Never have we had such a dutiful team with their blog updates, well done guys! With just a week to go for the intrepid Andean Expedition team, here is an account of their time in the Bolivian Amazon and Andes, enjoy!
Once upon a time on a sunny August day in Bolivia the Andean Expedition team embarked on a three hour 4×4 adventure to the Pampas, the outskirts of the largest rainforest in the world – Señor Amazon. We doused ourselves in deet insect repellent and headed off on our first boat ride with our guides, Cristian y Miguel. Here we saw caimans, turtles, monkeys, capybaras, flying fish, a variety of birds, including the deadly viper duck.
The next day we had another boat excursion where we braved the caiman infested waters, said a prayer and jumped in holding hands. Ty took the plunge first and swam from one boat to the other, setting a record Michael Phelps would be proud of. Chloe had the fright of her life when she thought a caiman was about to devour her ankle… it was only James, that little rascal! Other than that scare we survived the swim, returned to base to chill in the most comfortable hammocks we’ve ever encountered and finished off the day with a spot of piranha fishing, Alex being the standout winner with her three piranhas and two sardines (all of which she swung at Mikey “accidentally”), although Mikey thinks he’s the winner because he caught the biggest one… Sureyya and Izzy also made an impressive catch, both baiting the same crab within five seconds of each other. After the fishy festivities Mikey and Gilly on the entz team provided a sublime quiz with an obscure general knowledge round and questions with many debateable answers, and we also amused ourselves by giving each other animal names:
- Pete the piggy, J
- ames the jaguar,
- Ty the tapeworm… I mean turtle,
- Mikey the monkey,
- Alex the anaconda,
- Izzy the iguana,
- Sureyya the sea cucumber,
- Chloe the capybara,
- and Gillygoat.
The third and final day began with us following the guides to go anaconda hunting. Unfortunately we only saw a babby one, but a bright green snake did greet us on the way back. We cooled off from our escapade with another dip in the river where we declared “war” on each other, the girls sitting on the guys’ shoulders and trying to push each other in, with team Pete&Gilly reaching an easy victory over Mikey&Alex (who slipped) and Ty&Chloe. That afternoon we were back in Rurre getting ready for a 17 hour bus ride the following day…
A surprise was in store for the team… We were flying to La Paz instead! Even in the airport office some people hadn’t clocked on, but things became real when the plane bounced into view. We all thought it would be the last flight we would ever take… however, we survived the turbulence and had most of the day left to enjoy the highest city in the world (and if it’s not, then “it’s definitely up there”, lolz, thanks Mikey) and do trek prep. We were split into our trek groups (cooking, cleaning and entz) but unfortunately, when everyone had finished for the day, Mikey and Gilly were still hunting fancy dress for the final trek (and enjoying their new cameras, Olly and Lympy!) Their absence inspired Alex’s best (*sigh*) joke so far: Little Bo Pete has lost his sheep…
A private minibus was taken the next day to the start point of our next trek: Apolobamba. We stayed in a chilly eco-reserve hostel where we enjoyed Ty and Alex’s veggie korma (yay for Gilly the veggie!) and huddled by the fire, readying ourselves for the first day of trekking. Our breath was short after the first hill, but we were duly rewarded in the afternoon, when we reached our camping spot by a glacial lagoon. Ty and Alex went for a “swim”, while later back at base Ty was in for a surprise when he decided to move “poo rock”, a rock named after a certain event the last time Pete did the same trek… fortunately this time round Izzy and Mikey had constructed a beautiful toilet for us with their bare hands, as well has making the campsite more homely with seats and a welcome mat – thanks guys, and thanks to “pen rock” too!
The second day was longer and Mikey’s knees took a turn for the worse, but we persevered and followed Pedro along the scenic route. We survived the varied and sometimes pathless terrain, and made it to our riverside camping spot well before sunset. A few members of the team braved the cold river to have a quick wash, and Sureyya even went starkers! The cheesey pasta we had for dinner was top notch, unlike the following morning’s porridge, which was basically beige slop (and that’s a generous description!) but after adding hot chocolate powder, dulce de leche, raisins, sultanas, apples, Oreos, Snickers, and anything else we could get our grubby mitts on, it was actually pretty good, and some of us even had seconds! We had a lie-in that morning and only started the day’s walk at 11am, but around 3pm we had arrived at the hostel for that night.
Pete, James, Chloe and Ty decided to trek a little further to some thermal springs, while the others stayed behind and instead experienced “the coldest shower I’ve ever had in my life!” Those who went to the thermals bragged about it all through dinner much to the others’ annoyance…
To prepare for the next day (yet another travel day) we spent our remaining Bolivianos on biscuits and chocolate; some enjoyed civilised fried egg sandwiches for breakfast in an “upmarket” restaurant, while the others got hold of some greasy chicken from the street corner. We were ready and raring to go on our 6-bus journey to Puno, crossing the border into Peru, where for dinner we had yet more chicken and slept like babies in our swanky hotel (it even had hot showers!!!)
We’re off to Lake Titicaca tomorrow, no podemos esperar!!! Hasta el próximo blog, muchos besitos,
Gilly, Alex y Mikey x