Amazon Jungle

After missing the Amazon in Brazil, we were excited to have another opportunity to visit the infamous jungle in Bolivia. So we hopped on a quick, forty minute ride on a small prop plane from La Paz (the highest altitude international airport in the world)…


… and spent one night lounging in the hot, humid town of Rurrenabaque before hitching a ride on a small motorboat and cruising into Madidi National Park, the heart of the Bolivian Amazon.


The coolest thing about being in the Amazon is the feeling that you’re in the world’s largest rainforest. And not only is the rainforest big, but everything in it is big as well.

We were surrounded by massive trees…

… with large branches and even larger leaves, vines & sprouts…

… on which massive bugs creep and crawl.


Jaguars roam (though unfortunately we only saw their tracks)…


… and both big & small animals and birds, including capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, tucans, parrots, macaws, squirrels, wild turkeys and snails, crossed our path (all too quick to capture a picture).


For three days, we toured the Amazon with our Spanish-speaking, laugh-happy guide Pedro…


… and two hilarious, multi-lingual girls from Holland, seen here sporting water bottle bags made of Amazon leaves and branches made by said guide Pedro.


Not only is Pedro crafty with the natural materials in the Amazon, but he also knows which vines provide adequate drinking water…


… which plants are good for roofing materials…


… which fruits provide the most delicious sweets (to Alie’s delight)…

… and how to paint faces like true Tacana warriors.



Over 3-days and 2-nights, when we weren’t off exploring the Amazon floor with Pedro…

…we tried to avoid as many mosquito bites as possible as we lounged about at an amazing eco-lodge hidden in the thick of the Amazon.


Still, we came away with plenty of bug bites and only narrowly avoided these spiky trees…

…but, unfortunately we did not come away with any fish.


After 3 days in the hot, sweaty, mosquito-filled jungle, we welcomed the relaxing boat ride back to Rurrenabaque…

… and before we knew it, we were on a flight back to La Paz, with our Amazonian adventure behind us, and Peru ahead of us.


Tessers’ Tips

Things To Do: There are two main ways to visit the Amazon via Bolivia/Rurrenbaque:

  • Jungle Tour: This is the option that we chose, which involves both daily & nightly jungle treks accompanied by a stay at an eco-lodge and/or campground.  We hitched a ride into the jungle with Max Jungle, which received rave reviews online.  The company was extremely quick to respond to us before our visit (we changed our arrival date multiple times…) and proved to be a great tour provider during our time in the Amazon.  In addition to daily & nightly jungle treks, we also fished, participated in an indigenous ceremony in which we thanked Pachamama or Mother Earth (a ceremony that the indigenous population actually still practices today, despite their conversion to Catholicism), and learned some survival skills.  (For anyone looking to really learn how to survive in the wilderness, Max offers a “survival” trip in which you substitute 2 nights of prepared meals & eco-lodges for 2 nights of catching your own food and making your own accommodations.  We came across two individuals coming back from this tour who looked utterly exhausted… apparently their fishing was unsuccessful, and they relied mostly on insects and plants for food…). 
  • Pampas Tour: This option involves a multi-day journey into the wetlands by boat (though you stay in small campgrounds alongside the river at night).  The main benefit of the Pampas Tour versus the Jungle Tour is that you see a lot more animals given that you are in a savannah/wetland rather than a thick jungle.  We hear (and are jealous to learn), that in addition to the animals spotted on the Jungle Tour, it’s possible to see pink dolphins(!), boa constrictors & anacondas (if lucky), yellow squirrel monkeys, alligators and more on the Pampas Tour.  On the flip side there are apparently more mosquitos in the pampas than in the jungle…

Accommodations: Rurrenabaque is a tiny town but is set up for the hoards of tourists looking to make their way into the Amazon. There are plenty of hostels, but they are all pretty rustic.

Days Stayed / Recommended: We spent only one night in Rurrenabaque prior to our trip into the Amazon, and didn’t feel the need to spend any more time in the town. As far as our Jungle Trek, we think the 3-day / 2-night option was sufficient.  The heat, humidity & mosquitos take their toll, and by the afternoon of Day 2, we were quite happy to relax in the hammocks in the complete silence of the jungle rather than sweat our way through another trek. A 4-day/3-night Jungle and Pampas tour is another good option.

Local Food: We tried plenty of plants in the Jungle that covered the spectrum from sweet to sour.  However, we don’t recommend sampling any unless given the OK by Pedro!

One Comment

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  1. kuldeepak ac harya April 3, 2016 — 3:45 pm

    Bravo Michael and Alie,
    I am living vicariously thru your eyes. Thanks for sharing


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