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Alexa, play “This Magic Moment”

Today marks day six in the jungle-clad river basin of Bolivia. After an overnight bus bumping down 3000 meters of elevation, we arrived weary but ready last Tuesday morning in Rurrenbaque, Bolivia.

Rurrenbaque is a cool little jungle town, equipped for tourism in the Amazon jungle but still getting used to the reintegration of tourists on the streets. There’s four hostels, a few hotels, and a good amount of restaurants to visit. The entire town travels via moto (motorcycle) or in the back of a tuktuk taxi.

After listening to the same pitch for a tour down the Yacuma river in Las Pampas one too many times, we finally figured out a deal with Dolphin travel agency that worked with our budget/desires: 3 days/2 nights in Las Pampas (river tour) and 2 days/1 night in the selva (jungle tour) for just over $300. More than I wanted to spend, but I suppose touring the Amazon is sufficient cause for a splurge.

It was a blast. We began in Las Pampas, requiring first a bumpy 3 hour drive in the back of a 4x4 jeep on dirt roads (not a blast). We then started our river tour with Antonio, a local guide who grew up near the river.

(Antonio with his first piranha catch of our fishing trip)

When I tell you we saw thousands of speckled cayman (smallish alligators) I mean THOUSANDS. Literally every few feet on the river bank and in the river. At first afraid, we soon learned they fit into the “more afraid of you than you are of them” category.

The second most populous animal were the capybara, cute guinea pigs that seemed to have been shot by a growth gun fashioned by Wayne Szalinski. As the adorable vegetarians they are, they only live to be 3-4 years old. We saw one being chomped up in the river by a big black cayman at the end of our trip, which gave some context to their life expectancy. So it goes, I suppose.

My favorite part of the week was when our boat was hijacked by an adorable squirrel monkey looking for food. This little guy was not afraid to climb all over us, probably due to the banana I had hidden in my bag. Of course, we did not feed the guy to avoid disrupting the integrity of his environment.

As you can see, we were happy to have our boat ransacked for food:

We did lots of activities (searching for anacondas, piranha fishing, dolphin searches), but my favorite by far was our nighttime boat ride. Antonio turned off the motor and pushed us down the river listening to the bugs and birds sing. The lightning bugs swam among the stars and you could see the galaxy cloud melted against the blackness. The river served as a mirror to the show above, and it all felt like a dream. I don’t have a picture to prove it to you, but the moment was magical.

The second leg of our tour into the selva (jungle) was also really great. Our tour guide Ronaldo led us through his indigenous Tacuna community and then later through a canyon and the selva. He told us stories about his ancestors and their life with the forest.

The stars, once again, were breathtaking.

Now we are back in Rurrenbaque, awaiting our overnight bus back to La Paz that leaves at 7 pm.

I want to thank everyone who contributed to my funds for this trip, for I would not have been able to see so many parts of the rainforest or contribute to the tourist economy here without your help.

All my love,

Lauren Kinsey Kuhlman

1 Comment

Donna Bradley
Aug 22, 2022

Thank you Kinsey. The blog really helps us to understand a bit of the experience. I am so proud of you and Isabel and your courage and determination for adventure. This is incredible and a memory you will always treasure.

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