In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the capabara sleeps tonight…… 

So lovely visit from Lu! Loads of fun stuff booked in so after a few days in Cochabamba eating, off we went to accidental fat camp! I’d booked a sister trip to the Amazon jungle in the Madidi national park. We had 3 nights and 4 days to see the jungle and head back to the pampas to get the best of both parts of the Amazon! 

Jumped in the tiny plane (16 people!) and off we wobbled through a thunderstorm to the jungle. Only a short 40min flight but that’s long enough when it feels like you’re being shaken by a giant! We survived and along with the other 14 wobbly kneed slightly green tourists we disembarked into 32deg heat in Rurrenabaque. 
As I’d been here before I booked with the tour company Mashaquipe for the second trip and would recommended them to anyone wanting to experience the Madidi jungle. We were picked up from the airport, registered, booked on our trip and delivered at our hostel within about 30mins. So after a little explore round the town we sat down for some free caprihanas and settled into the jungle. 

The first treat of the trip was the most amazing tropical storm. We were woken at 2am by huge claps of thunder and sheet lightening and the most ferocious storm, heightened by the fact the hostel has no window just an open gap with a net curtain. But when we woke the next morning the storm had cleared the sky and we hopped in a boat to head down the Beni river to our first night in the jungle.

The first stop was a little village where we were shown and tried pressing sugar cane to make sugarcane water to drink. We added a dash of lime to cut through the sugar and drank out of the shell of a huge fruit found along the Beni river. A fruit the size of your head! 

Then we got back in the slightly leaky boat and headed further north to the jungle camp, our home for the next 3 days. We enjoyed a delicious lunch then off we went for the first 4hr, 8km jungle hike for the afternoon. 

We trekked through the jungle again in the evening looking for tarantulas (sadly only found tree frogs and one big spider!) and the next morning we headed deep into the jungle with our guide Alejandro armed with a whistle and a machete…….for looking for animals and clearing undergrowth he assured us! We covered around 8-10km a day and learnt so many things and saw so many birds, animals and plants and got bitten by plenty of insects along the way!

During the 2 and a half days we spent in the jungle we managed to see:-

1 Red howler monkey 

2 rock side hawk 

3 walking pine -and the roots above the ground and ‘walks’ a few feet a year to fine water and light.

4 Christmas flower
5 San Pedros beard – termite mound in a tree.

6 mashaquipe emblem weaving flower which produces purple colour dye

7 evanta tree, medicine for stomach ache/ulcers

8 strangler tree 

9 Lauren’s thrush 

10 tree frog 

11 building web spider 

12 buda ant antidote 

13 black tailed trogon

14 Curl crested atacary (toucan)

15 Cat claw – medical plant for arthritis 

16 Ant hostel plant – where ants make their nests.

17 Monkey ladder – type of tree with branches in the shape of a ladder. 

18 white eyed parakeet

19 Macaw – red and green macaws who live in couples nesting in holes on the side of a rock face.

20 jaguar foot prints
21 tapir footprints 

22 jungle clove 

23 turtle beetle 

24 white chin zaphir humming bird 

25 black pelton 

26 white hawk 

27 yellow squirrel monkeys

Then on the 2nd day deep in the jungle we were given the option of building a raft and rowing ourselves down the Beni river, through the Amazon back to base camp……obviously we chose to do this as what was the worst that could happen right? 

No photos of the actual raft journey as, well, we were only in swimming costumes and life jackets on a not overly secure handmade raft……nowhere obvious to keep a camera safe……..but the memories are very vivid of going down minor rapids in the Amazon on a handmade raft. Lu even got in for a swim at one point. The only one of our group brave enough (and warm enough) to jump in! 

After the last night in the jungle we were up early to set off to the pampas for the next 2 days by the river. After walking 8-12km a day we were ready to sit in a boat and point out caiman!! We scoffed a sneaky few cheese cuñapes and got in the 4×4 to head to the river. On route we spotted Jaribus, pink spoonbills, herons, an ostrich and a sloth! Then jumped in the boat for an afternoon cruising along the pampas creature spotting. 

