Some Animals In The Amazon

So that next morning we woke up at 4:30am! This is the kind of crazy thing I would only do when I’m on the other side of the world exploring a jungle. We wanted to see the sunrise when we went to do the canopy walk. This was a good idea in theory, but unfortunately in reality it was very cloudy and foggy/misty from the night rain, and it just wasn’t the best spot for seeing a sunrise. We had to walk very very fast through the jungle in the dark to get to the canopy thingy, which I had a hard time with so early in the morning. I was exhausted when we got to the canopy area, then we had to quickly climb up 50 meters worth of stairs to this tower.

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There were three towers connected by bridges. We walked to the middle tower and stayed there almost two hours in this tiny space like 10×10, to look for birds and monkeys, which we saw lots of at the top of the canopy.

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Although the quality wasn’t the best and with the distance it wasn’t easy to do, I took some photos of the animals through a telescope. We saw like 4 different species of monkeys and tons of birds.

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We then crossed to the third tower and stayed there almost another hour.

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After an incredible experience and seeing so many amazing animals, we walked back a half hour to the hotel through the jungle.

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On the walk we saw tons more monkeys!!

 

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Once we got back to the hotel, we had an hour break. We decided to go fishing off this small wooden area into the lake that has black water. There are sardines and piranhas in there. I had a lot of fun because I love fishing and being outside. We didn’t do it long though because it started pouring rain! (Imagine that – it rains like crazy in the rainforest).

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We ended the day with another canoe ride through the jungle after the rain subsided. This was like one of those rides in Disneyland but much better. We got to see monkeys real real close up like probably could touch them if I tried, they were all around our canoe climbing and jumping and swinging and everything. It was very special. We saw more birds and other things too. Then we had dinner and then could go to sleep. It was such a special day!

 

Adventures In The Amazon

The next day, we woke up even earlier at 5:30am. We left with a British group of people plus our group and took a short canoe ride and walked 40 minutes to the river. Once we got there, we all got on a big motorized boat, the one we had originally taken from the town where the airport was. The boat ride was long, it was nice to relax and look around at all the scenery. We stopped at this spot but stayed in the boat so we could see parrots. We saw a snake too.

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We kept going until we arrived at a village and got off the boat there. We were able to look around at the school, the farming they do, and how they live. It was interesting to see how other people in the world can live and survive with very little to no technology and only basic necessities. They are a very self-reliable village.

Here are some photos of the village and the school:

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After taking a look around and our tour, the villagers cooked a small meal for us with traditional food including kasava, tilapia cooked inside a big leaf over a fire, and even cooked larvae.

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After our meal, we took the boat back to the lodge, did the 40 minute walk again, and our canoe ride back. During the walk, we stopped for a long time because there were nice birds and lots of toucans!

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And as we got closer to the lodge, we saw a big caiman sitting in the water!

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After resting a short bit, we went just the two of us to look at the butterfly house. That was really nice and I enjoyed it a lot. I love seeing butterflies fly around and it’s great when they land on you!

 

After the butterfly house, we went with the group on a canoe ride through the jungle. We definitely had to watch out for branches!

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We arrived at this tower that we were able to climb up. It was 43 meters tall!

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We could see a lot from up there, it was like a really tall tree house.

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We were up there looking for birds and just taking photos and looking at the surroundings for probably almost an hour.

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We then climbed down and walked around a little bit in the jungle.

 

We took the canoe ride back for about 40 minutes then had a break before dinner.

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Dinner was nice because we were able to have time to talk with the group and guides about everything we had seen, it was an important time to bond with one another after such unique experiences. After dinner we did a night walk for a half hour in the dark jungle. We looked for frogs and tarantulas and other such things, which wasn’t my favorite activity, but I managed.

 

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After the night walk, we went to sleep because we had another early morning ahead of us!

Another Day In The Amazon

The next day, we woke up early and went straight on a hike through the jungle with our guide. He was a little older than me, from Quito, and he could speak and understand English well. Our older native guide who grew up in the area and doesn’t speak English at all really.

