Visiting La Pampa here is done by boat, and you get to see a very diversified fauna: Capybaras, Caimans large and small, many kinds of Monkeys, Turtles, a huge variety of Birds and with some luck Anacondas. The one animal you want to avoid are the mosquitoes – millions of them attack at random, you may spend a whole afternoon without being bothered and the next morning can be hell; nothing helps, repellents, long sleeves, we did it all, and despite we are both covered by terribly itching bites of all sizes.
During our stay we did various boat trips at different times of the day, the one after sunset we enjoyed most. The thick green towering vegetation on the river banks had then turned into black indefinable shapes, with the mosquitoes gone and the brightest, fullest full moon. It was simply perfect.
Heidi was rather reluctant to join a short fishing trip one afternoon, fearing the relentless stings, which you can expect as soon as the boat stops. But miraculously none of the beasts showed up and we had great fun “feeding Piranhas”, because they simply nibbled the meat off our hooks and only Gilles caught a tiny little one, which we quickly returned to the river of course. Once we realized that the fish outwitted us, we started “playing” with the Piranhas by keeping the hook only a few centimeters below the surface and watching them eat the meat away from the hook without getting caught.
The last day we did a walk looking for Anacondas by walking on an elevated path through the Pampa, checking under bushes and trees, which to us seemed a rather naïve approach. Heidi once read that a film crew looked for days to find one in order to do a documentary. During this three hour stroll we found a dead anaconda and a rather big rattlesnake. On the other hand, another group discovered three of those snakes and two of them bite some tourists, who were getting too close.
The diversity of animals and the possibility to observe them from very close is amazing. We saw lots of Caimans, even some Black Caimans, which are hard to spot in that area, one of them must have been more than 4 meters long. Turtles are usually found on tree trunks in the water, where they sunbathe, often piling onto each other. Of the many Monkeys we saw, the tiny Squirrel Monkeys was the most sociable one, we could have touched them, which of course we did not do. The Capybaras, the biggest rodent in the world, could not be bothered by us coming really close and taking tons of photos. There are quite a few pink Dolphins, even though all you can see is their back when they come to the surface for a second to breathe. Last but not least, there are birds, birds, birds …in all sizes and colors.
We must admit though we were also happy when it was time to leave the camp in the Pampa, because by then we could not endure the thought of being bitten by more insects. The ride back in the jeep was quite an experience, now the road was dry and every vehicle produced an immense cloud of dust.
Back to Rurrenabaque, we took a long shower and hit the Mosquito Bar, where everybody else from our group gathered, as well as other people we had met before and it was such a fun evening. Of course we were all very excited whether we would be able to fly out of Rurrenabaque the following morning knowing of its reputation for delays and cancelled flights. Hey, with only a four hour delay we left and touched down in La Paz 40 minutes later and almost 3.800 meter higher up. We felt rather wobbly and even when standing still we had a pulse of 115 per minute…
After we got off the “Collectivos”, we had to climb a tiny hill up to our hotel, doing this with our backpacks under this circumstances we moved and puffed like those people about to reach the top of Mount Everest.