Rurranbeque and the pampas
We flew to Rurranbeque in a very small jet which seated about 20 people. As we descended into the amazon basin we managed to get a great birds eye view of the scenery ahead of us. Rurranbeque is a small town on the banks of the River Beni in the Bolivian Amazon Basin.
We booked our 3 day Pampas tour to leave the next day and chilled for the rest of the afternoon in the magical jungle town.
An early start, we set off in our 4x4s down the dirt track road that lead us to the Pampas which is the flat wetlands teeming with wildlife, that lies on the outskirts of the Amazon rainforest. What should have been a 3 hour drive turned into 5. Due to the heavy rain the day before the road was full of deep muddy potholes. There were 3 jeeps in total and we all got stuck in the mud at least once! It was quite fun getting pulled out by haulage trucks that were passing the other way. We also passed several trucks and coaches that were all stranded because of the road, I've never seen a road (if you can call it that) like it.
When we eventually arrived at the pampas river everything seemed worth the wait. It was one of the most tranquil and picturesque setting I've ever seen. Hopping onto the long tail boats we sailed smoothly down the river, taking in the vivid green scenery and the noises of the wildlife above us. It was pure bliss, moving gently through a real life computer screen saver.
We arrived at our camp where we would stay in lodges for 2 nights. All the lodges are set on stilts, surrounded by hammocks and trees. After lunch we embarked on our first pampas adventure and went piranha fishing. On the way we spotted many caimans, turtles, sloths and numerous birds including kingfishers, jabirus and herons. Piranha fishing was great fun, me an nick both caught about 4 each and we ate them for dinner that evening. There's not a lot of meat on them but they were delicious! After fishing, Luis, our guide took us to a peaceful spot to watch the sunset over the river. It was a lovely end to our first day on the pampas.
Early the next morning we woke at 5.30 and set off on the boat at 6. As we sailed down the river we saw the sunrise and ate breakfast on the boat. Luis introduced us to a traditional Bolivian way of eating grapefruit and oranges, peeling only the skin leaving on the pith, cut the top of and squeeze all the juice into your mouth. Who says you need a juicer? After breakfast we had a very fun hour playing with squirrel monkeys that jumped onto the boat as we fed them bananas. They were adorable and so playful! Some even climbed onto Nicks head. The afternoon then consisted of swimming with pink river dolphins and looking for more wildlife.
Our final day we went on a short jungle trek, searching for monkeys in the tall trees above us. We spotted howler and capuchin monkeys and ant eaters. One of the capuchin monkeys played peak-a-boo with us for quite some time, it was very amusing. Luis showed us garlic trees where we got to taste the bark, strangler trees and bamboo trees. Unfortunately we didn't spot any anacondas as we were there in the wrong season but we did see a large snake slithering across the surface of the river later on. As we enjoyed the piranha fishing so much we spent the last of our time moored up on the side of the river fishing off the side of the boat and sipping on beers. A perfect end to the tour. Luis was a fantastic guide, very friendly and so informative of all the animals.
Fortunately the journey back was a lot quicker than on the way albeit very bumpy as we got the short straw and were sat at the very back of the jeep over the rear wheels. We had a spare day in Rurranbeque to laze in hammocks, sample the delicious French bakery and visit the hotel mirador. It overlooked the whole town with an infinity swimming pool. We enjoyed a few cocktails and sunbathed in the jungle heat before flying back to high altitude and cooler temperatures. Nick also made friends with the hostel pets, a toucan and a macaw. He's decided he wants a pet parrot when he gets home.
We arrived back in La Paz and experienced the nightlife we missed out on the first time. We met up with friends who we met in Sucre and got drunk enough to do the karaoke version of Backstreet Boys! We both felt a bit worse for wear the next day so spent the day resting (sleeping off the hangovers) before moving onto to our last stop in Bolivia - Lake Titicaca.