How to get to Riberalta?
You can get to Riberalta by bus or plane, the fastest and easiest way is by plane. There is an airport in Riberalta with daily connections to La Paz and Santa Cruz.
If you come from La Paz, you can also take a bus (operated by Flota Yungueña). From the bus station La Paz-Villa Fatima to the bus station of Riberalta. It lasts around 30 hours in the dry season, and in the rain season we do not recommend travelling by bus to Riberalta.
How to get to Aquicuana Reserve/Pisatahua?
To get to the reserve directly, you have to take a taxi (for groups) or moto taxi (for 1 or 2) from Riberalta. It lasts around 30 minutes and costs 100bs in taxi or 20bs in moto taxi.
If you decide to take a moto taxi, you have to know that during dry season there is a lot of dust and during the rainy season it is muddy. We also offer transfer services from the airport to the reserve in taxi.
How is Sustainable Bolivia a sustainable tourism agency?
At Sustainable Bolivia, we are committed to a community-based tourism, it means that we offer tourism as an economic alternative to the local rural communities. The goal is to generate additional income activities and protect, conserve and evaluate the local natural and cultural resources, while being sustainable with the environment. For example, in Pisatahua’s Ecolodge, we use renewable energy sources, such as solar energy and we are doing everything in our power to use local, natural and sustainable construction materials for housing and furniture.
You can find more information on our website: http//www.sustainablebolivia.org/Aquicuana-reserve.html
What is exactly the Aquicuana Reserve?
The protected area and Natural Reserve Aquicuana is a municipal protected area, the objective is to preserve the natural heritage of the Reserve and protect it from the agricultural expansion, intensive farming, deforestation, mining and extraction of its natural resources. We also support the objectives of the communities and help to improve their daily life and economic conditions.
It is located 20 km from Riberalta, in the North of Bolivia in the Amazonian part, there you have the San José lake, Pisatahua medicinal retreat centre and the communities of Warnes and San José. The name, Aquicuana, comes from the native language Tacana and it means, big trees.
What kind of activities are there in the reserve?
Sustainable Bolivia offers different activities such as:
Hiking, canoe and boat trips, bird watching tours (with experienced and knowledgeable guide), sport fishing, spiritual retreat, camping and we offer accommodation in wooden cabins inside the reserve.
You can also combine these activities, or we can create a personalized experience for you.
For more information visit our website: http//www.sustainablebolivia.org/
What is ecotourism ?
Ecotourism is the respectful way of tourism, where everyone commits to respect the environment and to live sustainably, respecting and preserving wealth natural of the place that welcomes you. It also represents an important source of income for the communities, since there are always more people who cares about their impact environmental when they travel.
What is community tourism?
Community tourism is a form of tourism where local populations are directly responsible. Control the implementation and development of activities tourism, and thus ensure the conservation of their natural potential and culture. Also, they charge almost all of the money generated by the tourist activity.
Often located in rural and poor regions, is a source of important money for them. With this increase of income can think of new projects for the development of the community and the improvement of their living conditions.
For the tourist, it is the best way to live a true immersion in local life, knowing a little more about their customs, way of live, and culture and since they are welcomed directly by families or at least in adapted places and administered by the community. That guarantees a unique experience while allowing communities, often rural, have new forms of income.
How is the climate? What is the best time to come?
With a tropical climate, the Aquicuana Reserve is unsurprisingly hot and humid. Instead of clear seasons, such as Winter and Summer, this area has dry seasons and rain seasons. The rain season is from November to April, the rainiest months being from December to February. The rain season presents itself with two major challenges: difficulties regarding transport and an increase in mosquitoes. We advise to bring plastic boots and a rain jacket during this period, as well as something to cover important equipment (phone, camera, etc.).
In the dry season, which is from May to October, temperatures usually do not show major decreases, however they can eventually go down to 10°. Additionally, due to the humidity the low temperatures can be quite intense. Thus, if you are planning your visit during this season, be sure to take some warm clothes.
What shoes and clothes should I bring?
We are aware that it can be difficult to know what to bring along during a trip in the Amazon, especially when it is the first time visiting.
Firstly, any travelers’ advice would be to bring as little as possible. Traveling is always more fun with light and convenient luggage. Additionally, a small backpack is convenient for day or weekend trips. We also recommend a waterproof cover for your bag, because of the overall rainy and humid climate in the region.
These essential products go a long way. They might not be the first thing you would think of when packing your suitcase, but they will make your life a little easier once you have arrived.
– Mosquito repellent:be aware that Aquicuana is a Malaria region. Invest in a good repellent to keep insects away from you!
