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  • Writer's pictureSteve Marks

A Quick Break to the Bolivian Amazon!

On the whole, Bolivia is a country at high altitudes. Having been in the country 3 weeks, I'd mainly bounced around between 3000 and 5000 metres in elevation. But, needing some time away from cycling for the sake of my body, I parked my bike up at a cheap hotel in La Paz and jumped on a plane to a part of Bolivia completely removed from my experience thus far. Although Brazil is the most famous Amazon destination, a large swathe off the Amazon basin also runs into Bolivia.

My destination was Madidi Ecolodge, a cooperative run by an indigenous trust. After an hour in a small plane from Bolivia's main city of La Paz up to the Amazon town of Rurrenabaque, I spent 3 hours in a motorised longboat upriver to the lodge. No Wifi, no phone signal, electricity only between 6pm and 10pm via solar. Blissful. Only cold showers, but when it’s 33 degrees with 90% humidity that’s not such a problem.

Got to see plenty of wildlife including monkeys, crocodiles, tarantulas, turtles, coatis (the Amazon racoon), Capybaras (the largest member of the rodent family of animals, adults grow to 40 kilos) and an unbelievable amount of bird life including the iconic Macaws.

Capybara - the largest species of the Rodent family of animals, they can grow to 40 kilos

But my favourite Amazon jungle phenomenon was the wandering palm tree. Unlike most trees that have roots underground, the wandering palm tree’s trunk starts about a couple of metres in the air and the roots grown outward from the base of it. It routinely kills off a root and grows a new one, with the new one growing in the direction best placed to move the tree to a better position in the sun given the shade caused by taller trees in the jungle. Over the course of its life, a tree can move by up to 2 or 3 metres.

Althought I saw lots of Macaws, it was difficult to get a decent photo from 50 metres away with an iPhone 7. So here is an image I stole off the website of the Bolivian Bird Conservation website Armonia

And ditto for the Coati (the Amazonian racoon) here which I pinched off Wikipedia :



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