Weekends in Riberalta do not equal weekends in La Paz. Our little city in the Amazon has exactly one club and one bar, neither have been visited extensively. However, this should by no means imply that volunteers spend their weekends doing nothing. In contrary, aside from weekly activities, such as movie nights, shared dinners and various Sunday activities, volunteers also get to spend their weekends in several ways which definitely do not include boredom. This blog post will give you an idea of what to do in and around Riberalta.
Last weekend we spent both Saturday and Sunday at the Tumichucua Lake. As humidity and temperatures are continuously rising, any chance to cool off is very welcome. Even though the Lake is not at all cold, it is definitely a nice way to flee the city for an afternoon. If you get the chance to visit Riberalta, I advise you to skip the public area and try to organise an afternoon at a private spot. This will allow the gringos under us to go swimming without being the centre of attention. If you are lucky, you will also have the chance to use kayaks and get to explore the island in the Lake a bit more.
As you have probably read on our website, another easy way to escape the city and spend some time in the jungle is through Pisatahua. All volunteers at Sustainable Bolivia get the chance to stay in the Eco lodge of Pisatahua for free. Simply organise a little bit of food for you dinner there and off you go! Being only half an hour away you can be quite flexible with when you want to go and come back. Once you are there you can enjoy an evening at the dock, listening to animal sounds, and looking out for crocodiles and anacondas. Hint: you probably will not see any crocodiles or anacondas, but still sounds exciting, right? In the morning you can take stroll through one of the nearby paths or even take a boat tour with one of the locals.
If you would like to stay in the city of Riberalta but still want to have some fun, Sunday mornings are great to go second hand shopping at the Mercado central. Get your fellow volunteers to join you on a stroll to the market and start the day off with a smoothie at one of the many smoothie stands. Once you are ready to rumble through the various clothing stands around the Mercado central, you probably will not be able to stop! The idea behind this activity was to make it a weekly tradition, however being fortunate when second hand shopping can be of great disadvantage when backpacking through Bolivia. Thus, we have decided to only follow this activity occasionally, as we were simply too successful.
About three weeks ago we had the possibility of joining Gabrielle, a friend of Sustainable Bolivia, to a house in the middle of nowhere. She invited us to stay there for two nights, in exchange for feedback and advice as she wanted to know if it has tourism potential.
Thus, we embarked on a five hour car ride and a 7 hour boat ride, to a house literally in the middle of nowhere. Surrounded by nothing but forest and water we were set to have a fun time. Luckily, the rain from the night before made our first day a lot cooler, both literally and figuratively meant. We decided on a three hour walk through the jungle, which was definitely a good amount of time to discover the forest and arrive back home before getting too cold. As the rain had gotten worse once we started walking, we were drenched in water about halfway. However, this did not change our astonishment of the difference from a jungle in the rain and in the dry. Personally, I would give anyone visiting the jungle the advice to go for a walk in the rain, if you get the chance. It is such a different experience and somewhat more exciting and adventurous. Also, you will not reek of sweat afterwards and mosquitoes are rarely an issue in the rain.
On the second day a boat trip led us to a sculptor’s family. We got the chance to work on some previously made wooden frames which we could eventually take back home with us. Some volunteers even made use of the nearby river and went for a swim to cool off.
On the third day we packed our bags and set off to go back to Riberalta. After a boat ride which was most definitely shorter than the way there, however a car ride that was three times worse as the previous one, we finally arrived back at home. So, what was our feedback to Gabrielle? Definitely great potential!
Riberalta being a city located close to the Brazilian border, volunteers also get the chance of a day trip to Brazil. A two hour bus ride will take you to Guayaramerín, a Bolivian city close to the border. A 40 minute walk or a short taxi ride will take you to the riverbank which divides Bolivia from Brazil. After crossing the riverbank with the boat you will have officially made it to Brazilian ground. Now you find yourself on the Brazilian side of Guayamerín, a place which is perfect if you are on the hunt for cheap food!
So, if you get the chance to visit Riberalta, or if you are currently there and are looking for some weekend activities, try out out the activities mentioned above. Furthermore, if you know additional activities that you have done or heard of, let us know! We are always eager to find out more about Riberalta’s surroundings and are up for adventures any time.