Bala Tours & Ecolodges
Bala Tours & Ecolodges
Bala Tours is a company of Ecotourism certified sustainable by the municipality of Rurrenabaque, Beni, Bolivia.We are known for our punctuality, safety and responsibility when providing quality service; we work in two important areas that are Pampas of Yacuma that is Grassland with the Eco-Lodge CARACOLES and inside the Madidi National Park in the Jungle with the Eco-Lodge TACUARALES.
Rurrenabaque, Bolivia
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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120 reviews
Very good

Robert E
3 contributions
Aug 2022 • Couples
We highly recommend this trip. We did things and saw things that were very special and unforgettable.

We arrived at the bus station in Rurrenabaque and got a ‘Torito’ (tuk tuk) to the Bala Tours office and were met by Jose, who said he would be our guide for the 5 days. He was very friendly, fun, spoke great English and was incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about conservation and about the jungle and the pampas. We were thrilled with him throughout. We only took the things we needed and left one of our big bags at the office and it was fine there, waiting for us when we got back.

We loved the setting for the lodges in the jungle and the pampas. The food was really good, and so much of it! The mosquito net over the bed worked - we didn’t get any bites. The showers were cold, but we got over that and overall really enjoyed the lodge experience. We were given plenty of time in between activities to eat, shower, change, rest etc.

The activities during the 5 days were fantastic. We did and saw everything advertised (apart from the elusive anaconda).

The town of Rurrenabaque is nice. There is an ATM there, lots to do, and Jose even showed us where there was a laundry place that did all of our washing in 2 hours before we got our transportation back to La Paz.

Jose and the Bala Tours team made it a very special and memorable once in a lifetime trip for us. Again, we would highly recommend this incredible experience.
Written August 25, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Bristol, UK8 contributions
Feb 2020 • Family
We decided to do this trip on recommendation of other travellers. Booked the 5 day combination tour - half in the jungle and half in the wetlands. Not cheap but the reviews looked promising. Booked easily and tried to get cash for payment at La Paz airport and failed despite 15 or so machines. Arrived at Rurrenabaque and there was a taxi waiting for us from Bala Tours even though we hadn’t asked for it. Good job they came though! Was able to pay by card (with standard surcharge) so was pleased. The tour was fantastic. Every bit of it. Our guide Roberto was a real wildlife expert who loved his subject. Accommodation was wonderful after what we’d had in Bolivia so far and the food was great. We saw amazing sights and learnt so much. We swam with river dolphins and fished for piranhas. We went caiman spotting at night amongst the fireflies. I would recommend this tour to anyone - we agreed it was the highlight of our trip round South America.
Written March 20, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Abbots Langley, UK25 contributions
Jan 2020
This surpassed all our expectations - Our guide Roberto & his team were amazing. Enthusisiatic & so much knowledge! Nancy the cook made our meal times homely and beautiful. The lodges were better than many of the hotel rooms we stayed in whilst in Bolivia.
Absolutely recommend this company to anyone wanting to do the Amazon experience.

They even took care of one of our group who was ill - special teas and soups made just for her - wonderful
Written January 30, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Andy D
Glen Eira, Australia13 contributions
Jun 2019 • Couples
My girlfriend and myself booked on to the pampas 3D 2N tour in June and had a fantastic time.

We turned up in Rurrenabaque and booked our tour there to start the following day. This was easy as the office had a fluent English speaker.

The tour started with a 3 hour ride in a 4x4 to the river followed by a short trip up the river to the eco lodge. The ride was along unsealed roads with some bumps but we were comfortable enough and the driver was very safe.

During the short trip to the lodge by boat we saw many cayman and lots of birds which was fantastic.

On arriving at the lodge we were welcomed with cool drinks which was a nice touch and we were introduced to the friendly staff.

The lodge itself is very nice. Bearing in mind is isolated in the bank of the river, it was very impressive.

The rooms were comfortable. We had a double room with a comfy bed and good mosquito screens on the windows as well as a mosquito net for the bed. We also had our own private bathroom (as do all the rooms) which we did not expect but was a great surprise for us. The shower was cold (but really, what do you expect in the middle of the Amazon...!) which was fine for us. Electricity was available from 6:30pm to 9:30pm via a generator.

On the topic of mosquitos, I note that some reviews note a lot of mosquitos. I imagine it varies with time of year and the regency if rain. We had very low levels of mosquitos and they really weren’t a major problem, we took strong DEET with us but only used it in the evenings.