We saw caiman, kingfishers, striated herons, night herons, tiger herons, capabaras, white egrets, jaribus, rose spoonbills, pink dolphins, turtles, yellow spider monkeys, black howler monkeys, vultures, macaws and more! 

We sat for 20mins on the boat while a mother and baby river dolphin put a full show on for us. Diving, splashing and swimming around us. No photos as they move too quick but amazing thing to see! 

We had a porcupine and some howler monkeys ‘hanging’ around at the camp that evening so we saw them chomping on fresh mangos and jumping about all evening. 

The next day we got up to go anaconda hunting……our guide was fairly confident we wouldn’t find any and as it turns out he was right! But that didn’t stop us searching for 3hrs in the burning sun! 

Then after an incredible lunch it was time to leave the jungle. Luckily we still had a full 24hrs to chill in Rurrenabaque by the pool, in a hammock with our feet up!


Exploring Bolivia – Cochabamba 

Florencio the AMAZING prosthetist from Funprobo lives in Cochabamba and had really kindly (and excitedly) agreed to give us the locals tour and as we landed at the airport him, his wife and family, and friends, all gave us the warmest greeting to his ‘tierra’. 

He had organised everything and we were treated like gringo royalty for the entire trip. We already think Florencio is a bit of a legend but seeing him in his own town shows that everyone else thinks so too! He’d arranged his friend (who owned a taxi) to be our driver for the 3 days so we were chauffeured everywhere! We dropped our bags off in a beautiful appt just near prado and were whisked straight off for lunch. Well……we’d heard the rumours anout Cochabamba being the food capital of Bolivia but WOW was if true!! Lu and John shared a Pique Macho which was meant as a sharing plate for two but could have easily fed a family of four! I had trout which could have fed that family of fours extended family as well!! 

It was delicious!!! We were then told we’d head off to see the Cochabamba massive Jesus statue then we’d be going for tea!!!!! The food obsession is Cochabamba was not an exaggeration! 

The Cristo statue is the biggest in the world! It is 3m bigger than the Rio de Janeiro one because the Brazilians built the statue at 30m to represent the 30yrs Jesus was alive, the Cochabambinos thought Jesus was alive for a few more years so added a few more metres! The statue was phenomenal, beautifully made, beautifully cared for and located with the most amazing panorama to look out over. We were lucky enough to get there just at sunset so had the most breathtaking views day, sunset and with all the city lit up at night. 

It turned out they weren’t kidding about more food and off we all went to an amazing grill, met even more of his beautiful family and 4hrs after the last epic meal we were chomping down cheesy rice, corn, potato and chicken/meat from an epic BBQ. 

We collapsed that evening in a food coma in preparation to start it all again in the morning! 

The next day we were picked up by our chauffeur (?!) and headed out for breakfast at the best place in town! Breakfast consisted of meat, potato, cheesy rice, veggies and a huge bowl of soup to put it all in. It was delicious! Then we went to meet an American guy Florencio had met who is starting up a charity for amputees in Cochabamba, and Florencio being the legend that he is was also helping this guy with the first lot of patients coming through. We then popped into Florencio’s old work and met all his previous team and you could see the admiration and respect they all have for him, not to mention that he built pretty much all their equipment in the gym! 

Then we were invited to Bismarcks house for lunch. Bismarck also works with us at Funprobo so it was amazing to meet his family. For lunch we had chicken, cheesy rice, potatoes and veggies……..also delicious……also huge!! 

After lunch (4pm!) we got dropped off home to collapse! We did a sneaky bit of Pokemon hunting and had a teeny tiny ice cream as there was no way we could be hungry……

That evening even though we thought we’d never move again we were picked up to head to the family park for the Cochabamba daily light show. We were expecting a few lights and some fountains……but wow!! We got so so much more than that!!

They actually show a whole amazing short film about Cochabamba, with traditional music, dresses, instruments against a stream of water that is ultimately a water screen! It was the most amazing show!! After the light show all the locals run and play in the fountains. As they are locals and smarter than us they also all bring a change of clothes and a towel!! We decided not to run through the cold water in the dark as we hadn’t brought any of the additional things we needed! The light show was so cool and after that we finally collapsed full of food in preparation for one more day of eating before we went back to La Paz!