Thursday, Apr. 02, 2009

Chalalán Ecolodge, Bolivia

The Amazonian rainforest is usually associated with Brazil, but the forest — the world's lungs — extends well into other South American nations, including Bolivia. The Chalalan Ecolodge (+591-(0)2-2311451; in Madidi National Park, just a short flight from the Bolivian capital of La Paz, was launched in 1998 by Conservation International and villagers from the community of San José de Uchupiamonas, who realized that harvesting coffee, rice and peanuts simply wasn't economical and logging wasn't sustainable. Now wholly owned by the village's 600 residents, 50% of the lodge's profits are reinvested in local health care and education and the remaining portion is divided up among the villagers. The bird-watching in the park is spectacular, with 300 species, as are the canoe trips on pristine Chalalán Lake. The ecolodge has been so successful that it is being used as model for similar projects in the Americas.

See pictures of species on the brink of extinction.