Thursday, October 3, 2013

Madidi National Park: First encounters

I don't know what we expected, but the roads in the jungle are mostly rivers! So, from the Mashaquipe office in Rurrenabaque, we headed to the river bank to board "a very comfortable boat".
Jan's loving the 2+ hour boat ride. Here we are parked at the Madidi park entrance. While in operation, it really is best to sit down.

A visit with a local family on their jungle farm. Operated by our boat/guide crew, with the owner capably observing the action. This sugar cane press is commercially operated by horses as it's actually quite hard work.

Limes. Really big limes.

About an hour in, we had a break to meet a local family and their sugar cane operation. It's kind of cool to harvest a few stalks and then see the process unfold. The family was very nice and we got to drink the freshly pressed cane juice with plenty of lime out of coconut shells. We also tried the honey that they distill from it, as well as the most awesome deserts: dried honey and milk bars or with peanuts - or pure. All I can say is: wow.

We arrived at the beautiful eco-lodge, nestled just up a steep, short climb from the river in time for lunch. Then after a short nap in the hammocks, we went of on a long walk until dusk. It wasn't that long in distance, but huge in experiences over those 4 hours. The pics say it all. So here it goes.

Ahhhhh... life is good! Also, note, my long sleeves: our first day in the jungle was not the usual hot experience, but cool and overcast. Nice!

Many beautiful butterflies live here. Getting a picture with the wings open is actually not that easy.
See the love birds? The blue one is the male, busy wooing. The one that blends in more on the right side middle in between the two tree trunks is the rather aloof female. I guess life can be pretty hard on some out here.
We got a taste of our guide, Eber's, amazing ability to see things on this first walk. Like this awesome creature that was on the underside of the leaves. 
Travelling with a machete, to clear trails as needed. Eber grew up here and lives here still with his family. It was amazing to see his ease and  his skills suited to life in the jungle. 
We also got to eat things. Here, Eber is peeling away on a downed palm tree to eventually reveal the heart of palm, which we ate and loved. Heart of palm has never been this tasty!
Day 1 ended with a buffet dinner; a chat with our guide and some of the other folks - staff, guides and guests - around; a decision to go for a very long hike the next day and come back to the lodge, so that on our final day we could head to the other side of the river for more exploring. Then off to bed in our comfy hut.
Our duplex in the jungle.

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