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We took a canoe ride then walked a lot and saw many different things.

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We walked through the jungle for a long time and saw tons of insects, frogs, birds, and crazy cool plants. Take a look at some of what we saw:

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We stopped at a building they have near the lodge, where we got dropped off from the boat ride originally before having the 40 minute walk towards the hotel. It was nice to take a break and rest. While we stopped, it started to rain very hard so we waited a tiny bit. And then suddenly just as we were thinking of moving on through the rain, a bunch of monkeys started swinging and jumping around the trees nearby!

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That was very special and super exciting. We watched them for a while then walked back almost an hour towards the canoe, took that back to the hotel, then went to our room to rest.

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That afternoon, we met again at 4pm and got other group members because the first day had just been us. We had a young married couple from the UK, originally from India, they were really fun and nice, and then a lesbian couple from Australia. That night, we did another walk through the jungle with the whole group.

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Later that night, we did a canoe ride in the dark to look for caiman and bats. No caiman that night, but it was cool anyway. We saw a caiman earlier in the afternoon so it was okay!

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Heading To The Amazon

Continuing my throwback trip posts from my journey through Ecuador in 2014…

The next day we woke up very early and had breakfast, which was eggs. bacon, toast, and fruit.

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We drove to the airport with the same taxi driver and found our group and checked in and everything. Then the hotel owner’s son tapped me on the shoulder and was apparently also going to the Amazon and was on our flight. It was a fun coincidence! It was a bigger plane than I expected. He sat next to us even though his seat was elsewhere so we could get to know each other better. The flight was only about 40 minutes and a little bumpy into Coca. After arriving, we picked up our luggage. They had us go to a room that basically was missing majority of one wall and this is where they carry the luggage over and place it, no moving carousel.

Then we went outside in the rain and found people who work at the next hotel and they put us in little pickup trucks and our bags in the back covered with plastic and the guy sat in the back like in the open part as we drove to the headquarters of the place. There we could change and go to the bathroom and get a snack.

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Then we had to walk a little bit and then get into a boat. The boat ride in total was about an hour and a half, but we stopped after an hour for lunch on the side of the river in a village.

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It was down pouring. The lunch was a little chicken sandwich, an apple, and juice. We visited a museum there, which was interesting. I was definitely tired and had a hard time focusing because it was already mid-afternoon  and we had started our journey at 7am. We got to hear about the native people in the Amazon and see artifacts from how they lived and still live.

 

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We continued our boat ride, which was relaxing. When we arrived at the next stop, we had to walk through a small break in the foliage to get on land.

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We had to walk almost 30-40 minutes through the jungle and of course we kept stopping to look at things because it was incredible. The river and rainforest were very beautiful and exciting.

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There were these ants that carry leaves and were cool, but then one got stuck in my sandal and bit me, which hurt a lot. It got all red and swollen quickly, but it was fine that night so I wash’t worried when it got better. We walked through mud and puddles and over wooden boardwalks built by the lodge.

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We got to a little hut where there were canoes, and we took a canoe ride for about 15 minutes to get to the hotel itself. The surroundings are something I still can’t get out of my mind because they were so breathtaking.

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The hotel was awesome once we arrived! It was very clean, organized, and there were hardly any bugs (amazing considering where we were). We had a cabin, and when we walked in, it was really amazing.

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The back wall wasn’t a wall but just a huge screen with a door looking right into the jungle and completely private. The bathroom had a shower against the back wall, which was just made of glass, so when you shower or go in the bathroom you feel lie you’re outside. There were screens all around though with no glass windows so you could hear everything all the time.

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Before dinner we took a short canoe ride as the sun set and it got dark very quickly. It was fun to be on the water in the dark. I had only done one other night canoe ride before this which was in Australia a couple years before.

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We went to bed soon after dinner because we were already so tired and had to wake up at 5:45 the next morning!

