In northern Bolivia, on the edge or the Beni River sits Rurrenabaque. Nestled in the Bolivian rainforest and secluded from La Paz, this small town is a great place to start an adventure in the pampas or nearby Madidi National Park. Locally referred to as “Rurre”, Rurrenabaque is a municipality of Jose Ballivian Provence with a population of 14,000 (2012) most of which live in Rurrenabaque proper.
A starting point for ecotourism, there is plenty to see just outside Rurrenabaque but don’t overlook the city. There is lots of local food and beautiful scenery just minutes from any and every hotel. The raised sidewalks and dirt roads are slowly giving way to more and more pavement but there’s plenty of small town charm everywhere you look.
- There are many tour agencies in town offering much of the same things but be sure to check with a reputable guide book or read online reviews before choosing one that fits you. There have been some reports of theft from guides but some of this could be travelers that are not as savvy or are not watching their things closely.
- Since it is a destination for so many international travelers there are some professional pan-handlers working the city. Don’t give anyone money you are not willing or incapable of living without.
- Take a flight to Rurrenabaque. Only an hour by air from La Paz, the flight will save you several hours and a lot of pain on your lower back. The landing strip at the Rurrenabaque airport sits in a forest and is something special to see upon arrival. The airport was not paved till 2010. The roads to Rurrenabaque are among the most unsafe on the planet and the busses are often overcrowded.
- Don’t go to Rurrenabaque if you are in a hurry. The airport is often closed in the early morning because of fog, low cloud cover, rain, or smoke and there is a general laid back attitude that sits over the entire city. If you’re looking for a busy city with lots of amenities, this is not the place for you.
- Jungle tours often do not include the price of entrance to the Madidi National Park so be aware that there will be extra charges.
- The 2nd week of February holds the “Fiesta de Rurre”. This is a great time to visit the city for lots of local flavor and fun but the weather will not be as fair as in September or October