Trip Start Jul 27, 2004
Trip End Dec 13, 2006

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Thursday, March 17, 2005

We visited La Paz, the capital city of Bolivia and had a nice couple of days there, including watching Liverpool go through to the next round of the Champions League. From La Paz we took a minibus along the 'world's most dangerous road' to the pretty hillside town of Coroico. The road really wasn't as bad as it's made out to be although it was pretty narrow, with hairpins bends, asphalt on the road, steep drops at the side and waterfalls to drive through!! We arrived in Coroico safe and sound and had a lovely afternoon by the pool sunbathing and watching the parrots, macaws and toucans in the garden. Coroico was a nice town although we didn't really do much - relax and eat!! The next day we took the 15 hour night bus to Rurrenabaque and although we had to wait 3 hours for the bus to come on a dusty, dirty road, it was quite comfortable and we managed a few of important stops - bano, food and beer!! We booked our 3 day Pampas river/wetlands tour for the next day with Indigena tours (about 10 pounds a day) and then had another afternoon siesta in the hotel - it was so hot in Rurrenabaque!! We had a good evening in the Moskito bar drinking cocktails (66p each and they were lethal!!!) and Paul beat me at pool twice!! The thunder, lightning and heavy rain woke us up in the night and the rain continued well into the next day, making the dusty dirty roads very muddy!! On Monday we set off on our Pampas tour and it seemed like a long journey in the bumpy jeep/minibus but we were with another 4 english people and a really nice dutch couple who were great fun so we were all having a laugh, especially when we got out of the minibus ready to wade waist deep through the water for an hour to get to the boat!! We all rolled up our trousers ready but Marcus, one of the English guys looked so funny as his trousers were all bulged up around his waist. Luckily we didn't have to walk to the boat through the water as our driver drove straight through a clearing in the bushes at the side of the road through the water and the mud to get to the boats waiting for us. We spent about 4 hours on the boat getting to the riverside lodgings and on the way got to see tonnes of wildlife - it was great!! We saw pink dolphins, macaws (bright blue and yellow), owls, kingfishers, herons, screamer birds, fishing eagles, lots of other birds, turtles, 2 types of monkeys which came up really close, and kaymans (part of the crocodile/alligator family). We arrived at the lodgings at night time and there were lots of pesky mosquitoes but luckily we had good mosquito nets on our beds. We also went on a small night time trip to watch alligator and crocodile eyes - they glow red when you shine your torch on them. Managed to spot one pair of eyes but nothing else. When we got back to the lodgings we had tea - our guide and cook were really good and we even got a bottle of wine to drink with the meal. There was no electricity so everything was done by candle light or torch light but it meant that the stars were really bright so the sky was fantastic to look at. On Tuesday we got up fairly early and had breakfast together but then the 4 English people went off with another tour group as they were only on a 2 day tour, so that just left Hanneke and Sander (the Dutch couple), Domingo (our guide) and Paul and I which was a nice small group to go wildlife watching. We had about 3 hours in the boat in the morning sailing up and and back down stream looking in the trees, sky, water and logs for animals. We saw pretty much the same as the day before but also Howler monkeys and tonnes of Pink Dolphins playing in a little lake. In the afternoon we had a rest for a while in the lodgings (which were nearly under the water as the water level was so high) and during that time we saw loads of wildlife - an alligator, a small wolf (that apparently got eaten by the alligator later in the afternoon), monkeys, fish, dolphins. Paul and Sander tried to fish for a while but didn't catch anything. We also saw a huge spider under the dining table which only had 6 legs, fortunately it wasn't a nasty poisonous one although I wouldn't like it if I found it in my bed. Later on we swam with the Pink river Dolphins which was great fun although the water was a bit brown. A couple of the dolphins touched Paul and Sander under the water which was fun although I didn't get touched by dolphins although Sander and Hanneke swam close by a couple of times and made me think it was a dolphin but it was just their legs.. we had a right laugh!! In the night we got to watch the sunset at the Sunset Bar and it was really beautiful especially as we had a nice cold beer too!! The sky was all gorgeous reds, yellows, pinks, purples etc... Didn't really do much in the evening although another group arrived and 3 of the girls in that group had taken the same bus as us (but the day after), thinking it would be 15 hours but it turned out to be 30 hours as the rain had caused a mudslide in 2 places on the road - one causing a blockage on the road that had to be dug through, the other causing a huge impassable crater in the road that filled with water so they had to wait until another bus came on the other side and wade through the water to get to it before they could continue the journey!! Glad we weren't on that bus!! On the final day, Wednesday, we were up at 5.30 to watch the sunrise and although it was beautiful and you could hear all the wildlife waking up, you were also plagued by mosquitoes which thought it would be great fun to bite you through your clothes - hence my very red bum of bites when we got back to the campsite.. luckily I had my trusty tiger balm that Paul rubbed in for me to take the itch away!! Domingo (our guide) helped us make a necklace as a souvenir of our trip then we set off on another river trip for our last swim with the dolphins!! We had to leave the lodgings about 11am to get back to the town of Rurrenabaque by 6 and have time for a spot of Piranha fishing on the way back. The boat trip back was hot and sunny with no shade but fortunately there was a bit of a breeze. Unfortunately we had to push the boat at some points to get back to the minibus but the water was only knee high so it wasn't too bad - except for when we were right next to the minibus about to get on when Sander and I decided to get out at the side of the boat and it turned out we were up to our waist so I sat in my towel on the way back in the minibus and when we were fishing for Piranhas. Paul, Hanneke and Sander were loads better than me at Piranha fishing as they caught at least 2 each.. alas my line and hook were always empty!!! When we got back to Rurrenabaque we were glad of a shower and clean clothes then we went back to the Indigena tour office, as Gladys (our cook) promised to cook some of the Piranhas for us. They were really yummy!! The four of us then had a lovely night drinking and eating in the Moskito bar. The next day we had a lovely lie in then spent our day reading or writing our diaries whilst waiting for our 12 seater plane back to La Paz. The flight was great, we set off from a grass runway and flew over meandering rivers, jungle, through mountains (some of them snowcapped) but the only problem was when we were landing... there was lots of turbulence and wind as we were landing which made the warning sound come on and as the plane was so small it was moved around quite a lot, so much so that Paul banged his head on the ceiling. I thought we were going to crash but we landed safe and sound and headed into down town La Paz - back into the city of cheap email and internet access everywhere.
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