A Great First Day In Quito, Ecuador

Since I haven’t been on one of those life-changing adventures in a while and I have at least another month to go until my next one, I’m going to do a throwback trip post. A year and a half ago I traveled to Ecuador and had one of the best experiences of my life. I was there about three weeks and have enough stories and memories to last a lifetime. If you love to travel as much as I do, if you crave adventures and exploring, if you’re excited about trying new food, if you’re psyched about seeing wild animals, or if beautiful landscapes are more your thing – I highly recommend making your way to Ecuador. I didn’t have a travel blog when I went on this trip, but I did have email so here is what I wrote about in June 2014 – I’ll divide it up in a few posts as always!

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We got to Quito very late on Saturday night. We were both exhausted and sick from the travel and altitude change. We were met at the airport by a nice taxi driver who works for the hotel (he’s driven us a couple times now) but he doesn’t really speak any english, like enough to ask how things were and understand if we say okay or good or something basic. We had to drive down main highway style roads and then down a dirt road that was kind of sketchy. I was like where did we rent a room from? But then we pulled up to a fancy tall wooden gate and waited for someone to open it and the owner’s son did and greeted us and helped us with our bags and everything. We were exhausted and went straight to bed then. Here’s what the room was like:

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The next morning we got up pretty early and were excited to see the hotel in daylight. Beautiful isn’t it?

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We left for a private tour of more the city area with a hired guide. He took us to a small town, about 40 minutes away through the mountains, that’s famous for biscuits.

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We ate freshly made biscuits and fresh cheese. He said the people there wake up around 3am every day to make it all. We walked around briefly to get a sense of the place then kept driving. The guide stopped at the side of the road where they had fresh fruit and bought us some fruit I’ve never heard of, it was good. He also stopped and bought us water and chocolate to help with the altitude change (he was very nice).

We stopped at a place with an old giant sun clock where the equator line runs through. It was awesome to stand on either side of the equator and feel what it’s like to be at the center of the world.

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Then we went to this other town that was a long drive away and that’s where the market was. It was pouring rain, which sucked, but we had an hour to walk through the market area that was somewhat covered from the rain. We got to use our bargaining skills. Like they would have a tablecloth and ask for 50$ and we’d say no how about $8. Usually they met in the middle somewhere and regardless even if we paid the full first offer price, it would be nothing compared to what it would cost in America. After an hour of shopping and bags and bags full of things for us and gifts, then we dropped off the stuff in the car and went out to lunch with our driver/guide. We all got a huge meal. They first bring drinks, then popcorn (everywhere in ecuador serves popcorn and it’s great – I love popcorn!), then we each got a plate full of little things including pork, large beans, and salad and corn. Then we got a big bowl of soup with veggies and meat in it, and then we got the lunch we ordered which was a huge plate of fried trout and fries and more vegetables. I was full after the popcorn so I had a hard time finishing it all.

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Then our guide let us have a half hour and we went walking on this street in the town that has tons of leather stores and shops, so we found really nice gifts and things for us made of leather and again it was half the price we would pay at home. For example, we found a nice jacket that was $100, at home it could easily cost $400 if not more. So that was cool. This is still all on the first day, and we had hours of driving mixed into it all. I love that about traveling.

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Then we drove bit to this state park kind of thing in the mountains. We had to go up a lot of steps and hills. The altitude change made the walk a little harder than it would be in different circumstances.

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But when we got to the top, it was so worth it!

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We walked around up there and then climbed down a different side to this museum about the area and native people. We made it to what is an old volcano crater filled with water like a giant lake. It was really breathtaking and amazing.

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We took a boat ride around the lake, which was very fun and the views were beautiful.

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After this we finally went home, it took us almost two hours to get back because of how bad traffic was.

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They have pretty much one main road that goes through the mountains with one lane for each direction. The roads were up and down and winding around and it was super foggy, misty, and dark out – so traffic was slow and buses kept stopping on the side of the road and blocked traffic. We were exhausted when we came home because it’d been like a 12 hour day. We ate dinner at the hotel and then went straight to bed.

 

This was a long day, but the next day we headed into the Amazon!