• Friday , 22 September 2017
Into the Amazon: Ecuador

Into the Amazon: Ecuador

As the saying goes “you have to break some eggs to make an omelet”, well, we were forced to endure an extended exposure with millennial backpackers for our long bus ride through the night. Being, on average, 20-years older than everyone else on the bus created a strange but palatable separation; we were bumped into, talked over, stepped on but never acknowledged or talked to by the boisterous and self-absorbed youth. Us old people are as interesting as a parked car and we happily used our invisibility to observe the next generation and gloat at how awesome having our own transportation is. Tourist buses suck but in this case it was well worth the sardine slog through the night.

We were weaned on shows like Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom and the Amazon jungle is the stuff of our childhood legends: piranahas, headhunters, deadly animals at every turn, and vastness beyond comprehension. Of course we had to see this for ourselves. We stored the bikes in Quito and booked ourselves a four-day, three-night excursion into the remote region of Cuyabeno.

Two hours by boat navigating narrow channels through the jungle was required to get to our lodge.

Two-hours by boat navigating narrow channels through the jungle was required to get to our lodge.

This caiman was on hand to greet you on arrival. He was there at the boat dock most of our stay.

This caiman was on hand to greet you on arrival. He was there at the boat dock most of our stay.

After an all-night bus ride, a dawn transfer to a van for another two-hour ride to the end of the road, and finally a two-hour journey by motorized canoe, we were transported deep into the jungle. Oh what a fantastic trip. We saw so much wildlife including anacondas, pink fresh-water dolphins, sloths, and monkeys that it felt like this whole show must be staged. It was everything we had ever heard about the Amazon.

The intrepid Amazon explorer.

The intrepid Amazon explorer.

The reason they call it a rain forest is because it rains a lot.

The reason they call it a rain forest is because it rains a lot.

Snake.

Snake.

Mike stuck the camera inside a hollow tree and this is what we got.

Mike stuck the camera inside a hollow tree and this is what we got.

Our guide, Neisser, was amazing at spotting everything. And, he had a wonderfully dry sense of humor that took a day or two to get used to.

Our guide, Neisser, was amazing at spotting everything. And, he had a wonderfully dry sense of humor that took a day or two to get used to.

Frog. Poison dart frog.

Frog. Poison dart frog.

The lagoon where we spotted fresh-water pink dolphins. They really are pink but we have no photo proof.

The lagoon where we spotted fresh-water pink dolphins. They really are pink but we have no photo proof.

Our days were spent either hiking for hours through the jungle with our local guide, Neisser, or cruising in our canoe through the maze of channels and waterways that comprise the Amazon River network. If I were a rich man I would have stayed for a month but adventures like this come at a cost and $300 per person was all the travel budget would allow. It was worth every penny.

Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve.

Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve.

When it wasn't raining we were treated to magnificent sunsets.

When it wasn’t raining we were treated to magnificent sunsets.

Our pathway through the jungle required tall rubber boots.

Our pathway through the jungle required tall rubber boots.

It's true! There really is an ant in the Amazon that can be used to suture a cut just like stitches. The trick is to pinch off the body from the head once the mandibles close.

It’s true! There really is an ant in the Amazon that can be used to suture a cut just like stitches. The trick is to pinch off the body from the head once the mandibles close.

Yes, this really is the trail.

Yes, this really is the trail.

Mike swimming with the caimans and piranahas.

Mike swimming with the caimans and piranahas.

Learning to use a traditional blow gun.

Learning to use a traditional blow gun.

We learned how to make cassava (aka yucca) bread starting with digging the roots out of the ground.

We learned how to make cassava (aka yucca) bread starting by digging the roots out of the ground.

After cleaning, grating, squeezing all moisture, and sifting it was time to make the bread. Nothing was added and it was surprisingly tasty especially with a bit of jam.

After cleaning, grating, squeezing all moisture, and sifting it was time to make the bread with the flour we had made. Nothing was added and it was surprisingly tasty especially with a bit of jam.

A wild orchid growing in the village.

A wild orchid growing in the village.

Our boat driver taking it easy while we swim.

Our boat driver taking it easy while we swim.

Surprisingly, there were few mosquitos (despite the four bottles of varying types of repellant that Shannon packed and we are still carrying) and the air temperature was comfortable albeit very rainy. Strangely, while we never saw biting bugs by the end of four days Mike had collected scabby bites all over his body. These Amazon welts itched like hell for the next week or so but even this was too fucking cool to Mike because WE WENT TO THE AMAZON.

Insane sunsets.

Insane sunsets.

Anaconda.

Anaconda.

Bird.

Bird.

Monkey 1.

Monkey 1.

Monkey 2. Not pictured the two and three-toed sloths as they were too far away or the millions of other birds.

Monkey 2. Not pictured the two and three-toed sloths as they were too far away and the thousands of other birds we saw at every turn.

Related Posts