Pampas and Beni River
01.05.2011 - 07.05.2011 25 °C
Our week in Rurre has come to an end. We spent 3 days in the Pampas along the Yakuma River, then came back to town and went out along the River Beni to the tropical rainforest for another 3 days. Its so hard to sum up all that happened in this space... especially since this internet cafe has a disco running in the next room.
The Pampas is a wide open area along a river and possible to see all kinds of interesting animals. We travelled by 4x4 truck for 3 hours down a dusty and very bumpy road. We were in a group of 3 Israelis, a Dutch mother and daughter and another German. We were all happy to arrive at the river and get out of the truck and away from the reckless driver. We loaded into a big canoe-like boat with our guide and set off downriver to our camp. Along the way we saw capybaras (like a giant guinai pig), turtles, monkeys and loads of giant water birds (cranes and such). We were a little put off by our guide feeding the monkeys to attract them. Especially since they climbed all over me to get to him. The rest of our time there we took quite a few more boat tours, including one at night to look at stars and spot alligators with our headlamps. We also fished for pirahnas which was mainly fun just to see their little teeth after we caught them. I didnt catch any, but Mirja did. We also saw many alligators and caimens, a boa constrictor, different types of monkeys and sloth. Of those, the sloth was my favorite. Even though the branch broke that it was hanging onto, it didnt move quickly. I also learned the German word for sloth - Faultier - which translates to lazy animal... what a great name.
The highlight by far of the trip was swimming with dolphins, even though I wish we had a lot more time to do it. We searched around for a good bit of time before we could find the pink river dolphins that live in the Pampas. They were really shy and kept their distance at first. After a few minutes, all the young people got bored and went back to the boats. Many other people were afraid of pirahnas or alligators attacking them, so they never even got into the water. After 20 or 30 minutes of treading water and throwing a toy bottle at the dolphins, they finally swam right at me. They swam right at the surface of the water and looked me right in the eye as they approached, then dove down about a meter before they reached me and swam right under my legs. One or two splashed me with their tails everytime they dove. I think there were 4, but its hard to tell. They all circled back several times for multiple passes. I eventually went back to the boat and our guide said it was time to leave, so that was a bummer. I could have spent all day there.
After returning to Rurre for a night, we set off for the nearby Madidi National Park by boat. We paid for a more expensive tour that gave more back to locals and was more environmentally friendly and we immdiately saw where the extra money went. The staff was friendlier and the quality of accomodation and food was much much better. The didnt feed any animals or try to catch anything like in the Pampas. So if you are considering visiting here we strongly recommend Mashiquipe Tours and rate Fluvial Tours poorly.
Our time in the jungle was mainly relaxing. The Beni River eventually flows into the Amazon and we visited a small sugar cane farm just outside of the park. There we smashed the cane to get the juice inside, then mixed the juice with fresh limes and drank it down... so good, but sickly sweet. We also hiked around the rainforest and laid around in hammocks a lot and I got eaten up by mosquitos. There was only one other person in our group- a woman doing research on cacao trees. Because the forest is so dense, we didnt see so many animals- just some mokeys and macaus as well as all the insects. We even hiked deep into the jungle and spent the night away from the main camp where we could hear all the intense night noises as well as our guide snoring. We build a raft and sailed it back to camp the next day- good fun. We were most impressed by the forest and happy to learn about it from a local. Right now though, I am happy to be away from all the mosquitos and heading back into the mountains.