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Rurrenabaque and the Pampas Bolivianas

Sunbathing Turtle on the Rio Yacuma

Sunbathing Turtle on the Rio Yacuma

We spent three days exploring the pampas of Bolivia southwest of Rurrenabaque.  It was a great time and a fun explore.

From Rurrenabaque, there are two directions the tourists take.  You can go upriver into the jungle, or downriver onto the pampas.  Several people, and some online investigation, suggested that the pampas is actually more exciting, as you see more animals because the countryside is more open.  We did see a lot of animals (below).

I can’t say about the jungle (yet), but a trip to the pampas is certainly worthwhile.

The Cabins: comfy, but cool when the temperature drops

The Cabins: comfy, but cool when the temperature drops

We stayed at the Caracoles Lodge, which belongs to Bala Tours.  We were in cabins, with private baths, and they were reasonably comfortable.  Nights were quite cool, and we could have used another blanket, but the bed was not bad at all.  There is no glass in the windows, only screens, which is probably nice when it is hot, but doesn’t provide much insulation from the cold.

There is no hot water, but that’s not too big a problem when the weather is warm (as it was for us after the first day).  Also there is only electricity for a couple of hours in the evening, and no sockets in the rooms, so battery charging is done at a central location.  Best to bring extra batteries and a fast charger, if possible.

The food is quite good, and included in the package.  You pay apart for anything beyond watery juices and water (and water, beyond a certain limit is also charged).   We didn’t skimp, and did pay an extra Bs 400 (about $60).

Of course, you are there for the tours.  I was surprised to discover that the lodge is not in or near a national park or reserve.  Instead, it’s on the xxx.  I’m not sure that makes much of a difference, but the protected area did seem small and we were never to far from grazing cattle.

The lazy Yacuma River

The lazy Yacuma River

Most of the tours, though, are by boat up and down the small Yacuma river, and since the river runs through a narrow depression, you don’t see much of the surrounding area, mostly you are enjoying the flora and (mostly) fauna of the riverbottom.

Most tours to the pampas are two nights/three days.  Since half of your first and last days are used up in travel, it is more like two nights/two days.  We decided to take our time and go for three nights, which I think was the right decision.  Since I expect most tours follow a similar itinerary, I’ll divide the post into the different days.

Pampas Day 1: Arrival, The Camp, Introduction to the River

Pampas Day 2: On the River, Birding, Swimming with Pink Dolphins

Pampas Day 3: Hunting Anacondas, Monkeys, Fishing for Piranas

Pampas Day 4: Horseback on the Pampas, Back to Civilization


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