Once upon a time (last July), I was called a Jungle Girl along with three friends who went to Morocco and got some jungle trousers (but didn’t actually enter the jungle at all). This time, we actually went to the jungle. It was certainly an experience and we’ve come back with mixed emotions, but overall, it was a very exciting trip!
So we booked the trip in La Paz, Bolivia, which included a return flight to Rurrenabaque which is at the edge of the jungle. The flight took only 50 minutes compared to what would have taken 24 hours in a bus, and even though it was the shakiest plane in the world and I was deaf for a day after disembarking, it was still a much better option than the bus.
At 9am we arrived in Rurrenabaque and we felt the heat hit us immediately; it was absolutely boiling! We were picked up by our tour company, drove for about three hours in a minibus to get to the national park, and then met the rest of our group. There were two other girls from London, two from Norwich and one from Sweden – all chicas! After a bumpy ride along a very dusty path with bright green trees on either side, we arrived at the edge of a river where little canoe-type boats were waiting for us. We were the first group to arrive, but obviously this meant that we were the last group to leave!
By 1pm, we had set off along the muddy river at a fast pace, which was a welcome relief against the sweltering heat! Our guide, Carlos, couldn’t speak any English even though we were told that they would be able to, which was a bit of a shame as none of us could speak fluent Spanish! Still, we got by and we sailed down the river for another three hours whilst Carlos pointed out the animals on each side, slowed the boat down and neared towards them so that we could get a better look at them and take photographs.
On the way, we saw many alligators, turtles, an array of species of birds, pink river dolphins, tiny little monkeys which we fed bananas to from the boat, and giant guinea pigs – capybara! I had never seen anything like them before, and they look so strange to me! It was an amazing experience to see all of these creatures in the wild.
By 4pm, we had arrived at our camp, where we would be staying for the next two nights. We were in a large hut for the eight of us, and thankfully we had giant mosquito nets to protect us from the billions of insects! So we unpacked, hung out at camp for a while, ate dinner, and then went in the boat again to another camp to watch the sunset and get an ice-cold bebida.
After dinner, our group set out to look for crocodiles in the dark. I’m not sure what made us agree to this, but it was quite fun! We sailed down the river in the pitch black with a massive blanket of stars over us, and looked on either side for the alligators. They were easy to spot as their eyes glowed an amber colour in the darkness, and they were so still. Of course, a bit of a commotion had to happen, and at one point, we sailed through an area of the river that seemed to be full of flying fish, of which about ten of them lept to their deaths by flying into our boat! As it was so dark and only a few of us had torches, it was quite scary to have them flapping about our feet! I wanted to throw them back in but I was scared to touch them. Carlos thought it was hilarious to throw one at us, and then he gave the rest of them to a nearby alligator!
That night, we went to bed quite itchy after being eaten alive by mosquitoes, and sadly there was a giant grey bug in my mosquito net, so I screamed a bit (a lot) whilst everyone was trying to get to sleep. I tried to get it out but I don’t think I managed it as there was a strangely similar bug in my net when we woke up the next day…
Day 2 is what I call The Pointless Day. We got up at 7.30 in the morning, had a really nice breakfast which included pancakes, scrambled eggs and dulche de leche (you HAVE to try it. It’s amazing. I am going to bring back a tub of the stuff!). Then, we walked through a swamp for two hours. We all had to wear wellies which were either five sizes too big, three sizes too small or full of holes, and at times we were wading up to over our knees in swamp mud, looking for anacondas! As we were a group of girls, this wasn’t our dream activity, and so we explained to Carlos that we really wanted to go back. The heat was sweltering and we could feel ourselves burning, and we decided that in all honesty, we didn’t really want to see any giant wild snakes. So after persevering for what was probably too long, we made slowly made our way back, bumping into a white frog along the way!
Back at camp, we had lunch, and then a ‘nap’ time – time to have much-welcome cold showers to rinse off the mud, and also time to lay in a hammock for a good couple of hours! Once our lazing around was over, we went back in the boat along the river for a while to a good place for pirahna fishing. I am not a fisher and actually didn’t even try to fish, but Julia gave it a go, and got her rod stuck in the river after a few minutes. Only one person in our group actually caught a fish, which was a sardine and not a pirahna, and she ended up throwing it back in anyway after screaming for a while!
After lounging by the riverside for a while and taking jungley pictures amongst the trees, we heard Carlos shouting that there was an anaconda in the baño. I was confused. A snake in the toilet?! We thought that he was joking, as he was quite the joker, but another guide had actually caught a massive snake outside! This made our pointless wade through the swamp seem even more pointless as we came across an anaconda anyway! But it was quite cool that we got to see one, but not so cool when the snakes tail (do snakes have tails, or are they one big giant tail?!) started to wrap around the leg of the guide! Luckily it was okay and we set it free after we had all taken a few snaps.
We got back in the boat next, and went to an outside bar across the other side of the river for chocolate and fizzy drinks! They know exactly what us travellers want…Then we had dinner and camp and went to bed quite early as we had to be up at 5.45am to see the sunrise the next day.
So on day 3, we saw the most beautiful sunrise which was worth getting up for, then we went back to the camp for breakfast. After breakfast we got our bikinis on and went on yet another boat ride to swim with the pink river dolphins. We drove for quite a bit and stopped off at a wider opening where there were countless dolphins swimming. I was a bit dubious about jumping into the brown water but I jumped off the edge of the boat to the dolphins. We were swimming in the water next to them but didn’t touch them unfortunately as they were wild! It was really fun though to be swimming in the water next to them.
Some people in our group had to catch a plane home that day, so we went back to the town quite early. We spent the afternoon in Rurrenabaque not doing very much, and caught our plane back to La Paz today. Now, that was a kerfuffle. Firstly, we arrived about ten minutes before the plane was to take off and were told that we were too late and we had to get on the next one five hours later! We were determined to board though, and were finally let on. Little did we know that this was to be the worst plane journey of our lives. It was a tiny little plane that fit 19 people, we were right at the back, and about halfway through the journey the plane was wobbling so much. I was so scared and Chups and I literally thought that we were going to die. I just kept saying ‘Oh god, oh god’, Chups was hysterically crying and Julia felt horrendously sick! Thank the LORD when we landed. We landed five hours ago and I am still shaking. Honestly.
Okay, that’s all, folks!