The real-life hero of adventure film Jungle helped set up an ecolodge in Bolivia’s Madidi national park – a wild destination for trekkers, and a ray of light for a hunter-gatherer community under threat
Branches came crashing down and leaves tumbled around me. Over my head, a howler monkey was putting on a display, standing upright, chest puffed out, pelting me with whatever was at hand. Eventually, realising that this grinning biped wasn’t going anywhere, he gave up, sat astride his lofty branch and went back to eating fruit.
That was just one of many captivating encounters in Madidi national park, a vast swath of pristine wilderness in the Bolivian Amazon. To get there, I’d flown north from La Paz to the sweltering jungle town of Rurrenabaque. Then it was a six-hour journey in a wooden motorboat, chugging gently along the Beni and Tuichi rivers, through sky-high gorges and gallery forest, spotting kingfishers, herons and caiman as I went.