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South America » Bolivia » Beni Department » Rurrenabaque
February 25th 2008
Published: February 29th 2008
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As the sun set over the jungle.....As the sun set over the jungle.....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 neighbourThe friendly next door neighbourThe 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
Squirrel monkeySquirrel monkeySquirrel monkey

Cheeky monkey!
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
Turtle PowerTurtle PowerTurtle Power

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.

Cheers,

Mike

PS - Is anyone actually still bothered to read this stuff? What´s going on at home, anyone?


Additional photos below
Photos: 15, Displayed: 15


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At least there was a barAt least there was a bar
At least there was a bar

Just what you want to see when you are going up river in a boat!
Beer time after a busy day hunting for snakesBeer time after a busy day hunting for snakes
Beer time after a busy day hunting for snakes

I think every bar should have at least 2 hammocks by law. What a great way to enjoy a beer.
Waist deep hunting for anacondasWaist deep hunting for anacondas
Waist deep hunting for anacondas

I had been there looking for snakes for so long, apparently i had grown a beard!
River transportRiver transport
River transport

Now surely an angry alligator could tip one of these no problems for some tasty fast food?
The sprawling mass of Rurrenabaque airportThe sprawling mass of Rurrenabaque airport
The sprawling mass of Rurrenabaque airport

The Heathrow of South America!
Our 14 seater plane landingOur 14 seater plane landing
Our 14 seater plane landing

On the grass runway of landing strip #1 at Rurrenabaque airport.


29th February 2008

Still Reading...
We're still here and reading the blog, Mike. I was in Rurrenabaque once - witnessed a man throttle a giant guinea pig with his big toe. Like Ray Mears meets WWF. Whats going on here - your car has a big flat tyre (bet you are glad you left it my caring hands). But, on the plus side, someone has offered to buy it!!! See you soon. Jon
29th February 2008

Yeah I am still reading them. Keep up the good work. Pictures are amazing, I'm glad my camera is working so well for you :) I do fancy a cold beer in a hammock however, damn work comes first though. This day week I will be back in Ireland though! Ali
29th February 2008

Pink Dolphins
Are you having us on with the Pink Dolphins? Seems to be lots of crocs in their, Angus would love it. Can you bring one back for him? As you may know by now England thrashed France at the weekend which puts us back in contention. Keep enjoying it.Lee
29th February 2008

Re: Pink Dolphins
Back in contention for what? Mid table mediocrity rather than the wooden spoon?
29th February 2008

Re: Still Reading
Flat tyre? If thats the worst that´s wrong with it when i get back i will be happy. Throttling giant guinea pigs sounds highly ecologically sound. I think i booked with the wrong company. I was basing my company selection on them having a guide that looked most like Steve Irwin.
1st March 2008

back in Switzerland
Hi Mike, don't stop writing this. I'm back home and enjoy good coffee, nice bred and my own toilette.Next time,we travel with you...you have always nice experiences.We didn't have so much luck in Peru-except the north coast of Peru (Mancora) was o.k.There we had a little bit of sun for our last 3 days.Take care and cu soon.
10th March 2008

News from home
Its all quite depressing really- Oil is at $107/bl House prices have stagnated Northern Rock's been nationalised Paisley's retired (read: never, never, never - well he has)
9th April 2008

Bird of Paradise?
Arse mate - that's a Hoatzin. Related to Archaeopteryx, archaic bird straight out of Jurassic Park. Young ones still have rudimentary claws and climb trees when they fall out of the nest. Damn stupid things and ugly as my butt. Extinction should be round the corner really...

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