|Squirrel Monkeys outside our hut!|
We shopped round alot of different operators trying to find one that was friendly to our budgets, but also friendly to the environment. We read a few horror stories on the internet about terrible guides and operators that chased and handled the animals and were pretty destructive, but luckily everything is alot better regulated now and most of the agencies follow the proper guidelines. To get to Rurrenbaque we had the choice of a 21 hour local bus (complete with rigid seats and infrequent toilet stops) or a 45 minute flight.... needless to say we chose the latter despite being a bit more expensive! Taking off in a rickety little plane (where you could see out the front window) and landing in a tiny little airport in the middle of the rainforest was pretty mental, but very cool! :D
We then set off on a nauseatingly bumpy trip in a 4x4 to reach the river, where we were transferred into small motorised canoes. Almost immediately we began to see wildlife, with crocodiles and alligators lining the river banks, families of capybaras (giant semi- aquatic rodents), squirrel monkeys scrambling around the trees, and so many birds (egrets, herons, parrots, eagles, kingfishers, and lots of other ones I can't remember the name of!) Also along the way we saw a few river dolphins which was SO COOL!
|Family of Capybaras|
|One of many crocodiles!|
After 3 hours of going down the river we arrived to our lodge which was a really cute set of wooden structures on stilts. We expected to be in a dorm room with the other 4 guys in our group, but luckily me and PK ended up with a room to ourselves, complete with an en-suite! So we were very happy. For some reason, for our meals we had to go to another lodge, which actually turned out to be quite cool as we traveled by night down the river we could see the alligator eyes shining back at us from the torchlight, very creepy!
The next morning we went searching for annacondas, which turned out to be just a long trek through grasslands with not a snake in sight! That's the luck of nature watching I guess. Luckily the afternoon was alot better when we set off to go swimming with the pink river dolphins! After about 20 minutes I spotted some (after years of practice, my dolphin spotting abilities are well-honed by now...) and we stripped into our swimwear. Lots of people eyed the brown river water with suspicion but my thoughts were firmly on swimming with the dolphins so I ended up in the water about 10 minutes before everyone else. Which was excellent! As when it was just me in the water a couple of the dolphins swam really close and seemed quite curious, but when the other people from the boat started to splash in and move towards us they got a bit scared and began to disappear. It was a little unsettling to be swimming in the water with a huge crocodile about 2m away from us on the bank, but they luckily didn't seem too interested in us!
|Swimming the pink river dolphins!|
Our final morning was spent piranha fishing, which I decided just to watch (and occasionally laugh as the clever fish had seemed to perfect the art of nibbling off the bait without being caught!) But a few did get caught, along with a couple of catfish! It was a little disconcerting seeing how many piranhas were around seeing as we'd been swimming around in the very same spot the afternoon before.....
|Piranhas have SHARP teeth!|