Standing in Chicago O’Hare airport, I start going through security…
On a trip that would last about a year through South America.
Starting in Bolivia and then moving around and visiting other countries in the area.
The countries I ended up spending the most time in were Bogota, Argentina and Colombia if I remember right.
Plus I ended up visiting most of the other countries on side trips in South America except Ecuador.
And what was the purpose of my trip?
On one hand, to do a bunch of academic work with different NGOs.
Also to improve my Spanish ideally since it was a little bit weaker at the time.
But mostly, I just wanted to travel and get to explore South America since I was young enough and didn’t have any real responsibilities in the moment.
So I arrive to La Paz, Bolivia…
And the second I am outside the airport, the taxi driver I got was very friendly.
He realized it was my first time in South America and Bolivia as well obviously.
Back then, I had more limited experience in Latin America – having only been to Mexico, Guatemala and Nicaragua briefly by this point.
So the driver ended up stopping his vehicle along the road to let me get a view of La Paz.
And that was one thing I was impressed by was just how it seemed to go on endlessly.
As you can see here with some photos….
And I ended up later that day meeting with a buddy of a friend of mine who would be giving me some documents for my work with this NGO that I would end up working with at a later point in Cochabamba, Bolivia.
But before showing up to Cochabamba…
I decided to start my trip to South America by visiting the lungs of the continent…
The Amazon Rainforest.
The next day, I get on a very small airplane
That ended up taking us to a fairly more rural area called Rurrenabaque.
During the flight, we also had some amazing views of the mountains in the area…
Including a photo of this mountain here.
That’s one thing about Bolivia – in my opinion, it’s definitely one of the more beautiful countries of Latin America in terms of scenery.
Unless you like beaches, then try Colombia, Brazil, etc.
Either way, we fly into Rurrenabaque…
Where you can see this photo of, if I remember right, the Beni River.
And my immediate impression was that this area was quite rural looking obviously.
We ended up getting on a boat with this tour company that would basically take us to some lodging area.
Here’s the boat below…
And here’s some pictures of the boat journey along the way…
Before ending up at the lodge in Madidi National Park here.
The trip, from what I remember (as this was a handful of years ago), basically involved walking through the Amazon jungle and some boat stuff.
Plus checking out all of the birds, monkeys and other wildlife in the area.
Along the way, the tour guide seemed very knowledgeable of the area.
And surprisingly, my Spanish seemed good enough at the time to get most of what he was saying.
Because, back then, it was a bit weaker but better after my time in other Latin American countries.
Here you can see some of the jungle below….
Plus, in my journey here, I saw plenty of cool monkeys, which was neat, like the one below here.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), we never saw a jaguar.
The guide was telling us about jaguars in the area or some type of large cat that can, at very rare times, be spotted around the area.
I guess it would have been cool to take a photo of one…
As long as I only lose like my left arm or something…
Ideally, not my right one because I need that for writing.
Well, the journey continues and we ended up hiking upwards for a bit..
Where we got some really impressive views like this photo below.
Once at top, the guide was explaining to us this wooden cross in the dirt that we found near the top.
Apparently, some Israeli guys were messing around here and one trying messing around with some branches…
And basically fell off the cliff and died.
That’s one thing I learned in my time in Bolivia was that apparently, according to the guide, Israeli tourists are relatively popular here in this country.
Either way, we continue hiking through the area where we ended up going to this spot where a bunch of birds are located.
As you can see here…
Before it was time to go back and we ended up making a raft to paddle our way back for some reason.
Not really sure why the boat we had been using wasn’t good enough…
Especially as I can’t swim very well in case this thing fails…
Or in case an alligator or crocodile (something you will see later) ends up eating me.
But, if I were to have gotten eaten, would probably make for a good photo that I could sell on some stock website.
So there’s that.
Anyway, the next day, our guide ends up taking us around to see some more wildlife by boat this time instead of hiking.
As you can see this little guy here…
Another one of these guys here also, which the photo is as close as it appears.
And keep in mind that we were on a pretty small boat.
It’d be like if a vehicle full of Argentine steaks pulled up next to me to take a photo.
I’m smart enough to realize I could open the door and have a nice dinner.
But was that crocodile (or alligator) smart enough?
Thankfully, not so much.
But there were other more friendly wildlife in the area…
Such as this pink dolphin here..
Or this turtle here..
Or this guy taking his animals across the water here…
Plus all of the monkeys that you can see here in these photos.
Finally, the trip ends with one last boat ride to get a glimpse of the sunset in the Amazon Rainforest and also got piranha fishing.
The boat ride as seen here….
Unfortunately, I never caught one.
But we did get a pretty cool sunset here as you can see.
And that was the basics of what happened during my visit to the Amazon in Bolivia.
But getting out of Rurrenabaque was not as easy…
As said before, Rurrenabaque is relatively rural.
It definitely feels a bit small here.
And the airport that it has is also small and a little bit more basic.
Well, unfortunately, we were not able to leave anytime that it was raining.
For whatever reason, the planes just won’t work from what I remember.
So, for the next few days, I ended up just chilling in Rurrenabaque and exploring the town a little bit.
Felt safe overall. Nothing bad happened.
There was this cute Asian chick there also from what I remember who kept me a little bit of company that happened to be at my hostel…
We were both stuck there basically…
I even considered taking a bus instead to La Paz but I heard that the bus ride is at least 10 hours if not way more from memory.
And that the trip on some parts is a little bit dangerous due to poor infrastructure or busses falling off of cliffs.
So falling off a cliff didn’t seem very fun to me….
So I stayed a little bit longer.
There was one bar in the area that I went to a few times if I remember right.
Not really too nice of a bar but it had beer!
And when you are stuck in the rain, what else could you need?
Beer and a nice Asian chick chilling in South America.
Sounds like a good time.
Either way, I remember we ended up going back to the airport for a check on our flight the next morning.
Very early in the morning.
And, to our relief, they hadn’t cancelled the trip again this time!
So finally, we were able to exit Rurrenabaque…
It was a fun place to visit overall – especially if you enjoy hiking and witnessing some of the best wildlife that Bolivia has to offer.
Definitely worth a trip and recommended.
Now we got on our plane…
And back to La Paz, Bolivia.
Before catching my flight to Cochabamba, Bolivia…
Where I had one hell of a time.
Though it is a more average sized city in Bolivia with not too much to do…
It does have some great hiking options nearby…
And also had some very friendly people.
By far one of the friendliest places I have been to in Latin America up to this date of writing about this.
And that was the trip to the Amazon!
If you have any experiences of your own in the Amazon Rainforest or Bolivia, let me know below in the comments.
And follow me on Twitter here.