Tsimane 2015 Trip Report
The new Pluma Lodge at Tsimane
Even a booking agent has a bucket list of places he or she would like to visit, and they are really not too dissimilar from those of our clients.  For me, that list includes both fishing and hunting trips, and most are fairly exotic.  One such trip on my list     has included a place known as Tsimane ever since I purchased Anglers & Hunters five years ago.
Tsimane is actually the name of a Bolivian tribe, and the fishery shares the name because it is 50% owned by the Tsimane people (The other 50% is owned by the good folks at Untamed Angling).  The fishery is in the heart of the Isiboro National Park in Bolivia, and includes a number of different rivers.
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the Pluma Camp at Tsimane along with seven clients and did my best to document the adventure…
Day 1/2 (August 27 & 28) –
Our group was coming primary from two areas, Crested Butte and Dallas, so we decided we would all make our way to Miami and take the same flight to Santa Cruz from there.
Upon arrival in the terminal at DFW, I was able to find Don R., Don H., and Ron, and we departed on the evening flight to Miami.  The flight over to Miami was on a fairly new 777 and was great.  Once there, we met with the rest of our party (Ansel, Tim, Nick, and Roger) hanging out at the American Express Centurion Lounge (much nicer than the Admiral’s Lounge that American runs).  There we got better acquainted, and had a little snack and a few cocktails.
Our Miami-to-Santa Cruz flight departed a just before midnight, and featured a stop over in La Paz on the way.  Sadly, this flight was on one of American’s oldest planes in the fleet, a 757 that had been “upgraded” according to American, but I would beg to differ (or would have hated to see the “before”).  Later in the week I ran into our pilot at the hotel in Santa Cruz, and he explained to me that there was a reason for the 757.  Apparently the narrow-body nature of the plane, combined with the amazing thrust of it’s engines are required for landing and take-off in the thin air of La Paz (the world’s highest international airport at 12,000 ft.).
For me, the flight was a bit rough.  In Miami, the gate agent insisted I check my bag, which contained my pain pills for an ailing back.  Also, the gentleman in the seat next to me was a bit hefty, and utilized part of my seat in addition to his.  Needless to say, my flight was a bit restless and more than a little uncomfortable.
The overnight flight to La Paz landed around 7:00am, and we sat on the ground for about an hour before heading on to Santa Cruz with some newly added passengers going on to Miami after we deplaned at Viru Viru Airport in Santa Cruz.
Upon landing in Santa Cruz, we were met by Hugo from Untamed Angling right outside of customs.  He helped our party, along with four other anglers headed to the Asante Camp get to the shuttle.  The shuttle took us on to the Los Tajibos Hotel, where we were able to check in, but couldn’t get into our rooms due to the early hour.
The Los Tajibos is a very nice hotel, even by American standards, and we were able to find a nice spot at the poolside restaurant to enjoy a beer and check our emails on their complimentary WiFi.  The wait wasn’t too long, and after about an hour we were able to get our room keys and head up for a little rest.
At 3:00 we all met Hugo in the lobby for a two hour tour of Santa Cruz.  Santa Cruz is larger than I expected with a couple million people populating the city and the surrounding boroughs.  It certainly isn’t as beautiful as Buenos Aires or Santiago, but Hugo did a nice job of showing us some of the finer attractions, and it also allowed us the opportunity to buy a box of Cuban cigars and some single malt scotch for camp.  Hugo was a great guide, and he ended the tour by buying us a beer near the river.
Following our tour we returned to the hotel for about an hour before walking about a block to Los Hierros, an excellent steakhouse.  There, Hugo taught us a bit about the differences between Bolivian and Argentine beef, which was very interesting.  The Bolivian beef was much more flavorful, but a bit tougher than the Argentine beef.  Both had more flavor than the steaks we enjoy here in the states, but neither was as tender.
After dinner we headed back to the hotel.  I think a couple of guys may have enjoyed a cigar by the pool, but I was snoring back in my room before they even struck a match.
