South America on a shoestring

Travel time: June - December 2004  |  by Rob W.

Bolivian Diary

Rurrenabaque/ The Pampas, June 27 - July 1st

The flight to Rurrenabaque was the first time I´d been in a light aircraft and was a good laugh. There were only 5 passengers and it was a bit like a big car with wings! The return with Amazonas was $105 but it´s cheaper to fly with TAM who didn´t have any space that day. I got chatting to an Israeli guy on the plane and decided to try and get on a tour that day with him as we were both looking to do a 3 day Pampas trip. I should explain a thing or two about the Israeli travellers in South America. They have an awful reputation down here for being rude and tight. Obviously that is a complete generalization, but so far on this trip I had actually found them to be quite confrontational, and travel in big groups that were not open to outsiders. This Israeli guy (Ariel) proved that this is just a stereotype though as he was friendly and a good guy, and was looking to take a tour with people who WEREN´T Israeli.

The second we stepped off the plane I noticed the heat and humidity, and we headed into Rurre in the back of a jeep to try and get a tour. We finally succeeded at an agency round the corner from the main street that looked like a bit of a shit hole, and I was pretty sceptical. However for $12 a day as opposed to $30 with most agencies I thought at least I wasn´t being ripped off! Another thing I should mention is that Ariel revealed to me the existence of ´Israeli price´ in South America. Now apparently tour agencies and hotels have one price for Israelis, a higher one for Euro´s and a higher one still for Japanese travellers! With my new Israeli pal negotiating on my behalf I got to pay Israeli price too for the tour, although the tour agency bloke was seriously expecting me to agree to pay more than Ariel. I don´t think so mate!

The tour itself was with Flecha/ Aguila Tours and was a brilliant 3 days. Our group was completed by a French couple and a Japanese bloke and with Spanish as our only common language it was a good chance to practise. Our campsite in the Pampas was basic but adequate, and the wildlife was really amazing. An alligator hung around near the camp hoping for scraps, and monkeys played in the trees over head.

There really is an abundance of wildlife and we saw literally hundreds of alligators, monkeys, freshwater dolphins, tropical birds etc. The guide was a good guy and knowledgeable and the cook made us great meals. It was pretty sad to leave the Pampas back to Rurre but I was pretty desperate for a shower after a few days of sweating and getting muddy!

Back in Rurrenabaque I met up with Andy who I´d met in Cuzco and we had a night out at Mosquito Bar which proved to be a huge piss up! Much fun was had and I was left the next day with a stinking hangover and no fucking idea how I´d got home. Sounds just like every Friday night out in England! I was booked onto the Amazonas flight back to La Paz that day but it was cancelled due to bad weather so I had to spend another night in Rurre. I took it easy this time and woke up early to get to Rurrenabaque airport. Well, I say airport but it´s actually just a hut in a field. It seems to do the trick though! The flight left on time and unlike the outbound leg where our luggage was searched and we went through a metal detector, this time we just got on like it was a bus.

© Rob W., 2004
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The trip
Backpacking in South America then 5 months at uni in Brazil, despite the fact I don't yet speak Portuguese. Bum.
Start of journey: Jun 12, 2004
Duration: 6 months
End of journey: Dec 24, 2004
Travelled countries: Peru
The Author
Rob W. is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 17 years.