Okay, so this post should probably be called “The Rainforest,” but you get the idea.
Back in October, we decided against heading into the Brazilian Amazon. It was just too hot and too far in the hot. But in Ecuador we took the opportunity for a briefer visit into the Amazon headwaters. We met some motorcyclist on a short tour who did the loop as a day ride, but we took five days. That gave us a chance to do a bunch of exploring off the bikes.
First stop was Puyo, where Tom worked on photographing the hotel’s toucan while dodging its attempt to bite his toes.
Then we headed for Misahualli on the Rio Napo, one of the main tributaries of the Amazon. It was an action-packed three days there, full of hanging out in hammocks overlooking the river, sitting in the main plaza watching the band of capuchin monkeys terrorize the local dogs and try to steal stuff from the tourists, and trying to stay dry, between the rainstorms and the heat and humidity.
We visited the Jatun Sacha Biological Reserve one afternoon and walked the self-guided trail. I tried my best to decode the water-damaged, Spanish guide. Tom climbed a radio tower to try to get some views.
The next day, we joined two guys from our hotel who had organized a day on the Rio Napo. The four of us met up with our guide/boatman, Leonardo, and headed downriver in a torrential rain. The kind where the raindrops just bounce of the surface of the water. The first stop was amaZOOnico, an animal rehabilitation site run by Selva Viva. We were shown around by a volunteer and saw many animals that are here, some of whom can be released to the wild and others that can not. After our visit here, we visited a local family. This was a juxtaposition of them showing some of the traditional ways (a little face painting, trying out a blowgun, sampling some chicha) after the kids came back from school in their school uniforms. It is a way for the local families to benefit from the tourism in the area, and it also shows how this family is bridging from the traditional ways into the “modern” world. Because it was just the four of us tourists, we were able to participate and interact enough so that it didn’t have that awkward “cultural zoo” feel.
After a stop for lunch, we headed back up river with a stop for a two hour walk in the woods. Our guide Leonardo was very knowledgeable about the local plants, and he pointed out lots of interesting stuff. Finally, I understood a bunch of stuff I couldn’t decipher on the self-guided tour the previous day. This was really a highlight.
Our final rainforest adventure was a visit to a butterfly breeding facility near Misahualli. Lots of cool crawling and flying stuff there.
That’s our Ecuadorian jungle adventure.