Day 3 –
On Saturday morning we all managed to find our way to breakfast around 6:00am, then headed to the lobby for departure to the local airfield (not the international airport).  Upon arrival, both our bags and bodies were weighed so the pilots could do weights and balances for our journey into the jungle.  For the combined groups, we used four planes; 3 Cessna 210s, and a Partenavia Turbine.  I was one of seven assigned to the turbine, which didn’t hurt my feelings since it was the fastest of the four planes and would have us at the Oromomo camp 20 minutes before the others.
After a bit of a wait, we were finally “wheels up” at 9:30am, and landed at the village around 11:00.  Upon landing, we made our way over to a makeshift table set up by the park rangers who took the receipts showing we had paid our $670 park fee to Hugo at the hotel that morning.  The process was simple and gave us time to go quiz the departing guests about conditions.
Sadly, the reports were less than ideal.  Each guests told us that water was clear, quite low, and the fishing was tough.  The dorado is a migratory fish that follows the much smaller sabalo, an algae eating fish that looks like a very small carp or tilapia.  With the low water, the fish hadn’t been moving upstream, and had seen quite a few flies over the last couple weeks.  We took the reports in stride, and knew our superior angling abilities could overcome the conditions (wink, wink).
As the departing group headed for their planes, we identified our bags, and met our camp host, Vicente “Chucky” Lorente.  Chucky led us on a ten-minute hike through the village and down to the river where we boarded the hand-built boats to head to the camp.  Very thoughtfully, Chucky brought along a large Yeti cooler full of soft drinks for us to enjoy on the one-hour ride to camp.
The river at the village certainly didn’t look clear, but the conditions were obviously low.  In fact, at one point we had to exit the boats on the shore and walk around the rapids, as our local boatmen ran the boats up and met us.  For this reason, I’d recommend that anyone going in the future make sure to wear some shoes you don’t mind getting wet, or your wading boots for the ride.  I had a pair of Keen’s on, so it wasn’t a big deal to me.  Ansel, on the other hand, had a pair of leather loafers on that I hated to see get wet (I think I minded it more than he did).
As I said, the water on the way upriver was surprisingly stained.  I would call it the color of chocolate milk.  However, about 40 minutes into our journey we came to the confluence of the Pluma and Secure Rivers, and the Pluma looked as clear as spring-water.  It was fascinating to see the point where the two rivers churned into a less-murky water than the Secure.  Little did I know I’d be fishing that confluence later in the week.
About 30 minutes past the confluence, we reached the gravel bar (more of a freestone bar) below the Pluma Lodge.  We exited the boats and the local’s took care of making sure our bags made it up the hill.  Once on the gravel bar, you head up a fairly long stairway to reach the lodge built up on the bluff.  It really wasn’t that far, but by the end of the week, I felt as victorious when reaching the top in wet gear as I imagine mountaineers feel when summiting Mt. Everest.
At the top of the hill was the newly constructed Pluma Lodge.  Yes, there has been a Pluma Lodge at Tsimane for years, but it was lost back in February to a massive flood.  Somehow, the Untamed crew and Tsimane tribesmen managed to build a whole new lodge in only 57 days, and in time for the beginning of the season.  To understand this monumental feat, you have to realize that all supplies are at least a three-day boat ride away.
The Pluma Lodge is really quite beautiful.  A front porch spans the entire front of the structure in front of the four guest rooms, host room, and the great room featuring a dining and living area.  Walls resemble teak wood, but I can’t confirm that is what they are, and the roof is tiki-style, using palm leaves (which are abundant).  Power at the lodge is made by a near-silent diesel generator, and tap water is heated by solar energy.  The tap water is filtered by paper and UV filter.  I didn’t drink it, but I did brush my teeth with it daily with no ill effects.
Plum Lodge great room
Guest rooms at the lodge are very clean and comfortable.  Each features twin beds with mosquito netting, two bedside tables, two small shelving units, a closet/locker area, and a private bathroom with flushing toilet, sink, and shower.  Rooms are “open-air” style, with screened windows and ceiling fans.  On hot nights, it did get a little warm as we slept since the camp generator turns off around midnight and doesn’t come back on until 6:00am, but Chucky told me they are planning on installing a solar battery system for the fans before next season, which should make a nice difference.
