Rio Mamoré Drama, Part 2: Boat


In May 2013 I signed up for a seven day trip down the Rio Mamoré river. I landed up on a small cargo boat with Bolivian crew and two other gringo tourists, ready to see the heart of Amazon Basin in Bolivia. An introduction to the trip can be found in the first part of Rio Mamoré Drama.

Wherever you are on a river in Amazon Basin you will probably need a hammock to sleep in and mosquito net. In this part of globe sun comes down early, around 6 PM all year round. It is risky to navigate through the night so the boat stops by the river bank. This is also the time when hordes of mosquitoes start to hunt, the best option is to hide in your mosquito net and wait till tomorrow.

DSC04561Sleeping in a hammock sounds like lots of fun but after my first (and last) miserable night I switched to the old , good sleeping pad on a deck.

The food you get on the boat is a combination of bananas, rice, manioc, flour and some microscopic portions of awful and fat meat (smoked by the engine exhaust by the way). One day I was pleased see a fish for the lunch; it was piranha and despite it’s bad reputation (the worst meat out there) I didn’t complain.


There is no running water on a boat. Why would you need that when you are on a river anyway? There is more than enough (brown) water available there to drink, cook and wash with. The boat does not have sewerage though, a hole in the toilet leads directly to the river so what comes from the river gets back to it… or should I say, whatever and whoever puts into the river gets into you.


The boat itself is an interesting construction. It looks like a barge with couple of levels added later on.


The whole thing is powered by a bus engine. Notice the water on the floor, it looks like pumping out the water out is easier than making the boat leakproof… DSC04713

I remember that I was surprised how simple, primitive and improvised thing on the boat were. It doesn’t matter though, because the boat goes up and down the river all the time, from Trinidad to Guayaramerin and back. And this is how those people make their living.

1 Comment

  • Ines and Dan says:


    We have been reading your post on your Rio Mamore trip – sounded great! We’d like to do something similar and are currently in Santa Cruz, expecting to be in Trinidad in one week or so. What we’re struggling with is whether to buy a hammock/mosquito net here in Santa Cruz or if they’re available in Trinidad. Any advice based on your experience would be much appreciated!


    Dan and Inès

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