Searching the Orinoco Delta

Trip Start Jan 19, 2006
Trip End Jan 19, 2007

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Tuesday morning up and out leaving our lovely home. Even got used to the hammocks although Dave prefers sleeping on the floor.

Had a long drive day ahead of us with a few brief stops for lunch etc. Landscape went from hilly bendy roads to dead straight flat savannah grassland. Early evening arrived in Tucupita = the popular jumping off point for the Orinoco Delta.

Found our hotel which allegedly was the best in town although doesnt say much for the rest of them. We had a brief wander around town to ascertain that it was very dirty and pretty horrid apart from a couple of oldish churches. We did have some nice barbecued chicken next to the river though. Back at the hotel we continued with our poker playing (cant remember if have mentioned that it has become a regular thing on this trip so far = and I am also winning US$5 so far).

After very little sleep due to the various creatures that may or may not have been in the roof or room we reluctantly left Tucupita!

Weds am walked down to get the boat into the Orinoco Delta. We bombed it down the river for a while sitting on lifejackets to prevent bum numification. After half an hour or so the national guard stopped the boat to check the boats documents and make sure our driver looked after us and made sure we all wore our lifejackets instead. One of our group later pointed out not one of the national guard wore lifejackets in their boat.

After an hour and a half up the huge rivers we arrived at the Orinoco Delta Lodge our home for the next couple of days and decidedly posh. We each had a little thatched cabin on the river which you reach by gang plank. The walls are mesh to prevent mossies etc so you can hear and see the wildlife around you. Sadly the ´resort´ had a jaguar and a mountain lion with a couple of alligators in a cage but they were beautiful look at. All our food was included here plus various excursions for US$170 each.

After lunch we had a Orinoco Delta sightseeing tour in the boat going up and down the river and in and out of inlets. There were a massive quantity of water hyacinth going up or down the river depending on the tide. Saw more red howler monkeys, cappucine monkeys, macaws, parrots, snakes (boas not dangerous allegedly) and very slimey to the touch. Before sunset we stopped in the river for some of the group to have a swim (forgot my bathers unfortunately) and then have a cuba libre as the sunset = thorougly recommended!

After dinner and a poker free night we headed back to our cabin and watched the fireflies flicker through our walls as we drifted to sleep.

Despite the numerous jungle sounds we slept very well and met up with the group for brek to be told by Ben (our trip leader) how he dodged death the night before. As he wandered down the gang plank to his cabin the night before after a few beers he heard heavy footfall behind him which quickened and realised it wasnt human turned around to see a huge (almost cow size) black thing run towards him. He ran and considered climbing up a tree but got back to his own cabin in one piece. Having woken next morning he wasnt sure if it was a dream or not until he overheard others in the group talking about the tapia or tapir (not sure which) they saw before brek. Somewhat relieved he recounted his story to our amusement. Is a very odd animal though part pig, part ant eater (the snout) and part cow I think. Quite tame and friendly though.

After break we had another boat trip into the delta we tried going down one of the inlets off the main river but we encountered an unusual traffic jam . There were so many water hyacinth we couldnt get through so had to turn back and go another way! After looking at more wildlife but still not finding any wombles and stopped off at a small village (few huts) to drop off some flour and water for them to make us some bread for our lunch. We then went further into the jungle for a jungle walk with wellies on in the thick mud. One of the local Wairao Indians showed us the various plants and what they used for different illnesses, to make ropes or rafia etc. Was unbearably humid and pretty muddy and Dave narrowly avoided falling in which wouldnt have been funny at all.

It was nice to get back on the boat and have a breeze. We then went to the villagers hut for lunch with great bread (no sugar in it for a change!) and tuna salad (had brought the food with us). A local family joined us for us both to gape at each other bemusedly. They showed us how they made baskets and lit fires with 2 sticks while we were loyal tourists taking photos etc.

Back on the boat (we were definitely boated out by this point particularly as we have done so many other boat trips) we then headed back to the main river to find a good spot to do some piranha fishing (with rods this time). Our driver caught a small one which had beautiful silvery colouring. They also caught 2 big catfish. One of our group did catch a baby piranha too. Neither Dave nor I won the sweepstake we had on the fish catching (I fear that going to Gamblers Anonymous may be a requirement after this trip) so we consoled ourselves with more Cuba Libre as the sunset.

Up at 6am next morning to do a kayak trip as the sun rose. Half an hour before due to leave the heavens opened and we toyed with staying in bed. However the rain just stopped as we were leaving in 2 6 people dug outs. First we went to see a family who make the boats from tree trunks. Next we spent an hour or so paddling up a very narrow inlet through and in the jungle. By the end of it we had a mini jungle in the boat and were seriously muddy and wet from all the plants and insects! Wasnt quite what I had in mind but was a laugh anyway. As we got back the tapia welcomed us home. I thought he was quite cute actually. However, we went back to bed for a bit and heard it trundling up the gang plank and then towards our cabin, we were both quite nervous he was going to barge into our room when we suddenly heard a splash as he jumped in the river!
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