REPORT ON THE KOTA MAMA 9 EXPEDITION
TO BOLIVIAN AMAZONAS
In November 2022 a 22-strong Anglo-Bolivian expedition carried out a scientific recce and community aid tasks on the Beni and Madidi rivers in Bolivian Amazonas.
Supported by the Scientific Exploration Society and the Bolivian Navy, the team refurbished the school at Tres Hermanos village and worked on its water supply. School books and furniture were also provided thanks to the generous support of the Simón I. Patiño Foundation and other sponsors. Dentist Jo Rees carried out many extractions and Jennifer Ellenger of Jersey distributed reading glasses to this and other villages.
Travelling over 1000 kms in open boats the team endured temperatures of over 38 degrees as well as plagues of insects. Numerous alligator-like caimans and capybara lined the riverbanks.
In the final day the expedition was struck by an extremely violent storm that lasted up to 10 hours. Local resident Adelita Jordan (71) who was in the team said "I have never known such violence. The ground shook with the thunder, and lightning struck the beach around us. Torrential rain driven by gale force wind made me think it was the end of the world. It was like a biblical tempest, and I prayed harder that I can ever remember."
Chilled and drenched to the skin the team took to their boats, and bailing hard they faced submerged logs and sand banks. Later, driven sand and fog reduced the visibility to 30 metres, forcing crew men over the side to push their craft off sand banks. Large caiman, that can be aggressive were an added hazard.
However, they reached the town of Rurrenabaque safely as darkness fell. “It was certainly a testing experience, but teamwork paid off'' commented Col John Blashford-Snell who led the group.
The team also visited Lake Titicaca to sail in the new reed-built catamaran constructed by the legendary boat builder Maximo Catari, who built the reed craft for the earlier Scientific Exploration Society Kota Mama expeditions.
The venture, which had been postponed for over 2 years due to the pandemic, was reckoned to have been a worthwhile success and received grateful thanks from the local communities.