Rurrenabaque (La Pampas Tour)

June 16, 2008 - Rurrenabaque, Bolivia

Ok so its been a while since i've updated my blog this is partly due to lack of free time, being in the jungle doing some activities and travelling from place to place as well as a bit of food posioning of some sort.

After leaving sucre we headed north on an overnight bus journey to La Paz (which was freezing by the way - tip if you ever do this journey bring a sleeping bag on board they don't believe in heating on buses in bolivia). On arrival in la paz we caught up with Shane after leaving him to travel with his friend for a while in mendoza. We planned to use La paz as a base for a week or more to do some tours and activities the first of which was a tour into the pampas area of the jungle (kind of like a swamp land and small river tributeries a great place to see wild life.

We booked a flight as we heard the bus journey is hairy and also can take anything from 18 to 36 hours (big range in time I know but the road is crazy). So while we where in La Paz our flight to Rurrenabaque which was due to leave on the wednesday was delayed as there was rain in Rurrenabaque (not something you would normally expect to delay a flight but when the runway is a field it's an issue). So we where promised the flight would leave the next day and went to the airport only to be stalled for a while before being told it was cancelled again for the third day running - so we went back to the the tour operator who gave us an alternative of a jeep ride to rurrenabaque that night that would take 12 hours - so we opted for that. It was one of the madest (definitely the most dangerous) journeys i've ever been on, the driver bombing along high in the andes in thick fog with few hundred metre drops on one side and coming across lorries with no back lights then having to stop at corners and reverse with the wheels inches from the edge of the cliff to allow trucks to pass. Plus it was ridiclously bumpy and uncomfortable - but on the plus side it was an interesting journey and the driver let us hook up one of the lads ipods to provide good music for the journey.

We arrived in rurrenabaque which is right smack bang in the middle of the bolivian amazon jungle - it was my first time to see the amazon jungle first hand which i was very interested in partly from seeing it in nature programmes and its such an amazing rainforest, but also partly as this rainforest is so important to the worlds climate and atmosphere (kinda like the right lung of the atmosphere) and it would be my first time in a jungle.

We landed in Rurrenabaque for a day to rest after the sleepless jeep journey before starting on the tour and it was class 3 days 2 nights - of spinning up down along a river yucuman (i think its called) which is a tributary off the Beni River and going for a hike through the pampas.

All along the river we got to see aligators, caymans, river dolphins, turtles, giant river rodents, birds, squirel monkeys and capuchino monekys (feeding the monkeys bananas - not sure if ecotourism folk would frown on that but it was cool - I had about 5 squirrel monkeys clambering onto my hand devouring a banana). Also during ourhike through the pampas we where looking for Anacondas and Cobras we found a 2 metre or so Anaconda and I got get a pic with it wrapped around my neck (it fairly stinked have to say) but has interesting texture skin to touch. Also on one of the days we went out to go swimming in the piranha aligator and cayman infested waters with the river dolphins who the guides promised would protect us from any predators in the water - sounded a small bit dubious to me but I was itching to jump in for the craic all the same - so as we headed up the river with our guide driving really slowly and knowing that we'd be jumping in the river soon, passing literaly hundreds of aligators and caymans in the heat of the day on the banks myself and the other 5 lads in the boat all started to get a bit nervous as seemingly all the aligators where slipping into the water as we went past (possibly sensing feeding time or so it seemed as your mind wandered - i'm almost positive the guide drove so slowly for dramatic effect). At a widening in the river where we seen a aligator swim past about 2 metres from the boat just at that moment the boat stopped this was the place to jump in (seemed crazy with actually seeing evidence of aligators in the water and more on a nearby bank) but the guide started tapping the side of boat to attract the dolphins out to play and so they came (these river dolphins or pink dolphins are not as pretty as some of there sea faring cousins and there dorsel fin is a bit stunted it seems) so we all jumped in and not just for a quick in and out dip to say we where in - we ended up staying in trying to get a touch of a dolphin for the guts of half an hour - i came close whilst slapping on the surface of the water a dolphin came swimming straight for me bobbing up and down and i could see it soming to the surface of the water just in front of me only for it to turn within a metre and half of me splashing me in the process which was cool.

Other than that the tour was very relaxing chilling out in hammocks and playing football in the evening beside the river with some of the other people on the tours - the first evening myslef and few other lads representing Ireland beat England 9 - 7 with a one man disadvantage which is always a good result haha! The next night we played israel but this evening as there was more people matches where shortened to 10mins with penalties if no winner after that we lost on penalties after a nil - nil draw (ps never met a bigger bunch of criers in my life) All in all it was a brilliant tour though and i'd thoroughly recommend it - it was like a holiday away from a holiday.

When it was over we headed back to Rurrenabaque and found there was still problems with flights and our next morning flight was rescheduled to later that day in the afternoon but they told us that rain was forecast and if any rain fell that night our flight back to la paz would be cancelled but luckily this time it went a 35 minute flight instead of 18hr to 36hr bus journey or a 12hr jeep ride a big difference!

So we arrived back to la paz refreshed and ready to do mountain biking down the death road...


4 Comments

Dad:
June 27, 2008
Sounds very interesting with plenty of adventure. Be careful and dont take too many risks.
I dont think I would jump in with the aligators at my age, maybe there was a time when I would have!!
Dad
June 27, 2008
Brian sounds great !!! takes me back to my time in the Amazon. unfortunately we never got the the bolivian side of the amazon because when we were there a sort of "war" broke out and the whole country was blocked up...anyways it makes great reading and keep enjoyin yourself
Karin Collins:
May 27, 2009
Hi!

We are going in June and are curently looking at different tours. What was your tour company called and what time of the year did you go? Thank you in advance
Brian:
May 28, 2009
Hi Karen,

I think it was Indignia tours or something like - they have an office near the witch market in la Paz on saganara st (might be wrong spelling)
which is not far sol y Luna cafe/bar which is a good place to eat in la Paz
We just booked when we got to la Paz!
We where there around the middle of June
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