The Amazon. What trip to South America would be complete without a little trip into the most famous rain forest on the planet? Although this did form part of my Bolivian adventure, I felt it deserved a post of its own because of how damn incredible it was.
The trip started at any local tourist office in La Paz, you’ll find lots around offering either a Pampas tour or another one based in the middle of the jungle and camping, or both. We chose the Pampas tour which consists of exploration on a little canoe and living in a house by the river edge when not searching for flora and fauna. The plane that takes you was so tiny and cute, and it really felt like you were on a little adventure back in time arriving in the tiny airport of Rurrenabaque. Within Rurrenabaque you need to book your own hostel as most tours only provide for accommodation in the forest itself but there are plenty around and are very nice. The town itself is small but there are a number of restaurants which serve up decent pizza and drinks, which is all you need!
The tour begins with a drive to the river, which takes quite a while I won’t lie- but if you’re lucky, you might see a few sloths and other animals along the way. Then you’re loaded into a little boat, and sent off down the river for 3-4 days.
The activities on the trip are once in a life time vibes, even beginning with the local resident caiman at our little waterside home that would unnervingly disappear when you went for a swim. The houses are basic, with shared showers, little electricity and basic mosquito nets, but you’re not there for 5 star luxury anyway so its perfectly comfortable living for a couple days- and the hammocks are a god send for afternoon naps to late night chills. The night chills by the way, are absolutely stunning. Never have I ever seen the entirety of the galaxy so clearly and felt so small. I’ve heard the Atacama offers even more beautiful sights so a stargazing trip is definitely on the bucket list. The mosquitos however, not so great or beautiful.. I recommend you pack extra spray. We resorted to socks and slops, a new low in life.
I can’t remember the exact order of activities per day, but I’ll still break them down below. To start with, you spend a whole morning anaconda hunting. Yup, you grab a pair of wellies and wade into chest high grass and hope to find a snake that can potentially grow up to 28 ft long (that’s 8.5 metres). You’d think they wouldn’t be hard to miss, low key terrifying that they really are impossible to spot. We did manage to catch a small one that was only around 1.5 metres at most which to be honest I was more comfortable with than one 8x the size. Snakes really are amazing so although they’re not the most comfortable for me to be around, I have a deep respect for them and it was a gorgeous animal.
We also went piranha fishing, which I was crap at but I’ve never really had luck with catching anything (insert fish, illnesses, feelings, emotions here). But the ones I did catch were far too small and not even slightly intimidating to provide a meal so they went back from whence they came, and we ate their parents instead. Piranha is delicious by the way, and it tasted all the better knowing I (the tour guide) had caught our dinner.
On the final day, we were taken to the river to find the pink river dolphins and go for a swim with them. Now, apart from the immense excitement building up inside me because 1. dolphins and 2. PINK dolphins, I had two major issues-
- I hate, and am kinda scared of, fresh water (as in dams, lakes and rivers)
- This was literally around the corner from where we went piranha fishing the day before.
Okay, so those of you reading this laughing because I’m scared of fresh water I know its irrational but you can ask my house mates, I genuinely cannot get into some dams. I genuinely think it stems from this fear of Pikes from when I was about the size of a pike (like a metre) but I thought they would nibble my toes in the lake and whatever… I don’t know why, the ocean is my favourite place so drop me into the middle of false bay any time but please don’t push me off the raft into the river (cough MUM). HAVE YOU SEEN RIVER MONSTERS?! Its literally set in the Amazon. And the piranhas… *Starts hyperventilating*
Eventually, after standing on the edge of the boat for about 20 minutes in the rain with everyone laughing at me I sucked it up and stepped off the edge and, despite me frantically swimming and practically climbing on to the people we were travelling with, I got to swim with Amazon pink river dolphins. And that is a pretty cool story (usually I skip over the being a wuss bit but here’s to honesty *clinks g&t*).
Finally, on the way home, and to end off my amazonian adventure on a high we had wild spider monkeys pay us a visit on the way home. Cuuuuute right!? Except they pee on their hands and on themselves so actually we smelt like absolute shit afterwards and the whole way home to the hostel.. but the babies were adorable and low key wanted to take one home.
The Amazon trip was incredible, and it isn’t something to be missed or taken for granted if you’re travelling in South America. My only advice would be to check out different companies before you decide, the preservation of the Amazon is imperative to the protection of the planet and anything that oversteps into the habitats and natural life of the flora and fauna isn’t something I’d recommend. Leave only footprints right? But seeing the beauty of the Earth’s lungs before they’re taken away is unmissable. Bolivia is fucking awesome. From the salt flats, to the world’s highest airport, to the rain forest, to the underground’s drug bars to so much more. Do not miss it.