Travel Guide South America Bolivia Rurrenabaque



Rurrenabaque is a small town (population 15,000) in the Beni Department on the banks of the Río Beni in the Bolivian Amazon Basin. Trips to the jungle in the nearby Madidi National Park and pampas are the main attraction.



Sights and Activities

Jungle Tours

It's possible to stay between one and 30 days in the jungle. Mostly tours have lodging facilities along the Beni and Tuichi Rivers, but you can also go for a trekking and camp in the jungle. Good guides can tell you about the properties of the different plants and trees and let you taste some of the fruits. To spot wildlife you have to be lucky, most of the animals prefer to stay hidden in the dense forest. A night walk to reveal the nocturnal life is the best chance to see some. Tour prices usually don't include park entrance (Bs80) and a fee to stay in a community (Bs50). For a perfect combination of culture and nature stay in one of the community based Eco-Lodges, such as Berraco del Madidi (Quechua-Tacanas), San Miguel del Bala (Tacanas), Chalalán (Quechua-Tacanas) or Mapajo (Tsiman-Mosetén). La Magdalena Ecolodge`is another option to take contact with nature in a private ranch with a comfortable hostal in the middle of jungle, see: Tucan Ecolodge is another option to take contact with nature in a tours in the Tuichi Rivers.

If you're interested in seeing conservation work first hand, check out Serere Sanctuary, a private reserve operated by Madidi Travel. The team behind it was instrumental in establishing Madidi National Park in the 1990s. They’re now using Serere as a strategic point for establishing legally protected zones to the north to save the rainforest from the same fate faced by Madidi 20 years ago. Madidi Travel opened the 4000 hectare park in 2003, to allow visitors to appreciate the restored biodiversity, while generating income for their conservation work to continue. Before the reserve was opened an extensive rehabilitation project was carried out involving; reforestation and the recovering of lakes from invasion plants, the creation of infrastructure to support sustainable tourism, agroforestry, and reintroduction of rescued animals. Now the group works with the neighboring indigenous community to ensure the continued protection of Serere, and community lands, from on-going threats such as logging and hunting. As a result of their conservation efforts, abundant fauna can be found in Serere, including endangered species such as jaguars, black caimans, anacondas, and many varieties of birds. Touristic operations at Serere are maintained at a small scale, there are eight lodges which house an average of 15 – 20 tourists, and guides handle a maximum of six tourists to minimize their impact. Madidi Travel also accepts volunteers for short or long term stays, to assist within a variety of aspects of their operations, or specific projects.

Pampas Tours

For watching wildlife opt for a pampas tour. Among animals you might see are six different species of Crocodilian (more species than any other region in the world is home to), including the giant black caiman. There are turtles, all three species of anaconda, pink dolphins, capybaras, monkeys, giant ant-eaters, porcupines, toucans, blue and yellow macaws, and even jaguars. A number of native guides in the Pampas region are known for their snake-wrangling skills, and will catch poisonous snakes barehanded while on an excursion. Bird watchers are attracted equally to the Pampas and the Jungle, whereas entomologists tend to prefer the jungle tours, which offer a better selection of insect life, most notably butterflies. One of the unique experiences to be had in the Pampas region is swimming with pink river dolphins. The dolphins are very sociable, and will often approach the sound of a motorboat, eager to interact with the people. Because the water is darkly stained and impenetrable by sight, many people experience anxiety when touched by the dolphins, because they can't be seen underwater. For most, however, it is a thrilling experience. The dolphins greatly enjoy interacting with humans, and will each behave according to its own unique personality. Some are very gentle, and others enjoy the reactions they elicit by gently nipping a toe, or forcefully splashing the water directly behind a person. the pampas tours have become very popular and touristic during the high season and have the potential to cause damage to the wild life in the small river Rio Yacuma. The tours are usually done by motor boats that can cause fatal injuries to pink river dolphins. Competent and ethical guides will know which sections of the river be extra careful in. Also, you should make sure that your guide is not showing you pre-trapped animals kept in inhumane living conditions, or letting anybody wearing sunscreen or repellent touch the animals.



