I had decided to go for a tour in the jungle and pampas tour in the Amazon basin. This has been a childhood dream! Since I always had a fish tank at home since the age of four and having had many fish from the Amazonas I always had wanted to go there and see there natural habitat.

My choice was a tour in the Pampa on the Rio Yacuma which eventually flows into the Rio Mamoré which then feeds the famous Amazon. The tour operator Dolphin Tours (www.dolphinstravelbolivia.com) was a good choice.

The area is either a 17h bus ride north of La Paz or a 30 minute flight. Call me a snob but after the last 23h bus ride I was ok with spending 200$ on the flight. First “highlight” of the trip happened at the airport in La Paz already. When I went through security at the airport I put my backpack on the scanner and emptied my pockets into one of the baskets which also went on the belt. I went through the scanner myself and picked up my stuff at the end of the belt. I took my backpack and the stuff out of the bin. The officer handed me my wallet which was still in the bin – with a little grin. When I took it out of his hands and opened it I realised that it was empty. The cards were still in it but all my bills were gone. All my Bolivian money and my 60USD emergency reserve. I looked at him but he just kept smiling, in total about one hundred bucks. I just got robbed by the Bolivian police! Bolivia being a very corrupt country there is no chance for success to discuss anything like this with the police. Especially not if the police did it themselves. So I took it with a smile and thought that it was extremely funny that I got robbed by the police in the place I probably felt most home and safe in the entire city – the airport, my home turf! 😂

The flight was delayed a bit due to a thunderstorm in Rurrenabaque (my destination) but when I finally arrived my tour was already awaiting me at the airport. Only an elderly German couple, Tina the cook and Oscar the guide. We had a 2h 4×4 ride ahead of us before we could embark our boat.

Due to the fact that it is currently rainy season the visibility in the water is frankly speaking limited.

I remember these pictures from the first explorer films I have watched were fish enthusiasts have advanced deep into the Amazon to discover new species…

We started out with a three hour boat ride to the “lodge” where we encountered many animals of the region.

 

 

And – we saw caymans every 50 meters. And these were only the ones we saw!
A strange feeling that we were supposed to swim in this river tomorrow… 😳

We also encountered my favourite mono species again – the curious little squirrel monkey.

We arrived in the lodge and were surprised but had it all to ourselves. Rainy season = low season. The camps are very basic but actually more than Inexpected for the wild.

 

We went on a little cruise in the afternoon and stopped at the jungle bar for a sundowner. A little shack in the middle of nowhere overlooking the Pampa.

On the way home we did a little night cruise and spotted caymans with the reflection of there eyes in our flashlights. Even more shocking than during daylight! We saw at least 50 on a 15 minute boat ride.

Next morning we were woken up by a beautiful concert of the howler monkeys in our backyard (and the squirrel monkeys which played on the roof).

And we also had another visitor – “Casimiro”. The Cayman in which territory the lodge was build came over to check out the new visitors.

Today was Pampa day! We went off to find some big Anacondas in the swamps. Conditions were tough! Probably around 35-38C and brutal sunshine in the open plains. We walked around for three hours in the wetlands.

 

 

Oscar on the search for the Anacondas

 

Unfortunately during the wet season the pampas are flooded and the Anacondas have a huge area to hide. So we didn’t find any. But the other wildlife was great as well.

 

 

 

It was a tough walk through the highly flooded Pampa in the heat and we were glad to be back in the boat again. After an amazing lunch and a little siesta we went for a ride again. Destination: swimming with the pink dolphins & piranha fishing.

 

 

We had seen the dolphins the entire time already. It seems like a healthy population. Unfortunately the water and there unexpected appearances made it impossible to get a good shot. But we went upstream for a bit and many times we could see them blow and fish. When we arrived in a bend of the river Oscar stopped the propeller and said this is a good spot. And yes, we could see quite a few of them chasing fish. I asked him again if he was sure that this was a good idea considering the huge amount of caymans we had seen. He said it was ok and started preparing his fishing pole to catch piranhas (if the dolphins go fishing here there must be piranhas the in here as well…). The idea of jumping into the. Lack water knowing that caymans, piranhas and who knows what else was I there didn’t seem like a good idea anymore. Well, what is a good idea…

The dolphins came up close but apparently were to busy fishing and were therefore not in the mood to play. Still cool to have swim in the Amazonas…

The piranha fishing didnt turn out as successfully. The rain and sediments cause the water to be low on oxygen and give the fish a low oxygen saturation. It’s a bit like altitude sickness just under water. Therefore they also don’t eat that much. Good for the fish so they didn’t end up as lunch on our table…

Once we were back in camp a nice thunderstorm went over the camp and didn’t stop until the morning. What an relaxing sound. After the rain stopped we explored a side arm of the river. More dolphins and birds…

 

 

I hope to see the aras closer on my upcoming jungle tour in the next days! After boat ride out and a ride back to Rurrenabaque I crashed in a hostel to wait for my trip deep into the Madidi National Park tomorrow. Great trip and highly recommended!

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