The blog is not finished! But after the Theft (yes, capital letters), the want/need to update the blog took second fiddle to dealing with the Theft and just finishing the trip sans computer. Since being home, it's been hard to get that motivation to complete it. But I will. Ever so slowly. Please be patient!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Days 52-54, The Pampas

The following takes place between Tuesday, January 18 and Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Amazon Rainforest is huge. It is the largest rainforest in the world, and expands into many countries, including Bolivia. Bolivia is one of the cheapest places one can go to visit part of the Amazon. And from Rurrenabaque, one can take a couple different tours to see the different environments that make up the Amazon in this part of South America. For me, the first tour would be the Pampas, the Amazon Wetlands.

Getting to Rurrenbaque, one has two choices. A rather expensive $80 plane ride that lasts 35 minutes or a cheaper, 23 hour bus ride over roads with nothing but a cliff on one side for most of the way. I didn’t feel like risking my life as of yet so I opted for the plane ride. I got a taxi to the airport early in the morning, having previously figured out that my flight had already been canceled and I had been placed on a different flight. Checking in was painless and I passed through security with my one little day pack with relative ease. In the waiting area I met a girl, Belinda, who was also heading to Rurrenabaque and, as it turns out, was going on the Pampas tour with the same company as I was.

IMG_1533Flying to Rurrenabaque was quite interesting to say the least. It was a small plane, nineteen seats all told. And with the turbulance that knocked one woman out of her seat(teaches her for not wearing her seatbelt completely) and the random flashes of lightning, I was never more happy to put my feet on solid ground.

The first thing I noticed when I got off the plane, other than the fact that I could breath, was the humidity. Holy moly was it humid. It just sticks to you. Inside the “terminal”, if you could call it that, Belinda and I, along with three other people met with the tour company. After signing in, we all piled into a nice small Nissan and began the three hour drive to where the boat was waiting to take us to camp.

The boat ride was cool and turned into a bit of a tour as well, IMG_1549with our guide, Jamie, stopping everysooften for us to see capaberas, squirrel monkeys, caimens, and numerous types of birds. It took a full four hours in the boat to get to our camp which consisted of mosquito netted cabins on high stilts as during certain times of the year the river rises up dramatically.

After eating supper and officially meeting the rest of the group(Three Aussies including Belinda, Stav, and Slim Jim; and a German named Angela) we were able to relax on the hammocks before our guide called us back to the boat for some night caimen searching. We were able to find a few IMG_1584caimen lurking in the edges of the river, getting close enough to one that I could’ve reached out to touch it if I had had the guts.

The next day, after outfitting ourselves with rubber boots, we were back on the boat to head to the path to a lake where anacondas were known to inhabit. The rubber boots didn’t help however. At one point, the path went through a swamp. Two steps in and the water was above my IMG_1611knees. At its deepest, the water was at my neck. Thankfully the water was cold, but it definitely had that smell of the sloughs back at home.

The unfortunate thing about going through that little swamp, besides having clothing that smell absolutely horrible, is that it washed off all the DEET we had put on. Not that it totally mattered as even with 80% DEET, the mosquitos were still biting. Mutants I tells ya.

IMG_1601Finally we arrived at the alligator and caiman infested lake. It was eerie to see literally dozens of the reptiles just laying completely still in the water. We even walked passed a mommy and her dozen or so babies.

We searched around in the tall grass for a bit before finally someone found an anaconda. It wasn’t nearly as big as the one in that Jennifer Lopez movie. This one was only maybe ten or so feet long. The really big ones spend most of their time in the water or have learned to hide much better. It was stiIMG_1606ll cool to see one of these huge snakes up close. Thankfully, and I was very impressed by this, the guides made sure that no one touched the snake. With our goal accomplished, we walked back to the boats and headed back to camp where we changed our of our swamp smelling clothing and into our swim suits as the next portion of the tour, after lunch, was swimming in the river.

We didn’t swim in the area with the alligators or caiman. Rather, we swam in a calmer area that was too deep for such creatures, but just the right depth for the pink dolphins. We caught a few glimpses of the animals but it was usually way too fast for me to get a picture. The night finished with a rousing game of soccer in a small clearing not far from camp.

IMG_1624The final day of the trip began with us heading out piranha fishing. Unfortunately for us, because the river was so muddy at this time of year, the chances of actually catching anything was pretty low. Not that I’m completely unaccustomed to that. I’m usually the unlucky one when we go fishing back at home. As was predicted, none of us caught anything. We did catch a short glimpse of a red and blue macaw as it flew overhead.

Dejected, we headed back to camp where we packed up our belongings and settled back onto the boat for the trip back to the car. The trip was half as long this time around as we were traveling with the current. We arrived back in Rurrenabaque, said goodbye to Belinda as she was off to catch a late afternoon flight back to La Paz, and the rest of us headed off to find a hostel. It didn’t take long and after a wonderful hot shower, we headed out for supper and for drinks at the Mosquito Bar.

One word of warning, the Bolivian Blaster is a night ender drink. Gin, vodka, pisco, rum, with a splash of coke and lime. Oy.

Team Llama out! IMG_1620


  1. this is such a crazy adventure. there are so many dangers that you mention. it sounds like so much fun

  2. Wow! Cool excursion :) Can't believe you got that close to such scary things as Anacondas! To see pink dolphins would have been awesome!
    Your one cache log from Cochabamba sounded like quite the event. Regular muggles are bad enough but when you don't even speak the same language its gotta be much worse!