The air in Rurrenabaque was hot and humid, and the pace in town was languid. Dirt roads kicked up dust as motorcycles putted by. Dogs napped in the shade of palm trees in the plaza, and banana merchants waited for customers on the riverbanks. A lone boat maker took his sweet time carving out a boat.
Exhausted from the long drive the night before, after switching hotels, we chilled under the high thatched roof of Casa del Campo, ordering pancakes, then smoothies, then soup, then native potatoes as the day wore on.
At some point, we ventured along the main drag to inquire about jungle tours. Normally, I’m a travel do-it-yourselfer, but without a jeep, boat, or platform on which to pitch our tent – or, ahem, wilderness survival skills – we needed a guide.
There were dozens of little offices with walls covered in maps and faded snapshots of adrenalin-pumped tourists catching piranhas, swimming with dolphins, shining flashlights on tarantulas during night walks, and gesturing like rappers next to giant anaconda. My particular interest was in hiking deep in the jungle with indigenous guides with knowledge of medicinal plants. But, it wasn’t meant to be. We learned that it was easier to spot animals in the pampas than in the jungle, which appealed to Elise. And, strangely, the office for one of the most reputable eco-lodges in the jungle had an overpowering stench of mold, as well as a haughty salesperson, so we looked elsewhere and ended up booking a pampas tour with Fluvial Tours. The agency’s claim to fame was that its founder had helped saved a man, Yossi Ghinsberg, who’d been lost in the jungle for weeks. Ghinsberg’s book was made into a film starring Daniel Radcliff.
Along the way we spotted amusing dogs – one on a motorbike with wind-blown ears and another with surreally blue eyes.