Getting There

By Plane

A tarmac strip outside town is the main airport. In case it's flooded companies use the landing strip at Reyes, about 45 minutes away. There are daily connections to La Paz, but cancellations are common, especially in the rainy season.

Amaszonas, ☎ +591 3 8922472. Santa Cruz s/n, is slightly pricier with Bs664, but has several flights daily.

If you're going east or north from Rurrenabaque there's a flight with TAM from Reyes to the cities of San Borja, Trinidad, Riberalta and Guayará-Mirim (on the border with Brazil).

By Bus

There are daily buses to and from La Paz. The journey takes 14-16 hours in the dry season and cost Bs80. The fastest and most convenient buses to La Paz leave at 21:00 and arrive before lunch. You can break the trip in Coroico, which is only 10-12 hours away, by getting off at Yosolita and continuing by shared minivan. On a part of the road from La Paz to Coroico a new highway has been opened at the end of 2006, and the old 'death road' is now only for bikers. The new road only avoids a part of the 'death road' or Yungas Road. From Coroico (Yolosita) to Caranavi is another two to three hours on the death road, with the roadside canyon just a few hundred feet deep instead of a few hundred metres.

There are also daily buses to Riberalta and Guayará-Mirim. Inquire about departure times at the bus terminal; they vary wildly. During the rainy season, this road is virtually impassable, and trips may take up to six days. When the road's in good condition, Rurrenabaque-Riberalta should take about 20 hours, and Guayará another four.

The bus station is located a 25-minute walk outside the city, take a motorbike for Bs7.

There are two offices on Avaroa offering jeep services to nearby towns and even La Paz (US$25 and only 12 hours). Also you can see all the information about bus travel in a travel guide is very useful for travel in Bolivia.

By Boat

To get to San Buenaventura across the Río Beni take one of the water taxis at Calle Santa Cruz for Bs1.5.




  • In the Mercado Municipal (Avaroa) there are severl comedors and jugerias for cheap food and fruitjuices.

Restaurant Tacuara, Avaroa y Santa Cruz, has good deal dishes. The menu includes pizza, pasta, meat dishes and fastfood. It serves big portions of lasagna and it's also a good place for breakfast.

  • Restaurant Camila's, Santa Cruz s/n, serves pastas, pizzas, Mexican food meat dishes and fastfood, mainly to foreigners.
  • Restaurant La Cabaña, Santa Cruz s/n, has tasty meat and fish dishes with sunset views over the Río Beni.
  • Sala de fiesta, Cl. Beni (San Buenaventura), for cheap lunches. It's popular with the locals, television and loud music is included in the price
  • Cafe Pachamama, cosy restaurant run by a British/Israeli couple just past the main square. Pachamamas serves tasty sandwiches, salads, tortillas etc, and has an excellent cocktail list and happy hour (7:00-9:00pm). The DVD rooms are good quality and there are over 500 DVD`s to choose from. Upstairs is a pool room, with a balcony over looking the road complete with hammocks. They have a book exchange and a music `exchange` - just bring in your iPod and ask. Easily the best cafe in town.
  • Butterfly Restaurant, Gourmet national and international food in the jungle, complete menu and bar, healthy and freshest ingredients, bilingual and friendly attention, now attending in the swimming pool Butterfly Mirador.
  • Cafe Pirana, just up the road from Camila's, has good coffee, great fresh croissants that taste almost french, and a nice space for relaxing. Only open during the day.
  • Restaurant Stephani and Juliano at Hotel Swimmingpool Ambaibo.
  • Juliano's, central Rurrabaque. Great restaurant with really friendly staff, and high quality food for good prices. You can get a discount ticket from Aerolineas Amazonas. Highly recommended steak. edit
  • Panaderia Paris, Avaroa, between Santa Cruz and Vaca Diez. 06:00-11:00. Fresh bread, pastries, juices and coffee. Packed with locals and tourists. Open Monday to Saturday.




