This post is all about the pampas tour provided by Dolphins Travel in Rurrenabaque, Bolivia, South America and the astounding knowledge I had in July 2019 which includes, swimming with dolphins, spotting caiman, piranha fishing, browsing for anaconda, evening time star gazing, and astounding encounters with animals.
Day one particular – Rurrenabaque to the Pampas
We had been a group of six girls, Claire and Ruby from Melbourne, Australia, Ari and Andrea from Andorra, Teresa from Sweden, and myself. We met at the Dolphins Travel workplace in Rurrenabaque and had been greeted by Nevado, our guide. I’d study about him on TripAdvisor (constant 5 stars) and felt fantastic about my business selection so far.
We all piled into the 4×4 and began the two and a half hour journey into the Pampas. The roads had been dusty and bumpy, with the occasional herd of cows and the odd man on horseback, but I nonetheless managed to get some sleep prior to we stopped for a comfort break and to coo more than some pigs sleeping in the sun.
For the duration of the drive, we spotted a toucan flying overhead and pulled more than to take a closer appear. A tasty lunch was supplied in a nearby restaurant prior to we arrived at the entrance to the Madidi National Park.
Other tour firms also arrived at a equivalent time and Nevado produced positive to wait for them to leave 1st so we could appreciate our boat ride in peace.
Just before we even climbed into the boat, we spotted our 1st caiman on the riverside. Crazy!
More than the subsequent one particular to two hours we saw hundreds of caiman. They lay on the riverbank in the sun, normally with their jaws wide open displaying their gigantic teeth. They sat nonetheless as statues and you could be forgiven for pondering they had been props.
Nevado would show us how actual they had been although and take the boat closer and closer. Sooner or later, the caiman may possibly move waway or slink off into the water, eyeballing us the entire time.
It was rather scary receiving close but enjoyable and intriguing also. A tiny terrifying to consider we would quickly be swimming in these identical waters just days from now.
We passed a tree complete of tiny tiny yellow monkeys who had been clambering all more than the branches and jumping into our boat.
They had been attempting to get into the bags for meals and their cheeky tiny faces had been so cute as they climbed onto our seats and chattered to every single other.
Turtles sat in pairs or extra on logs in the sun and we saw significant wonderful birds in trees and along the riverbanks.
Arriving at camp, we met Ellie, our remarkable cook for the subsequent couple of days, and had been shown to our lodges.
The entire camp is designated only for Dolphins Travel and is raised off the river bank on stilts to steer clear from the snappy jaws of the caiman!
My space for the subsequent two nights was a 4 bed dorm shared with Claire, Ruby and Teresa. Outdoors the wooden lodge was a balcony with wooden chairs and a hammock to unwind in.
We had our personal bathroom with cold shower and mosquito nets more than the beds. Like everywhere I saw in the pampas area, there had been no glass window panes and rather, mosquito net was stretched tight across windows to preserve the nasties out.
We climbed a compact viewing platform behind camp and watched the sun set more than a green horizon, asking yourself what tomorrow would bring as we walked out into the pampas.
Burnt oranges and yellows mellowed into pinks and blues as we turned back to the lodges prepared for the evening.
Evening Tour by boat and Star Gazing
Just prior to dinner that 1st evening, we walked down the actions back to our boat for an evening excursion. It was dark and the southern hemisphere was placing on a show.
Our mission was to spot caiman eyes on the surface of the water. We had been all armed with head torches and searched the river for reflective eyes.
There was anything rather unnerving about a silent river when we knew that darkness covered the presence of hundreds of sharp toothed caiman. In addition to caiman, we also spotted fireflies burning vibrant.
It was an evening of dancing lights, not to mention the crystal clear skies and millions of stars.
The Milky Way stood out proudly above us. We sat in silence for a whilst just gazing about in awe and listening to the sounds of the secayas, birds far off in the distance, and the occasional gentle sounds of the water as caiman slinked into and out of the water.
The rest of the evening was spent consuming scrumptious meals, receiving to know every single other and playing a couple of competitive games of cards. I slept surprisingly nicely that evening with the sounds of the pampas just outdoors the netted windows.
Day Two – Snakes and Piranha
Morning arrived vibrant and early and we filled our faces with a lot of breakfast to see us by way of the day. I hadn’t study the plan and didn’t know a lot about what to count on.
Looking for Anaconda
Who knew that we’d be pulling on wellies (or gum boots as our Aussies referred to as them) and traipsing by way of calf higher swamp water for two hours browsing for significant black and green snakes!
It was a enjoyable activity, if a tiny nerve wracking to begin with as we attempted to preserve our balance and stay clear of falling in.
Anaconda apparently are significant but they are black and green and as a result really hard to spot. Seven of us searched for more than two hours with no luck but it is one particular of these items. Other groups saw anaconda and cobra so you under no circumstances know..
Towards the finish of the outing, we began heading back to camp and our guide pointed out a caiman watching us from twenty metres away. None of us had regarded as the reality that there might be caiman nearby and our minds jumped back to the previous two hours wading by way of water.
At one particular point we required to pass a big caiman in order to get back and, as we got closer and closer, it failed to react. Its eyes had been closed and, in spite of facing us head on, it didn’t stir. Stood about two metres away, Nevado turned his back on the caiman and announced that it had sadly died.
