Rurrenabaque in Bolivia is one of the lesser known gateways into the Bolivian jungle. When you get off the tiny ‘Amazonas’ 12 seat plane, the airport will be one of the smallest you’ve ever seen. There is no security or passport control to enter Rurrenabaque, you just walk straight through.
The town is small here so finding transport is fairly easy. The bus that will take you to town and drop you at the Amazonas office for 10 Bolivianos (BOB) per person (the equivalent of £), or you could get a taxi for the same price.
An important piece of advice – take cash. There are only 2 cashpoints in Rurrenabaque and with frequent power cuts to the town, quite often they are out of service. Either that or they have run out of money; one of the downsides of visiting a very poverty stricken country. Pay day here is on a Monday, so if you know you need cash on a Monday, get up early!
I stayed at Hotel Oriental. It was 150BOB for a double room per night. The room was very clean and the bed was comfy. I even had hot water! Wahoo! The owner brought me some fresh juice on arrival and showed me around. The hotel is family friendly and has embraced a slow way of living with washing rooms instead of a washing machine and hammocks in the lovely tropical plant filled courtyard.
Breakfast was included (bear in mind though that breakfast in Bolivia is more than likely going to be bread and coffee than your full english breakfast.)
Rurrenabaque is a very peaceful town. There are few cars, most people use the moto taxis. I do recommend learning some basic Spanish if you plan to come here. Rurrenabaque is not hugely overrun with tourists if you compare it to places like Cuzco in Peru or Bonito in Brazil (which was refreshing). So it is necessary to be able to read menus and speak to tour guides in Spanish.
It’s also a great place for people watching. I observed a group of boys and men using a very long pole with a metal hook on the end pulling fruit down from a tree. When the fruit hit the ground the women and children would run in a grab all of the pieces. I asked why the men were doing this and they told me it’s just for fun. I also bought some oranges from a man selling them from the boot of his car, the car was filled with so many oranges I wondered if he would be able to drive off!
For dinner I went to Patiti restaurant on Calle Vaca Diez Esquina Comercio. Here you can eat buffet style for only 40 BOB and the staff bring a selection of food to your table including Yuka chips, tandoori fish, chicken, beef, rice and salad. So good!
Afterwards, if you fancy a drink you can visit The Jungle Bar Moskkito, Funky Monkey Bar or Luna Café. They all sell food and the pool tables are free. They offer happy hour on selected drinks in the evening too so I was very happy sipping on Caprihinas all night! (Not so happy when I had to get up for a four hour boat ride down the Beni river the next day!)
I only stayed in Rurrenabaque for a night in between trips into the jungle and pampas. My itinerary did not allow for any extra days because I had a flight booked to La Paz and tours booked there already. BUT if I didn’t have to leave I would definitely have stayed here a few more days. The weather is beautiful, it is so quiet and you can sit on a bench by the river for ages watching the boats and the children play by the water and enjoy the beautiful mountainous landscape mixed with tropical jungle.