Wednesday, 11 May 2011

La Paz and the Amazon Jungle, Bolivia

La Paz - the highest capital in the world, raised above 3,660m sea level - is a gorgeous city filled with historical buildings, rich culture, markets, indigenous people, colorful garments and much more.

As any tourist would, we visited the central plaza, Cathedral, saw the alpaca fetus and special herbs in the Witches Market etc...we were too chicken to visit the La Paz Prison or the "World´s Most Dangerous Road" (from La Cumbre to Coroico). I refused to mountain bike there as I believe my number is not up yet.

We bumped into a German family we met during the Colca Trek and had a nice dinner with them.  Then on May 5 2011, we flew to Rurrenabaque and took a 5 hour boat ride to Pampas, the first part of our Amazon Jungle adventure.

During the day, we went wildlife watching, we saw lots of things like squirrel / howler / night monkeys, black / spectacled caimans, snakes, capybaras (the largest rodents), turtles, squirrels, armadillos and lucky enough, we saw a SLOTH.  We went looking for anacondas and jaguars but were unsuccessful.  It´s like looking for a needle in a haystack.

In the afternoon, we swam with pink dolphins which was such a unique experience.  They come up and swim next to you, nibble on your toes or foot and play with you.  It was just an incredible experience.  Then at twilight, we went fishing for piranas (fish with crazy teeth), they were pretty scary but I was lucky enough to catch one haha...

At night, we took a boat ride in the river, and when our guide turned off the lights and engine, all that were there were you, the sound of the jungle and the starry night, which reminded me of Van Gogh´s famous painting.  It was truly a privilege to experience it.  No words or photos could do such moment justice.

We were in Pampas for 2 nights, before we headed off to Madidi, the second part of our Amazon Rainforest adventure. We stayed at a gorgeous lodge with friendly and professional stafff.  We saw walking trees, strangular fig (trees that kill trees), jaguar prints, red howler / cappuccino monkeys, taranchula, monkey frog, jungle papaya (pre-historic tree, it has thorns on its body to prevent dinosaurs from eating them, pretty cool), leaf cutter / bullet / fire ants, owl butterfly and so on...

We were REALLY lucky to see a giant ant-eater, wild pigs, a tucan (you can usually hear them but it´s hard to see them) and spider monkeys. 

The jungle experience was truly amazing.  Although we were bitten to bits, it was all worth it.  I think my hubby has over 100 bites on him...I probably have only 20 or so.

It was heart breaking to learn from our guide, whose grandfather and father also grew up in and around the jungle, that what we saw were only 50% of the Amazon rainforest, the rest were gone, destroyed by humans.  So many species scientists have yet to discover may never be discovered because their homes are, and will continued to be, destroyed.

So the next time you use a new sheet of paper, consider recycling.  You have to be there to see experience the magnificence of the Amazon Rainforest, I liked the starry night the best and swimming with pink dolphins was the second on the list.  I have seen the northern lights and it was nothing compared to being in the middle of the jungle, listening to the jungle, breathing the jungle, living the jungle and watching the starry sky.

I feel so privileged to experience all these and I wish whoever is reading this will have the opportunity to do so too.