June 13, 2006
This morning, Craig took a bus to La Paz. He is going to meet some of his friends who are flying in from Europe. We will all meet up in Trinidad in a week or so for our next canoe adventure. That gave me some spare time to do another tour, this time of the animal-laden pampa.
I was joined on the tour by Mano and Luz, whom I had met yesterday, Chris and Max, from England, Anna and Katie, from Denmark, and our guide Joaquin. We started the tour by driving about three hours down a bumpy road in a Toyota Land Cruiser. On the way, Joaquin spotted a three-toed sloth, one of the slowest animals in the world, hanging from a tree. I was surprised he was able to spot it from the moving vehicle because it blended in with its environment so well.
When we got to the river, we threw all of our gear into a large, sturdy dugout with a 15 HP motor and took off upstream. As soon as we left, we started seeing alligators on the shore. They seemed to be very vicious the way they sat with their mouths cocked open, but when we neared them with the boat, they proved to be quite docile. We were warned, though: They would attack if we invaded their territory. I think we were safe in the boat, though. I think.
For the rest of the ride to our camp, we almost constantly saw animals. Turtles were everywhere, usually in groups of two or more. There were also several species of birds, including the biggest bird of flight in the Amazon. Many of the birds beautifully spread their wings as we passed them. We also saw a few capybaras, the largest rodent in the world, and some pink river dolphins. Toward the end of our journey, we saw a group of golden monkeys swinging in the trees. A group of Israelis pulled up next to us with bananas and started feeding them. I'm not sure which group was of the higher-ordered primates. I think I saw more wildlife in that two-hour ride than I had seen in the entire last month in the jungle.
When we got to our camp, we unpacked our stuff and checked out the end of a soccer game (I know, it's not really roughing it if they have a TV). Later, we had a large dinner. A cook came along with us, so there was no work involved on our part. It's a lot easier than going without a guide. I felt like royalty, but everyone else acted like it was just part of their normal lifestyle.
After it got dark, we got in the boat again and looked for alligators. Their freaky amber-colored eyes were watching us from all over. The loud sounds of the frogs and birds were incredible. We may not have been able to see much, but the pampa was still very much alive at night.
The photo album for this entry is here.