The Pantanal region is shared by Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay and constitutes the world's largest wetlands. Located in the South West part of Bolivia, the lack of infrastructure in the region has preserved this ecosystem. Wildlife and nature lovers can enjoy the isolation of the regions of The Chaco dry forest plains, the Chiquitania dry forest and the Pantanal (wetlands).
In the Chaco region you will find The Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco National park is Bolivia's largest and most isolated protected area. It is estimated that it contains 1,500 species of higher plants, 89 species of amphibians and reptiles, 301 bird species, 65 species of small mammals, 59 species of large mammals including jaguars, pumas, giant armadillos and more.
These region can be visited but accommodation is extremely basic or requires camping.
The Chiquitanos, Jesuit missions and its baroque music
The Spanish colonists' search for the golden city of El Dorado in the tropical regions failed and they decided to give the region to the religious orders. The Jesuits founded mission communities where the indigenous tribes of the Amazon and dry forest regions adopted Christianity. These people were named "The Chiquitanos" who showed aptitude for music which the missionaries used to help covert the tribes.
The revival of Baroque music in Bolivia since 1996 coincided with the re-discovery of thousands of original compositions almost forgotten for hundreds of years in a remote tropical region of the country's south-east. This music dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries when Jesuit missionaries from central Europe settled there, and whose attempts to convert the indigenous population included training musicians in the baroque style of the age.
Today, children from villages in this poor, isolated area are taught to play the music their ancestors created. Some go on to play all over the world and take part in the Baroque Music Festival, a biennial event hosted by the region's ten main Jesuit missionary churches, considered one of Bolivia's greatest cultural treasures.