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Published: August 27th 2014
The bus from La Paz dropped us outside the Flota Yunguena offices in Rurrenabaque at 5:40am. We sat around until it got light then headed into town. To get into town (with the office behind you) turn left and walk up the road until the end by the naval base. Turn right down Arce and the main area of town is from that street and up to the left. Where We Stayed
Hostal Los Tucanes - Bs. 80 for a twin room with shared bathroom. This was the first place we encountered when we were heading into town that was open that early in the morning. It is on Arce and the corner of Bolivar. Breakfast of some bread and jam and coffee was included. Showers were really hot but wasn't toilet paper in the toilets most of the time. There was wifi but it barely worked. The place was really busy and had a very over priced bar. There were a few hammocks and a bit of a roof terrace.
Hostal Balsero - Bs. 60 for a double room with private bathroom and TV. Hostal had a balcony at the
front over the street. Laundry service available at Bs. 10 per kilo. No wifi. On Avenue Comercio between Arce and Pando. What We Did WENT ON A PAMPAS TOUR
There are a lot of different agencies in town, especially around Santa Cruz that offer the same 3 day tours, mostly for the same price. Some agencies only speak Spanish.
We went with Flecha Tours on the corner of Avaroa and Santa Cruz. The guy in the agency spoke English and offered the standard 3 day tour for Bs. 600 each not including Bs. 150 park fee. They had luggage storage with bag tags for your big backpack and a safe that you could put valuables in inside a signed and sealed envelope.
The tour began by meeting at the office at 8:30am and left at 9am. First comes a dusty drive in a jeep to the park. You stop for a break along the way and lunch in a restaurant just before the entrance. Bs. 150 park fee is paid and we got on the boat at 1:15pm.
Our tour was the first to depart down the
river and you see literally hundreds of alligators and also caimens, turtles, capibara, pink dolphins, monkeys and all kinds of birds including macaws, flamingos, eagles and pampas condors.
We arrived at camp at 3:40am and went to our dormitory style room. There are good mosquito nets on the beds and blankets. There are showers and flushing toilets (but bring toilet paper). There is a separate kitchen complete with cook, games area with a pool table, TV and movies and table tennis, and a space outside with sun loungers and hammocks by the river. Around the camp you can see alligators in the water, monkeys and lots of different birds.
We had a quick snack and a drink and then headed out to a place to watch the sunset. Here there were lots of people from all of the other boats and a very expensive bar. A large beer was Bs. 25.
Following the sunset we went on a night caiman tour down the river to see the hundreds of glowing eyes.
We got up early to watch the sunrise. Next we went down the river and walked around to spot some
toucans. After that we went back to camp for breakfast.
After eating we headed out to try and find some anacondas. We walked around a field for a few hours in the muddy swap (boots are provided but bring thick socks as I got big blisters where they rubbed) but unfortunately didn't see any. Our guide did put a lot of effort into looking but we were unlucky.
Next was back to camp for lunch, then we went out fishing for piranha. You use chunks of beef as bait and the piranhas are really quick at grabbing it off the hook. I managed to catch 4 little ones and Gearoid caught a big one which apparently is related to the salmon family.
We watched the sunset from a different, quieter and nicer location, then went back for dinner which included the piranha that we had caught.
We went out spotting pink dolphins and went swimming in a lagoon where they hang out. The water is really murky so it was unnerving when a dolphin brushed against you. A couple of life rings were provided to hang around in. Other boats started
arriving though and the dolphins left so so did we. Especially as we saw an alligator coming towards us. We were quickly back in the boat even though the guide assured us alligators were fine, it was only caimans you had to worry about and there were none around.
Next we went on a boat trip down the river and spotted some sloths.
We went back to camp for lunch and checked out. We went back along the river and then a jeep ride back to town. We got back about 4:10pm.
ABOUT THE TOUR
We had read bad reviews online about Flecha Tours but they were really good.
Our guide really knew what he was doing and managed to spot a lot of wildlife. We were always first to a place or down the river so we could see the wildlife before the others arrived. He didn't touch or disturb any of the animals. We did go fishing for piranhas which we ate for dinner but all the other tours did as well.