– Torch/Lamp: you will probably experience situations where there is no electricity, thus bring a lamp to lighten up your evening in the jungle
– Adaptor: Bolivian electricity plugs vary between the American and the European model. Even you will probably not need an adaptor most of the time, it is handy to have one in case you do.
– Credit Card: make sure to always have cash on you when traveling in Bolivia. Paying by card is usually never an option, thus be sure to have a card that can withdraw money abroad
– Sun Block:be aware that the sun in Bolivia is quite strong
– Basic medication: even though pharmacies exist it is always good to bring some basic medication in case you get ill
We advise you to bring long and light clothes which dry fast. Mosquito repellent will only protect you to a certain amount, thus clothes add a second layer of protection to your skin. Furthermore, light clothes are essential due to the heat, and fast drying clothes are beneficial due to the high amount of humidity and the frequent rainfalls
Bright colors are recommended, as they don’t absorb as much heat as dark clothes, and will allow you to see if there is any bugs or other creatures on it. Generally, keep away from white or black clothing, as white clothing scares animals and black clothing attracts mosquitoes, two situations you definitely do not want to find yourself in.
Know that you are going to walk a lot, especially on uneven grounds. Thus, make sure to bring solid, comfortable and waterproof shoes. Furthermore, you should not forget to bring a bathing suit. Even though most rivers and lakes are too dangerous to swim in, due to crocodiles, anacondas, and piranhas, you might get the occasion to take a dip somewhere and you definitely do not want to miss out on that!
Can I rent equipment for sport fishing?
You can bring your own equipment, or you can buy basic fishing equipment in the reserve
Vaccines and Health
Vaccinations are an important part of your preparation when traveling to a tropical destination such as the Amazon rainforest. Be sure to make an appointment at your doctor ahead of time, bearing in mind that some vaccinations (some of the “routine” ones) might have to be done weeks or even months in advance.
Before you go ahead and buy a flight ticket, take into consideration that you probably need to do some vaccines before leaving. Here is some advice on vaccinations:
- Make sure you are up-to-date with routine vaccinations before travelling.
- Yellow fever is the only mandatory vaccine you need to travel to Bolivia is for yellow fever, when you come from an endemic area. If so, don’t forget to bring your International Yellow Fever Vaccine Certificate with you.
- Hepatitis A vaccination is highly recommended, whether you plan to go to the rainforest or not, for a trip to Bolivia.
- Hepatitis B – the risk is low for travellers but the vaccine is recommended if you think you could be exposed while in Peru to blood or bodily fluids through sexual contact with a new partner, getting tattoos or piercings, having or giving medical or dental procedures or receiving acupuncture.
- Other vaccinations might be recommended by your doctor, such as vaccinations for Rabies, Typhoid, etc.
Mosquito transmitted diseases
Please keep in mind that Riberalta is located in an endemic location for malaria. Even though there are no cases of malaria in the city itself, there are higher risks all around, including in the Reserve. We advise you to take medication before and onsite.
In regards to other diseases such as Dengue, Chikungunya, Zika or Leishmaniasis it can be said that they are curable, not dangerous for a healthy person, and can be easily avoided by taking precautions to avoid bites.
If you stay less than 90 days, you only need a tourist visa which is free for most of the countries and does not require previous paper work. You only need a valid passport. We recommend you check this information with your local authorities.
Is the water drinkable?
We recommend you buy a reusable water bottle with filters to make the water drinkable. There are also pills to make the water drinkable, but you have to wait for 30 minutes before drinking it.
What kind of bird species can be found in the Aquicuana reserve?
Birds are the key strength of the Aquicuana Reserve, we have registered more than 302 bird species, and there are still more to discover and to register. Aquicuana is also one of the few places on earth where we can observe the Tororoi Riberaltaño. It is an endemic bird of this region and it was classified among endangered species. The natural reserve is very important for its preservation and it is probably the place where you can see most of the individuals from this bird species. The Tororoi Riberaltaño is one of many examples among birds and animals.
Binoculars are included with the birdwatching activity.
For more information visit our birds page: http://aquicuana.org/birds/
Can I camp anywhere in the reserve?
You can bring your own tent and put it in camping areas or, you can rent one in the reserve for a maximum capacity of 4 persons with a camping kit including a sleeping bag, a mosquito net and a sleeping mat.
Can I buy food inside the reserve?
We have built a small restaurant in the tourism office inside the reserve to offer different services. There is a kitchen where the inhabitants of the communities cook different traditional dishes like rice, manioc, fish and fried banana.