Rochelle & Will
Even though our time in Bolivia was quickly coming to an end, we squeezed in one final tour to see the rare pink river dolphins. I had wanted to see them in the flesh ever since seeing them on TV when I was younger; so we joined a three day Amazonian pampas tour that promised to include the dolphins. Firstly though Will had to drive like mad to keep up with the wild tour driver on the terrible road, pushing the Dodge to the limit until we finally arrived at the river bank. Our guide and the nine of us on the tour then climbed aboard our narrow boat and we zoomed along the calm Alligator infested waters, stopping along the way to capture wildlife with our cameras. After unloading at camp we headed further up river to the thriving tourist bar for sunset over the swampy flat pampas with all the other tour groups. Having been warned about the onslaught of mosquitoes that arrive at dusk we all wore long sleeved clothing and smelt so strongly of insect repellant it was better to be sitting in the front of the boat rather then the chemical filled rear. The bar was a happening place and we joined half Ozzie half French couple Kerrin and Armony from our tour for an over priced beer. However the mosquitos were intense and managed to find any bit of unprotected skin including our ears so we were glad to board the boat back to camp for dinner.
Our tour group included a great bunch of like minded people which was lucky because our guide wasn't the most talkative person around. We always had to ask what we would be doing next. He did however reach into the river bank with his bare hand and emerge with a baby alligator for us to see. But despite hours of walking around the boggy pampas in the hot sun he didn't manage to find us an Anaconda. Fortunately another tour guide found a small one and let us have a look once he was done. We each held the smelly reptile for the mandatory photo but one guy Thomas from Denmark held a little too tight and got bitten. Not that anacondas are poisonous they just grow to an unbelievable size, some say as thick as a log.
After a five hour lunch break we then went piranha fishing, surprisingly they weren't at all the evil critters TV makes them out to be, in fact they were quite small and seemingly harmless. At one point I thought I had a record breaker on my line but it turned out to be a turtle I had hooked in the leg. I returned it to the water hoping no locals would make it their dinner as they sadly often do. About half of us managed to land a fish none bigger then a fist but we kept them anyway. As our guide told us we would get to taste them at dinner, though there barley seemed enough meat in total for one person let alone the nine of us. In the end only the eager tasted the fish and Will reports they tasted like muddy water. On the way home from fishing we convinced our guide to stop at the bar so we could pick up some beers. We then all spent the night relaxing and playing a new Israeli/Spanish card game.
On the following and final day we were finally going swimming with the pink dolphins. But first we had to wake up at 5am for the sunrise boat tour. It was nice but I think some of us would have preferred to stay in bed. After breakfast we changed into our swimmers and boarded the boat. After all the Alligators, Caiman (similar to an alligator but bigger) and fish we had seen in the brown water, I was starting to wonder if this was such a good idea. Anyway we had already seen the pink dolphins a few times in passing… did I really need to get into the water with them? But as we rounded the corner and saw the two other tour boats with the majority of their tourists in the water I knew I had to get in Will would never let me live it down if I didn't. So nervously I joined the others and the dolphins playfully swam around everyone, coming close enough to touch plenty of times. However by the time I heard about a second person getting bitten by the dolphins hard enough to draw blood it was time for me to get out and take some photos.
After the swimming we had an early lunch and packed into the boat one last time for our journey to the waiting cars. It seemed the lure of the pampas had worn off already as we all slept on the way back no longer feeling the desire to photograph every possible thing that moved. Once back at the cars the change over was quick from one tour group to the next and we wondered if our guide ever got a break. We then said good bye to our new friends as they speed off in the worn old Toyota and cranked over the Dodge ready to continue our journey.
Rochelle & Will