Besides Machu Picchu, the Amazon has held my heart and my imagination for I can’t even tell you how long. Since I was a kid I would dream about the mysteries and unknowns that can be found in this mystical, undiscovered place. You really don’t know what to expect. So little can be found in regards to information about the flora, fauna, etc. All I could do was salivate over the few documentaries I’ve seen in my life.
I wasn’t disappointed.
Here are a few thoughts about the 5 days I spent in pure bliss floating through the Amazon on the Pampas Tour.
We decided to take a plane. For $160 and 35 minutes of my time we went from the cold, snow capped mountains of La Paz to the warm, humid weather of the Amazon in Rurrenabaque, Bolivia. You can take the bus but it is 18 hours during dry season and can take up to 3 days due to the dirt road during rainy season. Since we apparently love to travel during rainy season, I decided my time was worth the $160.
Just keep in mind that they will delay your flight at a moment’s notice. Not only did they push back our flight and tour a day, but then delayed it further when we arrived to the airport. After waiting an extra 5 hours, the plane pulled up to the runway…
Propellers? This will be fun.
Wow. You can see the pilots. That is definitely different for sure.
35 minutes and much turbulence later I kiss the ground we walked on and invited the warm blanket of humidity around me. My sweater comes hastily off.
We walk around the town to find a hostel and successfully avoid the Carnaval activities going around us. One time involves us jumping into some bushes to hide from kids with blue paint.
A 3 hour ride out to the beginning of the Pampas in an old early 90s Land Rover with no shocks and a very bumpy dirt road awaited us. Yes, we made every joke in the book at first finding humor in our situation. After hour 2 your ass is killing you. The humor subsides. Everyone cannot wait to get out of the car.
Then you sit in a small canoe with lawn chair seats for another 2 hours in the strong sun. Make sure to wear long sleeves, a hat, and sunscreen. Lesson learned. Wildlife mainly consisted of birds, monkeys and turtles. Granted, I’ve never SEEN some of these birds before. CRAZY.
We started to meet our tour group. In total (including us) there were 4 Aussies, 4 Americans, and 1 German guy. Eternally grateful the tour group did their homework. I was scared we were getting stuck with the geriatric German family.
Arrived at the camp and I think Peter Pan would have been jealous. I feel like a lost boy. Giddy as all hell.
Apparently that alligator head poking out from underneath the cabins wasn’t fake. Meet Antonia. She has lived here for years.
She even allows you to pet her. I left that up to Shaun. No way in hell for me.
Night trip out caiman “hunting”. Not only has our awesome guide Ki-ke been doing the tour for 18 years but can navigate around the mangroves with little to no light. That and his spotting capabilities put him on par with Superman and X-Ray vision. Impressive.
Note: While this may not have been the greenest of the tours, Ki-ke handled the animals with the utmost respect and showed a fair bit of knowledge about all of the animals found in the Amazon. We got to see a baby caiman up close and personal. Let’s just say close enough to see the clear eyelid that goes over their eyes to protect them when swimming under water.
The sound at night is dreamy. The sound of the owls and frogs while on the boat is life changing.
Just be prepared to be mauled by mosquitos. Grasshoppers do tend to land on you. Happened to me. Screams ensued.
Wear long sleeves. Did I mention we don’t own any clothing with long sleeves besides our jackets?
Slept in our own private room. Learned in the middle of the night that there was a leak in the roof – over our bed. Threw poncho over the mosquito net. Felt like MacGuyver.
Tromping through swamps to find anacondas was not on my list of “things I wanted to accomplish before I die”. Boots were a waste of time since it is rainy season and there are spots it just goes over the top and into your shoe. Baby anaconda found along with a tarantula family and scorpions. We must have been quick because we were only out there for an hour or so.
Later found out there are caiman out there. I figured. I just chose to put it at the back of my mind.
Wear long sleeves. The mosquitos were the worst. They like me. Not a positive thing.
Went to go find a pod of pink river dolphins to swim and hang out with. They are probably the ugliest f*cking dolphins I’ve seen in my life. I think they knew I wasn’t a fan of their looks because they nipped me on the foot.
They did play a bit with some people in our group. They do let you touch them. When they get tired of being harassed, they let you know.
The evening was spent hanging out at someone’s farm? The guides and some of the guys on the tour played muddy, barefoot soccer. German guy in our group broke his toe. Ki-ke was brutal pushing people. Hilarity ensued.
GREAT SUNSET. Sublime.
Shaun and I decided to skip waking up at 5:30am to watch the sunrise.
We’re not morning people. We will never be. I’m okay with that.
Morning spent piranha fishing. Apparently there were piranhas in the water we were swimming in but the dolphins keep gators and piranhas at bay.
Ki-ke was the only one who caught anything.
They were yummy.
We headed back to town after. The 2 hour boat ride out was 1 hour coming back. Although, I think Ki-ke was feeling a little over confident and ran into a few trees causing squees of delight and horror.
I am going to miss our little Amazon family. We had so much fun together.
The ride back takes another 3 hours (on a road you didn’t take before so everyone starts freaking out that we’re heading the wrong direction). Dusty, long, and hot, we were ready to call it a day.
We filled our tummies with fried fresh fish, headed to our out of the way hostel again and dreaded heading back to the cold of La Paz.
Our flight home was on the same propeller plane that took us out. Delayed again (of course, this is Latin America), we sat there in horror when we realized the plane was coming in on a grassy runway…
You can’t be serious.
Just be prepared for surprises.
And when we arrived in La Paz we had to go through the whole 9 yards again: It was cold, the snowcapped mountains taunted us and we immediately felt sick from the altitude.
But we were willing to be miserable. We had just spent 4 days in a dreamy haze. While I’m not normally a huge fan of tours, this one will not disappoint. There is just too much to see and learn that cannot be done independently.
The Amazon will call to you. Heed to it.