2 cm from an alligator

Trip Start Feb 13, 2010
Trip End Aug 15, 2010

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Where I stayed
The Pampas

Flag of Bolivia  ,
Friday, July 16, 2010

We had be warned that the bus journey to Rurrenbaque was almost not worth enduring in order to reach the pampas that awaits on the edge of the Amazonian jungle... 18-22 hours on a ramshackle bus, and along the world´s most dangerous road, was nothing to be sniffed at. Nevertheless, our bank balances beggining to look less and less impressive, we decided we could not afford the flight that every other traveller we knew seemed to be splashing out for. After hours of deliberation we bit the bullet, booked our return bus and set off with dread of what was to come, hoping that the jungle tour that awaited us was worth enduring the pain.

And it really was. The bus journey wasn´t even that bad, and withourt a shadow of a doubt I would do that bus journey 3 times over if it meant I could go back to the Pampas. Day one was mainly spent journeying to our camp site which was in the middle of the jungle, reached by slightly dodge looking canoe come boat type thing. Along with Mike and I there were the Canadian girls we did the trek with, a Norwegian couple and an Irish lad. All were lovely and a great laugh.

5 seconds into our boat ride and we see our first alligator. I am not exaggerating when I say that at times, had my hand been flooating idly by my side in the water, it would have been snapped off by a caimen or alligator. The river was teeming with them, no joke. So much so that as time passed us by, we all became none plussed at the site of the reptiles. some of us were even a little bored....

We finally reached our camp by about 6pm. We ate dinner and were sent off to get our torches for our night time trip down the river to ´spot alligators by night´. I mentioned to Mikey that I thought i had seen my fair share of prehistoric reptiles for the day and assured him that I would not feel as if i was missing out if i chose not to embark on a trip down the Amazon in the pitch black in the ´hope´ of spotting alligators. He told me to shut up and get in the boat. So I did.

And boy did we see alligators. Our ´captain´´ of the evening Jamie, also found it hilarious to park our boat up right next to an alligator who was resting just in the shallows of the river. We were so terrified that I think one of the Canadian girls cried a little. I have never seen Mike so scared in my life. I still have the purple bruises from where he was holding on to me for dear life.

Night time trip of near death complete, and it was onto swamp trekking the next morning in search of anacondas. (For those that are unsure, an anaconda is a massive SNAKE.)
Wellington boots donned and it was off to the swamp. This was a walk that I would not care to EVER repeat again. the swamp was, in places, so deep that the water would rise above your boots and slosh disgustingly into your shoe, making your socks wet with revolting water and god knows what else. I was trying desperately not to think about leecvhes. 15 mins of swamp battling done and we were rewarded with an anaconda. Measuring about 4metres in size it was not the biggest we could have found, but it was big enough. After much unethical tugging of the poor creature we decided to levae him be, and thank god, depart from the swamp land.

That evening we pulled into a different campsite which had a football pich. We soon embarked on a game of gringoes vs the locals, in which we were well and truly drubbed. The game was ended somewhat dramatically, when someone called across the field, LOOK OUT.... SNAKE!!! i looked to Mike who had just leapt 2metres in the air. The aforementioned snake was at his heels, head reared in anger, ready to bite. Its safe to say the game was over, Mike lucky that he still had both his ankles in tact.

The next day we began the long and painful journey back to La Paz, where warm beds and free breakfast was awaiting...
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