Once we had a chance to settle into our rooms, we headed over to grab lunch, which was a beef stew.  It was delicious, and of course our Argentine host had a nice Malbec to accompany it.  It was served by one of the two gracious female hostesses in camp, Manuela and Gabriella.  The ladies served as our waitresses and housekeepers, and were always quick with a cocktail when we finally made it to the top of the seemingly endless stairs up to the lodge at the end of the day.
Following lunch we returned to our rooms where we unpacked, and were joined by the guides for rigging of our gear.  They seemed quite pleased with the fly selection we had picked for everyone’s box, and helped us get our leaders and tippets tied on.  Saturday wasn’t a guided fishing day, but we were free to go down to the home pool on our own, and I utilized that time to refresh myself on the finer points of the ‘double-haul’, a technique I recommend everyone going to Tsimane learn and perfect prior to arrival.
For our week, all four of the guides were Argentine, and all were amazing.  Each had their own personality and techniques, but our guests gave very positive reviews to all.  An interesting point about the guides and their quality:  When we left camp I did an informal survey of all eight guests on who their favorite guide was, and among the eight, I got four different answers. Each guest told me they had a favorite, but would gladly have any of the four as a guide in the future.
Following our practice session, we returned to camp (up those torturous stairs again!!!) and readied ourselves for dinner.  I took a few minutes to sit down with Chucky, and we came up with a rotation of beats and guides for the first four days.  Dinner followed, and it was a wonderful chicken curry dish with rice, followed by a chocolate mousse cake that was amazing.  I won’t bore you with the details of each meal, but they were all fantastic.
Day 4 –
Our first day of guided fishing!!!
My partner and roommate for the week was Don H., and we headed out after breakfast to fish the Itirizama, which we later figured out was the toughest and most technical beat in the fishery.  Juan Pablo was our guide, and he couldn’t have been nicer.  His personality was less intense than the others, and I really enjoyed that on my first day.
To reach the Itirizama, we took the motorboat about 30 minutes upstream to the old camp (in ruins) at the confluence of the Pluma and Itirizama.  From there, we moved over to a smaller, motorless, dugout boat.
I should point out that each day we were paired with a guide, and two local boatmen.  These were native tribesmen that were lucky enough to be picked by their chief for a two-week tour of duty up at camp.  Apparently, this is the ‘white-collar job’ among the tribe, and the men all compete for the duty.  Of note:  the local tribesmen prefer to be called “locals”, not “Indians”, which is deemed to be offensive.
Once in the dugout canoe, complete with our Yeti cooler, the locals poled us up to the first set of falls above the confluence and we witnessed our first feeding frenzy.  To explain it doesn’t do it justice, but the frenzies occur when the dorado decide to go hunting, and drive the sabalo up into the shallows then attack them.  It begins with one or two fish attacking, but I witnessed one frenzy with at least 10 dorado involved.  The attacks are swift, and violent, and all you see are yellow and orange tails flopping, and water churning.  The attacks only last a minute or two, and if you are lucky enough to be within casting distance, you are all but assured a hook up with an accurately placed fly.  For my first couple days, that “accurately placed fly” thing was a bit of an issue.
My partner on the other hand didn’t have any casting issues on our first day, landing 3 dorado.  In the other groups, Ron landed 3 dorado, and Tim landed a pacu (making me very jealous since I’ve been trying to land a pacu for three trips).
The day provided us with the most fish spotted, mostly thanks to the crystal clear water.  However, that clear water also hampered us with some very spooky fish.  On that day, we also saw several macaws, numerous other beautiful birds, a cayman, and a tapir that was cooling himself off in the river (we actually got within about 10 yards of him in our boat).
After a long day of fishing, we headed back to the lodge and enjoyed another great meal (Brazilian strip steaks) before turning in early.
