El rio Napo

El rio Napo

After hours of driving, we arrived in the Amazonian jungle ready for no electricity, bugs, animals, and humidity. Oh yeah and adventures too of course. We were all rather surprised to find that Cotococha, the lodge that we stayed at, was pretty nice, despite being in the jungle.

The first night I had a bit of a rough time, as the altitude hit me pretty hard. I felt nauseous and had to skip dinner to rest so that I would be able to embark on the next day’s activities.

Armed with life jackets, tall rubber boots, bug repellent, rain jackets, swim suits, and our guide Marco, we set off the next day on a boat down the Napo River. Our first stop was a small village in order to take pictures of monkeys!

Un mono

Un mono

 

We then continued further down the river to a place that rescues Amazonian animals. On the tour of the refuge we saw more monkeys, parrots, snakes, pigs, tiger like cats, and more. The moment the tour ended our guide Marco took over and took us on a hike. This hike was possibly the craziest hike that I’ve ever been on. There were no trails and we seemed to climb higher and higher with each step. Every now and then we would stop so that Marco could tell us about a tree, plant, or animal. This man literally knew EVERYTHING. He could identify every tree, every plant, every bug (he and some other people in our group ate some ants), and their uses and medicinal properties. It was truly amazing. As we’re hiking, the skies open up and it begins to rain, as is typical in the Amazon. While we’re getting soaked we continue to hike. Finally the trail starts to descend and we emerge into a clearing to find these huts. Marco leads us to one where we stop for lunch. I think our whole group was in a bit of a shock about the whole situation.

After lunch we were taken to a small Quichuan village. Quichua is an indigenous language originally spoken by indigenous people in Ecuador. The language is still used today. For example achachai means its cold, araray is its hot, and chuchaqui is Quichua for hangover.

Anywhoo, the families that lived in the village demonstrated pottery making, panning for gold in the river, the preparation of chicha de Yucca for eating (tastes similar to a potato if you were wondering), and the proper way to hunt using a blowgun (yes we got to try it and yes I failed miserably. Guess I wouldn’t make it on my own in the Amazon…). We also brought donations of crayons, markers, sweets, etc. for the kids in the village, which they happily accepted.

When we returned to the lodge, Marco taught us how to make chocolate directly from cacao. Pretty freaking awesome.

The next day we hiked to a magnificent waterfall called Las Latas, stopping along the way again so that we could learn about the flora and fauna from Marco. Swimming in this beautiful waterfall was definitely one of my favorite moments of  the trip so far. It just seemed like such an untouched natural oasis that continually took my breath away for the few hours we were there.

La cascada/ the waterfall

La cascada/ the waterfall

From the waterfall we hiked back down to the river where we were given inner tubes to sit on as we “tubed” or rather floated down the river back to our lodge. I would definitely say that this was another favorite moment. We went on a second hike after lunch where Marco made us all hats, crowns, and glasses out of leaves from trees. Before the hike though, we prepared ourselves with warpaint of sorts from a plant that Marco showed us.

Ready for hiking!

Ready for hiking!

That night we went on a third hike in the dark to see some bugs. Not my favorite thing in the world but I’ll admit it was pretty cool and interesting to see these Amazonian bugs in action. Except for the biggest, grossest cricket that I’ve ever seen. I could have skipped that one.