(Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia)
Bella Vista is a small town in the province of Iténez in Bolivia's large northern state of Beni, located 365 kilometers from Trinidad, capital city of Beni. It is considered the access to the Parque Integrado Iténez, a natural protected area.
Each year inhabitants of this area hold a Fish Festival called "La Feria del Pescado" in which they prepare many different foods based on local river fish such as pacú, sábalo, tataruga, and sabalina (also known as yaraquí) plus turtles and their eggs. Tourists travel to Bella Vista from all over Beni and other states such as neighboring Santa Cruz.
Watch this video. Although it is in Spanish, it is rich in imagery and music, and you'll see how people live in some of the smaller towns of tropical Beni, in Bolivia's northern rainforest region.
The State Government of Beni has been working to develop this as a eco-tour attraction for the area through its Tourism Unit. It is now providing funds for this attraction, as well as electricity to ensure tourists have light and refrigeration is available during the 4 days of the fish festival.
It is very difficult to reach this region during certain times of the year, namely the rainy season (usually between November and February of each year). That's why there is air taxi service. Small planes fly into the region from Trinidad. It's a 1 hour and 10 minute flight to Bella Vista. Pilots schedule flights as needed by tourists at a cost of about Bs. 250-270 per person.
Other activities during these days: cock fights (very popular in Beni), beach volleyball on the banks of the river, 4-wheeling, swimming, hiking, and of course, fishing. There are small hotels available in Bella Vista (such as the Hotel Tucunaré, owned by a Frenchman), but many families open their homes to tourists as well.
In this video you'll meet Father José, a Franciscan priest who built and named the town of Bella Vista. This is also the area where Bolivia's major rubber boom took place at the beginning of the 20th century. Some families still hand-harvest rubber from rubber trees.
Thanks to our friends in Magdalena (view their Facebook page here) Magdalena, Beni Bolivia for sharing this video with us. Visit this page and learn more about Beni, Bolivia's prime cattle-ranching region in the northeastern tropics.