Michel Villeneau ( France ) - Jesuit Missions
´Ruta Verde is a young Tour Operator based in Santa Cruz , Bolivia , run by a charming Bolivian lady, Maria Eugenia and her very efficient Dutch husband, Gijs Dijkshoom.
Last august we (my wife and me), while visiting this beautiful country, called on Ruta Verde as to organize a tour to the Jesuits Missions region, east of Santa Cruz. I knew the Missions for having visited the place in 2002. During that trip I had met a man in Santa Anna who told me that there were some descendants of Alcide d'Orbigny in the area.
D'Orbigny (1802-1857) was a very important French scientist, father of the micropaleontology, and had been sent by the Paris Muséeum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Southern America as to make a complete inventory of the natural resources of this continent. He spent 8 years of his life (1826-1833) visiting Brazil , Argentina , Chile and Bolivia where he stayed 3 years, riding his mule from west to east and north to south. During the wet season, the country being impossible to travel, he used to settle his base in the Missions region. He was 28/30 years old, rather handsome and the natives being very pretty he obviously left behind one or more descendants.
It happened that A.d'Orbigny was my grand uncle and being short of time in 2002, as to deepen my quest of cousins, I decided to come back this year and proceed with my quest.
Ruta Verde, in the person of Gijs, took us in one of their very comfortable 4 WD Toyota to San Javier, San Ignacio, Santa Anna, San Miguel, all jewels of the Missions churches built by the locals under the control of Jesuits during the 18th century. I strongly recommend the visit, even if you have no cousins to meet there, but who knows?
Thanks to the Gijs, we found a "nest" of d'Orbigny at San Ignacio. It was very exciting and touching to meet these people who were far from thinking meeting one day some cousin from overseas after 176 years. Thank you Gijs for your very efficient help and your smooth driving across the "Chiquitania". I will never recommend strongly enough the readers of these lines to use Ruta Verde's services. These people are great!´
Matt Harding ( UK ) - Noel Kempff Mercado National Park
´Having umed and ahed about whether or not to attempt a visit to Noel Kempff on a budget that couldn't afford a plane we made the decision that we would go with our friends to Santa Cruz and see what was on offer. What we found was that out of the 4 companies we asked about tours only 2 came anywhere near what we could afford and only one of those was straight up about the costs. That company was Ruta Verde. We were quoted one price for a standard 7 day trip to the Noel Kempff Park , the costs for extra days were equally transparent. unlike some other companies there were no hidden costs (except of course the very reasonable fees for renting equipment, such as tents and binoculars), we were provided with as much water as we wanted and plenty of top notch grub.
Our guide was great, despite what he described as poor English it was miles better than any of our Spanish and was always happy to talk. His background as a biologist really shone through as he was constantly pointing our plants animals and insects with a boyish enthusiasm that was really infectious.
Both he and the local guide we met up with in la Florida were more than happy to allow us flexibility in the schedule and this gave a much more relaxed atmosphere. We never felt like we were pressured into doing anything, nor we were ever rushed, except to escape the bees...which none of us minded at all.
The time spent in the park was fabulous. From arriving in la Florida we really started to get a sense of how remote we were, especially on the night time walk to see huge frogs, glowing bugs, fishing bats and to hear the snap of an alligators jaws somewhere in the river. Upon arriving in at Los Fierros, we attempted to make it the waterfall, but we foiled by some very large trees on the road. Slightly disheartened at this set back we were much relieved to hear we would go when we got back from the Meseta and to make sure this happened the guide and the boys spent all afternoon clearing what turned out to be up three trees. That evening we went on a night walk and despite only seeing a fox, the sounds of the jungle were more than enough entertainment.
the morning before we left for the Meseta was one that started with us being awoken by the loud squawks of parrots in the trees outside our hut. that excitement over we headed for the Meseta. The walk up was hot but not too hard and the views more than made up for what little discomfort we felt. The view from the top was amazing, miles and miles of jungle beyond our sight. It's no surprise that this place inspired the The Lost World (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle).the red rock faces and the rich green of the jungle really did give the impression of being in another time and place.
After all that jungle it was something of a shock to find ourselves on open savannah with the odd oasis of palms and parrots dotting along the various water sources. Camp was in a small jungle clearing and dinner was enjoyed by all.
The following day saw us swim in a divine water hole that was so refreshing it seemed a shame to have to walk back down. however on the way back we came face to face with a monkey, who checked us out, decided we weren't his mates and promptly swung off into the jungle, king of the swingers, jungle vip, indeed.
On the way home we encountered both the incredibly cool armadillo and the rather huge anteater. Serious highlights indeed.
As a final trip we made it too the waterfall and it was more than worth the wait, my personal highlight of the trip, though the armadillo runs it close. the water was freezing and the swim didn't last long but the waterfall itself was so grand that it didn't really matter, add to that the 6 foot plus boa that was just chilling by the lake and you have yourself a very good trip indeed.
