To the Jungle and the Pampas

Trip Start Jan 08, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Wednesday, June 7, 2006

After leaving Uyuni and our Salt Flats tour we headed for Potosi, the worldīs highest city! Sitting at 4060m we tried to get used to the lack of air but this just didnīt really happen. We planned to stay for only a few days but due to Katie becoming sick and needing to see the hospital at midnight we stayed for a few more to help her recover. A bout of food poisoning was the problem, not the altitude as we were happy to learn.
We jumped on a bus to La Paz and a few hours later I was the one holding the plastic bag for the rest of the journey. Fun fun! A few days in La Paz, in a hotel just a block away from the famous San Pedro Prison and the witches markets, we checked out as much of town as was possible! Being sick and not able to stomach any smells, let alone the lovely smells of La Pazīs busy streets I was glad to hop in our small plane, skip the worldīs most dangerous road and head to Rurrenabaque, 40 mintues away by plane (17 or so hours by bus), where the jungle meets the Andes. Flying over the Andes was incredible with spectacular sights out either side of the window. Flying into Rurre was brilliant as we could finally see the jungle and the rivers that flow through it. Stepping off the plane was like walking into a wall of heat. Almost 30 degrees, I was cooking and Paul and Kate were in heaven. We dropped the bags off and headed straight to the mosquito bar for a refreshing drink.
A day of relaxing and sorting out our tours then it was off to the jungle. Three and a half hours of cruising up the Beni and Tuichi rivers we arrived at our destination. Wow! Here we were in the middle of the Amazon jungle. A little rest and some lunch, then we set off for our first trek. Covered from head to toe with clothes and insect repellent still didnīt stop some kind of bug flying into my neck giving me a good sting. Fortunately our guide knows all kinds of jungle tricks, so he picked up a nut of some sort, cut it open and rubbed it on the sting. No more pain. Amazing! More walking and learning all about garlic, chocolate, rubber, malaria, poisonous and medicinal trees that local tribes have used for generations to fix their problems. We also got to drink water from cutting a certain tree. Later that night we went for a walk through the jungle and it was incredible. We saw bambi and then an alligator sitting in the water with itsī red eyes but the best part was listening to the sounds of the jungle, watching fireflies all around us and looking up at a sky full of stars. Absolutely amazing.
After another walk the following day we said farewell to the jungle and took our 3 hour boat ride back to Rurrenabaque. Next morning we piled into a 4x4 truck with four funny Kiwi girls and two lovely Israelies and headed to the pampas (wetlands). A few hours of waiting for our boat to arrive and then in we jumped. Four hours of cruising up the river, sitting in the rain until night fell, was all part of the experience. Watching the alligators slide into the water as we passed by, feeding the cute yellow monkeys, seeing turtles, pink dolphins, amazing bird life and even some capyvaras (biggest rodent in the world)was just the beginning.
Up early the next morning to don our groovy clothes and gumboots (rubber boots) and off to catch anacondas. Since they are cold blooded they normally sit on top of the swamp ground to sunbake. As it was a cloudy morning I guess they decided to hide from us and not come out. Oh well... Our guide did find a baby alligator waiting to be an anacondaīs lunch though. Back to camp for our lunch, then we went piranah fishing with some beers in hand. Always a good mix iīm sure. haha. After Paul received a little help to catch a piranah, and we had all caught at least one or two it was back home to cook them on the bbq. Not the biggest fish to cook but they still tasted alright. Following dinner we went alligator spotting, looking for the two red eyes floating in the water and afterwards we turned off everything and drifted down the river in silence. INCREDIBLE!!! What a brilliant way to enjoy the evening while watching the stars.
Our last day started early to the sounds of the howler monkeys, an eerie sound that floats through the air, then we were off to watch the sunrise. After going back to camp and grabbing our gear, we farewelled the campsite and headed back down the river. It was along the way when we swam with the incredible freshwater pink dolphins, while the alligators watched from the edge of the river!! Fortunately the dolphins keep the alligators at bay. Apparently!

A great trip was had by all. Back in Rurrenabaque we cleaned up and then spent the next few days relaxing and waiting for the weather to clear so we could take the plane back to La Paz. Dirt runways seem to be a problem when it rains. hahaha.

Off to Lake Titicaca then Peru. Enjoy!

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