A Week in The Lost World

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Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 27-08-2006

The extreme laid-back attitude continued from Paraguay up into north-east Bolivia with the most frequent answers to questions being “tranquilo” (easy/no worries), “puede ser” (maybe) and “vamos a ver” (let’s wait and see). In the park, at least at times, it was pretty handy that we had both got used to all this over the past month or so because things like the 4×4 pickup breaking down, push starting, getting up in the morning to see a large part of the engine in the passenger seat and the general open itinerary were all part and parcel of the week in the national park.

We had a really quality week involving some excellent treks such as the one on the first day in the park, where we walked through jungle where we saw our first monkey and trekked up to the Meseta, a table top style ledge with an awesome view and they say was the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Lost World’. On my birthday we woke up in the forest where we had camped and walked 40 mins or so across Pampas to a ‘piscina’ which turned out to be a gorgeous big rock pool with stream running into it. Was great to wash off the sweat (sooo much sweat), have a swim, do some diving from the top rocks and saw our first, very small, snake in the stream. On the way back to the camp we saw a Tapir strolling through the Pampas and soon after I heard a thunder style stampede noise which we soon realised was another Tapir running and getting closer to us. The two guys (locals) at the back of the group of 6 looked well worried and started running for it – the Tapir were massive! So got an excellent view of him as he went for the cover of the forest.

Throughout the whole week we saw loads of cool birds such as hawks, vultures, parrots, various types of jungle turkeys, tucans and even a couple of owls. During some of the off road drives and other hikes through jungle and pampas we saw two separate huge groups of Peccary (the guides said they typically go around in groups of 150 – 500!), the biggest lizard I’ve ever seen, a few Agouti (pic below)…

one rare Tayra (the biggest stoat species in South America), some foxes and even a Puma!

We camped in different places and on the second to last day we drove down to a private small estancia. Getting there we made some use of the chainsaw as well as the routine cutting and hacking with machetes and an axe. That night me, Clare and our guide went up the river in a dugout canoe. Edgar, our guide, did all the work and although there was pretty much no current, I managed to mess it up after a minute of taking over. Never try rowing from the middle, always the back or even the front. The trip was absolutely fantastic. We spent about 2 hours or so, most of the time gliding upstream just before sunset. Real tranquil and we saw plenty more birds (different kingfishers, storks…), loads of fish jumping out of the water around us, a paranha that Edgar caught and put back, some scary huge caiman, capybara and a troop of very cute and very curious monkeys in the trees on the river bank. They spent plenty of time assessing what we were so was ideal to sit back and watch the show.

The insects were mad, as expected. Mini bees that dive bomb for your eye-balls, various wasps and hornets, more ticks, a variety of ants, so many butterflies and standard mozzies. Most of these weren’t too bad after you got used to having every part of your showing skin covered with them licking and sometimes chewing the salt from your sweat.

Quite a hard week, tiring, inspiring, eye-opening but with chilled times such as supping on Cairpirinhas (local rum, wild lemons from the jungle and sugar) on my birthday, eating grapefruits and tamarindos plucked from the trees and munching on some cool fodder including piranhas.

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