(a wimba wey, a wimba wey, a wimba wey, a wimba wey - oooooooOOOOOOOOOOOO....)
08/05/2008 - 13/05/2008 28 °C
Sooooo, we decided we could not leave South America without doing a jungle trip - you cannot come this close to the Amazon with going into it! so off we went to Rurrenabaque, which is right on the edge of the amazon basin and one of the easiest places to start a trip from. we got up at 4.30am to catch the 6.15 plane from La Paz, which was a tiny little 20 seater. I am so glad we got up that early, because the views from the plane were amazing. first we saw La Paz, in the semi darkness, sprawled out beneath us with all the lights twinkling, then as we flew low heading north to Rurrenabaque we could see the sun rising to the right of us, and the snow-topped mountains emerging on the left. As we approached Rurrenabaque the mountains suddenly gave way to lush greenery as we reached the edge of the basin - it was an awesome sight, definately one worth waking up early for.
When we arrived, the plane bumped down onto the 'landing strip' (field...) and we set off on our mission to find a jungle trip. An hour later we were signed up with Fluvial Tours, and set to leave 45 minutes later. after a quick breakfast we were on our way to the boat, which would take us on the 3 hour journey upriver to our lodgings. Almost everybody nodded off on the boat, but eventually we arrived at the landing spot, and then proceeded to lug all our stuff on a 15 minute walk to the camp (i dont think i was listening at the travel agent's when they told us about that bit...i would have brought less stuff....) . The walk was fine, except for the river crossing....which was slightly amusing for other people to watch me...i do have the grace and balance of Bambi...
So we arrived at our camp, where we stayed in basic wooden huts, with simple beds and mozzy nets.
lunch was served, everybody had a nap then we set off on our first walk. unfortunately, 7 people is a rather large group for this type of thing, and we didnt see any animals - they heard us coming a mile off. still, our guide showed us lots of plants and trees, and told us about their medicinal properties - all kinds of things from easing the itch of mozzy bited to helping with rheumatism.
this is ian drinking pure water from a vine!
when we got back, we found to our horror that there was no alcohol at the camp.....so Ian, being the true hero that he is, arranged with the captain of the little boat to bring us some beer the next day when he brought another group The captain also turned out to be a hero, as he appeared the next day with 2 crates of beer, ice and a coolbox! Trust me, when you're in the jungle, it's dark and there's a million mosquitos trying to eat you...you want beer. So we were all (except for the grumpy French guy who threw a strop) very grateful and enjoyed our second night with beer and a bonfire! (at which point we realised we should have asked for marshmallows as well....ah well you live and learn!)
anyway before the beer drinking of the second night there was more walking in the morning, where most of the group saw wild boars (i didnt, i was at the back and missed them bummer) and we also saw some birds, a tarantula and lots more plants etc.
In the afternoon we'd had enough of walking, so the guide showed us how to make rings (as in jewellery) from little coconut-type seeds. it was really cool, he just chopped the two sides off with a saw then scooped out the insides with a knife and showed us how to sand them down with sandpaper and emery paper, then polish them with dirt from the floor! never thought i would be making jewellery in the amazon jungle! Then at 4pm we went fishing - my first ever time. needless to say i didnt catch anything, but the guide and Raphael caught a pretty big one, then Ian caught one too, even bigger! we took them home and the cook fried them up for our dinner, which was very tasty!
the next day we went for one last walk, then had lunch and trekked back to the boat to go back to Rurrenabaque.
on our return we tried to book our flight back to La Paz, hoping to travel the next day....only to be told that the next flight we could get was in 7 days time. Ah. All flights were delayed due to the rain over the last 2 days....because the airstrip is a grassy field, any rain means that nobody flies in or out. luckily there are 2 airlines, and the other ones could fit us onto a flight in only 3 days time, which was much better. there are buses, but they take 18 hours down a very bad road, which we didnt really fancy...and anyway they were all booked up too.
So we spent 3 nights in Rurrenebaque, which was a nice enough place but not too exciting - many places offered Happy Hour cocktails to liven things up, which we took advantage of.....
On the tuesday morning we finally flew back to La Paz...back to the cold and the thin air We were a little disappointed that we did not see more animals (apparently the pampas tours see more animals), but at least we have been to the jungle, and it was a fun few days! We have heard about a small animal sanctuary a few hours from La Paz which we are going to try and visit - they definately have monkeys, which will make up for the lack of them in the jungle! Really looking forward to that, plus Ian is going to do some mountain climbing, and then we'll be off to the Salt flats...it's going to be a busy couple of weeks!
In the next episode....climbing, biking, bussing and hiking!