|Town and municipality|
|Province||José Ballivián Province|
Rurrenabaque is a small town in the North of Bolivia on the Beni River. It is the capital of Rurrenabaque Municipality. In recent years it has become popular with international tourism as it is an easy gateway for visits to Madidi National Park (within the Bolivian rainforest), as well as the surrounding pampas. Locals commonly refer to the town by its shortened nickname, "Rurre."
Rurrenabaque is located in José Ballivián Province in Beni Department, Bolivia. Rurrenabaque Municipality, the fourth (municipal section) of José Ballivián Province, has 14,000 inhabitants, out of which 8,000 live in Rurrenabaque itself (Censo 2001, according to Instituto Nacional de Estadística de Bolivia).
Rurrenabaque lies on the east bank of the Beni River. It is expected that a bridge will be built over the river to connect with the town San Buenaventura on the west bank. The coming bridge is a part of a road project that is expected to be carried out in the years following 2008. It will considerably broaden the economic relationship between the two towns, which has been traditionally stunted by limited and expensive transport by boat. Since the river simultaneously widens and shallows at the San Buenaventura section, the top current becomes much stronger than on many sections of the river. Most boats and motors capable of crossing the stretch of river represent an investment beyond the means of most individual Bolivian families, but a bridge will allow San Buenaventura to enjoy the same accessibility as that enjoyed between Rurrenabaque and the neighboring town of Reyes.
Rurrenabaque is reached by bus, 410 km (250 mi) from La Paz (18 hours), by hired taxi (12 hours) or by airplane (45 minutes-1 hour). Three airlines have flights to Rurrenabaque: Amaszonas, Aerocon and TAM - Transporte Aéreo Militar.
The buses from La Paz pass through Coroico, 70 km (43 mi) from La Paz. A new road on this route opened at the end of 2006, decreasing most motorized traffic on the older, more dangerous 'Death Road,' now highly popular for mountain bike tours. The 'Death Road' is also called the Yungas Road.
The airfield in Rurrenabaque was paved in 2010. Low clouds over nearby mountains can hinder planes' visibility and thus can also prevent planes from landing.
A nearby airport can also be used, Reyes, which is 32 km (20 mi) and about one hour by bus. There are no mountains near Reyes, and the airport often has better weather and fewer low clouds. (Reyes is the capital of the José Ballivián Province in the Beni Department.)
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From Rurrenabaque popular tours go to the jungle/rainforest ("selva" in Spanish) and to the pampas. The jungle/rainforest is south and west of Rurrenabaque (including a part of the Madidi National Park), and the tours leave by boat and foot. There are many tour agencies in the town offering similar tours.
Rurrenabaque is a starting point for ecotourism, and some eco-lodges are found in the area. One option is Chalalan Ecolodge, run by the community of San Jose de Uchupiamonas, in Chalalán on the Tuichi River. Another is the Berraco del Madidi EcoCamp: it is the furthest tour operator located in the heart of the Madidi National Park. San Miguel del Bala Eco-Lodge, run by the community of San Miguel del Bala, on the banks of the Beni River, reached by boat 40 minutes up stream from Rurrenabaque.
Events, festivities: The 2nd of February: Fiesta de Rurre - Anniversary of Rurrenabaque - The day of La Virgen de Candelaria.