I am not cut out to survive the heat and humidity of the Amazon Jungle, of that I have no doubt.
We first visited the Amazon while in Ecuador several weeks ago, and upon our second visit while in Bolivia I found it to be even more steamy. Compared to the cold crispness of being in the Bolivian highlands near Uyuni, the jungle air hit me like a big, wet, hot and slightly mildewy blanket. Even the slightest of movements would cause sweat to roll down my forehead.
I was, quite literally, a hot mess. But, it was worth it!
As part of our BikeHike Adventures tour of Bolivia we connected up with a local tour company in the town of Rurrenabaque (Bolivia) called Mashaquipe Ecotours. Mashaquipe is a great company that was founded by, and is focused on employing and directly benefiting, local indigenous families. They were amazing!
Our tour took us into the pristine jungle of the Madidi National Park and then to the marshlands known as the Yacuma Pampas. I’ve never been anywhere that concentrates wildlife in one place like the Amazon.
There are several things I’ll remember most about this particular trip.
I’ve highlighted many of them below. A big thanks to both Chris (Glenn’s brother) and Ryan Chen (a fellow BikeHike Adventures traveler) for letting me use some of their photos.
1. Seeing macaws in the wild.
2. Being woken up at 5:30 in the morning to the sound of howler monkeys.
The howl of these large monkeys can travel for three miles in the dense jungle. The sound is something akin to either a beer burping contest at a frat house…or the noise a coffee maker makes right when it finishes brewing.
3. Snuggling with a coatimundi named Temo.
The Mashaquipe lodge in the pampas was also home to Temo, a semi-wild coati (or coatimundi). He climbed into my hammock for a little snuggle…which included nibbling my ears and making little squeaking noises when I rubbed his belly. He was like a bizarre mix between a raccoon and a house cat.
4. Seeing pink river dolphins.
I had never heard of dolphins that live in a river – much less dolphins that are pink – before this trip. These dolphins can only be found in the Amazon River and some of its tributaries and are at risk of extinction. They vary in color (pink, grey, tan), but when they get excited they essentially blush and turn a brighter shade of pink. We were able to observe the pink backside of these Dolphins when they surfaced for air. But…because you never knew where they would pop up next, it was hard to get a good photo.
5. The sound and smell of wild pigs.
It isn’t that hard to find wild pigs in the jungle, if the rumbling sound from their collective snorting doesn’t give them away…their rancid smell will! Two large groups of wild pigs crashed through the jungle near us when we were hiking. It sounded like a bulldozer was coming toward us and their smell lingered for a long time.
6. Watching fireflies dancing through the jungle vegetation at night.
I’ve only ever seen fireflies once before in my life (while visiting family in Texas), so seeing them again while in the middle of a jungle was quite a treat! (No pictures for this one, you gotta use your imagination.)
7. Glenn catching a piranha.
On our last day in the pampas we went fishing for piranha. Glenn was very proud of his catch.
8. Being agog with the amount of wildlife along the banks of the Yacuma River.