Get out the way Bindi, let me show you how it’s done…

While still nursing my broken toes, I decided to head out to Rurrenabaque to a Pampas tour.  The main criteria around picking this one was little walking (important) and two new mates were heading out too.  The other big decision was whether to fly (45 minutes) or take the bus (18 hours or more).  So the little twin prop aeroplane won that decision hands down.

After an abortive early morning trip out to the airport where the flight was cancelled due to bad weather, we finally got under way on day two except the weather was too dicey to land in Ruurenabaque again so we landed on a small strip of grass an hour or so away.  The bus that was meant to pick us up arrived about an hour later (you have to love latino time keeping) with the next load of passengers and some big batteries that were needed to start the plane.  Only problem was the batteries didn’t work so the bus drivers/baggage handlers/mechanics left in the bus with the new passengers siting on the grass under the wings of the plane and those of us who just arrived waiting for another hour.  After quite a few hands of rummy with my new mate Adam, the bus finally returned and we headed into the very sleepy town of Ruurenabaque.

The first part of the tour was a three hour 4WD ride to Santa Rosa where we caught a little boat up the river.  But first the 4WD experience, if anyone wants to run a charity function to raise money to buy a road grader for bolivia let me tell you it is a very deserving cause.  I felt like a whip lash victim after my body and neck being snapped around for three hours and was very relieved to be out of the jeep.

And as someone a little sceptical of group things, was very relieved to find (again on this trip) that everyone I was with were interesting, funny, and good company.  Phew!

After a spot of lunch it was into the shorts, sun block on, and heading up the alligator invested Yacuma river.  It’s the end of the dry season so the water is very low, but the whole place is still teaming with wildlife (alligators, monkeys, birds, turtles, pink dolphins, anacondas, piranhas  etc). After a few hours heading up the river and stopping to check out all of the animals we arrive at our little lodge and head out to a small river side bar to watch the sunset and play volley ball (very popular in these parts).

The next day was big on activity with a long (and hot) walk in the pampas looking for anacondas, which we eventually found. Note the photo of me with said snake – I’m a natural for this Steve Irwin thing.  Lunch and a siesta in the hammocks followed and it was time to head down the river to swim with the pink dolphins.  Our guide Negro claimed the alligators and piranhas wouldn’t be a problem (yeah, right) and in we jumped and swam with (to be quite frank) some pretty ugly dolphins, who lost our interest once an alligator popped up on the bank next to us.

After such a hard day, it was off to the sunset bar for a few hard earned pacena pilsener tropical strength beers where as is the way in these parts I run into people I’d already met (and this place is a long way from anywhere).  Once it was dark we headed back to the boat looking for alligators with our torches.  Our guide pulled up at the bank to grab a baby  one for us to hold and have a picture with (very bad I know), but unfortunately couldn’t find a baby one so pulled in one that was about one metre plus.   Again taking my guide’s word for it I held the big guy with the little boat rocking in the dark feeling very steve irwin like.  I just need to get the photo off my mate Adam when I see him next.  That was the end of the fun for that day, and after dinner and few more drinks it was off to bed under the mosquito net.

Day three was piranha fishing up river which was very funny.  I’ve never seen people get so excited about such little fish.  For the record, I failed to catch one.  I did have one for lunch though and can’t see myself repeating that experience.

After lunch it was time to head back to Ruurenabaque. I must say that there is something quite relaxing about cruising up a river in the hot sun in a long boat with a little outbaord motor. I definitely felt a million miles for anywhere.  We revisited our 4WD experience with another three hours back to Rurrenabaque, with the added bonus of our driver getting a 4WD lesson on the way back.  My neck is stiffening up just thinking about it.

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