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Rurrenabaque. Travel Guide of Rurrenabaque City, Bolivia

Welcome to our Travel Guide of Rurrenabaque City. You will find here a comprehensive information over Rurrenabaque, including Rurrenabaque hotels, Rurrenabaque history, Rurrenabaque climate, around Rurrenabaque, activities in Rurrenabaque, festivals and events, travel companies and hostels.

Rurrenabaque Travel Guide.

1. History of Rurrenabaque.

Rurrenabaque Travel Guide, Bolivia

This is the Amazon as it is meant to be. Rich with wildlife, flora and indigenous culture, you may never want to leave. In the midst of the tropical lushness is the lovely town of Rurrenabaque, a major gringo trail hangout.

Pampas, jungle and ethno-ecotourism options are innumerable here, but vary significantly in quality and price. Parque Nacional Madidi, one of most precious wilderness gems of South America and the world, sits on doorstep of Rurrenabaque.

The relaxing Rurre, (pronounced zussay), as the town is endearingly known, has a fabulous setting. Sliced by the deep Río Beni and surrounded by mossy green hills, the mesmerizing sunsets of the town turn the sky a burned orange, and a dense fog sneaks down the river among the lush, moist trees. Once darkness falls, the surrounding rainforest comes alive, and croaks, barks, buzzes and roars can be heard from a distance.

Rurre is a major traveler base. Backpackers fill the streets, and restaurants, cafes and hotels cater mainly to Western tastes.

Some travelers spend their days relaxing in the ubiquitous hammocks, but the majority go off on riverboat adventures into the rainforest.

The original people of the area, the Tacana, were one of the few lowland tribes that resisted Christianity. They are responsible for the name Beni, which means wind, as well as the curious name of Rurrenabaque, which is derived from Arroyo Inambaque, the Hispanicized version of the Tacana name Suse-Inambaque, the Ravine of Ducks.

2. Basic Information About Rurrenabaque.

Emergency Police Station at main plaza.

Immigration Extend your stay by visiting Migración (8:30-16:30 Mon-Fri) on Aniceto Arce between Busch and Bolívar.

Internet Access Access is pricey in Rurre and sometimes slow. Try Internet (Comercio, 9:00-22:00).

Laundry Laundry Service Rurrenabaque (Comercio) and Number One (Avaroa), just around the corner, promise a same-day machine-wash-anddry service.

Medical Services Local hospital is available in town.

Money There is no ATM here, so beware. You can get cash advances at Prodem Bank, but only on Visa and MasterCard (including Visa debit cards).

Post and Telephone Punto Entel (T. 8928726, Comercio and Santa Cruz, 7:00-22:00) Cheaper for calls than the main Entel office on Comercio.

Tourist Information The municipal tourist office (corner Vaca Diez and Avaroa, 8:00-12:00 and 14:30-18:00 Mon-Sat) is happy to answer questions but short on material.

Electricity 220V.

3. Weather in Rurrenabaque.

The saying Las golondrinas nunca migran de Cochabamba (The swallows never migrate from Cochabamba) aptly describes what cochabambinos believe is the most comfortable climate of the world, with warm, dry, sunny days and cool nights.

Temperature in Rurrenabaque, Bolivia Rainfall in Rurrenabaque, Bolivia

4. The City of Rurrenabaque.

a) The Town

Rurrenabaque Travel Guide, Bolivia

The appeal of Rurrenabaque is in its surrounding natural beauty. It is easy to pass a day or three here while waiting to join a tour. Behind town is a low but steep mirador that affords a view across the seemingly endless Beni lowlands; it is reached by climbing up the track at the southern end of Bolívar. Near here is the Butterfly Pool El Mirador, a fabulous spot where you can swim and sigh over the beautiful views of the Beni lowlands.

If you prefer a tiled, chlorinated pool, the Olympic-sized piscina at the otherwise overpriced Hotel El Ambaibo on Santa Cruz is open to nonguests.

b) El Chorro

Rurrenabaque Travel Guide, Bolivia

Another nice excursion is El Chorro, an idyllic waterfall and pool 1km upstream; you can only reach it by boat so inquire at the harbor. On a rock roughly opposite El Chorro is an ancient serpentine engraving, which was intended as a warning to travelers: whenever the water reached serpent level, the Beni was considered unnavigable.

5. Around Rurrenabaque.

a) Jungle and Pampas Tours

Rurrenabaque Travel Guide, Bolivia

Jungle and pampas tours are bread and butter of Rurrenabaque, and operators mushroom at incredible speed. Familiarize yourself with what to expect from a responsible tour operator and choose your guides with care.

Not all provide the same level of service and cheaper does not mean better.

Most agencies have offices on Avaroa.

6. Tours and Activities in Rurrenabaque

a) Jungle and Pampas Tours

Rurrenabaque Travel Guide, Bolivia

Tourism around Rurrenabaque has taken off to an extent that would have been unimaginable a decade ago, thanks to the attractive rainforest and pampas, which support Amazonian wildlife in relatively large numbers. But, as with most development, there are drawbacks, and in this case, it is the plethora of tour operators who are often much less responsible than they ought to be.

Ecofriendly operators of pampas and jungle tours are also cropping up on every corner of streets of Rurrenabaque. Many undercut the official prices and, despite claiming to be ecofriendly, do not respect the environment they work in. Inorganic waste is often left at campsites, animals are handled and disturbed, and safety of travelers is often compromised, with inexperienced guides not knowing what to do in an emergency. This is largely a result of over-demanding budget travelers expecting low prices and high delivery: perceiving the large number of operators as fair game for bartering, they beat the prices of operators down to the minimum and demand guarantees of spotting wildlife.

