A Travellerspoint blog

Critter watch

La Paz - Rurrenabaque - Cochabamba

sunny 36 °C

After my near death experiences mountain biking down the Most Dangerous Road in the World (http://www.gravitybolivia.com/view?page=12), I decided to opt for a relaxing trip to sea level. Rurrenabaque (http://www.rurrenabaque.com.bo/index.php?mc=144) <sorry this PC doesn´t let me do links> is in the Amazon Basin on the Beni River surrounded by green hills, jungle and endless pampas. Who knew that Bolivia wasn´t all Butch-Cassidy-and-the-Sundance-Kid-hot-and-dusty.

Fact Freaks may like to know that Bolivia has 22 National Parks that account for 18% of the country. Madidi is one of the world´s intact ecosystems with 44% of New World Mammal species, 38% of tropical amphibians species, almost 1000 kinds of birds and more protected species than any other park in the world.

After arriving on an 18 seater plane, experiencing serious turbulance over the mountains and coming to standstill at a shack on a green field, I sign up with an operator committed to the responsible tourism charter. I choose the pampas (tropical wetland savannah) over the jungle - more critters and less bugs. The solar-powered lodge is on The Yacuma River (it means accurately, dirty water) that flows into The Amazon and I have bats circling inside my room and frogs on the steps outside. We spend a couple of days in a dugout canoe travelling up and down river looking for wildlife. The most dispiriting 3 hours was spent looking for anaconda in the searing sun (36 degrees and humid), but to no avail. I remind myself that seeing the animals is a priviledge not a right.

On the plus side we see more spectacled caiman than you can shake a stick at (and babies), some black caiman reaching 3m long, and families of capybara lounging by the riverside in the water and in mud pools. The most entertaining sight was watching the Mexican stand off between the caiman and capybara. Both watching each other by the riverside and both knowing that the adults don´t fit in a caiman´s mouth and the caiman knowing hunger. Howler and capuchin monkeys peered at us from the trees and yellow-spotted turtle followed us with their eyes as they sunned themselves on braches sticking out of the river.

Twitchers will be in paradise. We saw the great egret, cocoi heron, tiger heron, striped heron, hoatzin (stinking bird), woodrail, jacana, three types vultures, hawks, king fisher, vermillion flycatcher, and the list goes on and on. Mari, my Finnish boat-buddy (think Russian shot putter) and I fished for pirhana, against my better judgement. I caught a red pirhana (the yummiest apparantly) but made a point of throwing it back with a tummy full of best beef bait.

The highlight has to be the pink dolphins (http://www.isptr-pard.org/dolphin.html) on the last day. We travel upstream for three hours to a bend in the river that is relatively deep and wide. The dolphins can usually be found up and down the river but as it is the end of the dry season they have congragated in this pool until the rains come. They are dolphins only a mother could love, pig ugly with pink beaks and fins. They prove to be very shy but we spend an hour watching them fin languidly round the pool, coming up for air and sometimes diving down so we get to see a small breach. Joy.

Posted by AlisonLeahy 14:58 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)


Lima - Nazca - Huacachina - Paracas - Lima - Cusco - hike to Machu Picchu - Agua Caliente - Cusco - Puno - Amantani Island Lake Titicaca - Copacabana - La Paz

sunny 25 °C

I´ve reached the end of my Peruvian Odyssey and The Bobster´s off home after his two week adventure. We´re on the border between Peru and Bolivia, on the shores of lake Titicaca having spent a night at only 3950m on Amantani Island with a local family. The views while crossing the lake are remiscent of being in Greece and here is one of the 60 or so micro climates that Peru boasts, a large percantage of the worldwide microclimates. I think we have experienced all of them while we´ve been here...We were tempted momentarily to dive in the lake following in the footsteps of Jacques Cousteau but at 9 degrees and at the this altitude with my track record, we´d be mad. Talking of my track record...when I was being treated for the bends they said I metabolised oxygen very well and would do well at altitude. I want my money back.

Come visit Peru, I didn´t really know what to expect but it has been full on, non-stop and spectacular. In terms of wild life I´ve seen Humbolt penguins; sealions; pelicans; llamas; alpacas and vicunas of course; flamingoes; guinea pigs (roasted and in a farm); a wierd squirrel-type thing straight out of The Curse of the Were Rabbit; and humble cows and sheep.

I´ve been to the seaside, the low desert, the high desert, the Andean Highlands, a classic oasis surrounded by massive sand dunes, and the biggest lake I´ve ever seen - and viewed snowy mountain tops with precipitous drops.

Highlights have been in no particular order:

  • Viewing the Nazca lines from a tiny prop aeroplane as it weaved like a roller coaster so both sides of the plan could see them
  • The petrified royal mummies in a desert cemetary with hair dos unchanged from the day they were buried
  • Sand boarding down unfeasably high dunes as if representing Britain in the Skeleton at the Winter Olympics
  • The reed islands of Uros on Lake Titicaca and their reed houses, chairs, boats, tables, guinea pig huts etc.
  • The sky at night (not a Patrick Moore reference)
  • The end of the hike to Machu Picchu, I was suffering from altitude sickness but it didn´t matter
  • Soaking in the hot springs at Agua Caliente after the hike
  • The guano collectors of Paracas (I´ll never complain about my job again) - one of Peru´s top exports
  • The Catholic church art of the Colonialists who unusually took a liberal stance and allowed Inca symbolism and everyday life to be included in paintings and sculptures to win over the heathens
  • Sun dried sea lion left stranded in the desert after a tsunami
  • Climbing Wayana Picchu to view Machu Picchu and trekking round to the archeologically titillating Luna Temple.
  • The vegetarian food, but not the 4,000 types of potato.

Bolivia here I come!

Posted by AlisonLeahy 12:40 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Air miles

overcast 17 °C

I've plotted the outline of my travels so far and those planned on the map - it says I will have travelled 95,000km or 59,000 miles....blimey. And I know there will be additional excursions to add to the mix.

Posted by AlisonLeahy 09:13 Archived in England Comments (0)

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