Welcome to the Jungle....!

Trip Start Jun 13, 2011
Trip End Jun 12, 2012

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Saturday, July 23, 2011

As we’d both been feeling pretty unwell (and were only just starting to feel a bit better), plus our nightmare experiences on Bolivian buses so far, we decided to splash out and fly up to the Amazon - and miss the horrendous 20 hour bus journey that everyone we spoke to had a horror story about! We would normally always opt to travel overland if at all possible as neither of us is a fan of flying, but you’re definitely taking your life in your hands by travelling on the Bolivian roads so we figured a flight couldn’t be any worse - and at just over half an hour a hell of a lot quicker! The cost was really reasonable (under 50), and although it was the tiniest plane I’ve ever seen (room for 19 people - barely more than a helicopter) it was really a smooth, short journey with the most amazing views (one minute you’re flying between the snow capped peaks of the Andes, then the next there’s nothing but dense green jungle and rivers!). The ‘airport ‘at Rurrenabaque isn’t much more than a wooden shack, but is in the most beautiful setting and the heat we felt as soon as we stepped of the plane was an instant pick-me-up!
It took 5 minutes in a minibus to arrive in the village of Rurre, primarily a tourist hub for anyone heading out into the jungle, but with an almost Caribbean vibe and a decent selection of shops and restaurants. We dropped our luggage of at our hostel (Los Tucanes de Rurre, 80bol prpn), then set off to get our pampas tour organised. There are absolutely loads of companies offering pretty much the same packages, but we decided to go with Sunset Tours, as they seemed really friendly and informative, for the 3 day trip (900bol). Afterwards, we had a great meal at Narguilla, an Israeli place serving such delicacies as homemade hummus, avocado salad and fresh fruit smoothies!
We met at the Sunset office at 9am the next morning to get the 3 hour jeep ride to Santa Rosa (a little village just before the river where we had lunch), before getting a boat to our camp. The 3 hour river journey was incredible - literally every direction you looked there was an array of exotic wildlife, including alligators, caiman, birds (toucans, sereres, herons, parrots and eagles to name but a few), capybaras, butterflies and a selection of monkeys! We managed to dock right beside a family of squirrel monkeys, who were absolutely gorgeous and hilarious - tormenting us by peeing on the couple in front and steeling bananas from the food store on another boat! We also managed to see a family of pink dolphins!
Our accommodation was very basic, but we had our own room and it was in the most tranquil, natural setting. There was only us, our guide and cook and  the 4 others in our group staying there (Yves from France, Vanessa from Spain, Dar from Israel and Andrea from Switzerland - a nice bunch!).We took a walk through the jungle to watch a glorious sunset from a wee wooden bar, but the walk back in the dark was pretty scary! Our cook Roxanna prepared a lovely dinner for us before we got back into our boat for a night-time sail, which was pitch black apart from the ominous alligator eyes poking out from the water and the dazzling stars overhead. Our guide Jimmy took us to see a family of baby alligators and we got to touch one - surprisingly cute! When we got back to the camp, we doused ourselves in mozzie replant, tucked our nets in securely and cosied up for actually quite a peaceful night’s sleep (even the crazy animal noises seemed relaxing)!
We set off early the next morning for a walk through the pampas, which was astoundingly hot and where we got to see yet more magnificent wildlife. Walking through the wetland in our wellies (which ended up full of swamp water - yuck!) was both fun and frightening, given the amount of creatures that could be lurking in there! Fortunately, the worst incident was Barry getting stung on the head by a bee, which, while unpleasant, was a lot better than getting bitten by a snake! Then, after a well deserved lunch, we went back out on the boat for a spot a piranha fishing - where Lou chose just to spectate!  The unlucky fishes were served up as part of our evening meal, but they weren’t really that well received - apparently very bland! After dinner we bravely trekked back through the jungle in search of a nice cold beer!
It was an even earlier start the next day to catch the sunrise, which was totally worth it although Lou did get mutilated from the mozzies! We then went in search of some more dolphins - apparently it’s safe to swim with them if there’s a family as they keep the alligators and piranhas away, but as we only found  a couple we viewed then from the sanctuary of our boat - although Dar did get in the water - crazy!
We had one last scenic ride through the river before catching our jeep back, which was much hotter, bumpier and dustier than on the way there - you couldn’t see two foot in front of you most of the time! Not surprisingly, we managed to get a flat - and right outside a ranch where they just happened to be herding about 100 cows - comedy timing! Obviously, we treated ourselves to a couple of cold beers once we (eventually) got back to civilisation, and by the time we’d had some tasty food and a couple of cocktails (the aptly named ‘After the Pampas’ - mmmm) at Monkey’s bar, we were more than ready for a good night’s sleep!
We  set off first thing the next morning to book our flights back to La Paz for the next day - only to discover the next available ones weren’t till Sunday - 5 days time! So we had 2 choices - either stay and soak up the sun for a few extra days (and make a few tweaks to our onward plans) or brave the 20+ hour bus journey back on the torturous roads - the sun won!
The next few days were like a holiday from our holiday! It was so luxurious just to enjoy the superb sunshine (it got up to 49 degrees!) - total R&R! Asides from baking ourselves on the suntrap of our hostel roof terrace and getting stuck into a good read, we took a walk up to the Mirador (a stunning pool and restaurant with fantastic views over the town) and caught the ferry to San Buenavista, a small village on the other side of the river, where there’s not a huge amount to see but is perfect for a relaxing stroll round!We also took pleasure in sampling the local eateries - there were loads of good ones but highlights included Narguilla (we had 3 visits - just couldn’t get enough of the hummus!), arroz con leche (rice pudding) from the tiny place by our hostel and empanadas from the empanda woman outside the local market! It was also good having time to catch our breath and go over what we’d done so far, as well as having time to do some onward planning - by the time we were leaving we felt totally refreshed and on top of things!

Unfortunately, our last day brought torrential tropical rains (crazy heavy), which didn’t bother us at all apart from it meant our flight being delayed slightly (7am - 4pm). However, as we were checking in at the Amaszonas Air offices, who did we bump into but Phil and Evelin from our Salar trip! We only had time for a quick catch up but it was great to see them looking so well (apparently they’d both been ill after the salar trip too!).
The flight back was a lot more traumatic than the one there, but we both coped with the horrendous turbulence well - after all, these things are just part of the adventure, and I’m sure we’ll have loads more before the year is out…… 

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Ruth on

Wow all sounds amazing!! xxx

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