Welcome to the Jungle!

Trip Start Mar 01, 2011
Trip End Jun 12, 2011

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Where I stayed
Samona Lodge

Flag of Ecuador  ,
Monday, June 6, 2011

We boarded our last overnight bus from Quito on our last tour, in our last days of our holiday and headed for the Amazon jungle. We arrived into Lago Agrio at 7.00 am where we walked to our meeting point before catching a bus to Cuyabeno to commence our tour.  The temperature rose by about 20 degrees and was nice and hot for our canoe journey down the Cuyabeno River to our lodge. Along the way we spotted a few sleeping sloths, sunbathing anacondas and humongous butterflies, the size of a small bird. Once we arrived we were shown to our cabins which were electricity and hot water free, wooden with reed roofing and no locks on the doors. We were introduced to the rest of the group ( 9 others) and our guide Patrick AKA Pajarito (Little Bird, cos he is constantly making bird noises, quite annoying really, hehe). Once settled we made our way back onto the canoe for an afternoon/evening swim in Laguna Grande whilst watching the sunset! It was quite daunting as we were swimming in a lagoon in the middle of the Cuyabeno river which is teeming with wildlife including caimans and piranhas as well as pink and grey river dolphins. Fortunately we only saw the latter! 

By the time we got back to the lodge it was quite dark and the perfect environment for tarantulas to reveal themselves. We were fortunate or unfortunate enough to see one hanging about on our ceiling :( Amazingly we were able to sleep with our visitor overlooking us, I guess the beers we downed with dinner helped! LOL.

The next morning we put our wellies on and went for a jungle walk where we saw all sorts of weird and wonderful things. These included loads of different types of monkeys swinging from tree to tree and a walking palm tree (seriously) which moves every so often to obtain sunlight and nutrients. Later that afternoon we went piranha fishing, (unlike in Pantanal) this time some were caught but none by us :( We also went back to the Laguna Grande to cool down where we saw some more dolphins. 
 After dinner Pajarito suggested that we go on a one hour night walk as different species, insects, arachnids come out, and like idiots we agreed. We grabbed our wellies and torches and covered ourselves in insect repellent (like that would help fend off a poisonous spider, hehe) and took a canoe to our destination. It was an interesting experience but quite frightening as it was pitch dark in the jungle and we saw loads of massive spiders just on entry, and you really had to watch where you stepped and where you put your hand down. There was cute (poisonous) frogs, walking sticks, scorpions and larvae. We also saw a huge cockroach being eaten by an even huger spider, still makes me shiver thinking about it. We were already an hour into our walk and there was no sign of the riverbank. We all really got worried when our guide stopped pointing things out to us as he's mind was on something else, how to get us out. That's right we were lost (not that he would admit it) right in the heart of the jungle in the middle of the night! We walked and walked until we finally made it to the riverbank but our canoe wasn't there as this was not where we were supposed to meet it. Pajarito started with his bloody bird noises in an attempt to attract the driver, to no avail. He did that for about 10 minutes before deciding to set off in search of our canoe. We were left there for at least half an hour (which felt like an eternity), we couldn't sit down or lean on a tree in fear of what we might sit/lean on and we had no idea what was around us or what was poisonous or not! Just as well our group were a great bunch so we managed to have a laugh. But just as our sense of humour started to die and our patience wear thin, we heard the sound of an engine and there was pajarito and our canoe, woo hoo! LOL. Once back at the lodge we couldn't resist but have a few beers to loosen up after our experience (and we had another tarantula in our room, this time bigger and a lot closer). We then went on to play a drinking game (as you do) involving a deck of cards, a bottle and blowing (not what you think) before hitting the sack. 

The following morning we went to a little village to see how the locals live. We visited a family where the young indigenous lady showed us how to dig up a yuca plant (with Luke's help) before preparing it into a traditional type of bread. Pajarito also did a ritual where he spanked one of our group members with a plant that is supposed to be good for circulation, but it made him look like a third degree burn victim for about half an hour, LOL. We also saw fresh cocoa and guava trees as well as a bush which has fruits that the locals used to use to decorate their bodies. We went on another jungle walk spotting more monkeys as well as huge ceibo tree which was at least 500 years old! 

On our final morning we got up at sparrows fart (pardon the pun) to do some bird watching. We were awoken by our own little bird (Pajarito) making the sound he said he would do the night before, classic! We saw quite a few different birds including stinky turkeys, kingfishers, macaws, herrons, as well as loads more monkeys. 

The tour was a really nice way to wind up our trip. We've met some great new friends, been to some interesting places, and had some excellent experiences but all good things must come to an end, and this is it for us.

After some considerable travel already (Cuyabeno-Lago Agrio-Quito-Bogota) we are now stuck in Buenos Aires as our flight has been affected by the volcano in Chile which has erupted for the first time since 1960's, just our luck! On the flipside, we are in a luxury hotel with 3 course gourmet meals included and it's been a nice way to break up the journey. Thanks Qantas!

Next and last stop Melbourne......
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