We all moved closer as he described how some unfortunate caiman will consume a big toxic toad which then kills them. We had been all listening intently and feeling sad for the caiman when it abruptly decided we had been also close, and swiftly darted into the water. Nevado had been teasing us and we had been really close nevertheless, he’s grown up about these creatures and knows they are timid and would not attack a group.
We all giggled nervously and walked with pace back to our cosy eco lodge!
Fishing for piranha was enjoyable. According to the guide, there are at least two varieties of piranha in the water. The red is the most risky as it lives in shoals of 3 or 4 hundred sturdy. The red piranha is what our group caught for dinner. I cannot take any credit for it thoughts you as I only managed to catch a stick!
We ventured out late one particular afternoon for a spot of fishing and Nevado, our guide, pulled out what I would refer to as gear for ‘hobo fishing’. Considerably like what Adam and I have utilized in Sweden, we had a compact piece of wood with fishing line wrapped about it, and a hook on the finish.
We had 3 vegetarians in the boat who chose not to catch fish themselves but came along for the ride regardless. Nevado also provided for them to remain at the lodge if they would favor.
Armed with a couple of compact chunks of meat I felt quietly confident that I would be catching my personal dinner tonight. There definitely had been a couple of nibbles but every single time the fish got away. Several a time I pulled the hook up to come across the bait had gone.
On one particular occasion I felt a tug and some weight on the line, excitedly I pulled the line from the river as everybody glanced to see my catch. Laughter erupted as a extended black stick emerged from the water and swung there in the air. We joked that I was fishing for the vegetarians.
Nonetheless, Ari and Andrea from Andorra effectively caught piranha and Nevado caught a catfish – we ate nicely that evening.
Dinner conversation was thoughts blowing. Nevado told us about his life increasing up deep in the jungle. He is indigenous to the location and his village was ten hours away from exactly where we had been sat, deeper into the jungle.
Nevado had provided us some hints of his life more than the preceding two days as he talked about some of the foods that are eaten in his village, such as monkey brains. Nonetheless, the conversation that evening was definitely remarkable and we had been all captivated by his life and story.
It would be incorrect to inform Nevado’s story for him but he kept us all enthralled for hours with tales of snakes and wild pigs, life as a compact boy in the jungle, and how items function in his village.
From a compact agricultural village deep in the Amazon Jungle, Nevado has discovered several languages, educated as a tour guide, worked his back side off and accomplished a degree in tourism, all by the age of 26. His story is exceptional and inspiring and his stories will remain with me and the other individuals for a extended time to come.
Day 3 – Swimming with Dolphins
We woke early, excited for what the day would bring. These days was to be the highlight of the trip and what most persons most likely book the tour for. If we had been fortunate, we would have the chance to swim with pink river dolphins.
We set off early to beat any other tour groups. A couple of hours upstream later, we had noticed the usual hundreds of caiman relaxing on the river banks nevertheless, it also seemed as although there had been extra in the water these days. Maybe that was just psychological simply because we knew we would be climbing in shortly.
Nevado told us the evening prior to about the strange phenomenon of becoming in a position to safely swim in the identical river as Caiman and piranha. It sounds crazy I know nevertheless, this knowledge has been operating with no incident for thirteen years and has been researched to confirm the necessary circumstances.
We had been informed that there are specific components of the river that the dolphins shield and they function with each other to protect against any caiman or piranha from getting into these sections. So extended as there are at least 3 dolphins present, you are secure.
I kept this in thoughts as we came to a gentle quit along the river. Nevado told us this was a secure spot and pointed out 3 dolphins swimming about. I counted them, rather a couple of occasions in reality, prior to tentatively slipping off the edge of the boat into the opaque brown water.
Is it a fantastic factor that you cannot see what’s in the water or not? I’m nonetheless not positive!
The bottom of the river was thick with mud and sludge, it squished among my toes and felt kinda good and kinda horrendous all at the identical time. I kicked my feet up and swam to stay clear of the sensation for a whilst.
These 1st couple of minutes in the water had been fairly nerve wracking. We all kept searching about, checking that there had been a lot of dolphins nearby. I could see caiman on the nearby river bank, watching but unable to enter the water.
It felt like anything nipped my stomach but I brushed the believed away and watched the dolphins swimming about and playing with each other. We had been advised to gently tap our hands on the surface of the water to encourage the dolphins to come closer.
Nevado had a plastic water bottle and threw it into the water. Promptly, the dolphins began to play with the bottle, grabbing it in their mouths and swimming off with it.
Initially, they played with each other but with a couple of metres distance from us. With time, they became a tiny extra comfy and truly livened up when Nevado began gradually driving the boat in circles. The chased it and jumped out of the water. It truly was anything unique and at one particular point we had been surrounded by around ten dolphins.
Just before we left, a dolphin came appropriate up to the boat and playfully showed it is tail fin. They then followed our boat, swimming and jumping alongside it, as we returned to the lodge for lunch.
That was virtually the finish of our tour and we travelled by boat back to the entrance to the national park. On the way we saw substantial capibaras sunning themselves as nicely as tiny infant ones with their mum.
Also quickly it was time to climb back into our 4×4 and start the extended journey back to Rurrenabaque. Nonetheless, there was one particular final treat in shop our driver spotted a sloth higher up in a tree at the side of the road. I have no concept how they spot the wildlife so nicely but we definitely appreciated it and jumped out to take photographs of this slow, lazy creature.
We climbed back into the vehicle, exhausted but ecstatic at our knowledge in the pampas. I genuinely advise this tour with Dolphins Travel. It was superior than I could have ever hoped for 😊