  • Junglebar Moskkito, In a new location on Calle vaca diez, with bar, food, three pool tables, two dart boards and a large cd collection. Happy hour from 7:00pm-9:00pm. But it's only happy hour for some drinks and still is average prices. is open every day from 3:00pm, 45" TV set connected to cable TV for all sports and others at request. Accepts credit cards, travelers' checks, US dollars, euros, pounds. Rather expensive.
  • Butterfly Pub, calle Comercio. Five stars service and great deal like happy hour every night from 7PM-8PM, complete bar menu, bilingual and friendly attention.
  • Monkey's Bar, Avaroa s/n.. 12:00pm-Late.. This restaurant/Bar was originally called Pizzaria Italiana and is still listed in Lonley Planet as such. They serve great Pizzas as well as a wide selection of fish, meat, pasta, and vegetarian dishes. There is also pool tables, dart boards and satellite tv, showing all major sporting events and more. Bilingual staff with happy hour from 7:00-9:00pm every day




  • Ecolodge La Magdalena. Sleep in the jungle like in a good hotel, 25 minutes from Rurrenabaque, 10 rooms with shared bathroom, 1 suite with 2 bedrooms and private bathroom, moskito nets, potable water, electricity, hammocks, room service, comfortable and relaxing stay alongside wild animals, natural streams. infos in calle Abaroa s/n Butterfly Tours.
  • Hostal Oriental, on the main plaza. Rates include breakfast, rooms are comfortable and very clean, showers hot,and there's a nice central area to relax on a hammock while you wait to see if your plane will ever actually leave town. Free wifi, also in the rooms.
  • Hostal Touristico Santa Ana, Avaroa s/n. Clean rooms, friendly service and some lofty courtyard. There is also a pleasant hammocking area. Bathrooms (some with hot showers) are shared.
  • Los Tucanes de Rurre Hotel, ☎ +591 -3-8922039, e-mail: [email protected]. Rooms with private bathroom and hot shower, and rooms with common bathroom. Hammocks, breakfast, garage.
  • Isla de Los Tucanes, ☎ +591 -3-8922127, e-mail: [email protected]. A tourist complex with bungalows that provide utmost in confort and privacy. Bugalows with 1,2,3 or 4 bedroom with terrace, cable TV and minibar. Bungalows are finely finished with Amazon details, where your mind and body find peace.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)



Keep Connected


There are internet cafés practically everywhere, they typically cost about 3Bs/hour, or about $0.50 per hour. Wifi is not as common as in many other Latin American countries, but more and more places offer it now, either free (sometimes for a limited amount of time) or at a cost. Avoid using your cellphone (with your home SIM card) when there is no wifi, as that's extremely expensive.


See also International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Bolivia is: 591. To make an international call from Bolivia, the code is: 0010. Emergency numbers include 110 (police), 118 (ambulance) and 119 (fire). Note that 911 forwards to the police (110).

Bolivia has three cellphone companies, Entel, Tigo, and Viva. If you are staying for a while, consider buying SIM cards for your cellphone. They are quite cheap and you get good network coverage in all main cities and towns. Entel sells good-priced international call possibilities for their SIMs. For example, you can buy 10 minutes for Bs20 (to be used in one day, disconnects automatically after expiration). You will need to register the SIM card at a local office of the telecom. You will need a photocopy of your passport and the mobile phone that you will use.

Practically every single town in Bolivia has an Entel office (almost always located in the main plaza). From here, you can make local, long-distance, and international calls. It's actually much more economical to make your international calls from an Entel office than to use an international calling card. To make local calls from a public phone, you need a phone card. You can buy them at any Entel office or any kiosk on the street. The average local call costs about Bs2 for 3 minutes.


Correos Bolivia is the national postal service of the country. It offers a wide range of services at very reasonable prices. Services, speed and reliability are not up to the level it should be though and it can take several weeks for a simple card to arrive in Europe or North America. Most post offices in Bolivia are open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 8:00pm, Saturday from 8:30am to 6:00pm, and Sunday from 9:00am to noon. It costs Bs5 to mail a letter to the United States, Bs7 to Australia, and Bs6 to Europe. From time to time, you can buy stamps at kiosks and newspaper stands. There are no public mailboxes, so you'll have to mail your letter from the post office. If you want to send packages overseas it's best to use an international courier company like DHL, TNT, FedEx or UPS, as they offer fast and reliable services at competitive prices.


Accommodation in Rurrenabaque

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This is version 4. Last edited at 9:42 on Mar 5, 18 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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