Rurrenabaque is the Gateway to the Amazon in Bolivia. From here, local tour operators can organize trips to Madidi National Park if you want to experience the jungle, or the Bolivian pampas if wildlife viewing is more your speed. Here our our picks for the four best trips in the Bolivian Amazon.
Adventure Tours in Rurrenabaque
For intrepid explorers and fearless thrill-seekers, Rurrenabaque is the place to be. Vast expanses of untouched jungle and pampas are the ideal locations for setting up wilderness camps under tarpaulins, constructing your own balsa raft to float down the river, whizzing through the forest canopy on a zipline or learning jungle survival techniques from the local indigenous residents.
Choose how daring you want to be – from two weeks sleeping outdoors in the rain forest, to an afternoon ziplining or cycling before returning to your comfortable hotel – there are levels to suit everyone, including children.
Our Pick: Berraco del Madidi
Berraco del Madidi offers the professional equipment and in-depth experience necessary for the perfect expedition into the jungle, especially for visitors with special interests – such as wildlife photography or sport fishing – or who are looking for tailor-made trips. Our tours are led by native guides with an expert knowledge of the region, and supported by our team of professionals, ensuring that your Amazon adventure is safe, memorable and fun.
Their camp deep in the jungle is ideal for total immersion in the Amazon at night, and as they have not cleared the surrounding trees there is a greater chance of spotting wildlife – including tapirs and peccaries – right from your hammock!
They offer tour packages specializing in nature and adventure in Madidi National Park – one of the world’s most biodiverse locations. The work they do benefits the neighboring indigenous Quechua-Tacana communities as they strive to defend their identity, culture and traditions, as well as conserving the natural environment.
Amazon Tours in Madidi National Park
Rurrenabaque is the gateway to the Bolivian Amazon – so where better to begin your trip into the world’s largest tropical rain forest? The nearby Madidi National Park protects a vast expanse of unspoiled jungle, filled with jaguars, tapirs, giant anteaters, forest hogs, vivid butterflies and an incredible number of bird species. This region is also home to a number of indigenous communities, many of whom still depend on jungle resources for food, shelter and medicine.
A typical jungle tour lasts three days, though expeditions of up to three weeks are available for more adventurous travelers. Accommodation is available to suit all tastes and budgets, ranging from comfortable private cabins to shared dorms, and even makeshift camp sites on the riverbanks.
Tour prices typically do not include the entrance fee to Madidi National Park, Bs. 125 per person.
Activities vary depending on the season, tour duration and interests of each group. Day and night treks offer the chance to view native animals, learn about medicinal plants, and watch pairs of macaws soaring over the forest canopy.
Boat rides are a relaxing way to enjoy the gorgeous scenery, while cultural encounters are an opportunity to discover local fishing and cooking techniques, build a balsa raft and learn ancient skills necessary to survive in the jungle.
Our Pick: Mashaquipe Ecolodge
The word “Mashaquipe” is formed from native Tacana and Quechua words, and refers to many things coming together as one. This is a perfect description for the organization, as it is owned by indigenous Tacana, T’siman and Mosetene families who live deep inside the jungle.
Mashaquipe Ecolodge offers four small cabins are nestled deep in the jungle. The cabins are built in traditional style using local, natural materials, and each has mosquito nets and a small seating area with deckchairs. The lodge has electricity.
In addition, Mashaquipe can offer camping on the riverbank or deep within the jungle.
Bolivia Ranch Tours
The open pampas of the neighboring regions of Reyes and Santa Rosa are home to the ganaderos – Bolivian cowboys. A visit to a local ranch is a truly unique cultural experience, as you live alongside Bolivian cattle farmers as they milk the cows, cook traditional meals, cure meat, break in young horses and lead the cattle around the pastures.
Our Pick: Lipiko Tours
In Rurrenabaque, Lipiko Tours can offer a wild cultural experience in the Bolivian Amazon. Spend a few days living with the vaqueros – Bolivian cowboys – in the grasslands of the Reyes pampas. During this unique tour, you will live in the ranch house, and accompany the cowboys as they milk the cows, round up the cattle, visiting the true pampas to observe wildlife and cook hearty meals in the traditional clay oven.
Activities are tailor-made for each guest. You can spend your day horseback riding to distant lagoons (no experience necessary), hike through the idyllic tropical forest, visit a local community or take your binoculars out to look for birds. They work with small groups and you will have complete exclusivity of the ranch during your stay.
Accommodation is in private bedrooms with private bathroom and shower for the group in the ranch house which acts as a guest house . There are hammocks to relax in and a traditional kitchen with clay oven.
Bolivia Pampas Tours
The open pampas of Santa Rosa offers the most exciting wildlife viewing in the region. With all the vegetation clustered around the winding rivers, birds and animals flock here to eat, drink and sunbathe – leaving you to relax in your boat end enjoy the show!
Dozens of caimans bask on the riverbanks, troops of capybaras – the world’s largest rodent – scrape around in the mud, birds swoop overhead and monkeys leap in the low-hanging branches above the river. Activities here include fishing for tasty pirañas, hiking in search of huge anacondas and – the most magical of all – swimming in the river with pink freshwater dolphins.
Lodges are perched along the riverbanks, so guests have stunning views of the wildlife and scenery from their own hammocks and cabins.
Our Pick: Bala Tours
Bala Tours was founded with the goal of providing excellent environmentally and socially responsible tourism services in pampas. They work with small groups of tourists, led by a team of local, well-trained and experienced guides, in order to guarantee the quality of our tours.
Bala Tours offers a diverse range of tours to pampas, including visits to local Tacana, Mosetene and T’siman communities, wildlife viewing, boat tours, horseback riding and camping.
Bala Tours owns Caracoles Lodge in the Bolivian Pampas. The lodge has solar power, mosquito nets, and radio communication. They offer double cabins with private bathrooms, and double rooms and dorms with shared bathrooms.