Day 5 –
Finally on the scoreboard!!!
After sleeping like the dead, we awakened ready for another day of fishing.  Following breakfast, Don and I made our way to the Upper Pluma beat with our guide Nico.
On just the second pool of the day I landed my first (and largest) dorado of the trip.  The guide said he was around 20 lbs, but I am betting a little shy of that.  Regardless, it was nice to get on the board, and he put up a great fight.
My partner Don increased his tally with two dorado.  I’m sad to say I didn’t get to witness his catches.  We were quite a ways apart when he landed them, and by the time I reeled in and made my way over, they had released both fish.
Overall, on that day we saw fewer fish than the previous, but did get to witness a number of feeding frenzies from afar.
When we returned to the lodge we found that the second day was kinder to the group than the previous.  Ansel managed to land 4 dorado, and Tim, Nick, and Don R. all managed to land one as well.
Day 6
We woke again around 6:00am when the generator came on and our ceiling fan began to turn.  This was welcomed after our hottest night of the week.  A number of us commented that we were uncomfortable once the fan shut off the night before, that is when we heard about them working to remedy the issue with a solar battery system for next season.  In the mean time, Chucky promised to keep the generator running longer into the night until the heat wave backed off.
The heat at Tsimane can be brutal, and a guy who lives in North Texas is telling you that. That said, the guides at Tsimane do a great job of making sure you have plenty to drink in between pools.  I chose my hydration in the form of bottled water most of the week, and occasionally added Nuun tablets to my bottle.  These tablets look like an Alka-Selzer, and dissolve just like one too.  The difference is that they offer a sugar-free mixture of electrolytes and salts to help keep you hydrated.  I would suggest them, or one of the many other similar products to anyone heading to a hot weather fishery.
On day 6 (our third day of fishing), Don and I headed to what had universally been referred to as the toughest beat of the four (the Upper Secure), so we weren’t optimistic.  However, that sentiment changed pretty quickly as we stopped on a couple pools just below the lodge, and fished the clear water of the Lower Pluma before the confluence.
Our guide Augusto was the hardest working of our four guides that week, and seemed to constantly be running between the two of us to make sure everything was okay.  At this point, I was finally starting to get my casting back to old form, and I started the day with a baby dorado (maybe 3 lbs.).  It wasn’t much of a fish, but it was enough to keep me focused and enthused.
Just above the confluence, Don found a honey-hole and landed both a yatorana and a pacu.  His yatorana was the only fish of its species caught all week, and Don was suddenly three-fourths of his way toward the Tsimane Slam.  We saw a couple other fish in that pool, but weren’t able to land them.
Once we reached the confluence, the day became rough.  The muddy water just wasn’t as forgiving as we had hoped, and we waited almost 3 hours for our next bite, on our way back to the lodge.  It was back at Don’s honey-hole that I was able to land a nice 8 lb. dorado on a Puglisi pattern.  I think I must have cast 200 times in that hole, but knew a fish had to be there and was finally rewarded for my persistence.
After that, we continued back to the lodge for the evening where we learned that Ron and Don R. had struck gold (literally) with six and four dorado respectively.  Ansel and Tim both added one to their tally as well.  Unfortunately, our new anglers, Nick and Roger were skunked for the day.
Day 7
Another hot night, but I did pull my mosquito net back, which made the ceiling fan much more effective, and cooled me off until around 2:00am, when the generator shut off.  We also woke to find that a stomach bug had struck Ansel overnight, and he thought it best to take the day off.
Once we got out on the river, we could see some clouds up in the mountains, which was exciting.  A new inch or two of rain would cloud up the water, but it would also hopefully kick the fish migration back into gear.  Sadly the clouds were just clouds and only added to the humidity.
Don and I headed down to the Lower Secure beat for the day; it covers the stained water from the confluence of the two rivers, all the way down to the Oronomo village where we had landed just four days before.  The day was again challenging, with each of us landing only one dorado.  But oh, what could have been.
