Imagine a place where horses run down an endless beach at sunset and dawn; muscled surfers and wavy haired hippy girls take to the water with their boards searching for the ultimate wave; howler monkeys whoop soulfully at one another across the treetops; well-fed beach dogs play happily in the shallow surf next to long-lashed sunkissed toddlers; the supple-limbed practice yoga as the sun sinks into a golden ball and birds wheel and dive across a pink-hued sky; people gather with their cameras for sunset beers at Banana Beach at the end of another post-card perfect day, just before the sky lights up with a million stars and you can walk back along the beach by the light of the moon.

It’s hard to describe paradise, but one stroll down to the beach in Santa Teresa and you have found it.Stunning uncrowded beaches, small and big waves, with a laid-back vibe, no rubbish and lots of beautiful people, this place is firmly on the surf trail and well worth a visit.  A long, palm-lined beach stre…

It's a Bird's Life!

I’ve posted on Facebook about some of my daily adventures with the animals of Inti Wara Yassi.  I wanted to go a little more in-depth on my blog not only to to encourage other people to come and have this rewarding experience, but to treasure the memories for myself.  
Spider Monkeys!
My first day I was assigned to the spider monkeys.  This involved a hike upwards into the jungle, carrying over 10kg of ‘api’ or porridge in a backpack.  I was in full waterproof gear, as it's very wet in November and it's pretty mucky.  Once there, we let the monkeys out of the cages and put them on runners by way of a carabiner.  The monkeys will take you to the runners they want to be on.  There are only 4 caged/leashed monkeys out of the whole troop in the spider park.  Then it’s time to clean the cages, and cut up fruit for their breakfast. They are fed in 3 bowls, one of which is hoisted to a tree so you have to be quite quick to winch it up and move before getting ‘api-head’!  These guys are…

Villa Tunari, Adventures on the Road, The Traveller’s Paradox

Villa Tunari is a town set in the Chapare mountain range.  Wide rivers, lush steaming valleys and the close, looming mountains make this a place of immense beauty.  The town is growing fast in the way that many areas of the third world are now.  Once bypassed by the Cochabamba-Santa Cruz road, the road now thunders straight through it, along with a consistent barrage of trucks and cars and motorbikes.  There is also a newer, smaller road cutting through Parque Machia – the home of Inti Wara Yassi animal refuge where I have been working as a volunteer for the past 3 weeks- right to the coca-growing town of Copacabana 5km away.  Rumours abound about why the Bolivian government built it, but presumably to make the transportation of drugs in and out of the region easier.  However it has had a devastating effect on the park, making animal management is a lot more difficult.

Weather is crazy here this time of year. The thunder rumbles in the distance, like a warning growl from some predatory…

Cochabamba, Bolivia

I had one afternoon and evening in Cochabamba in the Bolivian Andes, flying in from Sao Paulo over some breath-taking mountains – probably the Chapare range which I would bus through again the next day.  My last memory of it from late 2002 was that it was a small, dusty city, and I transited through the bustling bus station on my way to Villa Tunari.  I remember staring in horror at a jam-packed cage of live guinea-pigs by my feet, which is an Andean dish (hopefully a tradition that is on its way out as I haven't seen any this trip but avoid 'cuy' on any menu in South America), and wondering whether to set them all free.  I would have probably been arrested and the poor animals would no doubt have scurried under the wheels of buses only to be squished to death, so common sense did win out – but at the time I couldn’t wait to get out of there. 

Not so now – fast forward to 2015 and the city is transformed into a modern, buzzing hub.  Surrounded by the Tunari range of mountai…