We’ve always wanted to go to the Amazon and Bolivia is one of the cheapest places to do this kind of tour in South America. We skipped the jungle (we’ve done this many times and only ever seen insects and a few monkeys) and booked a three day two night tour of the Pampas wetlands on the River Yacuma.
First we had to get to Rurrenabaque, a small town on the edge of the jungle and this meant taking a tiny 19 seater plane from La Paz. It was a pretty bumpy ride but beautiful views over the mountains. We landed on a tarmac strip in the middle of a field and the airport was a simple house with some chicken wire around it!
We booked our tour with Mashaquipe Eco Tours and were picked up the next day to drive the 3 hours to the Pampas. On the way we got our first taste of wildlife, spotting sloths, toucans and the giant guinea-pig Capybara.
We transferred to a motor boat and arrived at the Eco lodge which would be our base for the 3 days. After a three course meal for lunch we headed back out by boat to spot wildlife along the river. There were caiman everywhere! The boat would get really close and they would sink their heads under the water. We saw a loads of animals including capybara, howler monkeys, turtles, toucans, giant black caiman and many different species of birds. We stayed on the boat for hours until the sun set and we headed back in darkness, our torches lighting up caiman eyes along the riverbank.
Over the next couple of days we took more trips along the river and spent a morning wading through the wetlands searching for Anaconda. Loads of them live in the marshy land, often popping up to sun themselves on a clear day. After about an hour of searching we were ready to give up when Seth spotted the scales of a snake lurking in the water. Our guide confirmed it was an Anaconda but the rest of the group rushing over scared it away.
Luckily a different guide found another and this one was huge. We didn’t really like the way they pulled it out with a stick to show us but they did let it go afterwards.
We also tried our hand at fishing for Piranha and managed to catch a few small ones, plus some catfish, frog fish and sardines! All in all a fantastic Amazon experience with more wildlife than we’ve seen anywhere before.