25th May – 2 June
On Sunday we were due to fly to Rurrenabaque from La Paz. The flight was cancelled due to rain so we ended up going Monday. We booked two tours from Rurrenabaque; pampas and amazon jungle tour.
We flew on a 50 seater plane there and a 19 seater on the way back. We flew over snow covered mountains and then the landscape changed to acres of green forests. The town is in the Amazon basin, from here you can visit the pampa´s and also Amazon jungle.
The Pampas tour was three days / two nights. We took a jeep with 4 other tourists to the pampas. The road there was so bad. Over the three hours the jeep broke down three times and we had a mini crash (skidding across the road) as the steering axel was broken. The driver fixed it by tying it together – problem solved or maybe not. It came undone later which he had to fix again. Other problem was the suspension hanging down from under the car, driver thought it wasn’t necessary so took it off! After the eventful jeep ride, we arrived around lunch. Accommodation was basic, fly net windows to keep out the mosquitos. The food was excellent, great buffet style lunches and dinners.
The tour consisted of driving on a boat around the Pampas to spot wildlife. We saw many alligators, pink dolphins, howler monkey, spider monkey, cappacin monkey, many species of birds, a large rodent capybara, turtles and a sloth.
Aside from touring around on the boat, we went pariah fishing. Paddy caught two and I caught one. One of the guys on the boat was bitten by his catch. The pariah bit off a Calais!
We did a night boat tour where we could see the alligators eyes glowing in the dark along with fire flies. We also were out before 6am to watch the sunrise which was lovely.
The highlight, was swimming with the dolphins. We went to a safe part of the water, away from the alligators for the swimming. The dolphins were swimming around us, we had great views of them in the water. One came near paddy, kept circling him and swam under him. A couple dolpins were playful and did some tricks which was cool to see.
After the pampa’s tour, we had one night in Rurrenabaque before heading to the jungle. We had the same jeep take us back to the town but luckily no trouble as the roads were alot drier!
Next up was the Jungle tour. We took a three hour boat to the jungle – madidi national park. The views were great. We stayed in an ecolododge which had plenty of hammocks. We did a few jungle treks to see birds and wildlife. We really enjoyed the treks into the jungle which usually were three hours long stopping along the way to spot the wildlife. We would start treking after breakfast, come back for lunch and do another trek in the afternoon.
We saw wild pigs, a tarpin, parrots, a woodpecker, Tucans, cappacin, spider and howler monkeys. One afternoon we did tubing down the river for an hour – sitting in a black infaltable tyre. There were some small rapids along the way, it was fun and relaxing. Our tour guide Orlando is a local indigenous person from the only village in the jungle Santa Cruz, he is providing the tours for the past 8 years. Before that, he did a year with the Navy – it is compulsory for all Bolivians. Sadly, they don’t get paid more than the price of a local pint. The navy is required to police the rivers and prevent drug smuggling.
Orlando was very knowledgable on the many types of trees. He mentioned a few different trees were used as medicines, the bark is boiled and use to treat skin and other diseases.
The food on the tour was excellent, we had fresh juices and fruits with every meal.
We had a great relaxing time and really enjoyed the jungle experience. We took the boat back to Rurrenabaque and got the flight the following day to La Paz. We had a bus pre-booked for Copacabana (Bolivia) that afternoon so we headed straight for the bus terminal.