We liked Sucre, and apparently Sucre liked us back. The night we are planned to take the bus to Cochabamba our last meal in Sucre decides it’s a little too early for us too leave. In stead of spending the night on the bus, Jolien spends the night on the toilet of the hostel. We stay in Sucre two more days, even Christophe pays a little more visits to the toilet than usual. While Jolien admires the walls of the bathroom, Christophe has an interesting chat with a fellow backpacker. Inspired by his experience we decide to book a flight to Santa Cruz to go explore the jungle of Parque Amboró. In Santa Cruz we call one of the communities in the park and make arrangements to stay with them for a few nights.
The community is situated deep into the jungle and can only be reached by crossing the river (no bridge) and a 11 km journey into the jungle. We get the help of a horse to get there. The jungle is hot and humid! We’re very happy with the cheap shirt with long sleeves we quickly bought in Santa Cruz to protect us against the mosquitoes.
We make a two day hike into the jungle, where we swim, get eaten alive by sand flies, chew coca leaves like real Bolivians and see loads of butterflies. No monkeys or tropical birds though… We (read: our guides) set up camp next to the river and prepare us a nice meal. We got to do some fishing, but only the guides managed to catch anything.
On what was supposed to be our final day at La Chonta we get a personal tour of the community by our guide Rolando. He shows us where they live, where the kids go to school (all together, from 8 to noon) and where to people grow there own supplies of peper, yucha, sugar cane and different sorts of medicinal plants.
That night a huge thunderstorm passes the area, with pooring rain all night. The river we’re supposed to cross with the horses is now shoulder-deep and it is not possible to cross it. Together with a group of Bolivian tourism officials we have no choice but to stay at La Chonta for another day and night. It doesn’t stop raining until the afternoon, so there really is nothing to do but to sleep, read and eat… Thank god for hammocks!
We socialize with one of the experts from Torotoro National Parc, our next stop in Bolivia. We get lots of interesting information and can’t wait to go there.
The next morning we our told the river is at a good level now and can be crossed without problem. We arrive smoothly in Buena Vista, where we drink some beers with the locals on the plaza while waiting for our bus.
Although we didn’t see much ‘jungle’ wildlife, we had an amazing experience. We got really inspired by the community tourism and are very happy that we chose to contact the community directly in stead of going through a tour agency in Santa Cruz. We met some beautiful people here!