Published: September 3rd 2012September 3rd 2012
Heading into the jungle wasn’t part of our original plans as James was quite adamant from the beginning, that we would not go anywhere, where it was hot, humid and required large amounts of insect repellant.
However, after chatting to a few people and hearing some good things about the Bolivian side of the Amazon, we adjusted our plans and squeezed a week in. It would also be a welcome treat after the high altitude mountains and cold temperatures!
So last Monday we found ourselves at La Paz airport, booked onto the morning flight to Rurrenabaque, the small jungle town in northern Bolivia. The bus trip was a resounding no after hearing a few horror stories of the horrific 21 hour trip, along a few very scary mountain passes!
After walking onto the runway and seeing the plane we were about to board, we weren’t sure if this was any better plan! The tiny 19-seater twin prop plane looked a bit ‘toy-like’ for the flight over the Andes! Thank goodness the flight was pretty painless, although occasionally emerging through the clouds and seeing the very close snowy peaks, brought back memories of the 1993 film Alive!
arrived to a very chilled Rurre with the one room airport situated lazily at the end of the grass taxiway. Motorbikes and scooters are ridden at a leisurely pace, hooking all sorts of trailers and extras to the backs. We spent the day enjoying the sights and sounds and making use of the hotel’s comfy hammocks.
The next day saw us heading 6 hours up the Beni and Tuichi Rivers, on a typical traditional canoe boat to Chalalan EcoLodge. We had heard excellent reviews about this community run lodge, and were looking forward to being deep in the jungle, away from the maddening crowd. We were not disappointed. Beautiful cabins, made from gorgeous local mahogany wood and traditional leaf roofing, was just what we needed! The windows were all open and only covered with netting, so the full noise of the jungle filled the cabin constantly.
The lodge is built next to the Chalalan Lake, a pristine body of water apparently fed from a natural spring so is a constant level all year round and a welcome relief from the heat. Although it took some getting used to, since there were Caiman floating around!
We were well
looked after by our guide, who was all too happy to just have the two of us to show his stomping ground to. He was a local who had grown up in the adjacent community and had been working with the lodge for nearly 10 years. His knowledge of the jungle was obviously astounding, and made the dense scary vegetation and noises, a little less daunting. The forest is constantly noisy with birds and monkeys, and when they not around, the sounds of falling leaves, fruits and branches always makes you look twice.
Every day he took us out for day hikes, night hikes and night canoeing trips to see the wide range of animals. We were treated to sightings of the yellow squirrel, brown capuchin and red howler monkeys, wild pigs, all sorts of birds including the loud macaws and toucans, the funny looking capybarra (which James was keen to try after enjoy guinea pig) and the even saw tracks and heard the calls of a jaguar.
The week drew a close all too soon and we definitely could have whiled away a good many days at the lodge. We said goodbye to Chalalan and headed back
down the river to Rurre. We flew out late Friday afternoon and watched a beautiful sunset over the Amazon jungle.
To end the week off we booked the mountain bike ride down the infamous Yungas Road, aka World’s Most Dangerous Road, aka Road of Death or what we liked to call The Road of Happiness. The road is super narrow and clings to extremely steep cliffs, with 600m drop offs, lack of guardrails and frequent misty conditions it makes it a hair wrenching ride on any form of transport.
I was a little anxious about the ride, since not being very experienced on a bike plus reading a recent blog about a girl who went flying over her handle bars and broke her wrist! However, the whole experience was so much better than expected and by taking it easy on the downhill (unlike fellow riders including James who were bombing it down) I really enjoyed the scenery and how incredibly quickly the landscape changes with the drop in altitude! We finished the 3 hour ride with a fabulous swim and much appreciated cold cereveza! It was definitely a brilliant day out.
Today is our last day in
La Paz and it is hard to believe we’ve been in and out of this city for nearly a month now! We head down south to Uyuni and the eerie salt flats, before moving into Chile!
There are more photos below