In the shared taxi on the way to Samaipata I happened to sit next to a German girl who had just came back from the jungle near Trinidad. She apparently did a week of volunteering and told me how amazing it was to stay and feel the nature. It all sounded quite exotic and intriguing so I got the contact from her in case I decided to go there after Samaipata.
People in Bolivia are very chilled
It had been 5 months in South America and already 6 weeks in Bolivia, I am really enjoying this country. What I loved about Bolivia is the people, they are very relaxed and not aggressive at all, wherever I go they never overcharge me or even bother to try. Nobody is shouting in the street and very chilled.
Enter Bolivia from San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, then start from the Salar de Uyuni
I entered Bolivia from San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, then started from the Salar de Uyuni, the biggest salt lake flat in the world and undoubtedly one of the highlights so far, Potosí, Sucre, Santa Cruz and Samaipata.
Japanese immigrant communities near Santa Cruz: Colonia Okinawa & Colonia San Juan de Japones
I also visited two Japanese immigrant communities near Santa Cruz, one is Colonia Okinawa then Colonia San Juan de Japones. Each place has its own charm and I really loved all of them.
I was standing at the bus station in Santa Cruz after returning from Samaipata, still not sure of going to east of Bolivia then Brazil, or going to Trinidad and eventually La Paz and Peru. I was there in the afternoon so most of buses are not going to leave until after 19:00 so I sat in the cafeteria started a bit of research on the internet. I then remembered the place that German girl stayed, Chuchini Amazon Wildlife Eco Reserve & Lodge, and read the reviews from TripAdvisor. In the end, I bought the ticket to go there.
Take the Bus from Santa Cruz to Trinidad for your Jungle Adventure
I initially thought of going there as a guest, but wanted to stay in the jungle more than a few days so contacted Miriam from the Chuchini lodge for a volunteer position and I miraculously got the reply immediately! So my plan was now all set and ready to start an adventure in the jungle.
When I arrived the lodge there were already four other volunteers from Italy, France, Germany and Belgium, now adding a Japanese so we were quite international team and we worked next few days painting a huge wall with local animals and its scenery and it turned out just amazing!
Being a volunteer, we do some tasks every day but not so intensive. We also get to go to tours with tourists if it’s not too busy. I was on Amazon river tour and it was so much fun!
Amazon River Boat Tour – Pink River Dolphins
We started the tour departing right in front of the lodge by boat. We immediately spotted a small alligator along the way and saw many kind of birds like king fisher, cranes, ara parrots and many more, some of them fly alone, others in groups. I loved just watching the scenery pass-by comfortably sitting under the shade with nice breeze on my face. We spotted a few pink dolphins, too! Amazing.
After almost one hour on the river, suddenly the river enters an open space and merge in to a much bigger river that eventually go through Brazil then arrive to the Atlantic Ocean!
We landed ashore and started to swim but first, our experienced tour guide Ibis, who is also the owner of the business, started banging the water with a paddle, just to make sure there is no manta rays in the sea!
Mud bath & nice picnic
We then moved to a near by lake, which wasn’t at all a lake but a big puddle with full of mud and we were all at war. Throwing mud to each other, covering the face, jumping and sliding in to the mud. After we were all tired of throwing at each other and playing a kid, we cover ourselves up with mud and lay under the sun until it gets dry for our beauty treatment. Bliss.
I was enjoying the nature so much I didn’t realize it was almost 14:00, no wonder I felt hungry then. We had a nice picnic on the shore, no other tourists in sight but just our group, with a glass of Bolivian beer Pacena. What more could I ask?
After the lunch came the best part of the river trip, we just lay on the hammock and watched the world go by as we sailed. It really was the best part of the trip for me.
After the relaxing hammock time, we are on fishing piranhas! I never expected to use a piece of meat for the bait;-) I wasn’t catching anything until the last minute, luckily I caught this big piranha so I was pretty happy.
Fish for piranhas and taste them!
While we were fishing, we saw a few more pink dolphins, too. We caught about 8 piranhas plus many small fishes. All small fishes and half of piranhas are fried, and the rest are cooked with tomato, onions and some spices for lunch next day. They were a bit bony, but all quite good.
We started heading back as the sun had started setting. I was on the upper deck of the boat and feeling the breeze, I was very happy just laying on the roof seeing the occasional birds pass-by.
By the time we arrived the lodge the sky was turning to pink and grey, so beautifully shaded.
Volunteer in Chuchini Eco Reserve & Lodge
During the week in Chuchini, I also did horse riding, zip lining, night alligator tour and jungle walking. I had an amazing week spending in this stunning location with other volunteers from around the world, and of course thanks to our very kind hosts Miriam and Ibis. If you want to have a great Amazon experience in Bolivia, just go to Chuchini lodge in Trinidad!