After lunch, we worked our way down river to the widest section we fished all week.  The water was about waist-deep, and I decided to make some long cast across the river, and let my Puglisi dead-drift down through the current to directly below me before stripping my line back in.  Well, it worked on my third cast, and as I made the first strip, a freight train hammered the fly.  At that point I let out the shriek of a 12 year old girl, and Augusto came running just as the massive fish made it’s first attempted jump.  I say attempted because he was so big that he never made it completely airborne on any of the three jumps we witnessed.  I fought the fish for what seemed like an eternity, and was making some excellent progress in walking it to the shore.  However, when I had him about 40 feet away, he decided to make a run directly at me, and I wasn’t able to reel the slack in quickly enough to keep tension on the line.  Like that, he spit the hook out and was gone.  I may have taught Augusto some new words in English that he probably shouldn’t ever repeat in those following few moments.
The loss of what was likely the fish of the week was heartbreaking, but oh what a fight.  Don and I both knew exactly what I had just lost, and Augusto estimated the fish between 30 and 35 lbs.
After that, we headed back upstream to camp and found that Tim had a whopper of a day with four dorado and two pacu landed.  Don R. and Ron also added a dorado.  Additionally, Ansel seemed to be feeling better.  He had decided to start taking his Cipro pills, and either they were working, or the bug he had was a short-lived one. It is always good to be prepared.
Dinner was an amazing chicken and mushroom risotto, followed by chocolate and peanut butter crepes, but they couldn’t get the bad taste out of my mouth from the “big one” that got away.
Day 8
Having all experienced each beat, we decided at dinner the previous night to stay paired with our partners and pick beats out of a hat.  Since the Itirizami was now almost impassable due to the low water, we took that beat out of the rotation and decided to split the Upper Pluma into two beats.  Don and I picked one of those two spots, and shared the beat with Don R. and Ron.
Winds in the jungle had picked up overnight, and it was a bit cooler when we woke (90 degrees, instead of 95).  Clouds were again present over the mountains, and you could smell the precipitation headed our way.
This was our first day with Gonzalo as our guide, and we started our day in the pool right above the lodge.  It was there that my partner landed his fish of the week, a monster 25 lb. dorado.
My first fish of the day happened in the next pool up (the same place I caught my big dorado on the second day of fishing) with a monster pacu that hammered a white and green Puglisi.  When finally landed, the fly was unrecognizable, and I was on the board.  Not to be happy with just one fish in my honey-hole, I tied on another white and green Puglisi, and caught my second pacu of the day on my very next cast, again destroying my last white and green Puglisi.  It seemed like the increasing cloud cover, and changing barometric pressure had flipped the old fish-switch to “on”.
The next pool up was deeper, with slower moving current, and Gonzalo decided to tie on a 2/0 hook with a nut on it to try and catch more pacu (which I proceeded to do almost immediately).  At this point my partner Don referred to me as the pacu whisperer, and I was ready for more action.
It was then that something truly remarkable happened…  Don cast his nut out into the deepest part of the pool and thought he had caught a limb.  Only after a few seconds, that limb started to swim, and we thought he had landed a monster pacu.  He fought for 10 minutes, gaining very little ground, when finally the fish decided to make its first appearance atop the water.  No, it wasn’t a pacu, but instead was a monster surubi catfish- that even got the locals excited.  After the longest fight I witnessed during the week, my partner landed a 55 lb. surubi, and became a member of the ‘Tsimane Slam’ club.  We later found learned it was the largest surubi ever caught at the Pluma Lodge, and the first any of the guides had ever known to eat a nut fly.
Not content with that amazing accomplishment, Don decided to get in the boat and go over to fish the other shore of that same pool where he again cast out that nut, and landed a Boga.  This was a fish I’d never read about in all my research on this trip, but it most closely resembled a small carp, and the guides later said no one could remember landing one at Tsimane. Truly, a day of firsts!
With that pool exhausted, we again moved up river and began fishing a long, narrow run of rapids.  It was there that I found my dorado touch, and caught 5 dorado before lunch.  Don added another dorado in that very same section.
