5 days in the Ecuadorian Amazon Jungle
Trip Start Apr 12, 2011
86Trip End Apr 01, 2012
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Monday morning and we meet our guide Max outside the hotel along with a German couple that will be group for the next five days
We arrive at Bataburo lodge at dinner time to be served a three course meal and to be told about the area we are in. We are visiting the Huaorani tribe who live in this region – our native guide is Huaorani and will be taking us on tours of the jungle. The Huaoroni tribe traditionally lived in this part of the jungle but have been moving deeper into the jungle as the oil exploration delves deeper
The lodge is basic but more than we were expecting for a jungle lodge, all traditionally built with thatched roofs and on raised platforms it looks traditional but we are not too bothered by insects.
The next morning is an early start to see the birdlife as the sun rises – it had been raining early which meant they weren’t as early risers as normal but we do manage to see toucans, macaws, kingfishers and various other birds from afar. We then head back to the lodge for breakfast – fresh fruit, juice, pancakes and eggs – breakfast was of a similar standard each day, very tasty!
After breakfast we go for our first jungle trek, we go to the start by canoe and our guide Jonathan goes first to cut a path through the jungle
Back to the lodge for our three course lunch and then siesta time in the hammocks for a couple hours
After dinner, we have our night time canoe trip around the lagoon which is at the back of the lodge. The lagoon and surrounding jungle is pitch dark and we shine our torches around the lagoon to look for the red eyes of caiman. We spot at least three but by the time we get towards the red eyes they disappear (I think the caiman work out that if they close their eyes we can’t see them). What scared us the most during this trip, are the fish that jump out of the water, they are only little but in the dark you only here a splash and then once, a thump as the fish lands in the boat
The next day is another jungle trek towards some large old sable trees. On our way we see many river turtles sunbathing on logs. We walk through the jungle where Jonathan points out caterpillars, toads, a hummingbirds nest and we get a glimpse of a deer before it darts off into the jungle He also makes us a bag out of palm leaves which can carry up to 5kg.
Then it’s back to the lodge for lunch, siesta and then our handicrafts afternoon. This involves trying out a blowgun which the is a long wooden tube, through which the Huaorani tribe blow poisonous darts to catch monkeys etc. (we have a go at aiming for a plastic aim which neither me or Jonny manage to hit). Then we make some bracelets where the string comes from a jungle plant and the beads are seeds.
It starts to rain after dinner and so I’m pretty glad that the night walk will be called off. But then it stops raining and the night walk is back on. So we walk through the jungle in the pitch dark to find insects – we find plenty stick insects, toads, spiders, poisonous ants and grasshoppers but luckily nothing more disturbing.
Our last day in the jungle and we head downstream again to go fishing in a lagoon. On our way we see more macaws, plenty of other birds and a few caiman slip into the water as we pass by. Our guide pulls up on to a beach as he can see river turtle tracks – he finds three different nests and digs up all the eggs from the nests. We’ re not so sure about this so don’t take part, but he assures us that there is no problem as they’re not endangered.... but something feels wrong about taking so many eggs as we find about 60. They are worth about 25 cents each and good for fishing.
We get to the lagoon where we find a freshwater stingray in the shallow waters – again our guide claims he has to kill it as it’s dangerous but misses and it escapes unharmed. We spend the next hour trying to fish again but it’s proving more difficult, I catch a couple of tree branches, our guide catches a piranha and Judith catches a tiny mouse fish – not quite as successful as last time.
After that Jonathan shows us how a traditional house is built out of branches and leaves and then we have lunch on a beach where Jonny is brave enough to go swimming in the river (I wasn’t!) – granted, he did still have all his clothes on
After afternoon siesta we take a tour of the lagoon at sunset, where we see another caiman slipping into the water and are told stories of the anacondas, but don’t see any.
Our final day is spent travelling back to Coca, just over 4 hours by canoe back to our pick up point. Along the way we take in our last sights of the jungle, with bats flying up stream along with the birds and butterflies. We stop several times as Lucio (our chef but 2nd person on our journey) cuts logs in the water with a chainsaw to clear some of the river – a bit of a scary experience watching him balance on logs with barefeet which using a chainsaw but seemed to know what he was doing. About 10 minutes from our meeting point, the boat floods with water and we pull up on a small beach, we have sprung a leak. Lucio immediately jumps out of the boat with a machete and runs into the jungle. We move all the luggage out of the water and the boys helps bail out while Jonathan fixed the hole. Everything is under control when Lucio returns with....bananas – he thought it was a good opportunity to go and chop down supplies while we were stopped, what’s a little bit of water!? But we finally make it to our pick up point and make the drive back to Coca.
In Coca we find a much better hotel called Hotel Rio Napo with a TV and air conditioning, this seems like a good treat after five days in the hot and sticky jungle. The next day we head back to Quito by bus (after turning up at the bus station to be told there is no bus as it didn’t make it last night – this resulted in us running around town trying to find a different bus company to Quito, this sounds typical of South America and so we’re actually quite surprised it hasn’t happened before!)