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Kel and Rob’s Travel Diary

Monday, 16 Jan 2006

Location: Rurrenabaque, Bolivia

MapThe day after Rob’s ride we headed off from La Paz to Rurrenabaque in the Amazon Basin for 5 days of sightseeing in the jungle and the Pampas. Because it is wet season at the moment, our 6:45am flight was not able to leave (something about needing to wait for the grass runway to dry) until 2:00pm. As we finally raced out onto the tarmac to get on our flight, we were very surprised to see a 12 seater plane at our gate. The flight to Rurrenabaque was interesting as it was completely in cloud, the co-pilot had an oxygen mask on for the whole flight, when it started to rain, water poured in the front door and the pilot found the runway via a GPS system attached to the steering column.

We arrived safe and sound and the next day headed up the raging Rio Beni to the jungle camp to catch up with Matt and Nicky (a South Africa couple). On the way up we picked up a local Bolivian family who showed us true Bolivian conservation efforts by throwing the babies dirty disposable nappy into the river!

That afternoon we headed off on a lovely jungle walk to see the macaw’s nests. After climbing up a steep hill, we stood on the edge of a very steep cliff and watched the macaws fly around us – it was absolutely amazing. That night we went on a night walk. Our guide Niko told us to stop about half way into the walk and turn our flash lights off. He then said “Ogga booga noods JAGUAR goodla giodfid” and lay on the ground making wounded animal sounds! Quite scary but no jaguar came so we headed on.

The following day we headed back to town, spotting a few families of capybaras on the way. It was on this boat trip that Kel make a comment about how lucky we had all been with the rain considering it was wet season. The rain gods seemed to take offence to this and no sooner were the words out of her mouth then the heavens opened and it poured for the rest of the day.

The next day was spent in the pampas (wet lands). In the morning it poured, but we all did a local rain dance and by the afternoon the rain gods seemed appeased and the sky cleared. We headed off in the boat and saw amazing wildlife including howler monkeys, chinchilla monkeys, cappuccino monkeys, crocodiles, caiman, pink dolphins (we also got to swim with a group of 10) and a huge number of birds. That night we sat at the local bar, drinking cervaza and watching the sun set over the wetlands. The following day we rose at sunrise and went toucan spotting. We didn’t manage to see any but when we got back to the camp 2 flew into the trees around us.

That afternoon was piranha fishing time. We thought it would be on the river but after an hour 4x4 driving on the muddiest road, we arrived at a roadside lake and threw in a line. We all had plenty of bites but only 1 piranha was caught so we headed back into town.

When we arrived back in Rurrenabaque we found out that there had been no flights in or out for the past 5 days and there was a large number of stranded people. As the town wasn’t that bad and they had half price cocktails from 7-9pm, we didn’t mind being stranded for a few days. Our tour company was really fantastic and kept coming to the hotel every 2 hours to give us all an update on flight times and at 3:00pm they ran around town looking for us as they had managed to get 2 of us on the first flight out of town. They eventually found us relaxing by the pool sucking back some Cerveza's (beer). We won the coin toss and are now back in La Paz, hoping that Nicky and Matt get out today.