When we finally decided to sit down for lunch, the wind was whipping around, and a lightening show began not too long afterward along with some fairly heavy showers.  Almost instantly the water began to get a milky tint, and the fish seemed to shut down almost as quickly as they had turned on in the morning.  The rest of our day we failed to land another fish, but just missed a couple pacu in a deep pool further upstream on that very same nut and 2/0 hook.
When we returned to the lodge, we were amazed to find that the others didn’t share our wild success.  Tim had landed a dorado, and both Ron and Nick landed two.
The rain continued on and off during the afternoon and evening, and with it came some additional bugs, but much cooler temperatures (a trade-off I was happy to make).
Day 9
Around 5:00am I woke to an amazing lightening show, and when the sun finally came up we saw a much different color of water in the river below us… chocolate milk.  Everything I had read in my research for the trip said that days after a rain are among the toughest conditions at Tsimane, so I was less than excited about enduring those conditions for our last day.
To be fair, we had already decided that the guys who went down river the day before would have an opportunity to share the Pluma on this day.  Don R. had decided he was done, and his partner Ron wasn’t too excited about the prospect of fishing, but said he would go out a bit later in the morning.  My partner Don and I decided the lower sections of the rivers didn’t sound very appealing either, so decided to try the Itirizama again, hoping the rain had increased levels enough to make it passible.
The ride up to the Itirizama showed us very little to be excited about.  The river resembled the Red River here in Texas more than the Pluma we had come to know during the earlier part of the week, and it really didn’t seem like water levels had risen dramatically since we had to get out of the boat a few times to make the rapids easier on our guides.  After a long journey up to the old Pluma Camp site, we decided to look around at the ruins while our locals moved our gear over to the smaller dugout canoe.
The old Pluma Camp had already begun to grow over, and showed us just how quickly the jungle will reclaim a building when it isn’t maintained.  It appeared that the locals had used portions of the remaining buildings as a hunting camp, but it certainly didn’t look livable to this guy.  The one resident of the old camp that remained was their cat.  Our guide Nico tried to catch it, but the cat quickly moved under one of the structures.
Once we finished with our exploration, we headed back down to the dugout, where our local boatmen began polling us up to the confluence of the Itirizama and Upper Pluma Rivers.  To our surprise, while the Pluma was darkly stained, the Itirizama was crystal clear.  We fished the confluence for a bit, and Don had a strike, but the fish missed.  After that we began the task of working upriver, and witnessed a couple feeding frenzies.
After an hour of casting with no luck, Nico ran into the woods to grab a trail camera he had left over some jaguar tracks while Don and I stood in the shallows watching for fish in the rapids in front of us.  Just by accident, I turned and looked around and spotted a nice dorado about twenty feet behind us in 5 inches of water.  I told Don to make a cast, and the big fish pounced on his fly.  The fish instantly made a run to the rapids, and made a number of subsequent runs.  It was there we witnessed another three or four dorado attacking the fly hanging out of the hooked fish’s mouth.  Boy, when these fish sense and opportunity for an easy meal they really seize on it!!!  I tried to cast to those attacking fish, but had no luck.
We stopped for lunch shortly after that, and as we ate, saw the color of the river change from clear, to milky, to dark reddish-brown.  Apparently it was raining in the mountains upriver from us.  We didn’t land another fish the remainder of the day, but were happy to call it a week.
When we returned to the lodge we found that the other groups had had just as difficult of a day as we did, with only one other fish landed.  However, it turned out to be the fish of the week, landed by Ansel.
The last evening at Tsimane is a real celebration.  No, they don’t do awards, and I don’t know any hardcore angler who would care about such things.  Instead, the entire staff joined the guests in the living area for a night to enjoy drinks and more amazing food (and maybe a cigar or two).  It was certainly a great way to cap off an amazing week, and we all got a real kick out of spending time with all four guides that had helped us become better anglers.
Day 10
After a long night with the staff, we were afforded an extra hour of sleep before things got rolling on moving day.  However, my body had already become trained to the 6:00am wake-up, so I began packing up in the dark before the generator kicked on at 7:00am.
