Saturday, August 10, 2013

Rurrenabaque (July 18th - 28th, 2013)

After we'd hiked near Illimani and Radek had raced down the world's most dangerous road, the weather in the La Paz area turned for the worse. We were planning to do some more hikes there, but were really looking forward to feeling a bit warmer. Thus, we decided to go to Rurrenabaque, or Rurre for short, which is a small town near the Bolivian rainforest. This implied a decent from approx. 4000 to 300m above sea level: we were hoping that we wouldn't have too much trouble acclimatizing upon our return to La Paz.

There are two ways to get to Rurre from La Paz: flying or by bus. We selected the cheaper option and took the bus, scheduled to arrive in 20 hours. A part of the road had been dug into a steep hill, and we drove on the left, rather than the right side of the road. This meant that as long as we had daylight, we had amazing (and a bit scary) views down to the valley. The road was also quite narrow, and at one place we were stuck for a while, because cars from the other direction had the right of way. We even had to reverse for about 15 minutes to let the other vehicles pass. 

A view from the bus on the way to Rurre

In any case, when we finally arrived in Rurre, we were quite tired. Moreover, Radek started feeling bad, and was soon in bed (or hammock), fighting a fever. As we were figuring out that his illness was nothing worse than traveler's diarreah, we met Christopher, an nice American whose organization provides mobile medical care to people in the area that can only be reached by boat. He mentioned that he's had both malaria and dengue fever several times. He also told us that at this time of the year, we need not worry about dengue, and that Rurre isn't a malaria region, putting us more at ease.

Radek started feeling better three days after arrival, and we then went to the pampas. Later, we had a day of rest and then ventured for three days in the rainforest in Madidi National Park.

After these adventures we arranged to go horseback riding - I'd never done it before and was curious - but at the appointed time, we were told that all the horses had run loose and their owner was still trying to find them. We therefore decided to walk to a observation point instead. It was really hot, but the view was great. We then cooled off in a nice swimming pool.

A bird's-eye view of Rurrenabaque

The water was rather cold, so other than us, not many people dared to go in

A toucan throwing a glance at the people near the pool

The same evening we took a bus back to La Paz. To our surprise, it left almost on time, at 7:05 p.m. We had a couple of very short (ca 5 min) breaks during the night, which was also rather unusual. At 7:40 in the morning, we understood why the driver had been in such a rush: we arrived at a roadblock, which had been set up due to construction works. The road workers told us that they work every day from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m., and that there is no way we can drive through before. Radek and I considered walking to the nearest place with public transportation past the roadblock, but it would have been 40 km, rather than the 30 that we estimated from our map. We thus spent the day reading, learning Portuguese, and playing cards with two British girls with the same fate.

You shall not pass!

Work done next to the road

San Pedro village, where we spent the majority of time waiting

In the end, the bus ride took about 28 hours. Upon arriving in La Paz, we were tired, but happy that we had had such a wonderful time in Rurrenabaque. A couple of more pictures of this relaxed and beautiful town can be seen here.

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