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The Bolivian Pampas

Toucans, monkeys, toads versus mozzies and Fred the friendly alligator!

sunny 30 °C

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We stumbled up to the Indigena Tours office to greet Mark, Neils and Pip who we had partied with on Christmas Day back in La Paz..... a nice surprise. They had arrived with 3 more ozzies, 1 Korean, 2 Belgium girls and a German Girl!

So after being just 3 of us there now were 2 bus loads heading for a proposed interesting tour!

It was an extremely bumpy and dusty 4 x 4 jeep ride along the desolate roads for 3 and a half hours before we reached Santa Rosa.

The other group had already started their almuerzo (set lunch typical to Bolivia) in the restuarant while we all hobbled out of our jeep, clutching our sore bums!

During the nice almuerzo our group sat in silence, virtually, I started to realise our group hadn't yet bonded!!!!

It was a short ride to Rio Yacuma where we paid the park entrance fee of a hefty 60 Bolivianos each!

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We then boarded our Indigena Tour boat with yellow deck-chair like seats. At first we hated the seats thinking they were too posh for us 'roughing it' backpackers BUT not long into the 3 hour boat ride we found them to be a god send....... how comfy they were!

The sun was hot as we (2 indigena tours and a Fluvial tours boat) floated down the Rio Yacuma, spotting the odd aligator ( not too big fortunately) and quite a few birds, the most beautifull being the bird of paradise.... very big and very pretty with its colourful mohican!

Perched high above the Rio, watching everything that was going on, was a huge black monkey...... apparently it was good luck!

A little further on we spotted some squirrel monkeys, very small and cute (some were even carrying babies). They were very curious and came to see us as we quietly watched AND THEN Fluvial tours rammed their way into the action. Their guide put bananas on some of the guys in the boats heads so that the monkeys would jump on top of them...... it was quite funny BUT a bit like a circus act. The Fluvial tours guys thought they were very clever.......... SO thats how it was going to be heh...... them AND US! Fluvial Tours were now nick named the 18-30s or as I called them the Fluvials.

The ride continued where we saw 2 more groups of squirrel monkeys, all to ourselves!

After popcorn and a fight for one of the two hammocks we got back into our comfy deck chairs and headed to....................... the pub........... yes ............ this is Bolivia after all!

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After laughing at a chicken in a basket (or rather box) we all settled down on some tree stumps to watch the sun set and have a game of football or volleyball (depending on which "team" you were in!)

We watched the sunset and the Fluvials play volleyball (who couldn't give a toss that there was a sunset at all) with a very nice cerveza fria!

When the sun went down the mozzies came out............... when the mozzies came out so did the Toads..... bring on the troops boys.......... it was very funny!

The mozzies were feasting on us and the toads were feasting on the mozzies SO where was I in the food chain again!!???

We then tip toed over the toads to board the boats insearch of aligators.... or rather aligator's orange eyes!

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After one set of eyes were spotted and a few more mozzie bites we headed back to camp for la cena (dinner), spag bowl!

It was then time for a beer run which meant hopping into the boat, with torch in hand, in search of more orange eyes..... we found some and as we went for a closer look stumbled across a gorgeous big bird ( called a Guaco I think) with a beak similar to a Toucan! We then bought beer from the pub and rode back to camp......... bearing gifts, Pacenas!

The next day it was a nice, decent start at 8am to a good breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast, bread and fruit!

Time now, for donning wellies and grabbing cameras before heading into the flooded plains of the pampas for a morning walk!

We followed Luis, our guide, with his machete (for cutting back the foliage or the odd anaconda if it got frisky?) into the field that quickly turned into a river. I soon noticed the hole in my left wellie, this was neither here nor there as the water soon turned to knee level, spilling over the wellies anyhow!

As we reached a small island we could hear Howler monkeys in the distance. On land we emptied the contents of our wellies before waiting quietly while our guide went looking for anacondas............ not something you usually do on a morning walk. I immediately stepped away from any nearby trees and scouted the surrounding area.......... like I knew what I was doing?

We soon got bored of waiting and started searching, finding a Toucan and some grubs (that were apparently good for asthma if eaten??!!).

The fluvials were also there, acting the ass....... playing cricket with a piece of wood and some rotten fruit........ obviously excited at the thought of possibly spotting an anaconda!!!

There was a huge commotion and we all ran through the swampy water...... suddenly forgetting all inhibitions to the creepy crawlies that swam in the murky water...... towards an ant eater.

It was a big one with a huge snout and tiny mouth. We all snapped photos before making a gap to allow the ant eater to hurry away from the chaos!

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Back to the island it was insearch of snakes again........ apparently it was very hard with this much water (being that they could be anywhere) and we had almost given up hope when our guide, Luis, spotted the diamond patterned snake skin of an anaconda curled up in a tree! By the size of its gerth they estimated it to be around 3m long!

We all took some photos but our guide did not want to disturb it and so we left it alone as we should of done.

It was then another slog across the water back to the pub, our wellies seemed 10x as heavy as before!

Then it was back to camp for almuerzo and a change of clothes before a wee siesta.

Some of us shared our left overs with a local perminent resident, Frederico the local aligator who hung out for the odd chicken leg and maybe the odd gringo ha ha!

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A few of us decided to waste a couple of hours hanging out at the pub with a couple of cervezas and a hammock before riding off on the boat insearch of pink dolphins!

After a few minutes up the river our guide stopped the engine, took his shorts off (revealing some fetching speedos) and told us all to jump in.

The guys, ofcourse, were the first to dive in. I then jumped in, a little cautious, as I think you should be in an amazon river! Guys......... don't pee!!!!!!

The water was murky and tasted pretty shit but the pink dolphins were amazing and very playfull. They nudged our feet in the water, scaring us and tail slapped. As we slapped the water so did they! They were having a whale of a time with a small group but didn't like the big crowds, as we found out when the fluvials arrived and they went quiet for a while....... so would I!?

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Back at camp we prepared ourselves for the attack of the mozzies before heading to the pub for sunset and a game of footie........ Alan nearly killed himself, running around like a loonie in the smoldering heat!

At 5am the next morning we were woken up and with big grunts we clambered from beneath our mosquito nets like zombies, into some clothes and onto the boat for an early morning ride!

As we floated downstream, without the noise of the engine, the eerie noise of the howler monkeys and the squawking birds early morning calls made the trip very relaxing....... worth the early rise!

In the distance we suddenly saw flashes of lightening and promptly turned back but the rain hit before we reached camp........ fortunately Alan had his 'emergency' poncho to hand and like a gentleman he donated it to me!

With 2 hours to spare before breakfast we all stumbled back to bed.

The pre-arranged schedule was a nice boat ride after desayuno before an early lunch and then back to the pick up point for the bus to Rurrenabaque. Unfortunately the heavens well and truly opened so any boat trip would have been miserable!

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We chilled and ate before we had to board the boat homeward bound....... unfortunately the heavens were still watering us and we got absoulutely soaked BUT it was still nice as we saw lots of birds, some cappucino monkeys and even a pair of black monkeys being romantico!!!!!

The bus arrived, back on land, with some fresh faces ready for action. We slid and squelched through the mud, jumped into the van and drove back along the bumpy road towards Rurrenabaque.

We arrived back safe and sound AND a little muddier and smellier than before......... so it was straight to the shower before heading out to the nice fish restuarant and then Moskitos for a few bevvies and a game of pool with the ozzies!

Posted by stephyd 00:18 Archived in Bolivia Tagged backpacking

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