Operation Pink Dolphin

Trip Start Dec 08, 2004
Trip End Dec 07, 2005

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Wednesday, August 24, 2005

After spending a week in the jungle and we are fully Tarzaned up although without the loin cloth!!!

We went on a 3 day/ 2 night tour with a fab group of people (2 Ozzies, 3 Kiwis, 1 English, 1 Dutch, and 3 French) to the Pampas (marsh and river lowlands) and then spent 2 days 1 night with the gorgeous Ozzies (Holly and Simon) in the jungle.


* We saw and swam with PINK River Dolphins, and yes i mean PINK!!!!! I was so excited i couldnt believe what i was seeing. People have said that thay arent really very pink but we were really lucky and the in pod that we saw there was one which was bright pink, like Barbie pink! I have been wanting to see them for so long but to see them in the flesh and at such a close range was an overwelmingly beautiful experience!!!!
On our fist day they swam with the boat down the river for about 20 minutes and then vanished but on our last day they appeared again and we were able to swim with them. Most people only get to see distant fins rising out the water so we were really lucky as one pushed itself almost all the way out of the water.

* We swam in the Piranha infested river and played water volley ball with a surrounding audience of Alligators. A very surreal experience but our guides assured us that they dont attack humans. Although when an English girl in our group got bitten on her leg, even though our guides assured us it was only a sardine, we all got out pretty soon after that :)

* We saw Capybarras which are huge pig-sized tailess South American amphibious rodents with partly webbed feet. They are the largest living rodent and a magical creature. We spotted a few couples with babies and one adult swimming. Gorgeous!

* We spotted countless amounts of exotic birds including a pair of Toucans. One of the birds of Paradise has a call that sounds like someone having an asthma attack. Very eerie at night.

* At nightime we went for boat ride spotting wild life with torches. Watching the shining red dots of Alligtor eyes staring back at you as you float silently past certainly gets the adrenaline flowing!

* One morning was spent wading through the marshes of the Pampas in search of Anacondas. These snakes can grow up to 30 meters and wont batter an eyelid at swallowing a wilder beast whole. So there we were wading up to the knees in marsh probing with sticks hoping to disturb one! I wasnt exactly sure what i supposed to do if I found one but its not everday you get to do these things : ) Unfortunately it was in vain but very exciting. A group before us had seen 3!!! Gutted, but from talking to them we got the better deal with the Dolphins so we are happy.

* In the jungle we tracked a herd of wild boars. We spent over an hour sneaking stealth like through the jungle. Well we did our best, our guide Eriburto was incredible, he seemed to float over the forest floor without a sound. When we got close we made a heart thumping dash through the trees towards them. It was incredible! There must have been at least 30 huge hairy pigs with babies all running in different directions passed us. Checkout the video. David Attenborough eat your heart out:)

* During walks through the jungle Eriburto taught us about the different plants and there medicinal qualities. He had a facinating amount of knowlege all of which he had gained from his life growing up in the jungle and was taught to him by his late father. He showed us a vine which he cut and we drank fresh water from. Delicious but not to be confused with one very similar which is highly poisonous!
Jungle tip : Make sure the vine has spines and the flesh under the bark is red. Cut a wedge out from the top first then the bottom or else all the water rushes up the vine leaving nothing. Very good for Rhumitism.

* On the way back from the jungle before getting back in the boat we went for a gentle swim in the river and ended up body surfing the rapids for nearly 2km down river. Excellent fun although Keith is still nursing an unfortunate injury from when he came to a very abrupt stop on a rock right on his Coccyx. Youcheeeees!

Other highlights were:

* The Sunset Bar amazonial stlye riverside pub. Sitting in a hammock with an ice cold beer, the perfect way to end a hard days Anaconda hunting.
* Seeing a sloth in the wild and up a tree this time :)
* Piranha fishing: Tasha 1 Keith 0 :)
* Hearing the distant roars of Howler monkeys again.
* Sitting in a boat in the middle of the night with Carla, a lovely dutch lady, spotting "flying fish" (or bats) in fits of rum fueled giggles.

The whole experience magical! It was like being inside a National Geographic magazine. A thousand dreams come true!

Our first flight back to La Paz was cancelled due to plane trouble and then a tropical storm set in turning the grass runway to a swamp, leaving us stranded in the tiny jungle town of Rurrenabaque for a few days. There is a bus service but it takes 19 hours in the dry and its on the rougest roads. It traverses the most dangerous road in the world nicknamed "The Death Road" because of its scarily high death toll. So waiting around for a flight was far more appealing. With nothing much to do we thourght we'd use our time productivley and polish up on our neglected drinking and pool skills. Time well spent :)

So its from one extreme to the other and we are heading south to the Salar de Uyuni or Salt Flats of Uyuni at a freezing 4500m altitude. OH JOY!!! Well, who needs oxygen anyway!

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