August 27 to September 5, 2016
After almost 10 days in La Paz, it was time for the jungle. All the different jungle tours starts in Rurrenabaque. A few different options to get there. Taking the bus you can expect to spend about 15-18 hours. Not because it is far, but because of the road 🙂 However it is by far the cheapest option (70-100 Bolivianos, 10-15 USD). I had met a few travellers taking the bus and they had all advised me to take the flight (664 Bs with Amzonas, plus airport tax 15 Bs and transportation to the airport – 60-70 Bs in a taxi). The last option is to take a taxi which is 200 Bs per person (6 people in the taxi).
It was an interesting flight in a tiny airplace. During check in, the woman told me “Also, you should know that the plane only holds 19 seats….”. I arrived in Rurrenabaque at 11 AM (the flight time was only 35 minutes).
Rurrenabaque is a small town in the North of Bolivia on the Beni River. It is the capital of Rurrenabaque Municipality. In recent years it has become popular with international tourism as it is an easy gateway for visits to Madidi National Park (within the Bolivian rainforest), as well as the surrounding pampas. Locals commonly refer to the town by its shortened nickname, “Rurre.”
Rurrenabaque is located in José Ballivián Province in Beni Department, Bolivia. Rurrenabaque Municipality, the fourth (municipal section) of José Ballivián Province, has 14,000 inhabitants, out of which 19,195 live in Rurrenabaque itself (Censo 2012, according to Instituto Nacional de Estadística de Bolivia).
I spent a few days relaxing in Rurre. I met 2 French guys at the hostel (El Lobo, 60 Bs per night for a dorm room). Together with Christian and Olivier we were looking for looking for different options to visit the Selva and Pampas. Unfortunately the Government had recently changed the rules in regards to pricing (August 15, 2016), so the minimum price was now 1200 Bs (close to 200 USD) for 3 days and 2 nights. Before August 15 it was possible to find a tour at the price of 500-600 Bs. There are several agencies and we ended up joining Max Adventure and Mashaquipe on a combo tour. 3 nights in the jungle and 1 night on the pampas. It is the two most professional agencies and most expensive as well. We ended up paying 2900 Bs, excluding the entrance fee to the parks of 80 Bs and 150 Bs. Expensive but worth it!
Selva (The jungle) 4 days and 3 nights
On day 1 at 9.30 AM, we left by boat and crossed over the river to San Buenaventura where we paid the entry fee of 80 Bs to the Madidi National Park. Then we headed up the River Beni for 2.5 hours. Just a brief stop at the Madidi Park Guard Office before heading up the RiverTuichi. We continued up on the River Tuichi, enjoying the beautiful scenery and wildlife on the way. Different types of herons, kingfishers, egrets and birds of prey. Due to the low water, we had to jump off the boat several times and help out.
We arrived at the camp site where we spent the first night (and third night). Beautiful place where the cabanas are built as tree houses. All different.
On the same day we had a jungle trek in the afternoon as well as in the night. On the trek, our guide (Diego) pointed out and explained about the flora and fauna, toxic plants and trees, seasonal fruit and flowers we saw on the way. He also taught us how the various plants are used in medicines etc. Not that many animals, but still a few howler monkeys, a variety of birds and a multitude of insects.
For our night walk we looked for nocturnal animals but mostly spiders….. Unfortunately no armadillos, tapir, owls which you can be lucky to see.
On the second day we walked further into the jungle. It was quite a long walk but quite amazing. Late in the afternoon we arrived at our camp site next to the river. Beautiful sunset and surroundings. We prepared our “beds” just using a few trees, sticks, lianas and then our mosquito net.
We also went on a short hike to look for the wild pigs and we saw a lot of them (what a smell haha).
On the third day, back to the camp while looking for different animals and tarantulas – and we found one 🙂
In the afternoon we went on short trip up and across the river by boat to a site called Caquiawara, a series of exposed cliffs where parrots and macaws come to lick the minerals from the rocks. After a short walk we arrived to an observation platform overlooking the cliff – an excellent spot to observe and photograph the parrots and macaws as they flew in below us to lick the rocks.
On the fourht day we left Rurrenabaque at 9 AM to Santa Rosa located by the Yacuma River – about 2,5 hours. A short boat ride to the camp site of Mashaquipe, lunch and the off on another boat ride (about 5 hours in total).
During the ride we saw several animals and the pampas wildlife, including turtles, monkeys, capybaras, alligators and many types of birds as well as the pink dolphins. Just before the sunset we stopped to fish for piranhas – fun experience 🙂
We got back during the which was quite an experience. Using the flashlight we saw the eyes of many nocturnal animals reflecting and appearing to glow.
On the last day we went to look for anacondas but unfortunately the weather wasn’t with us, so no anacondas…… :S