A trip to SA wouldn’t be complete without a jaunt somewhere down the Amazon. It is said that Bolivia’s slice of the Amazon Basin is one of the most pristine that can be found. Our reading and research suggested that it is far better preserved here than in Brazil or Peru. The rivers are also smaller so you can get closer to the wildlife!
We signed up for a 3–day, 2–night excursion – 80 euro each inc. transportation and food, plus 50 for a return flight. An absolute bargain considering.
We flew from La Paz to Rurrenabaque on a twin prop plane, an exhilarating 45-minutes. During the flight the landscape changed from mountains to rainforest and then the pampas (not sure what the difference is between the Amazon and the Pampas, nobody seemed to be able to provide a definitive answer). We landed on a grass strip in Rurrenabaque Airport, something we’d only ever seen in the movies. A great start!
Our tour wasn’t starting until the following morning, so we found a nice place to stay and wandered around town for a bit – a really cute place with very friendly people. We travelled and shared our tour experiences with an Irish couple, Jamie and Claire.
The 3 days were just outstanding: we drove to Santa Rosa in a jeep (about 3 hours on a dirt road) then caught a boat for another 3 hours up the Yacuma River to our Ecolodge. From the start it was pretty much all go. Without blabbing too much, we had various boat trips and saw an abundance of wildlife. Lots of birds, monkeys (the common squirrel monkeys were the cutest – jumping on our boat and running around like crazy), capybaras (biggest rodents in the world), alligators, one black caiman, yellow-spotted river turtles etc. The highlights were swimming with the pink river dolphins in alligator, pirana and snake infested waters, pirana fishing and anaconda hunting. Yes, we caught a few anacondas, smelly feckers!
It was great to see these animals in their natural habitat! We had a fantastic local guide, Yuri, who spoke the Queen’s English and treated the animals with nothing but respect.
After our drive back, we stayed a further night in Rurrenabaque, went out for a nice meal and had a few too many beers with Jamie and Claire. We were scheduled to fly early the next morning, but it had rained and the plane couldn’t take off on the grass. We finally took off when the bad weather had subsided. We were lucky, some are stranded for days. It was honestly the worst flying experience we had ever had. The turbulence over the mountains was beyond belief, it felt like the plane was dropping hundreds of feet at a time, creeping ever closer to the mountains, and to make matters worse, we could see the pilot fighting with the controls. I’m never getting on a small plane ever again, period!
That said, it was an absolutely fantastic tour overall and it will certainly be in our top ten – the stuff of dreams! We hope you like the photos, it was difficult narrowing down some 600 odd photos.