Published: August 28th 2011July 8th 2011
First, you have to get yourself to the Amazon. Which means, in the case of the Bolivian Amazon Jungle, either flying in from La Paz by bush plane, or taking a 15 hour bumpy bus down a path that includes the stretch of road dubbed “The World’s Most Dangerous Road” by an international banking community. I’m not sure why banks are in the business of finding the most dangerous roads. Anyhow, it was named this because of the percentage of deaths per year on it, including plunges of autos straight down cliffs. After reading this, I decided to take the plane.
Even taking the plane is not ordinary. First of all, to fly into or out of La Paz, the capital city, takes extra precautions for the larger planes. La Paz has the world’s highest international airport at 4,040 meters (over 12,000 feet folks). It takes longer runways and planes with special tires, etc. etc. etc. to compensate for the “lift” or should I say lack of it. It also takes planes a lot longer to stop, so you literally feel you are going to run right off the runway when braking to land. Secondly, the planes to Rurrenabaque, a
Make sure you have a good pilot!
tiny little village town clinging to a river that is the jumping off point to the Amazon, are quite small. Small as in only one person on each side of the plane, and all having full-view of the cockpit. I think it is around 15 total on the entire plane. Real cozy.
Once in your bush plane, you go by 5,000 to 6,000 meter snow-capped peaks before plunging deep down into a totally different world of Bolivia. . . the jungle. When you land in Rurrenabaque, your little plane parks on the grass and you climb out of the plane and carry your own luggage. Jungle cliffs are all around with the massive rivers winding their way past the cliffs to their final destination, the Amazon River.
Rurrenabaque is quite charming, and should not be passed up before heading out. If you are reading this and plan on going, you must eat breakfast at the shop called Piranha run by what looks like an Amish dressed family (picture the Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie, but with tattoos all over their arms). They’re not Amish, but they are a hoot…bikers turned quite religious that drove all the
way from Michigan to Bolivia with 2 pit bulls and kids in the back of their Land Rover. Fabulous story along the way, I hope they publish it some time.
Once you have wasted enough time relaxing in hammocks in “Rurre”, find yourself a boat going up the Beni River. Make sure it has a good engine, as going upstream you encounter some rapids along the way. Although the Rio Beni is not incredibly deep, it’s waters are eventually pouring in the Rio Amazon, and they are not messing around getting there. The water is really swift.
After several hours of winding your way up stream, it’s time to have a drink, so pull the boat over to the bank. Trek into a little a village and get reading to work for your drink. First, pick some lemons, which by the way are the size of our grapefruit! Peel them, quarter, and then set aside. Now, get some sugar cane (there will be some growing nearby) and run it through a massive press. Hopefully you brought some friends or can coax some villagers to help, it will take quite a few of you to make that press turn!
Push the press around for about five minutes and set a bucket under the receiving end where the extracting juice will flow.
When the bucket is full of juice, run it through a strainer (some mosquito net will do). Then, divide out the juice into everyone’s gourd cups. Squeeze in as much lemon as you want and drink. Best lemon-aid on the planet!
There are more photos below