RURRENABAQUE / bolivia

Where to do the Amazon? That was the question that we had! Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil… We had to decide on one place for now. Speaking to fellow travellers and those on a similar budget to us, the best option seemed Bolivia. Everyone had raved about their experiences from the town of Rurrenabaque so we took the advice and booked our amazon adventure. Just a thirty minute flight from La Paz, Rurrenabaque is the base for both the Pampas and Jungle tours. The flight is pretty special. Leaving from El Alto in La Paz, a quick take off and you’re over snowy mountains of six thousand meters. Not long after you descend into the jungle. Muddy winding rivers, lush green foliage and humid conditions. You’ve arrived! The town of Rurrenabaque has a few nice restaurants and vendors to stock up on mozzie repellent, ponchos and sunscreen. We spent a night here before beginning our first two nights in the Pampas followed by two more nights in the Jungle. We booked our package through Honey Tours in La Paz. The pampas tour was through Fluvial Tours and the jungle with Max Adventures. Honey Tours also organised our flights with Amaszonas Airlines and a night in between tours in a hostel in Rurrenabaque.

PAMPAS / our first tour from the town of Rurrenabaque was the Pampas. We were collected from our hostel early in the morning and driven to the town of Santa Rosa. Here we had some lunch. Soon after we boarded our boat and met our tour guide. Our group of eight loaded the boat with our belongings and we began our journey to the lodge. During the three hour boat ride we spotted so many different animals; birds, caimans, turtles, monkeys, dolphins, just to name a few. After, we smothered ourselves with deet, dressed from head to toe and travelled further down the river to our sunset spot. A beer watching the sun go down through the grassy fronds of the pampas, pure bliss. On our return to the lodge, out came the flash torches and we began our search for eyes. Fire flies surrounded us, dolphins appeared and so many caiman eyes were spotted. We kicked off day two with a huge brekkie and then an anaconda exploration. Gum boots on, squelching through the mud of the swamps, we were lucky enough to find a baby anaconda. Following lunch, our group ventured down the river in pursuit of pink dolphins and piranhas. First, some swimming with pink dolphins. Hard to spot in the merky waters, we managed to find some and dive in. Then to a fishing spot to cast our luck and catch some piranhas for dinner. Harder than it looks, a special technique is required to hook one in. We managed to pull in six, enough to share for dinner. Another beautiful sunset and some dusk football for Michael rounded out the days activities. That evening, we enjoyed our fried piranhas, pasta and salads. Delish! Our last morning was most definitely our best! Early alarms set, our group hopped onto our boat at six o’clock to catch the pampas sunrise. A thirty minute cruise down the water and we arrived at our destination. Our whole group in silence, just the sounds of hallo monkeys, birds, splashes from caymans and the wildlife of the pampas. Such an unreal location to soak up a beautiful, rosie sunrise. We then headed back to the lodge, ate some breakfast and then again went looking for some fellow pink dolphin swimmers. A rainy and wet boat ride back to the town of Santa Taresa and our pampas tour was complete. I feel so fortunate to have seen so many different types of wildlife. Such a wonderful experience with great people and the most spectacular surroundings.

JUNGLE / the Madidi National Park, about a three hour boat ride from Rurrenabaque is where our jungle stay began. Cruising down the muddy waters, crossing some fierce currents, we arrived at the Max Eco Lodge. What an oasis! Deep in the jungle, surrounded by 600 year old trees and the sounds of Amazonian wildlife. Lunch was served when we arrived. Local fish, cooked using traditional methods and an assortment of salads and rice. Soon after we went to the other side of the river in search of wildlife and parrots, specifically for the beautiful Red McCaws. Watching the exquisite colours of the parrots fly overhead was a great end to the afternoon. Following dinner, we began our night walk. Looking out for anything that was moving, listening for interesting noises and torches spotlighting for more glowing eyes. We were fortunate enough to find two deers, some bats, doves and lots of spiders. Our whole group whispering and walking through the jungle, a really cool time! Back to our treehouses for an early nights sleep. Some yoga on the balcony of our natural abode set a good vibe for the events to follow on day two. We spent majority of the day in the jungle searching for wildlife, looking at interesting plants and listening to Jamie explain how the indigenous people use the different flora for medicinal purposes. Armed with his knife, our guide Jamie whipped up an easy drink bottle carrier from liana vines, shaved some garlic from a local ajo-ajo tree, peeled different fruits for us to try and cut back branches that were in our way. Stopping every ten or twenty meters to listen for different noises, we spotted different monkeys, legs of a shy tarantula and his nest, lots of spiders, birds, butterflies and so much more! What a day cruising through the jungle! Following a picnic lunch we headed back to the river. Here, our mission was to build a raft using Balsa wood and float back down the river to our lodge. We were successful in manufacturing and getting back safely. Some dinner and then a few stories about Pachamama to round out the night. Day three consisted of the chicas making jewels from nuts found in the jungle and the chicos making bow and arrows. A chilled morning to end our Bolivian jungle experience.

We had such an incredible time on both of our tours. Lush, full of wildlife, it’s a must do if you’re thinking about the Amazon whilst in South America. The Bolivian Amazon is a very special, relaxed and gorgeous place.

Much love, Laura xx

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