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Published: February 29th 2008
As the sun set over the jungle.....
The mosquitoes came out to play. Fueled generally by my blood it seemed.
Bolivia is just such a country of contrasts. One day you will be gasping for breath in the high altitude of La Paz, the next down into the tropical, humid air of the jungle. This was how it was when i finally arrived in Rurrenabaque, coming off the 19.5 hour bus journey feeling, well not that fresh really.
Rurre is a totally different feeling town to anywhere else i have been in Bolivia. Even more laid back, if thats even possible! I got picked up by motorbike taxi from the bus station. Me and 2 rucksacs on the back of the motorbike, and i didn´t even fall off! The town is a small place in the middle of the jungle,on the edge of a big river. It has a real kind of Apocolypse Now feel to the place, with boats setting off down river frequently.
The main reason to endure the journey out here is as a starting point for trips off into the jungle around the town. I set off on a 3 day trip to the pampas. This is an area of river section where most tour companies in town have their own jungle lodge. This is
The friendly next door neighbour
Don´t want to take a wrong turn on the way to the toilet in the middle of the night!
then used as a base to explore lots of the wildlife around. There were a group of 8 of us that set off in search of dangerous wildlife.
Even the trip to the lodge is pretty good with loads of wildlife to observe in the 3 hour boat trip. There are three types of monkeys to see: squirrel, howler and cappuchino monkeys. There are also so many various types of birds that i had no idea what they are (Jon, i need identification of some of these pictures). We also saw lots of turtles sunning themselves on floating logs on the way through.
After getting set up at camp and dinner, we then went on a night time boat trip with torches. This was to try and spot the alligators along the river. At night, when the torch is shone at them, their eyes reflect red. Its pretty freaky to be travelling at night, seeing these sets of alligator eyes from the riverbanks watching us passing in our boat.
The following morning we took part in a speciality of the area - anaconda hunting. This involves getting into a pair of wellie boots and trudging through the
swamp for three hours, looking for anacondas. The anacondas live in the water and hunt small rodents. We were hoping to find one maybe sleeping among the reeds or, the preferred way to find one is aparently to stand on one in the water. This wakes them up and then you try and get a look at it before it heads off. Or, you hope you haven´t stood on its head and made it irate, in which case it might think it needs some Irish beef in its diet!
Because its wet season here at the moment, there is a lot of water around in the swamps, so in some places we were wading in water up to our wastes....looking for snakes that could kill us. Great. However, because of all the water, they are also pretty hard to find just now. All we found was one that had been eaten by predators. Even still, its teeth looked pretty nasty. I was actually fairly glad not to have found one by standing on it. I may have freaked out.
The afternoon was spent in much more relaxing fashion, swimming with the pink river dolphins which accumulate in the
I think this one was Donatello!
area. There were about 5 or 6 around us in total as we swam, every now and then coming up to play, which generally involved trying to nibble at someones foot, who would then freak out in the murky water of the river! Still, pretty cool to be swimming in the river with wild river dolphins, oh, and also of course infested with alligators, anacondas and pirahnas! Best not to think about what else was down there in the murky waters i found.
And with the pirahnas, the next morning was spent trying to fish for them. After throwing some meat over the side to attract them, i baited up with some fresh steak and waited for the bite.....and waited.....and waited. The only thing the pirahnas seemed to get from me was a good feed of meat as everytime my hook seemed to come up minus the steak, and also minus the pirahna on the end of the line too. But i certainly wasn´t going to put my hand into the water to try and lift one out of the water, it might have come back minus a finger. I think i need some fishing tips from Trev when
i get back, or maybe i needed some decent Ulster beef to catch them properly.
And then it was back on the boat again to Rurre, and onwards to La Paz. As i mentioned, i decided to fly back to La Paz on the 40 minute flight than endure the bus trip again. As with most things in Rurre, this was again an experience. In a 14 seater tiny plane, with a clear view through to the pilots and the front window. The airport consisted of one building, one gate and a grass runway, onto which the incoming plane plonked itself down in a cloud of dust. Also, the plane was unpressurised, so i was starting to feel a little ill from the altitude near to the end of the flight.
Anyway, we made it back safely to La Paz. And its from here that i will be moving on from Bolivia on this trip. I will be sad to leave Bolivia as i have really enjoyed my time here. I didn´t really know what to expèct when i arrived, but i have been pleasantly surprised on a lot of levels. A great country to travel around. But
i need to keep moving on towards Quito in a month´s time.
PS - Is anyone actually still bothered to read this stuff? What´s going on at home, anyone?
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