On Saturday we flew to Rurrenabaque on a 18 seater plane! I´ve never been on a plane that small. There was one seat on either side of the aisle and you had to bend down once you were inside. The views of La Paz and then the Amazonian jungle were amazing but I had my seat belt on the whole way as it was quite a bumpy ride! Thankfully it was a smooth landing and when we got out we realised that it was a grassy runway with a very small building at one end - something out of Blood Diamond!! The bonus was there was no waiting for our bags and then it was straight into town were we checked into a lovely hostel called El Curichal Guesthouse (just over a fiver for a double ensuite) which has a great chillout area with lots of hammocks.
Rurrenabaque, which is 105m above sea level (wow, we could actually breathe again!), is Bolivia´s most beautiful lowland settlement. We did a three day Pampas Tour (with Fluvial Tours) which visits the wetland savannas northeast of the town.
The tour started with a very bumpy, dusty drive in a jeep, stopping for lunch at a place that had lots of animals; a very cheeky yellow Squirral monkeys, an affectionate black Spider Monkeys, a boar, and a deer, to Santa Rosa where, the eight of us and our guide Negro, jumped aboard our dugout canoe.
We had a lovely afternoon drifting along the Yacumba River spotting wildlife. We saw lots of Squirral Monkeys, big black, noisy Howler Monkeys, Red Monkeys with little babys on their front, Cappuccino Monkeys who stole food from our camp, Alligators, Capybara which is the largest living rodent in the world, like a large guinea pig, kingfishers, Turtles, Jabiru which is a very large stork with a black neck and white body. It´s the tallest flying bird in South & Central America growing up to 1.5m tall. We also saw Eagles and the very dangerous Black Caiman which is one of the largest reptiles and can grow up to 7m long.
We spent two nights in the camp at the side of the river, sleeping in wooden huts and relaxing in the hammocks. The food was delicious and we got to see the sunrise (or sun up as I call it!) on both mornings and two beautiful sunsets (sundown), one at Sunset Bar (cool riverside bar with cold beers!) and the other at Dolphin Bar.
We also did a four hour trek looking for Anacondas (non-venomous boas), one of the largest snakes in the world. We managed to find a male and a female wrapped together in a tree. Their brown and black skin was beautiful. We also spotted a very dangerous and venomous Cobra, with it´s thick neck, slidding into the water and out of sight.
One afternoon we went fishing for Piranhas, Jem managed to catch one and has it´s jaw to prove it, I only caught a Sardine and that night we munched them for dinner!!
On the last day we went swimming with the Pink River Dolphins, the largest of the freshwater river dolphins, endemic to the amazon river. This was great fun but I always had one eye on the nearby Alligator!!
On the way back to Santa Rosa, Negro told us that due to roadblocks we would have to walk 4km with all our bags, as no transport could get through to pick us up - gutted!! Thankfully when we got off the boat we were met with a lift to the roadblock - yipee!! We walked over the mud roadblock, listening to the locals shouting `Gringos´ and got in our jeep. After a couple of hours we met another roadblock which consisted of a barrier and trees. A girl in our group spoke Spanish and tried to plead with the locals, saying that she had a flight to catch but they wouldn´t let us past, saying blame the President!! After a little wait, our driver managed to organise two taxis, which were on the other side of the roadblock, to take us back to Rurrenabaque and the company paid!!
We stayed the night at El Curichal again and I actually got to use the tick remover I´ve carried around for a year - on another girl not me!
We had dinner at a Monkey Bar with owner Rudy on the decks and free Caiprinihas then went for a drink at another cool bar called Moskkito with Karen and Kim from the tour.
Today we fly back to La Paz (all buses have been cancelled due to roadblocks so glad we have flight!) and then we´ll catch the 3hr bus to the Bolivian town of Copacabana, Lake Titicaca. Bye for now xxxxx