Bear in mind that spotting caimans, anacondas, piranhas and other Amazonian animals is a privilege, not a right. Operators and guides should not promise animal sightings (this encourages their unethical capture), go looking for wildlife or, under any circumstances, feed or handle any animals.

Choose your operator carefully. Talk to other travelers and keep in mind the basic standards that guides should adhere to, and, most importantly, be responsible in your own expectations.

Better still, opt for one of the community-run ecotourism ventures, which, although more expensive, are definitely more worthwhile and aim to help sustain communities and preserve the richness of the rainforests for the generations to come.

Shop around to get an idea of official prices. Any agency undercutting rates should be regarded with caution. Only SERNAP-authorized operators are allowed to enter Parque Nacional Madidi and foreigners must be accompanied by a local guide. Note that to get the most out of these tours, at least a minimal knowledge of Spanish is required.

The Bolivian rainforest is full of more interesting and unusual things than you could ever imagine.

Local guides, most of whom have grown up in the area, are knowledgeable about the fauna, flora and forest lore; they can explain habits of animals and habitats and demonstrate the uses of some of the thousands of plant species, including the natural remedies for colds of the forest, fever, cuts, insect bites (which come in handy!) and other ailments. Note that you are likely to see a lot more plants than animals.

Most trips are by canoe upstream along the Río Beni, and some continue up the Río Tuichi, camping and taking shore and jungle walks along the way, with plenty of swimming opportunities and hammock time. Accommodations are generally in private camps of agencies.

Rain, mud and mariguí (sandflies) make the wet season (especially January to March) unpleasant for jungle tours, but some agencies have camps set up for wildlife watching at this time.

It is easier to see wildlife in the wetland savannas northeast of town, but the sun is more oppressive, and the bugs can be worse, especially in the rainy season. Bring binoculars, a good flashlight, extra batteries and plenty of strong anti-bug juice. Highlights include playful pink river dolphins, horseback riding and night-time canoe trips to spot caiman.

7. Festivals and Events.

January 1: New Year 's Day.

February or March (changeable date): Carnival.

April (Changeable date): Easter.

Palm Sunday: The Saturday before Easter. People enter temples with branches which the clergy bless.
Holy Thursday: It is a tradition of the people to visit 12 temples of the city, one for each apostle, in this day.
Good Friday: Procession of the Holy Sepulchre.

June (Changeable date):

Corpus Christie: Commemoration of the Body of Christ.

September 21: Day of Spring. Youth and Students of Bolivia.

November 1: Todos Santos (All Saints Day).

This is a pre-columbian tradition when the people go to visit the Tombs prepared at home by the relatives of the deceased and where the friends are offered the same food and drink liked by him.

November 2: Difuntos (Day of the Deceased)

The tombs are dismantled and the people celebrate in the memory of the deceased.

November 3: Alma Cacharpaya (Soul of the Calypsobreakers)

Those in charge of dismantling the tombs show up in the home of the deceased with an orchestra so that the soul of the deceased will be happy.

November 18: Day of Beni.

December 24 and 25: Christmas Eve and Christmas day.

8. Travel Companies and Tour Operators in Rurrenabaque.

Bala Tours (T. 8922527, Santa Cruz at Comercio) Has its own jungle camp, Caracoles, and a comfortable pampas lodge on Río Yacumo.

Fluvial Tours/Amazonia Adventures (T. 8922372, Avaroa s/n) This is longest-running agency of Rurrenabaque.

9. Hotels and Hostels in Rurrenabaque.

Villa Alcira (comunidad de Villa Alcira, Website).

Hotel Ambaibo (Bolivar and Santa Cruz, Website).

10. Restaurants and Bars in Rurrenabaque.

Cherries Ice Cream Shop (Santa Cruz) This little kiosk has a variety of flavors, plus inventive sundaes and milkshakes to whet your appetite.

Camila (Avaroa at Campero) Camila gets more popular by the year with the best-value breakfasts in town. The walls are plastered with photos of happy punters and jungle murals, and oropendolanest lampshades complete the effect. There is a nightly bottled beer happy hour

Banana Club (Comercio) If you want to try salsa dancing or Bolivianstyle grooving, this slightly sleazy club has Cuban doctors shaking their booties, locals getting drunk and gringos joining in.

Luna Café (Comercio nr Santa Cruz) Another palapa-roofed bar-restaurant, this is a mellow place with a chilled atmosphere that is equally as welcoming for a tasty lunch as it is for ice cold beers in the evening. Film buffs will love the open-air cinema in the back.

11. Getting There and Away.

Air The humble airport of Rurrenabaque is a grassy landing strip a few kilometers north of town. The brief flight to La Paz is an affordable way of avoiding the arduous 24-hour bus journey to the capital. Flights sell out fast but are frequently cancelled during inclement weather. You will be refunded only 70% of the ticket value if your flight is cancelled and you are not prepared to wait around for the next one. If you are stuck, try using the Reyes airport, an hour northeast by bus or shared taxi. TAM and Amaszonas has daily flights to/from La Paz

Bus The main bus terminal of Rurrenabaque is 30 min wlak from town.

  • La Paz-Rurrenabaque-La Paz: (700 Km paved and unpaved road) Daily departures 18-24 hours trip.
  • Beni Area-Rurrenabaque-Beni Area: (unpaved roads) Conecctions to Trinidad, Riberalta and others.

Boat Thanks to the Guayaramerín road, there is little cargo transportation down the Río Beni to Riberalta these days and there is no traffic at all during periods of low water

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