park in eastern Bolivia near Trinidad. Travel by boat along Amazon tributaries where curious pink river dolphins - bufeos - appear suddenly, spouting water from their blow-holes. Bufeos were given special governmental protection in 2012 and expert guides can elaborate on the region's conservation programme. Trek from the riverbank to spot birds among the cacao, banana and yucca trees, fish at a nearby lagoon and camp along the shore with a local community; visit the nearby pampas habitat that teems with over 85 bird species including the vivid Blue-throated Macaw.
Llanos de Moxos
The flatlands of the Llanos de Moxos, a mosaic of grasslands, wetlands, and forest, stretch from Rurrenabaque to Trinidad. Here the mysterious Moxos people lived from about 1100BC until about 1450AD. Recent archaeological studies have found that the thousands of raised earth mounds that pepper the landscape are remnants of their massive systems of earthworks. They created networks of raised fields, canals, causeways, reservoirs, dykes and mounds that extended over hundreds of square kilometres, some exceeding the largest Egyptian pyramids.