Well this is somewhere that has been on my bucket list forever!!
We arrived in the Amazon rainforest on Friday morning to the welcoming chorus of the jungle birds and monkeys!
We have been staying in “El Paraiso de las orquideas” otherwise known as the “Isla de los monos” which is a gorgeous lodge in the heart of the jungle!
After a delicious lunch, during which we were fed extremely well with lots of plantain, we settled into our rainforest lodges before beginning our afternoon walk. Our local Kichwa guide, Lenning, gave us a guided tour of his home…the jungle!
We not only learnt the names of plants and wildlife but also their multiple uses in jungle life. The strength of some of the plants is phenomenal! To experiment with some leaves we made our own bracelets…
After a great introductory walk to the Amazonian jungle life under the hot sun, I made the most of a swim in the gorgeous swimming pool before supper!
Overnight we learnt that sleeping in the jungle during the rainy season is not easy!! I’ve never seen so much rain even living in England…but atleast this tropical rain is warm! So all togged up in our ponchos, we began our second day in the jungle!
After arriving at Huasquila Lodge we donned wellies and marched off on a 3hr trek through lots of mud and flooded rivers! Feeling like Mowgli clambering over plants and through bushes, we made our way to some caves and a spectacular waterfall! We even took on the role of Tarzan with face paint and swinging from some of the trees too!
Unfortunately, due to the overwhelming amount of water, we were unable to fulfil our original plans of caving in the jungle for the afternoon but we found a yummy alternative way to spend the rest of the day…chocolate making! After picking some fresh yellow cocoa this morning, we set about making our own delicious chocolate which was quickly gobbled up!
On Sunday, we took to the river in dug-out canoes, from which we saw the rainforest in a different light, travelling downstream to the “Amazoonica” Animal Sanctuary. Here the volunteers take in injured and badly treated animals such as monkeys that have been tied with a rope to a post as pets in local tribal communities and care for them until they can be realeased back into the wild again. As we explored the sanctuary we saw many different species from toucans, macaws and monkeys to pumas, turtles and caymans as well as many more!!
After a lunch of fish from the river, we arrived at the Tiyu Yacu community. Located on the banks of the river Napo, a tributary to the Amazon river, this community makes the most of these waters to wash gold. Intrigued as to how they collect gold in this way, I had a go!
To fit in with the local tribe, they even painted my face (that’s twice in two days – my face is slowly changing colour!)
A local woman then showed us how to use yuca, a traditional root vegetable similar to potato, to make Chicha, the traditional drink in the Amazon. I’d say it’s an acquired taste…it certainly doesn’t match with my taste buds!
After a bit of pottery making, we then tried our hand at blow shooting – the traditional hunting method in the area! Shooting at a wooden toucan target, my accuracy wasn’t too bad but a moving prey may have been another matter!
Exploring and meeting a Kichwa community was very interesting and an awesome experience! We were lucky to have our guide, Lenning, to translate the native language for us gringos!
However, after another night, our Amazonian Jungle experience has come to an end and now we are making our way over the Andes once again, (dodging landslides on the way!), to the final destination of my overland tour with Dragoman, Quito.
For now we say goodbye to the awesome biodiversity of the jungle and hope that we no longer need to protect our food from the greedy wooly monkeys!