All in all I have to say money well spent indeed. Go and do it because well not many people do and it won't be there forever. Can't recommend Ruta Verde enough, they did all they said they would and all with a smile.´
Étienne Gauthier ( Canada ) - Amboro National Park North Side
´I've done a Bolivia trip (with my lonely planet) for two months. I've been, in 2 months, with A LOT of different tour agencies. Ruta Verde Tour Agency was definitely my favorite. Everything was perfectly organized (which is not that common in Bolivia !) and very sympatic. I took the Amboro park tour for couple of days and I can assure you that it was the best days of my travel. One of the things that I did like the most with this agency is that they hire local guides for most of their trips (which helps a lot of people). So, from my personal experience, you should expect an well organized tour agency with the best prices and enjoy a wonderful trip in the Amboro park with a local guide, from who you will learn unforgettable things...The agency also speak Spanish, English and Dutch. I'm not working for anyone, I'm just leaving this comment because I think that this agency should be known by every traveler in Bolivia ,
Have a nice trip!´
Bernadette en Lucia (The Netherlands ) - Boat trip Amazon Basin
´De jungletocht was zeer geslaagd met lekker en gezond eten. Goede gids hoor en bijzonder sympathieke man. Ik denk nog heel vaak terug aan de reis en de foto's van de jungletocht roept bij veel mensen afgunst op!
Bedankt voor dit goede aanbod en hartelijke groeten.´
Jeannette (The Netherlands ) - Noel Kempff Mercado National Park
´It is a lot of hassle and trouble to go to Noel Kempff National park independently. I went with Ruta Verde. It is a great tour operator in Santa Cruz . The guide is a biologist who works in the park and knows a lot about the nature. During the trip we drove up to 2 Jesuit missions before we went on to the park. The night before we went in we slept at Campemento Florida and our guide took us alligator spotting and night fishing. The first day in the park we hiked up the Meseta and camped there, the next morning we hiked up to a waterfall and had a swim before we headed down. We slept again in a campemento and the next day we made it to a huge waterfall and swam there. On the last day we drove back to Santa Cruz . I have had 7 great days without hassle and worries. The food was good, the guide was great, the accommodation was good and we saw a lot. (monkeys, puma, foxes, butterflies, bugs, trees, flowers and plants).
I think it was great value for what you get and would recommend it to everybody.´
Maarten Sinnecker (The Netherlands ) - Noel Kempff MercadoNational Park
´We did some Ruta Verde tours around Sta. Cruz. Highlight was a seven day expedition to remote Amazon Parque Noel Kempf. Hiking, camping, fishing Piranha's, spotting birds and crocs, chain sawing to get the road free, canoeing and last but not least Karaoke, what a perfect mixture of adventure, survival and fun it was! The friendly Dutch/ Bolivian couple of Ruta Verde was dedicated to give us a great experience. Even after coming back in Sta. Cruz we were welcome for information and coffee at their office.´
Carola Vieregge - Boat trip Amazon Basin
´Im wundervollen Grünen Jungle haben wir eine prächtige Bötchenfahrt gemacht. Der Begleiter, hat uns am ersten Abend ein Lager ausgestattet, das sehr simpel und wunderlich aussieht, aber genau das Richtige ist für 30 Grad Celsius. Ein Bett aus Holzbrettern, ca 1m hoch. Da kommt eine Matte drauf und ein Laken. Mit Holzstäben aus dem Urwalt wird ein Baldakin geformt, da hängt man sein Mosquitonetz dran. Plane drüber für den Regen und voila: die "Suite Matrimonial"! In der Nacht wurde das restliche Hünchen vom Abenmahl an die Kaimane verfüttert.
Was mich am meisten beeindruckt hat? Die Flussdelphine. Die haben ein Gesicht wie der Vollmond, und ein Lächeln: einfach bezaubernd süss!´
Bram van den Berg (The Netherlands ) - Noel Kempff MercadoNational Park
´I had a very nice and adventurous trip with Ruta Verde in the remote national park noel Kempff. On the way there we visited the impressive Jesuit missions. So it became a very mixed trip with nature, adventure and culture. The friendly guide (a biologist) could tell a lot about the nature, area and the people. He also happened to be a good cook, a perfect driver and an awful singer. The help in the office in Santa Cruz was great. The office has a nice atmosphere and Maug and Gijs (the owners) were very helpful with finding the right tour for an affordable price. It also helped that they know there way around in Santa Cruz and that they are willing to share all the information you need. If I would have stayed longer I would have definitely booked another trip with Ruta Verde.´
Twan van den Beld (The Netherlands) - Boat trip Amazon Basin
´Het was een geweldige tour, veel gezien gelachen en zeker ook veel
gevist!! het voldeed echt aan onze verwachtingen!! echt een mooie tour.