The food was really impressive especially given the isolated location. The cook had clearly put a lot of thought and effort in to creating a variety of really tasty dishes to cater to all tastes and diets. We had a vegetarian in our group and I would say the vegetarian food looked as tasty as the meat-based dishes. Everyday was different in terms of food with a great breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Our guide, Aurelio, was truly fantastic. Having lived in the jungle previously, his skills and knowledge of the pampas was really very impressive. He was also very kind, patient and fun to be around. On more then one occasion he really went the extra mile to make our tour great.

On the first day on the river we saw cayman, capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, pink river dolphins, capybaras and many different birds. Aurelio was able to whistle to the monkeys to work out where they were and get them to come to the edge of the river to investigate. We were able to swim with the dolphins for some time also which my girlfriend really loved (dolphins being her favourite animal).

On day 2 we set off to look for squirrel monkeys, which it turns out are not easy to find. It took sometime searching the river with Aurelio whistling to see if any of the monkeys replied but we did come to a spot where Aurelio suddenly told us that there were squirrel monkeys in the area. He put the boat onto the river bank, and within about a minute a whole family of squirrel monkeys (about 15-20) appeared about 1-2 metres away from us.

In the afternoon we went fishing for pirhana, which again was great. We managed to catch about five and the chef cooked them up for dinner that evening (they were delicious). After dinner, Aurelio heard a noise outside (which none of us could hear) and said maybe there was a porcupine in the trees near the dining room. Sure enough we went outside with flashlights and there were 2 porcupines in the trees feeding!

The last day we went searching for anaconda in the nearby lagoon. On this occasion we were unlucky and couldn’t find any. However, this wasn’t for the lack of trying on Aurelio’s part. He spent quite some time and effort trying to find some but alas it was not our lucky day. This was ok as the tour had already vastly exceeded our expectations.

In the way back to Rurrenabaque later that day, Aurelio and the driver pulled over and pointed to a tree at the side of the road where a sloth was having lunch which was a great bonus as I had really wanted to see one but thought I should not get my hopes up given they are quite solitary animals.

All in all. We had a fantastic time. The best parts of this tour were the guide, Aurelio (who we really can’t praise enough), the food (which was excellent) and the general comfort level which, given the isolated location, was excellent.

We would definitely book with Bala tours again and highly recommend the pampas tour if you want to see lots of animals and learn about the forest with excellent English-speaking guides.
Written June 16, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Wellington, New Zealand28 contributions
Apr 2019 • Couples
Highly recommend the 3D2N private pampas tour with Bala Tours. Our flight to Rurrenabaque was delayed and our guide Roberto was still waiting for us on arrival. Roberto was an amazing guide who was extremely passionate and knowledgeable about the area and wildlife, not to mention he could spot wildlife from a great distance! He really went the extra mile to ensure we had a great experience. We saw capybara, sloth, anaconda, caiman, turtles, snake, various types of monkeys and heaps of birds including toucans/macaws, caught pirana and swam with pink dolphins. The eco lodge itself was peaceful, the buffet food was good and catered to vegetarians and gluten free. We visited late April/early May and were lucky to have some rain on our first night which cooled the weather down and the mosquitoes disappeared. I was sad to leave the place and can't wait to return, absolute highlight of our trip :)
Written May 18, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Nicholas R
Manchester, UK16 contributions
Nov 2018 • Couples
To start with, I’ll clarify that the food was quite good, guide was okay (abandoned us at one point) and accommodation was nice enough but very basic with no light or electricity so zero break from the constant 35 degree intense humidity.

However, we always check reviews before we go anywhere and not a single person mentioned the mosquito infestation in the Pampas. Admittedly, not Bala’s fault (although they could be better prepared), but I couldn’t in good faith recommend that anyone go here. Everywhere we went we were outnumbered maybe 100 mosquitos to 1 to the extent that you spent every second swatting them away. We both wore DEET on our bodies, long clothing and then DEET on top of our clothing but came back with over 50 bites each.

It felt like the mosquitos had paid for a human buffet and it was definitely all they could eat!!
Written December 6, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Belgium16 contributions
Aug 2015 • Couples
Good professional guide (Peter)
Nice area - seen a lot of animals
Good food

Poor lodge

We compared a few tour providers and this was one of the most expensive (400 dollars for 1,5 days/2p + 40 dollar park entrance fee), to expensive if you see the accomodation. I loved sleeping in the pampas and I don't k the poor conditions, but the price has to be fair.

