BootsnAll Travel Network

Jungle Fun

Warning: long entry. You’ll get the idea of what I was up to from the photos I’ll put up if you want the lazy option. 

Top of my ‘to do’ list in South America has always been to visit the Amazon. And 8 months in I still hadn’t managed to find my way there. So after quickly hightailing through Paraguay I was determined that we visit the ‘lungs of the earth’ once we got into Bolivia.
First stop in Bolivia was Santa Cruz, a cool little city in the south east of the country. After doing the mandatory look around to check out souvenirs get some baked potatoes we went to a travel agency and were soon signed up to three days and two nights in the Amazon.

Day one started promising. Three French girls came along for the day. Unfortunately two of the girls seemed to have a fear of water, and after hours of driving through muck and rivers, our first task was to get across a river, with only a wooden raft and blow up dingy. I wasn’t quite sure how this was going to work. The guides put the dingy on the wooden raft, filled that with our luggage and then got us to sit on the edges to the yellow blow up boat. Whilst I was complaining about my rear end getting wet, the French contingent had bigger worries, mostly the possibility of us drowning if our raft were to flip over while we were crossing the raging river. The three guides were having an even rougher time of it. Their job was to whip off their trousers and pull the raft across the water. After a few minutes of struggling we reached the middle part where we had to walk. Jenny displayed her wonderful ability to fall over just about everything when she tried to dismount from our super raft.
I quickly screamed “Jenny, where’s your camera?”
“Claire, it’s not the time for pictures!”

And then she finally realised why I would say something like that and reached down to her money belt where her mp3 player and camera were slowly drowning. Good start for Jenny!
After another trip on the raft we reached the mightly Amazon, which at first looked like it could be a forest in Ireland. But I believe Jenny summed up the difference with, “We’re getting too meet the entire cast of A Bugs Life today”. Bugs rule the neighbourhood around there, and we were just some fresh meet for them.
We went on a trek through the jungle for a few hours before reaching the first camp. This was the only part of the trip on which we carried our own gear. Jenny had had a great idea for us to rough it and not be lazy tourists using a porter. That positive attitude lasted about an hour and I begged the guide to get us a strong man.
The camp wasn’t quite as remote as I’d hoped. We had concrete buildings at our camp which I did not expect. It was really beautiful, with waterfalls and pools to swim in, and lots of those fellas Tarzan used for swinging around (Tarzan makes it look a lot easier than it is!). I asked the guide if there was any chance at all there was a bathroom around. He reminded me where we were and said to go find a bush. I headed off behind one of the buildings proud I was getting back to nature. My bubble was burst when I found Jenny laughing at me and in her Belfast accent said “ Do you realise you just went to the bathroom behind the toilets??” Toilets in the Amazon? If there were a few less mosquitos I could get used to jungle living.

On the first night we saw our first animal in the jungle! Great excitement at base camp. The excitement waned a bit when we realised the guys belonged to a very tame dog.

Day 2
We were told day 2 would start with a wake up call at 6am. This did not happen. I think we may have eventually crawled out around 10 or so. There may have been a wake up call at 6am, we will never know. With the French ladies gone it was back to just me, Jenny, the guide Hernando and the Porter, whose name I didn’t catch. When the guide asked how we’d slept we had to admit it was extremely cold with just one sleeping bag between us. We thought that had been the plan, but apparently not. He apologised and said he’d go to the local hotel to get us another one. When he returned from this hotel less than 5 minutes later I really started to wonder just how far into the Amazon we were.
Nevertheless we set off, a lot lighter on our feet now that the porter was carrying most of the gear. The trees out there were incredible. The roots were over the ground, long, flat and turned on their sides. So it really looked like they were walls. I tried to get some photos but my camera didn’t take to the jungle climate. You might be able to make something out from the blurry mess.
Early in the day we set up camp. This time it was a lot more what I’d expected from the start. We found a clearing in the woods and put up the tents. Then myself and Jenny chilled out by the stream while the two men went about making a fire and using sticks to construc a holder for the pot. We spend our time pondering how many other places in South America the women chill out while the men cook the dinner. Damn good dinner too!

Jenny took off with the men on a trek through the rainforest. My feet were a little sore from the day before so stayed behind, holding the fort so to speak. I took off through the jungle trying to find a waterfall, and eventually I happened across it. Until I got there I had a quick freak out, wondering how I would ever be found if I got lost out there all alone.

After a quick swim I made my way back to camp. I tried my hand at this ‘surviving in the jungle’ thing. For this I wanted to resurrect the fire the lads had built and make myself a cup of hot chocolate. Not exactly Tarzan material but I would have been pretty proud of myself had I figured it out. I found a pot, still with bits of food stuck to it. I made my way to the nearby stream and started scrubbing with my fingers. I then ran into a problem. I could either boil the water from the stream, try the purification tablets, or use bottled water. The tablets smelt like chlorine and I have never liked swallowing water in a swimming pool and our stock of bottled water was running low. So I decided to go back to nature and drink the water there in the stream.

I filled my pot and started back to camp. I figured out how to make the pot balance on the sticks, over the fire that I had sort of gotten going again, and then I sat, waiting for the others to arrive back and be amazed by my resourcefulness.

They weren’t too amazed when they arrived back half an hour later to find me standing watching the water. I thought the wood logs still being a bit red would make me a nice hot cup of water. Hernando took one look at the pathetic fire, poked it a bit and created a fine fire. I finally got my hot chocolate!

The evening was spent star spotting and bite scratching. Tranquility at its best!

Day 3

Our final day started much as our second one had; with myself and Jenny rising when we felt like facing the mosquitoes again. We were pretty indifferent to the fact that we were supposed to have a 4 hour hike done by the time we rolled out. I think what finally got us moving was realising we were lying next to each other in a hot smelly tent, with only a vague memory of what a shower was like, scratching our bites and all this on non other than Valentine’s Day!

All we had to do on day three was make it back the way we came, over the raging river and then in to the jeep for the crazy drive through the mud, crossing rivers with our driver who looked very like Action Man.

The raging river was a little tricker than it had been two days previous. A Chilean couple were starting their tour and the guides didn’t take the female of the two on the blow up boat. She waded across struggling against the strong current. The man had a trip of shame as he was pulled across the water his wife had just conquered.

This gave the guides the great idea that I could also make my own way home. Jenny had her rear end in the boat before anyone knew what was happening. I had Action Man help me across, until I realised he was struggling more than I was, and freaking out whereas I thought it was fun! Maybe he knew the death toll or something? I suggested we go our separate ways so I could let go and flow with the river for a while, seeing as our jeep was downstream. Action Man was not happy with my decision to let loose. I floated off, every now and then being hit by an underwater rock and flipped over, then the next one would slowly flip me back the right way again.

I arrived on the other side in time to whip out the camera and get a few snaps of Queen Jenny being pulled along by the guy who’ d been carrying her bag (and mine I suppose) for the last few days. She even gave me a queens wave!

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2 responses to “Jungle Fun”

  1. Lora says:

    An amusing blog article I haven’t laughed so much in a while. So I have featured you as Travel Blog of the week on our website.

  2. Claire says:

    Woohoo! Thank you!