Rurrenabaque, Bolivia – La Pampa

From La Paz to Rurrenabaque we opted for the plane, which costs a lot more than the bus. But at least we didn’t loose a day on the way nor on the way back (the bus ride is between 18 and 22 hours) and it is also a lot safer from what we have heard about the road the bus takes. We had the smallest comercial airplane I have ever seen with two propellor engines, you couldn’t even stand up straight in the middle of it, with two lines of seats on the left and one on the right.

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And we also landed in the very small airport of Rurrenabaque. We left around 6:30am and arrived just in time for sunrise (around 40 minutes later).

The same day at 9am we got in a Jeep for a very dusty 3h ride into the Pampa of northern Bolivia until we reached Santa Rosa de Yacuma. There, we had a quick lunch and once again changed to this time onto the water and small Pampa boats.

The Pampa camp was another 3h ride away. This time though it was a lot more pleasant, without dust but therefore with a lot of animal sightings.

The yellow monkeys around the area seemed to be used to people and used the first opportunity to jump into our boat and onto us in the search for food. One of them eventually got a away with a small banana and we moved on…

At night we had some beers watching the sunset. When night fell we went night hunting for aligators and cajmans. Their eyes reflect the light and therefore shine in the dark. Only by doing that we saw how infested this river was with alligators. At one point, we found a nest with litterally hundreds of baby aligators eyes reflecting back at us.

This was our very comfortable camp, all built at least 1-2m above the ground:

The next morning we went on a very unseccessfull search for Anacondas, walking around in the Swamps for hours. All the other people from other tour that we talked to didn’t find any either. Apparently in the dry season it is hard to find them because the Swamps don’t have enough water for the Anacondas to be comfortable there.

Nevertheless, the day provided lots of opportunities to see other kinds of animals again. Everything from different kinds of birds, aligators, turtles, monkeys and other are very easy to find in this area because most stay close to the river.

Our guide and captain Rossario:

In the afternoon we had some time to earn our dinner. Gab managed to pull out a small Salmon and I got two Piranhas. Luckily some side dishes were provided by the cooks in the camp otherwise we wouldn’t have gotten very full that night…

Sunset and beers once again…

And a couple of hours later sunrise but no beers…

On the last day (probably so if you get eaten by Cajmans or Piranhas you could at least enjoy the first two days) I went swimming in the river with the pink river dolphins. Gab unfortunatly was sick, something in the food cause her some problems. She came with us as oberserver and photographer.

Although Rossario ensured us that the Cajmans and Piranhas keep their distance when the dolphins are around, I never felt completely safe. This was partly because of the brown water I never really knew where the dolphins (we only saw them popping out of the water from time to time) were and partly because an Alligator appeared on the other side of the boat from time to time.

We also had a bit of free time to play Tarzan:

And without even searching for it we got to see a beautiful Anaconda after all:

The boat ride back only took about 1h down the river (at the port we met Judith and Charlotte, two germans I studied with in Valpo), the car ride again took three dusty hours:

Back in Rurrenabaque Gab was happy about some Starfruits we picked. Although she couldn’t enjoy them after all because of the bacterial infection (water and uncooked vegetables can be dangerous around here) but after five days of antibacterial medication she was fine again.

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