we were woken up early this morning to do our walk through the pampas. we were given huge rubber boots and after slathering up with a crapload of sunblock and insect repellant, we were ready to go. as we walked, the grass around us got taller and taller until eventually we were walking in grass up to our waist. depending on where we were, this grass could get even higher and sometimes we were walking through dense grass that was over our heads.
see how tall and dense the grass is? you can barely see our guide’s head!
although we were out there looking for all sorts of various wildlife, our main goal was to find an anaconda. anacondas are fairly common out in this area and the group that went on the hike yesterday had seen a 7 foot long anaconda. as walked along, i thought to myself how crazy this all was. i was out here walking through 7 foot high grass searching for deadly snakes. and yeah, tour groups were led through here all the time, so it’s not like we were exactly blazing new trails, but still… we were in the middle of god knows where, hours away from the nearest town, walking through greenery so tall that we could barely see several feet in front of us, and we were searching for anacondas. crazy…
me in my dorky boots
walking through the grass, we would come across long boggy streams and swampy areas that we had to slosh across. the heat and bugs were unbearable as usual. our guide would walk ahead from time to time and poke around under the water with his stick to try to find a snake. no luck. eventually, most of the group got sick of searching. people were tired and hot and cranky. finally, part of the group rested under a tree while the rest of us continued to look. 20 more minutes of searching and still no anaconda. we did find a medium sized alligator though!
we finally gave up and headed back to camp. to get back, we took a shorter path, that involved walking through some super deep muddy slushy nasty-smelling goo. now, to me, this is what i had actually expected from the pampas. when i hear the word “swamp”, i expect to be walking knee-deep in muck. anything less and it’s not really a full on swamp experience. after we got back to camp, we had a couple of hours to relax… which ended up being pretty much impossible to do. sitting outside, the mosquitoes would just eat you like crazy. they literally wouldnâ€™t leave you alone for a second. so you go inside to get away from them and it’s so insanely hot that you can’t stand it. so you go back outside and deal with the mosquitoes again. ugh.
after we ate our lunch, one guy had a great idea to tie some chicken to a string and try to bait the alligator that hangs out below our camp. dude, this alligator is obviously well fed cause he was so damn lazy!! even when the chicken would drop right next to his head, he would often not notice it or not bother going for it. obviously, whether he ate or not didnt matter at all. every once in a while, the gator would get curious and start lumbering out of the water towards the chicken, but if the string was pulled and the chicken moved back a bit, the gator would quickly lose interest. aren’t these things supposed to be ferocious??
our next activity for the day was to go and try to swim with dolphins. there are sections of the river that are inhabited by this weird species of pink freshwater dolphin. we took the canoe out, and after going for a while, we spotted some dolphins. our guide would race the boat all around and the dolphins would swim after us, enjoying our wake, and poking their heads out of the water. eventually, the guide turned off the boat and we got to go swimming in the water. the dolphins were pretty shy. often times, we wouldnâ€™t see them at all for a long time and then eventually one would poke its head out for a second and then dive back in the water. we kept trying to inch closer to them, but it was hard since they would just disappear and then reappear somewhere else. in a way, it was a bit scary actually. the water was really brown and murky and it was impossible to see anything below the surface. yeah sure, dolphins are supposed to be nice and friendly, but it’s a bit disconcerting when one would be swimming towards you, then dives underneath the water, and you would all of a sudden have no clue where this giant animal was or how close to you it might be. at one point, a dolphin popped out of the water just a couple feet away from me, splashed really hard, and then dove back down, totally freaking me out in the process. i kind of think it intentionally tried to mess with me. unfortunately, since these guys popped back into the water so fast, it was almost impossible to get a good photo of them.
you can see the dolphin poking part of his head out
after swimming for a long time, we headed back to camp. we got changed and headed out to this sunset bar that was down the river a bit. we hung out there for a while drinking beers and watching the sun go down. once it got dark, it was time for our night tour. everyone hopped in the canoe and used their flashlights to search for animals at night. it turned out that finding alligators is actually much easier at night than during the day. during the day, the gators are perfectly camouflaged with the tree roots and twigs that stick out of the water… they’re practically impossible to notice without the guides help. but at night, if you just slowly shine your flashlight along the water next to shore, you’ll see these tiny glowing red flashes of light. this is because alligator’s eyes glow red under the light. as we cruised down the river, we saw *tons* of these little glowy red lights. sometimes there would be gators literally every 5 or 6 yards. it was just insane how many of them there were. and if we saw this many, who knows how many we didn’t spot. cruising around the river during the day, we had no idea that there were so many gators around. i thought back to earlier this day when all of us were out there swimming in the river. the *gator infested* river. all of a sudden, our little swim with the dolphins didnt seem nearly as safe and chill as i had thought before!