Written August 9, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Vaasa, Finland11 contributions
Aug 2014
I am very happy we booked our tour with Bala Tours, which turned out to be a highly professional organization. All the staff, including owner, office staff, guide, drivers, cooks and staff at the lodges were friendly, helpful, warm, hospitable and seemed to take great pride in their work. Our guide Hermann did go the extra mile to make us have a great experience. As a nature and conservation photographer I can have quite high expectations on guides and Hermann did not disappoint. Besides being an excellent tracker himself he also was able to teach us in our short time how to track wild pigs and monkeys by tracks, marks and smell. He taught us how to move in the vegetation, which trees and plants to avoid touching and why. He also taught us how to approach different wildlife in order to not spook them and for me this was invaluable in getting great photo opportunities. He found us monkeys (Capuchin, howler, spider) macaws, capybara, anaconda, a whole host of birds, sloth, pink river dolphins, back and spectacles cayman, 3 different kind of piranha, wild pigs etc He told us about the medicinal and shamanic uses of different plants. When my husband mentioned in passing about an ailment of his, unbeknownst to us until the next day, Hermann contacted his parents - his father is an experienced botanical (scientific, non-shamanistic) healer - to discuss plants that might help my husband. In short, he took a real interest in us and our well-being. after the days tours as we sat down for dinner, Hermann showed the same enthusiasm as we and the other guests did, for discussing the days flora and fauna observations - it was clear that he has such great passion for the ecology in the region and his work. I would highly recommend Bala tours for anyone who is looking for a genuine, responsible,beautiful nature experience.
Written July 17, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

28 contributions
We booked Bala Tours because of their positive ecological reputation. Since we were most interested in the rain forest, we chose a 3 days/2 nights jungle tour to Madidi National Park, although in the pampas you might see animals more easily (and the sun burns down more heavily). We were not at all disappointed, on the contrary. It started with a three hour boat drive upstream (excellent driver even through turbulent waters: Herman) to the Ecolodge. It is nicely situated though currently in reconstruction because last year violent inundations destroyed a part of the old lodge. Papaya trees directly in front of our very nice hut, hammocks, ample shade, good beds, private bathrooms very nicely made. Of course water needs to be saved a little bit, but it is sufficient for an economic shower. Light at night produced during day time by solar energy. Core activities are several hikes/walking tours through the jungle. All senses have to be used: Vision (great views), smell, tactile sense (careful! do not touch everything, e.g. no ants' trees, they might hurt!), aural sense. With these, a universe of valuable and beautiful observations could be made: Trees and plants never seen before, rare birds, a baby eagle hunting, caimans, a big turtle, tribes of peckories and monkeys, insects, spiders waving great artworks of nets, piranhas (put back to water immediately) and many others. Our upmost helpful, calm, nature-respectful and knowledgeable guide was Peter. Our group this time consisted only of the four of us, which was excellent since in the jungle it is necessary to proceed very calmly. Coming home to the lodge refreshments flew over to us, and then the wonderful local (and sometimes also international, like pancakes) food creations by our private cook Hilda pleased our visual and gustatory senses. One example of the great variety of meals made from green bananas (masacos, stomped like mash potatoes, hearty and only a little sweat); great rice, fruits and meats, always ingeniously, inventively and beautifully decorated. Using sensible protection, almost no mosquito bites (April). Thank you so much!
Written May 1, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Rosanne B
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand23 contributions
Aug 2013 • Couples
What an experience! It was just the two of us and our guide Jimmy. We were so lucky to have the whole place to ourselves at both the Jungle and the Pampas ecolodges. Jimmy was very knowledgeable on all the wildlife, plants and trees. We needed to be back a bit earlier than the usual finish time to catch a flight but it was not a problem for Jimmy who was happy to get up early so that we could still fit the full programme in.
We had heard we wouldn't see much wildlife in the Jungle but were pleasantly surprised when we saw monkeys, wild pigs, Capybara and two varieties of Toucans and Macaws and many other birds too.
Our cook in the Jungle tour Santos, was a sweetie. There was always an abundance of food which was superb and Santos would come out at each meal to explain what each dish was. Our accommodation in both the Jungle and the Pampas was simple but clean and quite adequate. The shared toilets and showers were nice and clean.
Our food in the Pampas was great also, and we had a wonderful young girl to serve it to us whose cheery disposition added to our dining experience.
Our trips up and down the river had us passing so much wildlife. So many birds, Caiman, turtles, Capybara, monkeys and the pink dolphins.
I bought a pair of binoculars at the last minute before we left Rurrenabaque. They were so handy in spotting wildlife and I would highly recommend taking some with you if you do this trip.
We fished for Pirana and all caught at least one.
We went on a hunt for an Anaconda but it was the most exhausting thing I have done. It was so hot. We were fitted out in gumboots and had to walk through bog, sometimes nearly sinking up to our knees. If we weren't sinking then we were fighting to free our feet from tangly grass. Each step was such hard work. The chances of finding an Anaconda are pretty slim and we never saw one.
This trip with Bala Tours was one of the highlights of our 3 week trip around Bolivia and I would highly recommend it to others.
Written August 29, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Bala Tours & Ecolodges (Rurrenabaque) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go