At the time of booking the trip to Rurrenabaque we thought we’d save a little money and get the bus there and the plane back. Turns out we probably should have taken the plane both ways. Our bus was due to leave around 10am but because every Bolivian passenger appeared to be taking on board their life long belongings, it took a while for the bus people to load up the baggage. We ended up leaving around an hour late. Our bus is meant to arrive early tomorrow morning so that we are able to go straight onto the tour but our optimism is fading.
The bus journey was a nightmare – poor seats, a crying baby and a really annoying spanish song which appeared to be on repeat for the entire journey. This was accompanied by the sound of metal side panels clanging and falling off. Added to this, the knowledge of travelling in the dark on dirt roads which snake around the mountains leaving you just inches from a 100 foot cliff drop. There was no chance in hell of getting a good night’s sleep. Actually, this was probably the first time on this trip where I felt a little bit scared. There was nothing I could do but leave my life in the hands of the driver.
After 10 hours or so we stopped along the mountain road in a big queue. After 30 minutes or so we wondered why we had stopped (my thoughts were that there had been a crash). It turned out we were at the one-way section. The road being too narrow meant traffic had to come one way for a couple of hours and then the other way for the next few hours. But, not everyone kept to this rule and as we passed the one way section there were cars coming the other way leading to some tight passing on the road – in the dark too. Idiots!
The only time we slept was when the bus suffered a puncture and the wheel had to be replaced. The route wove around the mountains and at times there were drops of hundred of feet next to the bus, with no barriers and the odd hole in the tree line – it was rather scary to say the least. There was the odd moment when John squeezed my hand thinking of the worst and we were looking for points to hold on if we did go over the edge. We were fortunate not to be on the back row where four other backpackers let out screams as the bus bumped along the road. At one point, the bus swayed from side to side like we were on a boat! Very frightening considering one side would have meant our death for sure!
Waiting for our turn to go. The sellers on the side of the road waiting to make some money.
Over the night we had no sleep but did stop for some food. So if you are going to go to Rurrenabaque we would definitely suggest getting the plane from La Paz. Its only 30 minutes rather than the long, scary and dangerous bus.
However it does make for an interesting story!