Labeled the "Pearl of Beni River," the small town of Rurrenabaque is the gateway to the Amazon Basin and the launching point for both jungle and pampas tours along the Yucuma River. Prices are generally the same for both day trips and can be booked 24 hours in advance from tour companies in Rurrenabaque or ahead of time in La Paz. Book with a larger, reputable company as there are plenty of new, cheaper options popping up with dangerously gung-ho drivers who are disrespectful of the environment and the animals who live there. Allow more time for the pampas tour since it involves three hours in a jeep followed by a three-hour canoe ride, compared with the jungle tour, which takes just three hours by boat. Rurrenabaque is also the place where eco-lodges functioning in and around Madidi National Park pick up their clients for transfer deep into the jungle.

The town itself has fewer than 8,000 permanent residents, most of whom are Tacana natives and still speak the native language. Rurrenabaque, which translates to "Ravine of Ducks," is a haven for backpackers who are drawn to the areas eco-lodges and activities.

Nature is abundant here with more than 1,000 species of birds and 300 types of mammals and reptiles. Prepare yourself for the mosquitoes, though, especially if you take the pampas tour.

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