We've done the pampas (three-day trip). Now, we're completing our tour of the Rurrenabaque area, with another three-day trip, but this time to the actual jungle! This morning, our group of four — Chris, Anna, Marie, and myself — commenced our trip to Parque Nacional Madidi, part of the massive Amazon jungle that covers half this continent, and a sanctuary of some of the world's most amazing plants and animals.
As with the pampas trip, our jungle trip began with a three-hour-long boat ride, from the riverside in Rurrenabaque, to our jungle retreat destination in the middle of Madidi (although fortunately, no additional three-hour 4x4 ride this time). The weather wasn't looking too promising this morning — for about the first hour on the boat, it was very cloudy and raining quite heavily, and we were rugged up in jackets and ponchos — but luckily, it cleared up soon enough, and we saw the sun and the sky again for the rest of the trip.
Unlike the river in the pampas, the river that took us into Madidi was hardly a slow and lazy waterway. On the contrary: it was a massive river, and in several spots, it was quite strong and turbulent. And because we were travelling upstream (in a motorised canoe, once again), we were battling it rather than flowing with it. In the more difficult spots, the boat driver had to take a run-up with his engine on full; and both the driver and his assistant then had to literally push the boat through the turbulent shallows, using long wooden sticks that they dug into the bottom of the river. But anyway, we reached our destination by morning's end.
The boat to Madidi.
When we got to the spot on the river where we had to disembark, we hopped off, and walked with all our stuff on the 5-minute trail to the jungle retreat. The trail was fine: except that just before we finished it, we had to cross a fairly big, fairly deep stream; and the only way to do this was to take our shoes off, roll up our pants, and wade through, getting knee-deep in water in the deepest spots. But it wasn't a big deal: the bottom was soft and muddy, and our feet needed a wash anyway.
Our retreat in the jungle is quite nice: the four of us have a little cabin, with mosquito nets on all the beds; and there are other sleeping cabins (quite a lot of other groups are here), as well as a bathroom cabin, and a cabin for eating and cooking in. Looks like we're going to have a very pleasant two nights here.