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The Pampas – an area located deep in the Yucuma river is surrounded by jungly forests and muddy ground. Crocodiles are everywhere and stare at you with their mouths open whilst you pass them in tiny wooden boats. You can swim with Pink River Dolphins and see a huge variety of wildlife, such as Anacondas, Caimans, Capybaras, Howler Monkeys, Tucans and much more ….
HOW TO GET THERE
You can book a tour for around 700 Bolivianos directly in Rurrenabaque. You’ll be picked up at your hostel, then drive for about 3 hours in the car towards the pampas. Once you arrive you’ll be set up in small groups of 5-6 people and make your way towards the boats.
The boat drive is another 3 hours on the water until you reach your accommodation. The tour lasts for about 3 days and you’ll sleep in wooden houses with dorms – all set up on pillars, so the crocodiles won’t wake you up in your sleep, haha.
When I arrived I had been in the car for 3 hours with some people who happily exchanged what they do for a job, how long they have been traveling for. I was bored. Ah! Three hours in a car and conversations I wasn’t interested in. As much as I love my job, I don’t want to talk about it when I’m traveling, haha. Let’s rather talk about the huuuuge sand clouds that blew up on the road whilst we were in the car. Let’s talk about how our driver didn’t give a damn that he couldn’t see a thing whilst the cloudy sand was covering our car. Let’s talk about the happy smile on our faces when we got out of it and pulled the sand out of our teeth.
Let’s talk about the food we got or let’s complain about the missing toilet paper everywhere, haha.
I was bored, but this was soon to change when we arrived at the pampas.
After a lunch we made our way to the pier, where I heard a girl walk around pointing her finger at people.
“This guy looks interesting. HIM! This girl is nice! Get her!”
A tour guide came to my direction “One missing”, he said.
Me? Alright. I grabbed my bag and followed him.
I was in a new group and we headed to our boats. I found out later that this amazing girl had just decided to choose her Pampas Gang. I loved her, haha.
The boat had small picnic chairs attached to it. I sat in one and felt like an 80-year-old lady. One of those happy ones, that don’t give a damn about stuff and hang in their chairs watching life pass by. This was me. Surrounded by the most amazing people in a boat in the pampas of the Amazon passing caimans, capybaras and much more….
The first day you are so shocked by the massive amounts of crocodiles or caimans right next to you
The second day you are like “Well yeah”.
Once we arrived at our pampas accommodation we were all starving! having done a Jungle Survival the days before I was definitely starving! Food? Yes here please! But so far there was only popcorn at the tables. Every group had their own table and their own popcorn. Definitely not enough popcorn.
We looked at each other “Shall we?” and grabbed some of the popcorn from the other table, which was WAY more than we had.
Bonding through the act of a theft we smiled at each other and started eating more.
“This can’t be true. Are you serious?!” An angry dude shouted at us.
“There is enough food for everyone.” RESPECT THE FOOD!” he shouted and walked away with the half empty popcorn bowl.
“Respect the Popcorn” we mumbled and smiled, but felt like 4th graders who had been told off.
Later we went on to watch a sunset and had some beers along with great conversation. One of us told us about an Ayahuasca retreat he had been attending in Peru. I’ve heard a lot about that and was interested to get to know more.
“The plant always gives you what you need at that moment.”
“Interesting”, I thought and put it on my imaginary To-Do List.
On our way back to our pampas hostel we were told to point our flashlights at the crocodiles and … wait what?” … their eyes were shining back in a red light. This was amazing! How cool is that! We all felt like 4th graders again – but in a happy way now, haha.
“There’s one!!! Another one!! Can you see?”
Hahahaha I loved it!
When we got to our dorms we crawled into our mosquito nets and fell asleep pretty quickly.
The plan for the next day was to swim with dolphins. Hell yeah!
We had seen some on our way to the accommodation already. They are pink and happy. Hahaha, well how can you not be?!
I was so excited until I realized I had forgotten my bikini at the hostel.
Alright. Me forgetting stuff was not something that surprised me, but it actually bothered me lot now. I thought about jumping in with y underwear, but soon pictured the embarrassment of losing it whist crawling back to the boat. So I stayed and watched the others scanning the riverbanks for crocodiles.
And there they were – all around us. Staring at us with their mouths open.
Swimming with pink dolphins whilst crocs are watching you. Awesome. Staying in the boat without a bikini – not so much.
We stayed for around 2-3 hours and then made our way back to the hostel to grab our dinner. Unsurprisingly were the last ones to be served.
After the food I saw the popcorn guy and apologised.
“Look, man. We were SO hungry and it was just not enough popcorn! But hey! Can it actually be enough popcorn??!!” I asked him.
I guess this made sense to him and he smiled.
In the evening we went out and watched a sunset.
The evening with my pampas gang tuned out to be a funny one, haha! We got drinks and talked and talked and talked. The girl had chosen right. I felt like everyone was so interesting to listen to. One of us works in this one famous prison in La Paz. You’ve probably heard about it in the book “The Marching Powder”. She told us some funny stories of a Dutch dude living there with a whirlpool. It is actually true that they can bring their families to lie with them. There’s a whole infrastructure, just like in a small village. I was so impressed by those stories and sucked up every single word she told me. We talked more about Ayahuasca, I talked about my first DMT experience in Australia and my memory loss.
I liked those people a lot. This is traveling: Throwing yourself in unknown situations to randomly find awesome humans to have a great time and interesting talks with. Within 8 years of traveling I can say that some of my very best friends I still have regular contact with started as random traveling buddies. So, hey let’s see if we meet again at some point in the future 🙂
The next morning was crazy! We got up early and went out to find some Anacondas! HA!
We were walking with some rubber boots and sunk into mud. Where are they? We were scouting the swamp, not sure if we actually wanted to be the one to find an anaconda.
Well, actually I wanted to, hahaha.
And then we heard another group shouting! They found one! A small one, but hey that’s awesome! I’ve never seen an anaconda!
In the afternoon we went Piranha fishing! Hahaha yes! We got some raw meat as bait and started fishing.
I was amazing at fishing. I first fished a stick, then the bottom of our boat (wtf) and after that a jacket. When I didn’t fish anything, the fish were eating my bait. Well…
Some in our group were way less skilled and only got around 8 piranhas.
Look at those teeth!
This was our lunch and after it we made our way back to Rurrenabaque and I got a massive sunburn on the 3-hour boat ride.
I have to admit, that this sunburn was the only tan I could show off back in Brazil, hahaha 😀
The trip was amazing. I I have t admit, that 3 days without any internet was something that is needed sometimes. Up until now I don’t have Messenger and Facebook on my phone anymore and I have to say it feels good to connect with people face to face and kind of live in the moment a little bit more.
Well … so much has changed. So much can change in a few weeks and I feel like stuff is falling into place. I’m happier back here in Brazil. Next year I’m not going to work. I don’t know where I’ll be, but what life has taught me is that it keeps bringing amazing people in your life.
"Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born." - Anais Nin