Our previous update left us at the bottom of the infamous death road in Coroico, Bolivia where Pat and Iain were celebrating their survival of an 11,000ft elevation loss mountain bike ride. See the ‘La Paz, Bolivia’ update for pics of that adventure! Aly and Carrie were already eyeing the next point of interest: the Amazon Basin via Rurrenabaque.
Arriving in Rurrenabaque – the sane way
There are two ways to get to Rurrenabaque, Bolivia. The first way is to hop onto a really crappy bus in Coroico and take really crappy and scary roads for approximately 20-24 hours. Or, the second way is to take a minivan back to La Paz, up the new Death Road, and catch a flight to Rurrenabaque. After asking around and hearing from quite a few 20-somethings that they would NEVER, NEVER, EVER do the bus ride again, we smarter, older folk opted for the airplane. Good choice!
We were greeted on our arrival at the Rurrenabaque Airport by … well … I guess it was just a baggage guy and an airport official. Baggage claim turned out to be a handtruck pushed through the red and white gate.
We found a hostal, dropped off our stuff and started to explore town. This was a welcome change from the hustle and bustle and COLD of La Paz.
We passed by the chicken store. This guys wasn’t too happy about Pat taking a picture of his chickens. You think the knife would have deterred Pat, but Nooooooo.
Down by the river people were hard at work. Seeing as Pat was undeterred by a knife, I wasn’t surprised to see him snap a photo of an ax-wielding man.
Long skinny boats made their way up and down the river.
We were up early the next morning to catch a ride to a different river where we would be whisked, by long skinny boat, into the remote and pristine heart of the pampas. This was not our ride.
This was our ride. When we go on a tour only the finest and most luxurious will do.
The Loons, the two of us and Dan and James from either New Zealand or Australia (sorry guys, I have early onset old-age) tossed the gear on top of the Land Cruiser and piled in back. We were all impressed to see that the multi-decade-old vehicle still had the original cushioning mostly intact on the jump seats. 3 hours later we all had black and blue butts.
Our butts got a break when the Land Cruiser came up lame. The jack wasn’t working quite right so the young guys were enlisted to lift the back end of the vehicle while the driver crawled underneath and tried to get the jack in position. Good thing Dan and James were strong!
Our long skinny boat awaited. These vessels were 30′ long and only about 3′ wide. That’s just 8′ shorter than Terra Firma (our sailboat and home)!
Up the river we zipped. I wondered if there were any alligators.
Oh! There’s one. Wow, how lucky to see one! Actually they were everywhere. We didn’t go a minute without seeing one and there were probably just as many that we didn’t see.
HUNGRY, Golden monkeys…
The largest rodent in the world. These guys must have weighed 80 pounds or more!
Is this our camp? It wasn’t but we vowed to be back for sunset.
Bird of Paradise….
Kingfisher… ornithologists, please correct me if I’m wrong.
After about two hours of observing some impressive wildlife along the river we arrived at our camp. We used Indigena Tours and they were awesome! Learn more about them at http://www.indigenatour.com .
This was our next door neighbor.
Don’t suppose our neighbor was looking for this do you? Maybe you should put that down, Aly.
Our accommodations were complete with mosquito nets and mattresses thicker than a man’s hand. Nothin’ but the best!
Looks like sunset to me. Hey, wasn’t there a Sunset Bar just down the river?
Mmmmmmm! Big, cold beers and a setting sun. Seriously, does it get any better?
Well rested and ready for adventure. What are we doing today? Tromping through the muck looking for great big anacondas? Let’s go! Of course you have to have the latest designer attire for snake hunting. You need a well seasoned or ‘distressed’ hat, a German officer’s shirt from an army surplus store in La Paz and the latest in Bolivian foot fashion.
There’s our man on the scene, nature photographer and living legend. You can tell by the smile and confident swagger that we haven’t encountered a snake yet.
Here snakie, snakie snakie…. Looks like a stroll in a field, huh? It was actually mooshy muck that threatened to come over the top of the boots with each stride. One woman did a butt-plant into the muck. That was funny! …. I mean, we were all concerned about possible injury to her (or a lurking snake) … nah, it was funny!
This is not an anaconda, but check out the size of this guy. Pass the butter and garlic!
There’s one! Now what?!
Ha! Gotcha! This one was a Falsa Cobra. We also caught (and released) an anaconda. Our guide was very careful with the animals and limited the amount of time that we stressed them.
All that snake hunting sure makes you hungry. Wow! Look at this spread. The food at every meal was incredible and our guide and the staff were outstanding.
Yummy! Hey Iain, you have a little something on your chin.
What could possibly top snake hunting? Is swimming with pink river dolphin up there? Let’s see if we can spot some.
Thar she blows! Pink river dolphin to starboard!
The pink river dolphin were the most frustrating characters to photograph. They were numerous, but we came away with only a few decent photos. Maybe we’ll have to go back. Besides, I just loved those muck boots!
What’s he smiling about?
Hey Iain, did you notice the great, big, smiling alligator?
Yes, we all made it back to camp in one piece and the poor alligator had to find his dinner elsewhere.
After another scrumptious meal we went and watched a soccer match between guides and guests from the diferent camps. Not sure where those photos went, but this barn-in-progress was the backstop for one of the goals.
We called it an early night since we were to get up at 5am the next morning to float down the river engineless and hear the pampas awaken.
Here is an early riser looking for some breakfast.
This guy was hungry too.
We floated and watched and listened to the croaking, chirping, rustling and splashing. It was like a symphony and a really special experience. The best part was that we had front row seats and didn’t have to dress up!
Dawn on the river.
Time to get to work. We were charged with catching our own lunch. How about piranha? That’s my new tat/ink by the way. Our guide drew an anaconda on my hand with the juice from a fruit. It lasted about 3 weeks.
More teeth than meat, but when in the Amazon ….
Our hard work and fishing prowess paid off. We enjoyed the fruits of our labor and then said goodbye to our new friends at Indigena Tours. With full stomachs and great memories we headed back to La Paz to regroup before our next adventure in the Salar de Uyuni. Stay tuned!