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Madidi pampas - part two

Hot az, bro!

sunny 35 °C

"Ah, yes, those are termites. They help decompose the wood".
Well, this statement would have been perfectly normal if the termites in question hadn't just started pouring out of our boat. Our boat being a wooden canoe about a two-hour ride away from camp in the middle of the pampas. I had a strong feeling that the helpful termites would have been even more appreciated say, in a tree. But that's just a thought.

The second half of our jungle-tour took place in the pampas. Now, how to explain the pampas. I guess you could say they are the flatlands of the jungle, except without very much "land", as everything is covered in water. It is pretty amazing - what is supposedly a river seems more like a gigantic lake turned into a maze by trees and plants that grow straight out of the water. The water itself is filled with pink river dolphins, cayman, anacondas, piranhas, and a wealth of other fish and snakes. The trees are nowhere near the size if those in the jungle and animals and birds sit on branches or fly overhead and just go about their own business in full sight of tourists. It really is like being in the jungle and "filtering off" the jungle-part so you can actually see the animals :)

The pampas are a three hour extremely bumpy car drive away from Rurre on a dirt road, and we were extremely grateful for the air conditioning in the car even though it was not exactly adequate.
Already on the drive there we saw a sloth up in a tree (our driver spotted it, he must have supernatural sight or something) and a number of birds including the largest bird of the pampas (Greater Rhea, looks like an ostrich), the largest stork of the pampas (Maguari stork, sort of like a black-and-white marabou stork but nowhere near as numerous as those), and a number of different vultures, hawks and herons.

Road weary we stumbled out if the car next to a river bank where a canoe was waiting to take us the five minutes up to the lodges we were staying at. Imagine our surprise and delight when we in those five minutes encountered several pink river dolphins!!

To say that the dolphins are numerous in the pampas would be an understatement. They are everywhere. And I love it. Dolphins have ever since I can remember been one of my absolute favorite animals on earth, and seeing them all around was really one if the highlights of my trip. Not to mention- we got to SWIM WITH THEM!! As they are wild animals, this isn't as "petting zoo" as it might sound (thank god), but rather you (we) got to jump in the river and swim and they would be swimming and diving around us. It was marvelous. AND - one swam up to me and touched my foot when I was sitting in the boat with my feet in the water!! Way cool!!

As far as land-mammals go, we've mostly seen caipivaras (biggest rodent/"guinea pig" on earth, weighs around 45-55 kg) and monkeys. Our tour company is responsible and doesn't feed the animals, but some others do, and the monkeys therefore follow the noise of the boat motor and climb around in the trees and even in the boat for a while until they realize that these humans are boring and leave. Tiny little Herr Nilssons sitting on branches not one meter away eating leaves and looking at us was definitely another highlight :)

The last night if our stay we went out in the boat after dark with flashlights to search for/look at the eyes if the cayman. They show up as bright red glistening points of light in the beams of the flashlights. Suddenly I couldn't believe my eyes - about a hundred little red dots showed up at once! We drove closer and saw lots and lots of little baby cayman all around in the water, not 15 cm long!! Super cute!!

I've tried to keep a list of all the animals and birds we've seen on this trip, and I'll paste it into this post at the end. Some of the names are correct and weird, some of them are probably wrong (Greek Annie?) but what can you do but try ;)

All in all, the jungle tour was absolutely amazing, partly just because of the tour itself but partly because of the wonderful people we met and travelled with. I have laughed more at once than in a long time, learned all about Kiwis (no not the fruit) and generally just had a wonderful and amazing time.



Mono Amarillo - yellow squirrel monkey
Rokoko - sapo (big toad)
Rana - frog
Spectacled cayman
24-hour ant
Hair-cutter bee
Wild (solitary) peccary (jungle pig)
Brazilian runcerunner - green lizard
Brazilian morpho butterfly
Rat opossum / bamboo rat
Aranja amarilla
Brown agouti
Three-toed sloth
Brown cappuccino monkey (Mono silvador/Mono maizero)
Black howler monkey (&juvenile)
Spectacled cayman
Golden tegu (lizard)
Crested cara-cara
Green lizard


Ornate screamer (Pico)
Southern screamer - jungle peacock
White-throated pinpinguan
Purple jay
Lioness woodpecker
Crested oropindula
Red-chested macaw
Red and green macaw
Yellow and blue macaws
Aguilucho - "small eagle"
Great yellow-head black vulture
Rufus tailed jackhammer
Coicoi heron
Great white heron
Wood Stork (cabesa seca)
Chapiru stork (second largest birds in the pampas)
Maguari stork
Snail kite
Greater Rhea
Greek Annie
Small squirrel Annie
Tiger Heron
Striped heron
Snake heron
Trumpet heron
Pampas pigeon
Hoatzin (cerere)
Boat-billed night heron
Night heron
Black vulture
Turkey vulture
Neotropic cormoran
White and black woodpecker
Rufus cachalote
Rosed spoonbill
Black-collared hawk
Great black hawk
Strider heron
Amazon kingfisher
Ringed kingfisher
Green kingfisher
Black fronted numbir
Tropical screech owl
Pygmy owl
Orinopo goose
Woodson duck
Water jicana
Boat-billed flycatcher

Posted by Irmelin 05:43 Archived in Bolivia Tagged animals birds river tours pink dolphins madidi pampas bala

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Amazing, Maja-Lisa! I'm just loving hearing about your adventures, and since I haven't figured out how to respond to Asia's blogpost, please share with her. Many of the animals on your list I've never heard of, and maybe you hadn't even heard of all of them before this trip. Lori has called a couple of times, and it's so good to know that you are all having such a splendid time. Be well. I love you!

by Ruth E. Stubbs

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