Parque Madidi and the Pampas tour.

Trip Start Oct 01, 2007
Trip End May 07, 2008

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sweat sweat and more sweat... Just got off the plane and had to wait and hour for the jeep to arrive for our tour. Thought we´d get into Rurrenabaque for an hour to leave the rucsacs in the office of our tour guide but due to TAM (Tossers and Muppets) we were late and had to bring them with. Didn´t bother us but we just hoped the guide didn´t mind the weight in the boat. On our tour for the Pampas were Steph, Jonah (Israel), Itay(Israel) and Pierre and Cristal(France). A grand group of sweaty feckers and plenty of conversation to whittle away the 2 and a half hour bus journey to Parque de Madidi and the river boat. Our guide and chef were up front asleep. Don´t know how they did it cause the road is a dirt track and everyones heads were swinging all over the place like booble head dogs. The driver had the weirdest face ever. Apart from the lump of coca leaves he was sucking under his right cheek he looked like someone was pulling the sides of his mouth up towards his eyeballs everytime we wend over a lunar sized crater. We were trying to get a picture of him reflected in the rearview mirror but it´s impossible when you´ve not control over the motion of your body due to the bumps and swerving.

We got to the river an chucked all the bags, food, gas bottle etc etc onto our 25 foot by 3 foot boat and off we went. It was seriously humid and the sun was baking but we were loving it and were all greased up with factor 30 and repellent. Don´t put a repellent with deet of 80% on your face. You´ll taste it in eveything for hours after and it burns..... a lot.

Straight away we we under siege from all sides with views off alligators, caymans, millions of different birds and lots of turtles. Most of the Alligators and Caymans hit the water when they see you so our guide was trying to be slow and quiet as much as possible. Next minute he headed stright for a tree that was overhanginf the river and started making kissing sounds and whistling. We thought he´d lost it trying to call the alligators or something until we were surrounded by about 10 small yellow monkeys. It was class. They were two feet away and really friendly and curious. Things couldn´t get much better until later up river after many many more sightings we were treated to four pink river dolphins riding alongside the small boat. They seemed very playful and treated us to an array of different belching sounds from their spouts.

We arrived at camp (wooden sheds with 9 beds jammed into ours) and sttled in before dinner and our after dark trip up the river to see the cayman out hunting at night with torches. Dinner was grand apart from the mossies. Lou was really worried she´d get chewed like she normally does in hot places but we cleaned off the beds and headed out for the night trip. Everyone had a torch and we were all cayman spotting until about 10 small fish decided to jump into the boat beside us and smack Lou and Steph in the had in the process. It was so funny. They were following the light on the surface and if you had a head lamp you got it in the nut. Suicide fish. The screams and laughing were brilliant. After that the guide turned off the engine and using his paddle we headed back down river with the current while Pierre translated the information for us all. That night we hit the pub (wooded building with a freezer) just a short walk up river from us and we were treated to 3 different lightening displays all around us. Too far off to get any rain but close enough for a spectacular light show and some noise.

Next day and after a hard night for the two of us with some cramps we were off to find the anaconda snake a few mile up river and a draining 3 hours trek in the heat through the pampas. There was loads of Crocadiddles (short for cayman and alligators at this stage) and we saw this enormous Gerbil looking fellow down drinking from the river. About four feet tall at the shoulder. Mad looking thing. There were some bigger monkeys in the trees overhead and one absolutley enourmous bird in a tall tree with a huge nest. We really should´ve tried to remember the names but there was quite a lot to take in before we hit the trail for the anaconda. We were kitted out in wellies and with 2.5 litres of water when we got to the pampas for the trek and off we went in the early morning heat and humidity.

The Pampas were a mixture of some shoulder height vegetation and mostly wet grassy areas. The wellies were seriously needed as it got deep in a lot of places and we were trying to keep and eye for smakes among the smelly waters. I think everybody was feeling the heat and apart from the stagnant water smell we all weren´t far off ourselves. After walking for about 2 hours already Pierre noticed something moving below and started shouting snake... He thought it was only a small one until our guide chased it and pulled a 1 and a half metre cobra out of the water and started swinging it over his head like a lassoo. The girls screamed, the lads laughed and all the other groups came rushing over. It was trying to bite guide big time but he managed to calm it down and asked Conor to come over and hold it. So off Conor goes. About 2 feet from the smake and Pierre asked the guide whether it was poisoness or not to which the guide replied... Claro Claro (Of course, of course) At this stage Conor had his hand at the tail of the cobra ready to grab and next thing the bastard started trying to bite again. Then conor screamed like a girl and the girls laughed like the lads. Fair play though he tried again but the snake wasn´t giving up. It felt like a cheap plastic imitation leather handbag though. Thank god we had seen it though cause we spent the rest of the day looking for the anaconda to no avail. We all just got soaked in our boots and trudged back to the boat and on to the camp for lunch and some rest in the hammocks.

After lunch and a good snore session by Louise we headed off to swim with the dolphins and do some Pirhana fishing for dinner. When we found the dolphins we chased them for a abit before Jonah, Itay, Conor and Steph jumped in. The rest didn´t fancy the swim as they were worried about where all the shit went from the toilets behind the camps dotted along the river. Conor didn´t mind meeting up with old friends though. At one stage Itay and Jonah were still in the water when we all noticed an Alligator to the right of the boat. They´re everywhere in the water along the river along with the Pirhana but seem to leave you alone if you´re not bothering them unlike their big brother the Cayman and the Croc. Our guide told us we´d be safe beside the dolphins though if the feckers didn´t keep swimming away from us. It wsa a good laugh though and the water, although completely brown and silty, was still refreshing. We went Pirhana fishing then and although we caught about 15 fish altogether we only caught 3 pirhana and two catfish looking fellas. They are so fast though. They don´t really get hooked unless you pull really quick when you feel them eating the bait. They´ll easily take lumps out of you if you had an open wound though as our guide showed us when he threw some blood from another fish into the water. It was a bit of a frenzy.

After fishing we got back and ate dinner including the slim picking of fish and after a cold beer we headed off to bed. There was much of the same the next day until lunchtime when we set off back to Rurrenabaque for the night before our flight the next morn. Same funny looking driver but a little more room in the 4x4 jeep this time cause the guide and cook stayed behind for another tour. Rurrenabaque was cool. A real amzon jungle looking town with cobbled roads and some nice cocktails in the Moskito bar. Still terribly hot and humid though. Next morning we got our flight back to La Paz with Amazonas this time instead of TAM. They were so much better. Nice little shuttle bus to the air strip (grass track) and the plane was cosy with only 19 passengers. We were right behind the pilot and could see out the front window coming in to land. It was great apart from the poxy rain outside that was to greet us. Back to smelly La Paz to organise our bus south and get some laundry done.
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