Breakfast was served at 8:00am, and Chucky told us we’d depart as soon as he got a call from Santa Cruz telling us that the airplanes were headed our way.  That call finally came around 10:30am, and we made our way down to the boats after thanking the staff one last time.
The boat ride down was an uneventful one, other than having to jump out and help dislodge the boat from a big rock.  Thankfully, I had anticipated such an event and had my Keens on.
When we arrived at Oronomo, we made the ten-minute walk to the airstrip where one of the four planes had landed.  There I shared the fishing report with a group from Philadelphia that my friend Tom Gilliland had booked.  I explained the stained water, and that once it cleared up, it would be “game on”.  I also told them of the selection of flies I had the most luck with (large Puglisis with white as the base color).
From there we boarded the Partenavia once again, this time with me in the right seat  (which I enjoyed as a private pilot).  We quickly climbed to 11,000 ft. and found a nice 40-knot tailwind, which had us back to Santa Cruz in just over an hour.
There we found Hugo waiting for us at the airport and packed into the van for the ride back to the Los Tajibos.  From there, most of the group had a quick bite before a well-deserved siesta.  I went to meet with Marcello, one of the partners at Untamed Angling where he told me about some exciting new projects they have on the horizon.  More to come later on those…
That evening we had one last group dinner at Jardin de Asia, on the resort property and were very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the Asian fusion menu.  Following that, we all headed back to the hotel and collapsed from a long week of fishing.
Day 11
The trip home went off without any real hitches.  In Santa Cruz, one of the Immigration Department officials confiscated a bar of chocolate and proceeded to eat it in front of me, but that was a loss I was willing to concede.
We touched down in Miami around 6:00pm and went thru the normal process of immigration and customs there.  Funny enough, I was “randomly” selected to be interviewed by a customs agent who quizzed me on my travel and purpose of said travel.  I must have answered correctly, because after five questions he stamped my card and told me I was free to go.  I have to assume the multiple trips to South America flagged something in their system, but looking back on it, it really wasn’t that big of a deal.
Once my body cavity search was complete I headed on to the gate and found our group enjoying cocktails in the Admirals Lounge next to our gate.  I grabbed a couple cookies and a double-vodka (dinner of champions), and downed it before we hopped on the 737 bound for DFW.
Summary
I really must say that I felt like our group was as prepared for this trip as any I’ve ever hosted.  Untamed Angling does a great job with their pre-trip planner and packing list, and we really wanted for nothing while there.
The fishing at Tsimane was tough, but not impossible.  Out of our group of eight, only one member failed to land a fish, and this was his first time fly-casting.  Our other rookie managed to land two fish on his own, and one with the assistance of a guide.
For the week we landed 62 fish.  51 of those were dorado, and three of us managed to land pacu.  The highlight of my week was watching my partner Don complete the ‘Tsimane Slam’, which is quite an accomplishment at any time of year, but is amplified given the tough conditions.
I’ve had the opportunity to visit quite a few operations over the years, and I would rank Tsimane as one of, if not the very best.  From the transfer team, to the host, to the guides and staff, the personnel cannot be beat.  As I mentioned previously, we wanted for nothing during the course of our stay.
Accommodations at Tsimane are very nice, especially given their remote location.  The rooms are clean, comfortable, and feature many amenities I would not have expected, including satellite internet.  There was the issue with the fans shutting down overnight when the generator turned off, but I was assured it would be handled prior to our trip next year.
As mentioned previously, the food at Tsimane was incredible!!!  Their Argentine chef, Juan, did things that I would expect in a kitchen in the city, not in the middle of the jungle.  On a trip where I felt like I worked my tail off, I came back only two pounds lighter than I arrived, and that is a huge endorsement for his cooking!!!
We’ve already secured a spot for the same week next season, and will begin booking it very soon.  Call Matt at (214) 842-6031 if you are interested in joining us.
Thanks to all my fellow travelers for a great week!!!

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