Tuesday, November 13, 2007


There are two options for getting to Rurrenabaque, gateway to the jungle and pampas of Bolivia. The first, and cheapest option is at least seventeen hours (barring landslide delays) of cliff-side terror that apparently makes the World’s Most Dangerous Road look like the M1. If the reports of busses falling off this road, on average, twice a week don’t turn you off, then the stories of terrified travellers crying non-stop for the entire trip surely will. The second option is to compress the dreadfulness into an easier to swallow Bolivian light commercial aircraft ride of around forty-five minutes. Which is better? We’re not sure, but after much deliberation we booked a pair of seats on a twenty-seat plane, which cost six times more than the bus, but on the plane, your life is dependant on the Andean winds, rather than a tired, underpaid, quite possibly depressed bus driver. I have more faith in the winds.

The... pilots

Cramped conditions aboard

This was our plane. I think the guy in the orange suit is holding the remote control.

After a shaky run-up, our unsure plane struggled valiantly into the air, climbing spectacularly close to the cloud-enveloped mountains. Once we were above the clouds, the ride smoothed out and became less than prayer inducing, and we saw the stunning sight of island-like mountaintops poking through a sea of clouds.

Very close mountains.

Coming into land got our hearts pumping again, on the approach we could see the runway through the front windows, and the little grass landing strip was swaying violently from side to side, often disappearing completely from view. This apparent shuffling of the earth lasted until the last, palpitating seconds of the flight, when there was a loud bang from the rear wheels and the plane touched down safely. We began to breathe again.

Safely landed

It was gloriously hot and humid in Rurrenabaque, a sweaty contrast from the altiplano that we had left 45 minutes ago and nearly 4000 metres more above sea level. We spent the afternoon at the pool enjoying the sensation of shorts and bare feet under a sun that actually produced heat. After lunching and getting acquainted with a friendly macaw, we spent the rest of the day absorbing sunshine.

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