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Bienvenido a la selva

During the planning phase of our trip we had discussed a visit to the Amazon Jungle.  There are lots of options when it comes to the Amazon – choices include leaving from Peru, Ecuador, Colombia or Brazil. Ecuador made the most since for us since Quito was our next destination after Lima.  We booked our three night trip at the Caiman Eco Lodge located in the Cuyabeno region which is 8 hours by bus from Quito.

The good news is we didn’t take the bus, we flew. While quite a bit more expensive (3x), we didn’t feel like spending 16 hours on a bus for a 3 night trip. We have done our fair share of 28+ hour bus rides this trip and frankly I wanted that 40 minute flight :). Enough said. We arrived the night before the tour started and had to spend one night in the town of Lago Agrio. This is a border town with Colombia and the only airport that services the Cuyabeno jungle region. Not a whole lot going on in town.

We got picked up at 9am the next morning to head to the Jungle. The weather is hot and humind which felt nice after the past few weeks of cooler weather.  We were super excited to see some crazy ass animals and insects. It takes 4 hours to get to the lodge where we would be staying- 2 hours via bus, then 2 hours down the Cuyabeno river on a motored canoe that can hold 12 people plus a guide and driver. We had quite a big group – 22 in all! Before heading out on the boat, we were served a nice hot lunch at the nearby restaunrat on the river. Jeff and I decided to go vegetarian for these three days…no reason really other than we noticed on our Salkantay trek, the vegetarians were getting some good ass food and we wanted to give it a try. Additional benefit is its healthier and we want some more vegetables in our diet after our food frenzy in Lima 🙂

The boat cruise is very relaxing, sun shining with a nice breeze and all eyes on the suuounding jungle to spot animals. We saw a few types of monkeys on the way to the lodge. After our time at LSV it was  really neat to see them in their natural habitat. We ended the last half of the boat trip with a natural shower.. and this was not going to be our last. It’s why they call it the rainforest right? It does rain, every day, multiple times.

Our schedule for the next three days included numerous boat rides looking for caimans, anacondas, boas, sloths, birds, etc. In addition we did 2 jungle hikes- one during the day and one at night. Each day included a nice refreshing swim in the nearby lagoon. Lastly, we visited a local community to make yuca (think potato meets celery) bread and a presentation from the local Shaman.

It was a big group so they split us into two boats and we enjoyed spending time together. The group was so large that we had to split in two groups. We spent a lot of time together and really enjoyed each other’s company. It was similar to other trips like the Salt Flats and Salkantay where by the end of it all you really get to know the people and make new friends. It’s fun to learn everyone’s story, their travels, what’s next, what they do etc. For this group, Jeff and I were definitely brining up the average age. By the last night the joke was that we were the chaperones aka their parents. I guess we really are getting old? Nah, we can still hang with the best of them or at least we think so 🙂

We had a great three days and it was truly a unique experience. I’m interested in doing something similar again, maybe even more hard core to experience the deep jungle. African Safari? Maybe.

Below our some of my favorite photos to help share our experience.

Ready for the jungle!

Jeff ready to board. This is where we began the 2 hour boat ride to the lodge.

Here we go. BTW, I really hate life jackets and each time on the boat the guide would kindly remind me to wear it. That would last for about 2 minutes.

Our matrimonial room. For the jungle, I was really impressed. Private bath too.

A nice map so you have an idea of where we were

Outside of our lodging. Don’t you dare judge my graphic tee. Haha sometimes I forget I am wearing a shirt that says that but you know what they say right? #NAN

a view from above. We had a lookout point at the lodge and here you can see almost the entire eco lodge

In a tree! This was during our jungle day hike.

It rains, a lot. Felt good to use the ponchos we had carried with us for 4 months and never used until here.

One good looking group. We are in front of a massive tree. It’s actually thought by the locals to have bad spirits and if you find it in the Jungle there is a good chance you will get lost. Pretty interesting huh? I’d think a big ass tree would be a good indicator of where you are, but that’s just me.

Making Yuca bread like a boss. Not really, I was pretty bad and slow but I didn’t cut myself which wasn’t true for the other 80% who tried to do it. Yuca bread tastes like nothing, but it’s pretty healthy, First steps include picking it from the ground, peeling it, then grating it.

After it’s grated you need to strain out all the water. They use a local tree bark and squeeze it multiple times to strain out all water.

After straining it becomes a very dry light powder texture like flour. They put in on a pan over the fire and make the bread!

After our yuca, we met with the local Shaman. He told us all about Ayahuasca. A local plant that is made in to a potent cocktail for an out of body experience. We tried a drop of it. It is a popular thing to do in the Jungle and you can learn more about it with a simple google search.

Night hikes are scary because you come across things like this. Here is a scorpion spider. It was much bigger than this picture shows. That said, we did not get to see a tarantula 🙁

On our way back on the last day we came across this little guy. A baby anaconda. That’s one big baby.

 

These were just a few highlights so make sure to check out the full album below!

 

Cuyabeno Jungle

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