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Guayaramerín

The tropical border town of Guayaramerín sits on the Bolivian side of the Río Mamore, will the Brazilian town of Guajará-Mirim just a boat’s hop away on the other side of the river. It’s a thriving frontier town, with lots of black market trade alongside the authorized transactions. Guayaramerín has a very laid-back feel however, and a fare few attractions close-by. It’s also an alternative route into Brazil and a great place to begin or end a river adventure.

Guayaramerín was founded in 1892 by rubber pioneers from Santa Cruz, under the name Puerto Palmira. The majority of first inhabitants came from the town of Baures in the east of the Beni department and worked as tappers, extracting rubber from trees. This mass migration is recognized in the town’s festival on December 8.

Many of these early years were passed waiting for the arrival of the Madera-Mamoré railway, which had been promised to Bolivia by Brazil to compensate for the annexing of the Arce region from the former country by the later. The railway was intended to be a direct route to the Atlantic Ocean to export Bolivian rubber, but it never arrived and thousands of men died trying to complete it – you can read all about it in the museum in Guajará-Mirim.

Today, as well as its border activities, the town is an important port and is the permanent base of the Bolivian navy (yes, Navy!). It’s 1,118 kilometers from Trinidad, which can be reached directly by boat along the mighty Río Mamore, also known as the river of the mother of god. Cargo boats continue all the way down to Puerto Villaroel in the Chapare region.

The main attractions in Guayaramerín centre on the river and the rainforest, and the town’s historical role as a rubber exporter. On the road out to Cachuela Esperanza you’ll find the Palacio de Cultura, where there’s an archive documenting the 19th century rubber boom orchestrated by the Suárez family. In Cachuela Esperanza itself, roughly 40 kilometers from Guayaramerín, are the ruins of the Suárez family empire, which at its height included its own hospital, theatre, school, mansion and train.

There are also a couple of balnearios outside of town including Balneario Itauba Eco Resort (Tel: 855 3514) where you can take a dip in the natural pools. They can also arrange treks into the selva, trips to visit a local dairy and fishing, and you can camp or stay overnight in one of their cabañas.

Fish is a specialty here, so if you’ve made it this far into the wilderness don’t leave before trying some, or sample some beef fresh from a local ranch. Club Social on the main plaza offers good value lunch and dinner, and there are several other decent restaurants on the plaza – try Restaurante Don Tabe.

Hotel Balneario San Carlos (Tel: 3-855-3555) on Calle 6 de Agosto is the best hotel in town, mainly catering for business people (rooms: $20-$40). On the main plaza, Hotel Plaza Anexo (Plaza Hernán Roca Casanova, Tel:3-855-3560) has rooms for $4/$5; Hotel Santa Ana (Av. 25 de Mayo near the corner of Calle 16 de Julio, Tel: 3-855-3900) has budget rooms for around $4/5 per person. There are a number of cheapies along Calle Tarija.

The town has plenty of phone shops, internet, a Banco Union and Prodem on the main plaza and casas de cambio to exchange your bolivianos for reales. You can also change money at the port. You can hire motorbikes from the southeast corner of the main plaza.

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Other places nearby Guayaramerín: Rurrenabaque, The Southwest, Salt Flats and Wine Regions, Trinidad, Santa Ana del Yacuma , Magdalena, Riberalta, Cobija, Chiquitos, San Ignacio de Moxos and Parque Nacional Madidi.







06 Jan 2010

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