The jungle

Trip Start Nov 01, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Hostel Oriental

Flag of Bolivia  ,
Monday, November 12, 2007

Travel to the Amazon region of Bolivia isn't a straight forward exercise. With one local dangerous/uncomfortable 20hr bus ride or flying on a 15 seater propeller plane that is totally dependent of weather conditions (especially if the grass runway in Rurrenbaque is wet!) We opted for the plane option. Now, I'm not a good flyer at the best of times but O my god that flight is terrifying! Take off consisted of swerving left & right as it carried down the runway and the turbulence was enough to make your hair fall out, thank god it only lasted 45 mins.
Once we arrived the sun was shining and the birds were singing. Rurrenbaque is a lovely sleepy little town surrounded by towering cliffs and thick Jungle with exotic plants and flowers. We soon found a lovely guest house called Hostel Oriental that had clean and comfortable rooms and had a lovely court yard with hammocks. We soon settled in and ventured into town to see what was on offer. We spent a couple of days chilling in the heat before booking ourselves on a Pampas (low lands) tour which boasts many animals of which you see Monkeys, Alligators & Crocks, Snakes, Dolphins, and Piranhas. The four of us set off on the 3 day tour where we spent the first day traveling up river in a boat to get to our camp site which on arrival was overrun with a group of about 30 loud and obnoxious Israeli kids with 0% manners , no surprise there. As it turned out they left the following day. The boat journey was hot and long and on spotting some Dolphins our guide Yazmanny suggested we get in the water for swim with them. Now I'm glad this activity took place on the first day as had I known what lurked beneath the surface there is no way in hell I would ever get in that river! As it turned out we all survived and had cooled off. In the evening after dark we went back out in the boat with torches to look for Alligators. Their eyes shine like cats eyes when you shine light on them and we even saw a massive shooting star (I wished for beer and cash) Day two it rained like buggery so we spent the morning doing native arts & crafts! Carla & I made some cool necklaces from crocodile teeth and Anaconda bones. After lunch the rain had eased up a little so we got back in the boat and went fishing for Piranhas. We all caught a good few + I seemed to be the master at catching sticks as I caught nothing else for the first hour. That night we had the last laugh by frying those little bastards and having them for dinner. Day three the weather was beautiful again so we Carla, Trish and I minus Tash who wasn't feeling too good went off to look for snakes. We were taken to a huge and I mean huge pampas/swamp field about 2 hours up stream. With our wellies on we entered the swamp which ranged anywhere between meter and 1 meter high in stagnant water and 1 meter high pampas grass. Walking in these conditions was by no means easy and after finding out that our snake spotting destination was at least a good two hour walk away Carla said NO!!!! and returned to the boat. It was really tough walking through all that crap but after about an hour we spotted our first snake a 2 meter Anaconda Cobra, unlike the Anaconda their venomous/deadly. You got to love these cow boy tour companies, had we been bitten there was no anti venom and we were miles away from anywhere. When we got to the area where the Anacondas were likely to be found we split up to look for them. After about 20 mins I spotted another big Cobra after nearly treading on it! And not long after that our guide found an Anaconda. We we're really lucky as many people hike through that muck for hours without seeing anything. After that we started the long journey back to Rurrenbaque, smelling awful and in good need of a shower and a night out where we discovered a new shot that consisted of 2 shots of Tequila in a large shot glass, on top of that a good 10mm of Tabasco and topped off with a double sambuca on fire! Stomach reflux in a glass!!
Time for a few days in the hammocks before we decided to do another tour. By this stage we had also ran out of cash as there is no ATM in Rurrenbaque and the only way to get money was by getting a cash advance from the local bank at a hefty fee. It was difficult to decided what tour operator to go with as there are so many in Rurrenbaque. After much debating we opted to go with an operator called Indigena Tours for a 3 day jungle tour on the proviso that we could would head deep into the jungle and make a camp using indigenous techniques. Carla and Tash were enjoying the Hammocks too much and didn't fancy getting their hands dirty so decided to stay behind so just Tash and I went. The Tour turned out to be nothing like the one we paid for. We arrived at camp on the first day and got taken out on a 4 hour trek trough the jungle which was quite cool but our guide was crap and didn't speak a word or explain any of the toxic plants and insects which he was suppose to do. The next day a new group arrived and we were taken out on the same walk again. We were a bit annoyed after that and asked the guide when we would be going out into the jungle to make camp to which he replied that it wasn't possible as he was the only guide and another group were arriving the next day and we would have to go with them on the same trek we had just done twice. This wasn't on so we cut our losses and Tash and I decided to head back after two days. When we got back we went straight into the Indigena tour office a bit peeved but kept our cool and explained that what happened wasn't on and that they shouldn't make promises they can't keep. We reasonable people and said that what happened has happened and could we have our money back for the 3rd day we didn't do to which they said no. As soon as they have your cash they couldn't care less. But to be honest if book with a bunch of chancers what do you expect. A couple of those Tequila/Tabasco/Sambuca shots and all was forgotten. The sun was shining and life was good, worse things happen at sea. We had another couple of days chilling then it was time to fly back to La Paz on that scary plane.
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