He also spoke enough English to tell us what we would be doing next which seemed to be
a lot more than other guides. He was also good at telling us what we needed to bring e.g. when we went to watch the sunset he told us to wear long clothes for the mosquitos and bring torches for the ride back so we could see caimans and for sunrise he gave us boots as we were walking in a field whereas other groups showed up in flip flops.
The food was amazing and there was so much. Everyone had seconds and there was still leftovers. We bought snacks as had read online there wasn't much food on trips but we didn't eat any as there was so much food.
The accomodation was great as well and there was a plug in the common area you could use if you got there first.
The only bad thing is that there wasn't much water provided. We got a 2 litre bottle of water on the second day but most people had drunk most of that following the morning walking in the sun. We had a bottle of water for the group with each meal but always asked for another one as it didn't got far. On the
3rd day we were expecting to be given another bottle of water each but didn't get one (I'm not sure if this is because we asked for extra with our meals so there wasn't enough). We bought a 2 litre bottle with us each for the first day but I would suggest bringing another one for extra on the other days.
We were in a group of 7 with 2 Japanese, 1 Korean and 2 Germans. We found it better to sit near the back of the boat as you are nearer the guide so can see the animals when he spots them and can hear better. There are fold down seats in the boat but they get a bit sore on your bum after a few hours. WENT TO A SWIMMING POOL
On Santa Cruz is Hostal Ambaibo. It only had dorm rooms and it was a bit expensive for us to stay in but you could pay Bs. 20 entry to use the massive pool. We didn't want to leave the sun so spent the day on the sun loungers and swimming in the pool. The bar there is very expensive including for
water. Where We Ate
On Arce there are snack places in the evening. We got balls of potato, rice, meat and an egg for Bs. 3. Also fried chicken, chips and rice for Bs. 10.
In the market on the 2nd floor is a food court. We got a really good fish dish for Bs 12.
Meals around town range from about Bs.11 - Bs.15 depending on how much meat you are given.
Next door to Hostal Balsero on Comercio we got large bottles of beer for Bs. 13 with an additional Bs. 3 refundable deposit.
Along Arce there was a shop which sold some Brazilian beer in a green can for Bs. 7.50 and another which sold large cans of Bock (which was 7%!)(MISSING) for Bs. 10.
Water all around town sold for Bs. 6 -7 for a 2 litre bottle. About Rurrenabaque
It was so lovely to come from La Paz to Rurrenabaque. La Paz was really cold whereas Rurre was mid 30's but went cooler at night so it was easy to sleep.
There are 3 banks in town however the only one
we could get to work for us was Bank Union which was on the main square.
You can change money from $ at the bank or a place opposite Flecha Tours.
We went to climb up to the lookout where the cross is overlooking town but there was a sign saying the path was closed. We asked about it and it turned out there had been a landslide so we couldn't go up.
There are plenty of shops selling cheap second hand clothes if you need to pick anything up for the jungle. I got a cheap long sleeved thin top.
We did laundry in our hostal but there is a laundry service opposite Hostal Balsero also for Bs. 10 per kilo for next morning pick up if dropped off in the evening. Where We Went Next
We went back to La Paz. We booked our bus tickets the day before from the offices on the North side of town where we were dropped off. There are several companies that go to La Paz at slightly different times. We decided to go with Flota Yunguena again who left at 11:30am the next
day. The ticket on the way back cost Bs. 80.
The bus actually left at 12:15pm and at 3:25pm we stopped for a lunch break. We waited there until 4:45pm and 5 mins down the road stopped again. As on the way, the road was closed until 5pm so we waited for 10 mins due to road works before we could head off. On the way back we made a couple of other toilet stops and also a 40 min dinner break.
The bus jouney was just as bad, if not worse than the way as all the bad roads had to be completed in the dark. Added to that part way along we encountered a storm with lightning and torrential rain. The bus journey was warm until the final 2,000m ascent to La Paz from near Coroico. We arrived in La Paz at the offices in Villa Fatima at 6:30am.
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