Beni is in the Tropical Lowlands of Bolivia.
- 1 Trinidad – The capital of Beni, also called the "Jewel of the Amazon". It is a very eye-catching town that is slowly but steadily becoming a city.
- 2 Guayaramerín – A northern border town with Brazil and reachable by boat.
- 3 Riberalta – An interesting town with a serious frontier-like feeling, set in the northern Bolivian jungle.
- 4 Rurrenabaque – A popular base for jungle and pampa trips.
- 5 San Borja
- 6 San Ignacio de Moxos – Famous for the indigenous Moxos people.
- 7 Yucumo – Gateway into the region and interchange point.
- 8 San Joaquin – A cute little town deep in Beni lowlands, gateway to other towns and places nearby.
Beni department is rich in nature and culture. You can find big rivers there (most impressive is probably Mamore), and big lakes. There are nature parks and reserves (e.g., Serere). Many ethnic groups live there, most of them small and quite hard to locate, others bigger and more exposed (like Moxenos). The towns in Beni are not big, but they are charming (e.g., Rurrenabaque or Trinidad).
Being in nature, with an organized tour or on your own, you'll meet some communities, see interesting flora and fauna, maybe learn some survival techniques. Maybe you'll want to fly a bit, because the distances (i.e. to reach Riberalta) are quite big. If you can, take a chance and get on a boat trip along the river Mamore.
- Buses from Yolosita to Yucumo: Many in the evening, but also during the day. 8-10 hr (+ 2 hr from La Paz, + 5 hr to Rurrenabaque, + 2-3 hr to San Borja). Bs. 40-50.
- Buses between Trinidad and Santa Cruz: Mostly night buses between 18:00 and 21:00. 10-12 hr. Bs. 50-80 (semi-cama).
The road conditions between Yucumo and Trinidad are awful, and it can take ages to travel this "trunk road", passing by San Borja and San Ignacio de Moxos. The road is under construction and larger parts should be available for faster travel in 2019. Nevertheless, road blocks in addition make the situation unpredictable and can stretch travel time to 2-5 days. So, you better do not use this road if you have a flight from Santa Cruz and urgently need to get there. You are better off going by La Paz in this case.
The following are travel times for dry season:
- Yucumo <=> San Borja (vans every 30 min, 2-3 buses a day): Bs. 15/30 by bus/van, 2-3 hr
- San Borja <=> San Ignacio (vans every 60 min, 2-3 buses a day): Bs. 45/90 by bus/van, 4-5 hr
- San Ignacio <=> Trinidad (vans every 30 min, 2-3 buses a day): Bs. 30/60 by bus/van, 3 hr
If you're going east or north from Rurrenabaque, there's a flight with TAM from Reyes to the cities of San Borja, Trinidad, Riberalta and Guayaramerín (on the border with Brazil).
- Pre-hispanic hills (lomas) north of Trinidad
- 1 Reserva del Biosfera del Beni (Beni Biological Station Biosphere Reserve) (close to San Borja). Lies within de grassy steppe of the Llanos de Moxos (plains) and a great place to explore the local wildlife. It is one of the first places in Bolivia that has been proteced this way, and now provides home to around 500 different types of animals. Trips can be organised from San Borja, either by simply renting a car and driver, or by asking around for a guide, or organising guided trips with the park rangers itself, including accommodation in local villages.
- 2 Boat trip to/from Guayaramerín (boarding at Puerto Barador (15 km west from Trinidad)). A very authentic, remote and exciting 3-5 day trip on the Río Mamoré down to the Brazilian border. Besides the mightiness of Mamoré, you will have plenty of time enjoying the rivers flora and fauna. Interact with the local people along the way and enjoy the cuisine on-board or while stopping at one of the many little ports to manage its cargo. Bring a mosquito net and water!
Many cargo boats traverse the river, but might go only during certain days. Depending on the boat, accommodation can range from on-deck places or hammocks to more private cabins. Ask at the tourist information in Trinidad for more information about boats, times and organising, but head directly to the port for sorting out the rest.
Going upstream from the Brazilian border can take 1½ to twice as long as downstream. Bs. 35-70 just for the trip (cabins and food extra).
- 3 Puerto Villarroel (Santa Cruz (department)) <=> Puerto Barador. Pretty much the same as the trip between Puerto Barador and Guayaramerín, just the other way. 5-8 days from Puerto Barador to Puerto Villarroel. See above for all the details.
- 4 Pilon Lajas Biosphere Reserve (50 km west of San Borja). A 400,000 ha reserve including a indigenous and multi-ethnic population. Extensive bird watching, but less commercial than the popular Madidi National Park. Mapajo Ecolodge is a community ecolodge, where you can stay. Bs. 150.
- 5 Barba Azul Reserve (in the middle of the Beni department, free transport provided), ☏ . A privately run reserve. Animals on display: Blue-throated macaw (very likely to see), giant anteaters, maned wolf, several types of tyrants, jaguar, puma and marsh dear. The sustainability of this reserve might be questioned, and it is pretty much the same discussion like the one on wildlife and safaris parks in Africa. Photo-hunting for the macaw for instance might just be the very reason why it is just so rare nowadays. Lodges: US$150 per person per night.
- Keperi – Tasty piece of cooked meat. It is very tender and it is served with rice and cheese, fried yuca and cold beer. All meat dishes are usually big servings.
- Piranha – The rivers are full of fish and piranha is a delicious treat.
- Snake – As expected in places near a jungle, the Amazon cuisine includes species that are uncommon in other parts of the world. Those who try it ask for second servings.