Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pampas and Jungle tour

Last week we left La Paz to go down to a place called Rurrenabaque which is to the North and is part of the amazon basin.

Booked our flights the day before with Amazonas Airlines and the following day set off at 11 am to the airport to catch our plane. Almost immediately it became pretty obvious that not all was well, with all of the people who were supposed to get flights that morning still hanging around the airport...

But eventually things sorted themselves out and our little plane arrived at 3pm to finally take us down into the lowlands.

And when I say little plane, I mean little plane (though it was a bit bigger than the one I got in the Galapagos Islands):

Take off at 4000m is quite an exciting affair, you don´t really climb very much higher!

So we came fairly close to the mountains that surround La Paz

Before finally coming into land at the dirt strip in the middle of the jungle (don´t know how the pilots actually saw anything through the windscreen...).

This is the airport:

They turn the planes around pretty quickly and head straight back to La Paz with a load of tired and dirty tourists fresh from the jungle.

After a quick bus ride into town we found our hostel (they still seem to be constructing the road to it...) which was very nice with some very comfy hammocks.

A quick wash and brush up followed by a trip to the travel agent to book a tour to the Pampas with our new found friends and it was time for some happy hour and many many cocktails with the fellow survivors of the plane ride.

Next morning bright and early we had the usual confusion of the start of a tour. First step of this process is usually being taken from the agency that you booked through to a completely different agency...

After a bit of milling around and general confusion seven of us were packed aboard a 4x4 and sent on our way (on a 3 hour incredibly dusty road)

to find the boat that would be our main means of transportation for the next 3 days. This brought back many memories of my trip to Mosquitia in Honduras - fortunately there´s only a river to navigate this time!

All aboard and we´re off down the river to find some wildlife and accommodation.

First thing we see is a pretty big caiman!

An hour or so later, and quite a few caiman later,

Some monkeys lazing around in the trees.

Followed by some more little monkeys that were kind enough to pose (in exchange for crackers).

Also seen, pink dolphins! Sadly almost impossible to photograph as they only surface for a quick breath and then dive down again.

That evening we went upstream a little bit to visit the Sunset Bar for a couple of beers followed by a nice evening meal - possibly the best food I´ve had so far in South America.

The following day was anaconda hunting day! First order of business, finding some wellington boots. I must say, the girls look rather fetching in their new apparal.

About 30 minutes upstream, with the usual abundance of caiman and dolphins, we stopped to head into the pampas to find our anacondas.

Our earlier grumblings about the new rubber boots dissapeared quite quickly as we discovered just how deep the mud was round here and spirits were generally good.

Perseverance rewarded, we found an anaconda! Don´t know why this photo has fallen over, I´m sure I fixed it.

Following this, our two crocodile hunter australians found another, sadly in a slightly deeper area, so our wellingtons filled up with water and creepy crawlys.

We also managed to buy 3 bottles of vino tinto, this seemed to please the French girls immensely!

Back at camp everyone was quite keen for a quick swim to wash the mud away. However, our usual swimming spot was occupied:

No more swimming!

The following day was spent attempting to swim with the pink dolphins. We managed to swim with them only in the sense that they were in the same river as us. But it was still fun splashing around with the caiman and the pirahnas (health and safety, what´s that?).

The following morning we went fishing for pirahnas, our guide caught five, between the rest of us, we managed one. They tasted pretty nice, but there´s not a lot of meat on them.

Then it was time to head home back down the river to pick up our ride back to Rurrenabaque. Stopping off to torment some pigs.

We decided to book ourselves onto the jungle tour for the following day, so once again, it was time for a quick shower, cocktails, and another early start the next day. Sadly at this point my camera´s battery finnally went flat, so there´s not photos of our adventures.

This time we went down a different river and left directly from Rurrenabaque. The night before we left it had rained very heavily and it was still ominously overcast when we left. Almost immediately it started to rain and our newly purchased plastic ponchos were put to good use.

Luckily it cleared up once we passed the mountains and the climate turned more humid and jungle like.

Not much to report from the jungle, very different from the pampas, much harder to see any wildlife. We did manage to catch a good look at some howler monkeys, and saw a whole heard of wild pigs (100+) stampeding accross the trail.

Best bit of the trip, cutting up a notepad to make playing cards... Not much to do at night in the jungle!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know how you were happy with an anaconda in your hands. Brrrrr!
Keep going to make pictures!
Take care,