On your life list of places to see, it might be easy to overlook Bolivia. But as a backdoor into the Amazon region, it offers pristine rain forest and glimpses of rare creatures like the giant otter and spectacled bear. From La Paz, you fly to a local airport, then travel by canoe to the Chalalán Ecolodge, in the heart of Madidi National Park. Cabins accomodate up to 28 travelers, with shared baths, solar hot water, and meals on site.
The lodge was built in 1998 by villagers seeking an economic alternative to destructive uses of the forest like hunting and logging. Local farmers supply fruit and produce, and local guides lead nature hikes and canoe tours in the park. For more background about the project, go to Conservation International’s Web site.