Jungle, here we come!

Trip Start Mar 14, 2006
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17
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Trip End Sep 14, 2006


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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Well we left for the jungle with Flecha tours. After much pondering and looking around we decided that Flecha was decent and well priced. The tourist agent didn't seem to be lying to us, and he told us straight up what we would be doing and seeing. We met our guide Fernando at 8am and left on the boat around 10 am (standard bolivian lateness).

Our boat had a Dutch couple on it, but they were only doing a 3 day tour, and staying in a lodge. We stopped at two Madidi registration offices, but we had decided to do a 4 day camping trip in Pilon Lajas (which is a Reserva Biosfera directly across the Rio Beni--it sounded less touched by humans) so we did not need to get out and pay the park fee.

About 3 hours later, after sitting in a leaking wooden boat (which was actually kind of exciting), I was beginning to think that we would just hop off somewhere with our guide and start to walk, and about 3 seconds later that is exactly what happened. We pulled over to the bank, in the middle of nowhere, and Fernando said "Vamos." We dragged our packs onto the shore, loaded up with the food we would need for the next 3 days, and began to walk.

We started off walking through sand and reeds, and no longer than 5 minutes into it Fernando pointed out some lovely jaguar tracks. I was thinking right about then that this was pretty much the coolest thing I had ever done. Tristan and I were kind of expecting a trail perhaps? But no. Fernando simply asked me to get out his machete from his backpack and he pretty much just started swinging at the trees and vines, and thats how we entered the jungle.

We walked through vines, trees, ferns, plants, leaves (all of monstrous size)and over logs and dead trees. About 1.5 hours into it, we reached a kind of deserted camp. It had 3 sets of hacked up bamboo for setting up tarps and mosquito nets, a campfire place, and a really funny hole in the ground with a toilet seat and tarp on one side. This is where we had dinner and set up camp for the first night. After a delicious dinner of rice, meat, and vegetables, Fernando took us on a night walk. We saw a monkey, heard a Tapir, and a cricket the size of a small child. Fernando was also so kind as to point out a giant hideous spider above my head that was "muy toxico." After that we headed back to our tent, and we had to make sure to get in quickly to avoid any of the millions of moths from entering.

The next day we packed everything up and walked for about 3 hours. We stopped part way and walked up a mountain for about an hour so that we could get a nice view over the amazon and the Beni. I'm not going to lie, I was pretty tuckered out from all the carrying and walking. We ended up at our second camp which was by a tiny river/creek. The campsite was really nice, the number of biting insects was not. We still enjoyed ourselves though, we bathed in the stream, and went for another night walk. This time at night we heard a million frogs, and also saw capybara and tapir tracks, as well as chauncho tracks (chauncho=cute wild pig).

The third day we hiked along the small river to reach our last camp. We did not walk as far, but the walking was a bit tougher. There was lots of really sticky mud--tristan's sandals broke, and we got really grubby. We also had to wade into the Beni, but hold onto roots along the 2 meter bank for awhile, and then bushwack into the jungle again. This time Fernando went ahead to clear a path, because the jungle vegetation was too overgrown. We made it to our last camp at about 3pm, and had lunch. The third camp was the nicest. We were in a little bayish thing off the Rio Beni. There was lots of nice sandy areas, so we set up our tent there. We swam in the river, and hung out with Fernando. Fernando was awesome. He is half mexican, half japanese, and grew up in Brazil. He has been doing jungle tours for 11 years in Rurrenabaque, and has worked with almost every company. He was a great guide and a great cook. That night he took us on another night walk. Just before we left Tristan heard a noise in the jungle and ran back to get Fernando and I. Fernando got his flashlight and we saw that it was a Tapir coming to get a drink from the stream. After that we continued on our walk, and Fernando saw glowing eyes in the creek and said it was an alligator. We thought "oh.cool." and then Fernando said "uno minuto" and walked into the creek. We were a bit worried, but then we figured at least if he got eaten, we were at our last camp and the boat was coming the next day to get us. Fernando was wading around in the dark, in the water, and all of a sudden made a mad grab and yanked this 1.5 meter alligator out of the water and brought it over to us. It was pretty cool. Kind of scary. I touched the alligators tummy, and his feet. The lonely planet says not to encourage guides to capture animals, but as Tristan said "too bad, this is awesome." We saw some more jaguar tracks, some from earlier that day, and then we returned to camp.

The last morning we had breakfast, packed up, and then went on a jungle walk with Fernando. Fernando heard some movement, and sounds, which he identified as squirrel monkeys. After making some calls to the monkeys, and having them respond, we went on a mad monkey chase through the jungle. After about 10 minutes of Fernando making these ridiculous sounds, we had managed to find the monkey tree, and we watched tons of cute monkeys hop around. On the way back we saw a vine called "the cat's nail" which fernando said was the only vine you could drink water out of in the jungle. He also said it was good for your kidneys. He cut it open in 2 places and we drank the water (it tasted different, but not bad). We returned to camp and napped on the beach while waiting for our boat back. It came (about an hour late, as usual) and we arrived back in Rurrenabaque about 2 hours later. The jungle was awesome!
Here are some other cool things Fernando showed us: An ant that could kill you in 10 days, a plant that cures Malaria, a tree that smells like garlic, a leaf that tastes like garlic, a bunch of berries and fruits we could eat, an antibiotic plant, a plant that cleans cuts and wounds, and a deadly plant that natives use to poison their darts.

All in all the jungle has been my favourite part the whole trip so far!
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Comments

lemonlizard
lemonlizard on

pervert
hey jess! those pics are really awesome, you both look great... i have to admit my favourite was the 'glove' in fact the other day amber tried to eat a glove in the ravine and i automatically thought of you. anyways both flecha/pampas tours sounded very fulfilling and the jungle looked as wild as you... say hi to tarzan.

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