I did a special jungle tour w/ Mashiquipe, a group that uses indigenous people along w/ a French couple, Celine & Jack, and a Polish guy named Rafol.On our way on the boat ride on the Rio Beni (meaning wind) I saw some white egrits, blue herons, river gulls (white & black), a tiger bird and more capybara (even their footprints) - yeah!We then visited a family that processed sugarcane & oranges & grapefruit.We got to press our own sugarcane. It was hard work but then we got to drink some w/ lemon.It was the best lemonade ever!After we pressed the cane we saw them boiling the liquid.They boil it for about 4 hours to concentrate the sugar then make either sugar honey or hard sugar blocks (piloncillo en Mexico ) or mix it w/ grapefruit, milk, honey, almonds etc. to make sugar candies which they sell in the markets.After watching the sugar we went out to the orange trees.The guy used a really cool tree trunk ladder to climb up & throw down oranges.He was covered w/ ants but luckily they weren't biting him.Jack was catching them at first then I finished - 200 oranges total which only cost 20B!!We continued along to the park checkpoint where the guards showed and explained a model of the park.There was a new monkey found a few years ago called a Licachi and a group of wild aborigines in one part called Torimanas.A lot of the area hasn't been explored - a Norwegian went to look for the aborigines and never came back!The park is also special because it has mountains in one area & 12 different kinds of ecological areas.It only started being protected in 1995.Back on the river we changed from the Rio Beni to the Rio Tuichi (fast) which was a little narrower.Not far down we got to our site and saw tons of blue butterflies there!After lunch we met our guide Reynaldo & went for our first forest walk.We saw a bunch of different trees including the strangler ficus, one that is good for your kidneys, one that you can use to make glue, etc…We also saw the leaf carrying ants, a toro spider, another brown spider, lots of butterflies and a huge herd of about 200 wild boars - chancho salvaje.That was so cool!After dinner we decided to get up early for a 4am walk instead of the early night one since our guide said we would see more animals.
Day 2 in the jungle we were on the trail by 4:15am.We walked for an hour in silence w/out seeing anything and then finally saw a fox and a giant spider.I was happy to have seen something!We got back @ 6:30am and I decided to go down to the river to watch the sunrise.There were clouds however and I couldn't see much.Breakfast was this fried bread dough called payaso which was really delicious w/ strawberry jam.At 9am we started out on another walk looking for monkeys but we never found them.We did see a tucan for a second and a black eagle and we heard a very funny bird called a siringuero that made a whistle sound like a guy's catcall.There was also a pretty purple flower called a jaca jaca and petilias (weird little beetles).We made it back for lunch, packed up some stuff for the night in the jungle and before 3pm we were back on the trail again to go to our spot to spend the night near the river.We didn't see any animals along the way nor did we find the tapirs during our night walk.?I was warned that it was not as easy to see the animals in the jungle as in the pampas but I was really hoping for a glimpse of a tapir - oh well - it was a big jungle and animals don't show up on schedule!Then I had the most uncomfortable night sleep I have had since I can remember.I woke up a million times, itchy, uncomfortable (hard forest floor) and listening to noises outside that I was sure may have been a tapir or another animal but I was too afraid to go out & check.Thank God for mosquito nets but one night sleeping in the jungle was more than enough!
My last day in the Madidi National park we got to see a mono leoncito (lion monkey) very quickly - they are so fast!We also saw quite a few squawking, big, blue aras which they call parabas (a type of macaw).After trekking down to the river we were supposed to make our own raft but the guides really did it for us.It was hard core Huck Finn & Tom Sawyer.I can't believe we didn't sink!It was a little scary at times over some tiny rapids but the guys did a great job steering and the girls sat & enjoyed the ride!After making it back to the campsite we had lunch and then got to see them working on making leaf roofs.The type of leaf is called a "jatata" and if you do it right the roof will last 25 - 30 years!Not bad!We packed up and back down the River Tuichi & River Beni we went to the little town of Rurrenabaque .