How to Visit the Amazon Rainforest in Bolivia
Are you travelling on a budget? Do you really want to see the Amazon? Well the Amazon Rainforest in Bolivia is just the place to do it!
When most people think of visiting the Amazon they think of Brazil. However, the Amazon spans over 8 countries in South America and Bolivia is one of the cheapest with just as many animals to see.
Two Options to Tour the Bolivian Amazon
1. The Pampas Tour
This is the cheaper of the two options to the Amazon in Bolivia. Will cost you about $100 USD per person for a three day tour. You get to spend the days drifting along on a very old school riverboat seeing caimans, monkeys, swimming with pink dolphins, and so much more.
Our tour guide was transporting fruit one morning so we had a lot of monkeys jump into our boat and climb all over us in our Pampas tour.
Don’t worry you won’t have to sleep on this tiny boat – you’ll spend each night at a cabin in the jungle listening to the Amazon wild.
2. The Jungle Tour
The jungle tour is more of a “classic tour” to see the Amazon Rainforest in Bolivia. It is also the more expensive option at about $250 USD per person for a 3 day tour. Yet still much less than doing it in Brazil.
You will spend your days hiking inside the thick of the jungle. Be aware that this option you do see less animals – you can spend a few hours hiking before seeing a Monkey – whereas in the pampas tour they are generally swinging right by the water line as you float along.
Where to Start?
There is only one town where you can start either of these tour options, and that is in the quaint town of Rurrenabaque [Rur-in-ah-bock-ee]. To get here you can take either a short flight or a long bus ride from La Paz.
My friend and I decided on the flight because it was decently cheap and we had heard the road the bus takes was pretty dangerous. We ended up meeting people who took the bus and said it was fine, but they did get stopped by police a couple of times to “raid the bus”…
Rurrenabaque – Book Your Amazon Tour
If you read my Machu Picchu post, you’ll remember that it is cheaper to book things when you get there. Don’t book your tour until you get into Rurrenabaque, no matter what time of year there will always be great tour companies with spots available.
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.
This was actually one of my favourite little towns and hostels, I wish we could have stayed there longer!
How Much to Tour the Amazon Rainforest in Bolivia?
When you get to these agencies for booking in Rurrenabaque the prices tend to range from 700 Bolivianos to 1200 for the 2 night, 3 day tours. 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 – but that is definitely not common.
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 the Madidi Park (The Amazon Forest) 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. I was vegetarian at the time but I did try a tiny piece just to say I did – safe to say it didn’t tasty fishy at all but more like chicken, everyone agreed!
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. We also saw a ton of capybara’s which are the world’s largest rodent, and man are they cute.
Don’t Miss Your Chance!
My last word of advice is that if you are going to be in Peru doing a Machu Picchu Trek, or in Bolivia seeing the Uyuni Salt Flats, then the Amazon Rainforest in Bolivia is so close you can’t miss it!
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!
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