Happy 2013!

posted 3 Jan 2013, 07:19 by Heather Wyatt   [ updated 7 Mar 2013, 07:02 by abush@dore.sheffield.sch.uk ]
I hope you have all had a very merry festive season and would like to wish you all a happy new year! I have so many things to tell you all, I'm not sure I can do it all in one post, so I'm going to split it up into different trips. 
We had a fabulous time in Bolivia, it's such a beautiful country, with some of the most amazing scenery we've seen so far. After staying in La Paz we flew out to the Amazon Basin, to a little town called Rurrenabaque, in the jungle! Our plane was the smallest I've ever been on - only 18 seats (like a small bus), and the pilots were sat just in front of us. The day we were supposed to travel all of the flights to Rurrenabaque were cancelled, due to bad weather and having to land on a grass runway. However, all was fine by the next day, and we set off to fly over the snow-capped mountains to the rainforest. 
We did two tours there. One deep in the rainforest, and the other in 'the pampas', where there is more grassland. Staying in the rainforest was very exciting! I'm not a big fan of insects, but you have to get used to them there - some of them were HUGE. We spent one night in a jungle lodge, and the second night out in the forest, under a tarpaulin with just a mosquito net to protect you from the outside. It didn't quite manage to keep out the ants and the spiders, which meant that I didn't get much sleep! 
We did a lot of trekking through the forest, both day and night, in order to find as much wildlife as possible. It was so hot and humid, but we had to wear long sleeves and long trousers, to keep the cloud of mosquitoes and the ants from biting. We were very lucky with some of the animals that we saw! We stumbled upon howler monkeys, wild pigs (REALLY smelly!), spiders, ants, frogs, toads, toucans, red and green macaws and we even saw the back end of a brown jaguar! An amazing experience.
In the pampas we mainly traveled by boat, up and down the river, to see the wildlife. There are a lot of camens there (a type of alligator), and you had to look carefully to spot their beady eyes poking out of the water. We also saw capibaras (giant guinea pigs), squirrel monkeys, howler monkeys, river tortoises, pink river dolphins and many many many birds. We traveled up and down the river to see the wildlife, and on the second day we went to shore in search finding an anaconda. The field we were looking in was very muddy, each foot went in almost up to your knee - so it was very tricky moving around. I quickly decided that I didn't particularly want to stumble across an anaconda, and more frighteningly, stumble across a camen or another type of snake! If you look closely at the pictures I upload, you might spot a camen in the foreground, while we are searching for snakes.
That afternoon we had the opportunity to swim with the pink river dolphins. The river itself was completely brown, so you couldn't see them until they surfaced, which was usually very close by! Apparently the dolphins scare off the camens, but it's still scary when you can't see what's lurking in the water. There were also piranha fish in the water, but it was the sardines that kept nipping us (not a pleasant sensation!). One of the pink river dolphins thought it would be funny to bite our friend on the bum repeatedly, which was very amusing (luckily he thought so too!).
On our final morning we went fishing for piranhas, using little bits of meat. We caught a couple and had them for lunch (instead of the other way around!).
 All in all it was a really amazing experience, I'm so glad we did it. The pictures I put up will be from both trips - look carefully for different wildlife - see if you can name them all.
We have made it to Argentina now, but I still have so much to tell you about Bolivia. I'll try to put up a new post soon. In the meantime - Happy new year! 

Our tiny plane to Rurrenabaque Giant insect     
Our camp for the night Howler monkey    the very smelly pigs 
   Spot the pink river dolphins