Are you travelling on a budget? Do you really want to see the Amazon? Well Bolivia is just the place to do it from. The Bolivian Amazon has a ton of cool animals, and is just as beautiful as seeing it from somewhere else like Peru or Ecuador, but a whole lot cheaper.
I just came back from the Bolivian Amazon, which is the Madidi National Park. My expectations were blown away. However, I would do a few things differently, so here is my advice to you.
There are two main types of tours you can do, either the Pampas or the Jungle. The Pampas is by the river where you will mainly be exploring by boat. The Jungle is more of a trek where you explore via foot. Pampas is said to have more animals, whereas Jungle is more of the understood “Jungle Experience”.
The most common length of trip is 3 days, 2 nights. However, there is an alternative choice where you can do both the Pampas and Jungle for a more extended period, typically either 4 or 5 days. I didn’t realize this was an option when we booked it and would have definitely loved to experience both.
Where to Book It
If you read my Machu Picchu post found here, you’ll remember that it is always cheaper to book things when you get there. So, this is exactly what I did and what I recommend everyone do. Fly into La Paz and spend a few days here exploring if you have the time, once you’re ready for the Amazon you will need to get to a town called Rurrenabaque. This can be done by either a 15-hour bus ride or a 30-minute flight. This decision depends on your budget and time you have available!
Once you get to Rurrenabaque there is a ton of places offering tours for you either the next day or any day you like. I would highly suggest staying in Rurrenabaque for 1 or 2 days before hand and again 1 or 2 days after. I would also recommend staying as El Curichal hostel, it had the BEST barbeque dinner (for vegetarians too), a great pool, and an overall amazing vibe with lots of friendly faces doing the same Amazon tours.
What to Pay
When you get to these agencies for booking in Rurrenabaque the prices tend to range from 700 Bolivianos to 1200. Back in La Paz the average price is around 1400.
There is also a 150 Bolivianos cost to get into the national park so try and negotiate this into your price. The ones for 700 are VERY hard to get and I am not sure if I would trust the food. We did our 3 day, 2 night Pampas tour for 1150 Bolivianos, with the park entrance fee included.
I met a few very lucky people who were able to find a place in La Paz that charged them around 1600 Bolivianos for flight AND a 3-day tour.
My Pampas Tour Experience
I can only speak personally to the Pampas tour, but if you’re looking to see a lot of animals and have a relaxing time, this is definitely the tour to do.
My excursion was with Dolphin Tours and would definitely recommend them. Our tour guide was born in a little village in the Madidi Park and was extremely knowledgeable. Not to mention the food was some of the best Bolivian food I’ve eaten.
We drove out 2 hours, had lunch in a little village and then finished the rest of the way on a 3-hour boat ride. We were able to see sloths, monkeys, caimans, capybaras, a ton of birds, and pink dolphins, and this was just the first day.
That evening we got to our cabin, got fed a nice snack and then headed out to watch the sunset. On the way back to our cabin we did some night black caiman hunting and saw a solid 20 of them in a mere 45 minutes. Once we got back we got fed a delectable dinner and then had time to rest and sleep to the sounds of the animals.
After breakfasting our guide took us out Anaconda hunting. Since we went in June which was the very end of rainy season he said we only had a small chance of actually finding one. Sure enough we saw one! See photos below. Then that afternoon we went piranha fishing, caught a handful and then got to eat them for dinner.
This day was probably my favourite, we got to go swimming with Pink Dolphins in the morning and they were so playful. It was about an hour boat ride from our cabin, apparently away from where all the caimans swim, so we felt pretty safe. After that we had our last delicious lunch and then headed for the boat ride back home.
It was a very action packed, yet relaxing experience, I would love to do it again one day, and I hope you decide to go as well!
Scroll down and comment your thoughts below on the Bolivian Amazon. Would you like to go? Have you been?
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