Bedankt voor alles, succes met de tours en we geven jullie naam door!´
Mijke van Oorschot (The Netherlands) - Boat trip Amazon Basin
´Ik heb echt genoten van de tour! Jammer dat het de 2de dag hard regende, maar dat kon de pret niet drukken. Ik vond het super!´
Maarten (The Netherlands) - Boat trip Amazon Basin
´Wilde nog even zeggen dat jullie boottocht in het amazonegebied erg goed bevallen was! Het was erg warm en er waren veel muggen, maar dat mocht de pret niet drukken. Het beste echter was de gids, wat een fantastische kerel. Hij weet veel en is ontzettend sympathiek. Keep up the good work en bedankt!´
Kat Hamer (Australia) - Amboro National Park North Side
´The tour that we went on was wonderful. My sister and I were on a very tight time schedule and arrived in Santa Cruz with NO idea who to go on a tour with. But needing to organize one for the next day. We met the owners of Ruta Verde and were sold! It was so simple to organize; everything was just so easy and uncomplicated. I was originally worried that the trekking would be difficult and that ... well basically I wouldn't make it! But I loved the peaceful walking mixed with the interesting notes on the flora and fauna that we could see. Our guide was so gorgeous; he was honest, genuine and knew everything that we could ever hope to know - the medicinal properties of the plants as well as the behavior of the animals that we could see. The waterfalls were amazing and the views stunning. The spider monkeys and the (ok I'm forgetting the name now.... ManoMono? I know that's wrong, but there was a brown monkey that we chased along a path and watched while he swung through the trees and I can't remember which species he was...If you can figure out who I mean, please fill in the blanks!!!) were brilliant. I was so excited to see the animals in their natural habitat. The spider monkeys were shaking branches in the trees; our guide explained that it was to prove who was stronger to the other males in another tree.
At night we sat quietly and waited until the nocturnal animals appeared. Our guide also explained the origins of the park and the inhabitants who live on the outskirts. The food was great. The insight into life in the jungle was simply amazing and a wonderful experience that I would recommend to anyone.´
James Gradwell ( South Africa ) - Amboro National Park North Side
´What to say about Amboro National Park, the words amazing, beautiful, spectacular, awesome all to come to mind but these superlatives aren't enough, you need to touch it, feel it, hear it, taste it to get the true Amboró experience with Ruta Verde and after you do you never forget it, its fantastic!!! Thanks a million for the experience.´
Rik en Lydia (The Netherlands ) - Boat trip Amazon Basin
´In Santa Cruz gaan we op zoek naar een tour naar Amboro Park. We leggen uit wat we willen: vooral van de natuur genieten en veel dieren en vogels zien. Naast Amboro Park krijgen we nu een voor ons nieuwe optie aangeboden: varen over de Rio Ibaré bij Trinidad. Hadden we zelf niet in het reisprogramma opgenomen, maar we zijn altijd in voor goede ideeën.
Met de nachtbus gaan we naar Trinidad waar de gids ons van de bus ophaalt. We gaan eerst naar zijn huis, en na het ontbijt daar, gaan we naar de haven waar we in een motorboot met overkapping stappen. Alles gaat mee: eten, tenten, kookgerei en wij.
We varen uren over de rivier en langs de oevers wemelt het van de vogels. We zien de spectaculair grote ooievaar met rode nek en zwarte snavel (jabiru), veel papegaaiachtigen en ook de hele grote blauw-gele en (zeldzame) rood-blauwe ara´s. Ook aan andere dieren zien we genoeg. Voor de roze zoetwaterdolfijnen moet je snel zijn, die duiken maar heel even boven water, maar de capibara en het aapje dat zijn eten wast bij de rivier zien we goed. Verder zijn er veel krokodillen, en op de boomstammen liggen de schildpadden te zonnen. We slapen aan de oever van de rivier.
Behalve wij is er niemand in de wijde omtrek, geen bewoning, geen vee, geen landbouw, alleen het bos de dieren en wij. Vanuit je hangmat kun je bijna de apen en de papegaaien zien. We wandelen de tweede dag naar een dorpje in het oerwoud, waar een aantal families wonen. Er is geen weg, geen auto, geen telefoon, geen electriciteit, echt niets. Dat kan je je als Nederlander nauwelijks voorstellen.
De derde dag varen we weer terug, en opnieuw zien we heel veel. Natuurlijk weer de krokodillen, opnieuw capibara´s, en we hebben het geluk een otter op de oever te zien lopen.
Kortom als je van rust, natuur en dieren zien houdt, beslist een aanrader!´
David Millenaar - Boat trip Amazon Basin
´During our Honeymoon we made acquaintance with Ruta Verde. In the centre of Santa Cruz this wonderful people - Gijs and Maria Eugenia have their office. We wanted to go on a jungle trail but time was short...No problem: take the bus and go to Trinidad . From there on you'll go by boat into the jungle.
The bus trip was highly exciting since we had to conquer a strike. The bus was very comfortable, we had a couple of beers and it all took maybe three hours extra...
The next morning the guide picked us up, brought us to his house and we went shopping. It was a typical male shopping list: meat, meat and beer. The trip with the boat was really cool. We've seen a lot of different animals: birds, caimans, turtles...Even a couple of river dolphins!
We've had a great time, it only was two days but we didn't want to miss it.´
David Eggleton (UK) - Amboro National Park North Side
'I spent 4 days in Amboro in April with Ruta Verde's excellent, knowledgeable local guide. The trip was well organised and the lowland rainforest considerably different from the cloud forest seen in the higher areas of the park. A four day trip allowed me to explore some of the more remote areas off the beaten track that would be virtually impossible to find without a guide.´