All you need to know about getting to Rurrenabaque.
Updated: Apr 4, 2020
Rurrenabaque (aka Rurre) has always been polemical between travelers: fake or illegal tour agencies, irresponsible tour activities, hunting tours, survival tours but probably the worst is related to the accessibility. Extremely expensive air tickets make land transportation an attractive option. To this point you are probably aware of the comments and reputation of the road to Rurrenabaque.
For years, our team traveled to Rurrenabaque in many different ways not just to work on the field but also for thesis research, volunteering, vacations and business. In this new post we bring you all possible routes to get into Rurrenabaque.
Before we start, we would like to ask a few things:
First, forget about the scary things you heard about getting to Rurrenabaque. We know some of them are misleading information or exaggerated just to make it look worse than it actually is. And second, remember that by going to Rurrenabaque you’re supporting the development of a region who wants to protect the rainforest through tourism.
About the options, known and unknown.
Even though several travel blogs and even local travel agencies will mention only 2 ways to access to Rurrenabaque (plane and bus), we found even more ways which we think you may want to know.
Bus and taxi are the most famous way to get in Rurrenabaque, but there are some other alternatives to check, yes we are talking about shared cabs, combining cabs and buses, and finally joining on a Ride and River tour to Rurrenabaque.
Bus takes a max of 18 hours.
Shared taxi + bus takes 12 hours.
Shared taxi only takes 10 hours.
Plane takes 45 minutes only.
The bus ride to Rurrenabaque.
We start with the hardest (know) and cheapest option. This is the most popular transportation between locals. The buses that provide the service aren’t owned by any private company like the ones covering other routes in Bolivia. This buses actually are owned, in majority, by their drivers joined to make a sort of Labor Union, known in Bolivia as ‘Sindicatos’. They act like private companies but are owned by many people.
Buses recover a total of 418 Km in a time that varies between 14-18 hours depending on many factors such as companies, seasons, civil protests, etc.
Departure time varies by company but almost all companies leave La Paz at 13:00. There are departures at 15:30 and 17:00, the last one only with some companies in special days.
In all of the years of our career we have worked with every bus company to Rurrenabaque, but by far the nearest ones to “professional and serious companies” are Trans Totaí and Flota Yungueña.
This last one, sometimes offers a cama bus service (3 lines of reclining seats) leaving La Paz at 17:00 on Wednesday and Saturday.
Bus tickets start at 70 BOB, but Cama Bus may cost 90 BOB per person. (Note that these prices may vary from company and season, and if you want to book in travel agency, they may charge and extra commission.
If you want to skip paying the commission, then you should head straight to the bus station, purchase the tickets and wait about 3 hours until your bus leaves.
Shared taxi to Rurrenabaque (and combination).
This is the least known way to get to Rurrenabaque. It starts in La Paz, stop in Caranavi town, and then continue to Rurrenabaque. The trip takes about 10 hours in total. The first part of the trip (La Paz to Caranavi) is by shared taxi. And then you take a bus from Caranavi to Rurrenabaque.
In order to make this work, you must consider that the latest you should leave La Paz must be 4 PM, the earlier the better. This is because buses from Caranavi departure from 8 PM (some even at 10 PM but do not take it for granted). It may look very simple but there are a few things you need to consider when taking this option.
The shared taxi departs from Terminal de Minasa in Villa El Carmen neighbourhood. Others will say it’s Villa Fatima, but don’t get fooled, if you’re taking a taxi from your hotel to Terminal de Minasa, tell the driver: “Terminal de Minasa en Villa El Carmen”. Once you’re there, you’ll find a lot of options, but make sure to look for the taxis going to Caranavi and ask if they can also take you to Rurrenabaque, if so they may charge 200 BOB per person, and there will be a transfer to a new taxi for the route Caranavi – Rurrenabaque.
Taxis are not so big for tall people, they are shared with 6 other travelers (locals) and do not be surprised of their way of driving, this guys drive pretty fast on these roads. The type of car they use is a Toyota minivan, model Ipsum.
Now, if you want to do the combination of shared taxi + bus just book your shared taxi to Carnavi (70 BOB per person) and once in Caranavi, book a bus seat to Rurrenabaque. The type of buses and comfort won’t vary from the buses leaving La Paz to Rurrenabaque. but the price will be lowered to 70 BOB per person on the bus route Caranavi – Rurrenabaque.
Flights to Rurrenabaque.
This one is the most expensive of all but surely will save you time to spend exploring more destinations. Amaszonas is the only airline company currently operating daily flights between Rurrenabaque and La Paz. They have a medium sized airplane with a capacity of 50 passengers. The seats aren’t reclining but there’s enough leg room. If you’re interested to know which type exactly, they use an Embraer CRJ 200. See the picture below to have a better perspective.
Flying in/out Rurrenabaque takes only 45 minutes and it’s a great experience as you get to see the transition of the Andean Mountains to the Amazon Rainforest. Pay attention to the window when flying as the Andean Mountains look like a Dragon’s spine.
It is very common to experience some delays during the rainy season (January to May) so keep in mind that if you’re booked to the last flight, it may be moved to the next day.
Airplane tickets are available to online booking but Amaszonas website seem to have some issues, so we suggest you booking with a travel agent, we can also help you manage this.
Boat to Rurrenabaque.
Stay tuned, we’re creating content about this adventure.
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