Our transport to the lodge!
The Amazon Rainforest has featured in my dreams for near on 20 years. Little did my Geography teacher realise in the countless lessons where we learnt about this incredible place that I´d hatched a plan to visit it one day. The romantic images of hiking through virgin forest, drifting along rivers, spotting wild animals and rare species, just breathing the air all sound good ... until the lights go off!
We caught a couple of buses from Quito
via some beautiful thermal hot baths, to Tena
, the gateway to the Amazon. After some shennanigans on route we actually missed our bus connection so caught another ute through the forest to our river boat.
We started the trip through the rainforest seeing wooden stilt houses hidden between the trees, football and basketball courts and more people than i thought I´d find living in the Amazon. After around an hour of bumpy, dirt road and a serious windswept look we came to the Napo river, one of the tributries to the Amazon river. We caught our river boat to Lana Lodge, our home in the Amazon. The rainforest sounds and views are like nothing i have ever known before. It takes a day just to take it all in, much like the Galapagos. The lodge was very beautiful, everything made of wood, all of it open so you could see, hear, smell and taste the place. Fortunately the rooms had screens but on closer inspection it was pretty clear that if the creatures in the surrounding forest wanted to get in, there was very little to stop them! I was very glad to share with Jenine and Michelle and have the boys next door as when the candles went out, the forest came to life and it was pretty hard to sleep with images of tarantulas in your mind!
Having been awake most of the night awaiting the imminent insect infestation i was relieved to see daylight and get up for our breakfast feast before our 5 hour hike through the amazon.
I think Ross may have inadvertently won his bet with my mum .... rice with flies nice!
Now, i thought Glastonbury mud was bad, in atual fact it was great training for the walk. Gum boots on we waded through thick mud, rivers, tree roots and god knows what else. We saw a snake (catepillar), Crocodile (cockroach), Deadly frog (mildly poisionous breed) and sharks (fish) ... not quite what we expected. However, we did eat lunch from a leaf and have a swim in the Napo river before headnig for AmaZOOnico to see the sanctuary set up for rescued animals. Strange to see so many beautiful creatures in cages bu they´re in their own environment and safe from poachers, black market traders and lots more. I fell in love with the Oscillote (not sure how you spell that!) and the killer monkey who had small man syndrome and started killing other male monkeys!!! Very cute.
Ready for action ... Gummy Bears!!!
After the hard day we did what any self respecting hiker would do, we tubed back down the river! Tubing is taking a large rubber ring and sitting in it and letting the current pull you downstream. Not a bad way to travel, not sure it´ll catch on in London though! Dinner that night was slightly less mobile due to the incredible lightening and thunder storm ... rainforest indeed! We also made friends with Charlie, the local friendly cockroach and the house pet ... a gorgeous kid who was slightly ginger.
Can´t even start to put into words how it felt to actually be in the rainforest after so many years of planning it. Feels incredible to realise the dream!