Pink River Dolphin Tour

No trip to Chuchini is complete without joining their pink river dolphin tour… and we knew this in advance so prior to arriving we arranged to join a group of Chuchini overnight visitors on their dolphin tour…

At 10am we set off…

The journey started by boat across the lagoon of Chuchini… it was a scenic boat ride, with some bird and caiman spotting thrown into the mix…

Baby caiman on the shores of the lagoon.

We then disembarked to start the 10 minute jungle trail to reach the Ibaré river where the bigger boat was waiting for us.. in the wet season the lagoon at Chuchini is attached by a small channel to the Ibaré river so you don’t need to do a boat – walk combo to reach the river… in the dry season however, well that’s just how it is!!!

We enjoyed the walk – Efrem (the guide and owner of Chuchini) pointed out one of Bolivia’s national flowers (Bolivia apparently has two… one which only grows in the west of the country, the other which only grows in the east…) and many other things on the way 🙂

And we’re off… on our way to the river.
Patujú – one of the national flowers of Bolivia… picked for its red, yellow, green colour combo which matches the flag in case you’re wondering 🙂

After our short walk we arrived at the boat… and with everyone onboard… the engine started and we were on our way down the Ibaré river… our destination – the mouth of the Mamoré river where we hoped to see pink river dolphins 🙂 🙂

The ride down the river was pretty relaxing – it was nice just to drift down the river, watching the world go by… there was very little river traffic – we only saw one other tourist boat, and a couple of boats with locals fishing or transporting goods from one place to the next… there were however, lots of birds to see – cormorants, herons, anhingas to name but a few, and it was fun to scan the tree canopy in the hope of seeing a sloth or a monkey or two…

Our boat.
There’s not much traffic on the Ibaré river…. just a fishing boat or two.
The Ibaré river.
Birds fly overhead…
Refreshments are provided on the boat… here CC and PB enjoy deliciously refreshing tarongas (grapefruit).

While cruising down river towards the mouth of the Mamoré river we were lucky enough to see THREE pods of pink river dolphins… they put on quite a show for us… but were a little too speedy for us to get any good pictures 🙁 Not all the dolphins we saw were actually pink… yes they were still pink river dolphins (also known as Amazon river dolphins, and bufeos)… BUT they were grey!!!

When pink river dolphins are young they are grey – then as they get older they turn pink… apparently a number of things influence the colour of the dolphins… but some will be pinker than others… and to top it all off they might change colour as you’re watching them because as they get excited they blush pink…

Our first glimpse of a pink river dolphin.
Our best picture of a pink river dolphin… I warned you that we didn’t have any good ones!

Next stop… mud bath and lunch… no I’m not making this stuff up!!

After the dolphins got bored of our boat, we too – begrudgingly moved on – our boat driver steered our boat towards the beach across the other side of the river…

Parked up at the beach – a perfect lunch spot 🙂
Chuchini… an arty shot of our boat!

BUT before we could eat, Efrem led the way to the end of the beach with the mud… it was time to get dirty… this mud APPARENTLY has heaps of minerals in it and is great for the skin… who were we to say otherwise… we gave it a shot…

Efrem our guide obviously loves this part of the river dolphin tour 🙂
PB embraces the mud…
And so does CC… although she’s wary of someone else’s feet that seem a tad too close… and ready to splat her at any time…

Getting the mud off proved a little difficult though… no power shower to clean yourself up on this beach… the only way to get the mud off was to jump in the river and try and wash it off…  this worked to varying degrees… but we were clean enough to eat lunch and then get back in the boat for the ride home…

Looking back down the beach.
Our boat.

On the way back to Chuchini, not only did we see red howler monkeys and some river turtles, but we also saw a jabiru… it’s been a while since our last jabiru sighting so this was really nice 🙂

We also made a couple of stops to try our hand at fishing… there are piranhas in the river… so the plan was to catch fish for dinner… well it was at the beginning of the ride home anyway… by the time we’d tried a few fishing spots and VERY LITTLE had been caught… dinner plans were rapidly changing!?!

Red howler monkeys in the jungle canopy on the way home.
River turtles 🙂  Exact species unknown 🙁
The jabiru.
Fishing for piranhas.
PB fishing 🙂
Proof that there is piranha in the river… or given that this is the only one we caught… maybe proof that we (i.e. someone on the boat not PB or CC) caught the last one?!?
Workers heading home after a hard day on the river.

We really enjoyed our pink river dolphin tour – the dolphins were AMAZING – a highlight of our time in Chuchini 🙂 But it was back to Chuchini for showers and then back to work… No rest for the wicked 😉

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