Monday, 26 July 2010

Rio Pirita – A Very Wet Trek

The second option was a 5 day wet canyon trek in Rio Pirita. And the two more were Noam (a lonely Israeli girl worshiping Shaul) and Alexa (a 19 year old British girl, trusting an Israeli who recommended Shaul to her back in her hostel).
We set to meet back at Shaul’s the next morning, 08:00AM, packed and ready to go. Back the next morning, I found out Noam convinced another Israeli to join. Asaf is 37 years old and just now found some time for his big trip in South America. Bolivia has its own time schedule, and we ended up leaving La Paz at 10:00AM. From La Paz we drove 6 hours by taxi to a town called ‘Caranavi’, then, 2 more hours (switching private taxis?!?) to the starting point.
After already driving an hour and a half on the second taxi, Asaf finds out that the rear storage door has jumped open during the drive. Stopping and counting the bags, we found out that Asaf’s bag is missing. All passengers & remaining bags dismount the taxi and the driver + our guide (Leonid, AKA Superman #1), drive back to town to find the missing bag. Waiting forever, we decide to make some ‘Nachle’ black coffee on the road. Asaf has a problem with it (not good enough for him), and I end up drinking it by my self.
After a long time (the bag was found back in town, a car driving by picked it up), we finally continue it the right direction. Although we were meant to walk a bit that day, we arrive too late to the dropping point, and just settle for the night.
The next morning we wake up to very tasty oatmeal made by Leonid (which turns out to be a good chef), and start walking on a jungle path down towards the stream bellow. Once down, we cross the river for the time (certainly not the last), and walk without equipment to a three stories waterfall splashing all over. Happy and amazed, we go for a swim (not knowing how much wetness awaits us).
Back with the bags, Leonid makes lunch (tasty again). We, by the mean time, re-pack our stuff inside large thick-rubber bags, to avoid the upcoming water. Leonid, after he had finished making lunch (never rests) ensures our bags are all secure, and raps them with blue Utah-bags as well (to avoid damage to the expensive bags). This routine is repeated every morning and after every lunch, until we finish the trek.
Starting to walk, at first you care if you’re dry or wet, but after 100 meters it doesn’t matter any more. We arrive to a pool crossing, high walls on both sides, and all we can do is swim through it. Leonid surprises us again by gently laying his pack in the water, and jumping right on it, using it as a small raft. We do the same (not as successful as Leonid, but still).
The next adventure is a high waterfall without the option to go around it. Leonid ties a very worrying rope to a big tree, and we all climb down from it.
Another worrying spot, but Leonid always has the answers. This time, a slippery looking slop, and we’re not sure how to pass it. Leonid signals us to wait. He, easily climbs up, ties the rope to a tree, climbs down without his bag takes Noam’s and climbs back up, Noam climbs very slowly after him. Same thing happens with the other bags (and with the rest of us). When I arrive to the top of the climb, I realize there’s another slop on the other side, and all the bags are already waiting down there.
The walls of the canyon are closing on us, making the views prettier and the water colder, each evening Leonid finds a dry spot next to the waters to make camp. He also makes breakfast, lunch and dinner, and lets us help just a bit. During the second day Alexa’s Utah bag tears and the polls for the tent fall off and in to the water, we recognize they are missing way too late, and from that evening Leonid builds a shelter as well (from scratch).
On the fourth day we leave our bags, in the bushes and go for a detour in a nearby smaller creek. We walk for about an hour and arrive to a black narrow canyon with cold (very cold) water rushing through slippery waterfalls. Leonid amazes us again being able to climb slippery waterfalls from the middle, then, once he’s up throws the rope back down and raises us up. The way down is a lot easier, and just as fun – we just jump down to the deep pools, or slide down the waterslides made by nature. This experience resembles the ‘Black Gorge’ in the ‘Zavitan’ river back in Israel, but think about doing it back and forth.
We got to the end of the canyon (the main one), and so the last day was just crossing the stream from one side to the other, until we got to the pickup bridge.
One of the things Shaul loves the most, is sending Muchileros for ‘expeditions’, this meaning you go and check out a place no one has ever been before. For us, he offered a tube ride downstream in another river close to the town of Caranavi. We had to wait about three hours for the guide sent from La Paz with the tubes and for the purpose of helping out Leonid during the two upcoming days.
Fernando, AKA Superman #2, arrived to Caranavi after nightfall. We drove in a taxi for about half an hour, and got off next to a different creek from the one we left earlier the same day. Leonid and Fernando went to search for a place to make camp.
In the morning, we went back to the drop off point to look for a place to fill up the tubes. Once filled up with air, Leonid and Fernando tied each bag to one tube, making it as comfortable as possible to sit on and float. All was good except for the fact that there weren’t so much water in the stream. We tried real hard but we just couldn’t float with the tubes, and ended up pulling them down the stream instead.
That night we slept by a nearby smaller river, which we checked out shortly before sunset. The second day of the expedition was a half day, due to the fact that we understood pretty fast that the difference between enjoying the tube ride & getting hurt really badly is very close. If you succeed on gliding through a waterfall – it’s really fun & nit, but if you don’t – it hurts really badly, and it can very easily be dangerous.
Good thing we asked to stop at midday, because even so, we got back to La Paz in 03:00AM. Shaul was very nice, and let us stay for the night at his place.
Tips for Rio Pirita:
- If you like to do things your way, get in touch with Shaul. See if something catches your eye on his website, or just ring the door bell with his name on it on Tarija street, La Paz (look for an A4 sign on a second floor window, Shaul’s name is written in Hebrew).
- Leonid was a very good guide. Knows just Spanish, but other than that, he’s perfect. Good cook, knows the way, and will do anything to satisfy your needs. Say hi for me.
- The trek itself was really pretty. The only downside was that I couldn’t take as much photos as I wanted – water problem. If you’re not into water, this trek is not for you.

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