We asked our Facebook friends whether or not we should go to the Bolivian jungle. It wasn’t even close. Amazonia, here we come.
A flight from La Paz was only about 45 minutes, but the drive would have been 18 hours or more! We’ve been told this long drive is no fun at all, so we opted to take the small propeller plane to the jungle town of Rurrenabaque.
After a night in Rurre, we set out on a 5 day tour. We met up with our guide, Jimmy, and took a small boat 3 hours up the Beni river to an eco-lodge in Madidi National Park. We stopped 4 times to buy/show our tickets/permissions to park rangers, so apparently this is not something that can easily be done on one’s own. Guides are required.
I wasn’t sure what to expect on this trip. Several new friends had recommended a pricier tour and lodge, but we opted to go a bit cheaper. There were no other guests at this lodge – only the family of 3 that runs the place. I don’t think they’d had any business for a while.
We set out for a hike, but despite the 28% DEET we covered ourselves with, we were instantly surrounded by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes, in the jungle?!
We were a sight, the 3 of us all doing a continuous swatting motion around our heads while Jimmy told us about the local flora. Occasionally he’d stop and say something like “smell that?…..jungle pig”. We saw tracks and certainly smelled something, but never saw the peccary. We did see some amazing plants, but that wasn’t enough to keep Bode interested for 3 hours. The poor kid had thousands of bugs swarming him.
At one point, Jimmy turned around and had 4 mosquitoes on his face and another in his mouth. I looked at Bode who looked at me with his sad face, and told Jimmy we wouldn’t be able to go on for 2 more hours.
No problem, we’ll take a different trail back. Half an hour later, Jimmy is building his own bridge for us to cross a creek. On the other side, the trail had been taken back by the jungle and Jimmy was hacking away at it with his machete. At one point, he told us to wait by a marshy area while he checked the trail ahead. Oddly, and luckily the bugs didn’t seem to know about this particular part of the jungle. We waited there about 45 minutes listening to the sounds of machete. Was he leaving us there?
Finally, Jimmy returned and took us on an adventurous trail where we climbed up, over, under and through some crazy spots. My personal favorite was the poisonous tree he told us not to touch that was laying about 3 feet above ground on our path. Over or under that?
At one point Jimmy just lifted Bode and started carrying him.
In the end, the hike was about… 3 hours. We all wished we’d just stayed on the regularly scheduled 3 hour hike.