3 day Pampas Tour

Reyes Travel Blog

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A domesticated toucan - the colours on its beak and eyes were amazingly vivid, as if out of a cartoon

So I signed up to a 3 day tour of the pampas wetlands in north Bolivia, hoping to see some of the wildlife that had been so disappointingly absent in the jungle in Equador.

I wasn´t let down, for over the 3 days we saw loads of animals enjoying their natural habitats almost unconcerned that we were chugging down the river in our rather basic wooden canoe type thing.

In all there were 8 of us, me, 2 Chileans and a group of 5 friendly but somewhat odd Frenchmen.  After a 3 hour jeep ride, passing through the town of Reyes where they were dancing madly in some procession to celebrate their town´s foundation, we made it to the river.  From there it was a further 3 hours along the river to our lodge, which was the furthest of all the tour companies´ giving us a special feeling of increased isolation.

The boats that were to be the cause of our sore arses for the next 3 days!

It took less than a minute before we had caught a brief glimpse of a river dolphin swimming near the landing-point, and then shortly after a cabybarra on the river bank (although it proved rather shy as our boat approached and it ran off).

As our journey continued we saw parrots, toucans, a kingfisher, a river eagle with freshly caught mouse in mouth, and a whole manner of other birds darting from bank to bank.  On the trip we also encountered a sloth and a number of types of monkeys which we were priviledged to see up close as they were somewhat attracted by the bananas some people had brought with them!

We stayed overnight in a basic wood lodge where we encountered a less exciting animal . the evil mosquito.

A host of hungry monkeys
  And not just one either, loads and loads that seemed indifferent to my 50% deet thus resulting in me getting bitten in approximately 100 different places over the course of the trip.  On a more postitive note the food was great and afterwards we went out on the canoe in the pitch black of night to hunt for caimen and aligators lurking in the water.  We didn´t come across much - just a small (one foot long) baby caiman that looked menacing enough - but the experience was a highlight, just to be floating along thr iver with everything quiet around us apart from the noises coming from the many creatures on the banks.  And I´ve never seen stars so clearly as when I lay back and looked up to the unspoilt stars.

The next day we went wading into the pampas itself in search of anacondas.

A sloth, slightly more active than reputation
  Unfortunately it was the wrong season, with the large amount of water making it impossible to find where they´d be hiding.  But there were a number of birds to sopt, including eagles and vultures circling overhead.  On the walk back we came across a nest of alligator eggs with the mother floating just a few feet away looking none too impressed as we got almost too close.

When we returned to camp we had a refreshing swim in the warm river water, and only a little time after we got out discovered that the camp had a resident alligator that was hanging around the bank about 20 metres from where we´d been swimming!  Tempted by a bit of food from our kitchen (surprisinly rice and veg, not meat) it lurched out of the water and onto the bank in our camp, where it pretty much stayed for the next day or so.

Me and the resident alligator
  It was great to see such a creature up close, and at 1 1/2 metres in length it was a pretty impressive creature.  For a dangerous animal it certainly seemed relatively docile as our guide fed it from just a foot away and others teased it by touching its tail.  I wasn´t quite brave enough to get that close though, having seen one of the French guys go to touch it only to slip in the mud just as he got to it - the lok of horror on his face as he backed away as quicly as possible was enough to put me off!  The camp´s dog wasn´t so clever though, and seemed to be ignorant of the alligator´s presence or at least danger as it ventured within a foot or two of its jaws before we ushered it away!

That evening we went on a boat ride around the pampas and saw all manner of birds - cormorants, herons etc - before we got to a spot where a number of river dolphins were circling.

Us swimming with dolphins
  This apparently indicated the area was safe and free of large biting reptiles, so we got out and had a swim around with them.  Unfortunatley they weren´t so friendly as to actually come up and touch us, but we got within a few metres of them which was pretty cool.  We then saw the sunset over the pampas landscape before heading back down the river and through the narrow corridor between trees in a slightly earie, dusk-induced atmosphere.

The next day it was time to head back, and just as it had dome on the way it began to rain with a huge ferocity soaking me through.  But there was still wildlife to observe - including almost riding our boat straight into an idle alligator, and still the opportunity to check that the sloth hadn´t moved from the position we´d seen him in 2 days earlier.

All in all the trip was great, and the wildlife observed at such short quarters amazing.

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A domesticated toucan - the colour…
A domesticated toucan - the colou…
The boats that were to be the caus…
The boats that were to be the cau…
A host of hungry monkeys
A host of hungry monkeys
A sloth, slightly more active than…
A sloth, slightly more active tha…
Me and the resident alligator
Me and the resident alligator
Us swimming with dolphins
Us swimming with dolphins
A river dolphin (only if you look …
A river dolphin (only if you look…
A capybara
A capybara
A small monkey feeding on banana
A small monkey feeding on banana
A monkey pretty keen to be fed
A monkey pretty keen to be fed
The beautiful river and tree-cover…
The beautiful river and tree-cove…
The river, trees and reflections
The river, trees and reflections
Lorenzo, and snake
Lorenzo, and snake
Our guide teasing the alligator
Our guide teasing the alligator
Alligator clsoe up, looking slight…
Alligator clsoe up, looking sligh…
Sunset in the pampas
Sunset in the pampas
Sunset in the Pampas
Sunset in the Pampas
Reyes
photo by: pixiesp