Our trip to the Pampas (meaning Prairies) was a walk in the park compared to our 4 day jungle adventure. We didn’t have to carry our backpacks and our jungle outfits were replaced by singlets, shorts and barefeet. We were met by Elvis our guide (awesome name) and left Rurre on a 3-hour bumpy ride to the Pampas. From the moment we arrived we were surrounded by wildlife. Alligators and Caimans (crocodiles) lined the banks while birds flew overhead and piranhas snapped at the water. The weather was perfect and we enjoyed our 3-hour boat ride down the river, stopping to look at different animals along the way and sitting back in the sunshine. At one point we pulled our boat close to a tree where a squirrel monkey was sitting and then in a matter of seconds we were completely surrounded! Elvis had some bananas and yes, it is a fact – monkeys LOVE bananas! He threw one at me and next thing I was completely covered in these little monkeys! It was crazy and I was laughing hysterically (while also slightly freaking out that one of them would bite my hand instead and I’d catch some weird monkey disease)!We continued on, arriving at our hut accommodation which felt like luxury after sleeping on tarps in the jungle! We relaxed for a while before heading to another spot to watch the sunset. The colours in the sky were beautiful and we sat with a beer watching the last of the large red sun disappear. Unfortunately we couldn’t hang around too long as the moment the sun goes down, the mosquitoes come out in force!Day Two and it was time to go searching for anacondas and no, unlike the movie they are not large human eating beasts! We put on some gumboots and started walking in the almost knee deep mud. I had been sick all night with yet another bout of what I am officially calling “Bolivia Belly” so quickly opted for hammock time over being out in the hot sun trying to lift each leg out of the sticky mud! The rest of the group continued however they had no luck so began walking back towards our boat. Just as they were approaching another group had found one and luckily for me, it was not far from the hammocks I had happily been relaxing in so that worked out well! It was nowhere near as big as the one my imagination had conjured up but it was still a pretty cool looking snake.After lunch it was time for more adventuring and we were off to swim with the pink dolphins. I never thought I’d be able to say that of all our jungle experiences, swimming with the pink dolphins would be the most terrifying! We arrived at a point in the river where a number of dolphins were swimming and Elvis said it was time to jump in. We looked at him, looked to the banks where an alligator had just slid in and looked back at him with looks of “are you sure about this?”We jumped in to the dark water, freaking out slightly and waiting for the dolphins to approach us. Will gave it a few minutes before he was swimming back to the boat (scared) and as he did I asked him “Will, can you touch the bottom?” as I could feel something soft under my feet. The moment he said no panic set in as I realised perhaps I wasn’t touching the bottom but rather SOMETHING!!! Before I could give it too much thought I felt snapping at my feet – was it an alligator, piranha or perhaps even a pink dolphin? I didn’t care but I sure as hell got out of the water super fast.Back in the safety of the boat I could examine my foot and could see where the dolphin had bitten me. Looking down the river to Stef and Yahn we gave them warning but soon enough Yahn was screaming and swimming back to the boat as well. Turns out I’d gotten off lightly as Yahn’s bitten up toe bled out in the boat! NEVER AGAIN do I want to experience the wrath of a pink dolphin!
Later in the evening we cruised along once more as the sun set around us. We continued to spot different animals, pulling up to the banks where a family of Capybaras were hanging out. They are a strange creature – a mixture of rat, badger and mutant guinea pig but they seem pretty friendly! A quick stop at the sunset bar once more before a night boat ride where using our flashlights we could spot various animals due to their glowing eyes. Alligators and Caimans’ eyes glow different colours when the light is shined at them – I can’t remember if Alligators are green and Caimans are red but we saw plenty of them along the banks as we cruised along in the darkness.
On our final day we were up at the crack of dawn to cruise down the river at sunrise. We passed a tree full of howler monkeys – rightly named as they make the most bizarre howling sound. There was a camp set up in the same area as this tree and I was thinking how the sound would be the strangest thing to wake you up in the morning!We continued down the river enjoying the peaceful surroundings, watching as the mist rose off the river and the sun began to rise. The colours in the sky were constantly changing and we sat quietly listening to the calls of the many different birds around us. In fact, I am not sure I have ever seen so many different birds in one place – if I was an avid bird watcher I’d be living the dream!On our way back we were fortunate enough to see the coolest creature of them all – the 3-toed sloth!!! I have no idea how Elvis spotted it but our guides are always so good at pointing things out. High at the top of a tree sat Mr. Sloth just hanging (literally) out without a care in the world. We also spotted a green mamba – only one of the deadliest snakes in the world but hey no worries Elvis, lets just drive our boat right up close to it!Later in the morning it was time to go fishing… for piranhas! They are somewhat hard to catch, constantly nibbling at the line but never enough to hook them on. Will pulled in one first but I’m not sure it counts it was that small! I, on the other now consider myself a piranha catching pro, pulling in 3 over the course of the morning which we then cooked up for lunch. Our chef deep fried them whole and we picked away at the white flesh which was really tasty!With our piranha cravings satisfied it was time to say goodbye to the Pampas and we took to our boat one last time. We sat back, satisfied with our 3-days exploring the Pampas and continuing to be impressed by the vast array of wildlife that surrounded us. Between the Selva and the Pampas, our seven days exploring the Amazon basin had been an incredible experience and it was sad to be leaving not only Rurrenabaque but also Bolivia! It was hard to believe it had been a month since we first arrived in Bolivia and suddenly it was time to move on. We boarded our small plane back to La Paz and spent one last evening in Bolivia and the highest capital city of the world.
More photos from the Pampas can be found here.