So I can’t say that I loved the Amazon, but I can’t say that I hated it either! I’m sure I’ll look back on it as an awesome experience but right now I feel a bit traumatised by the whole thing as I’ve had one cold shower in 4 days, been bitten by mosquitoes, sand mites, midges and possibly even spiders, half my clothes are soaking wet and the rest of my belongings are all damp! Clearly I’m a bit daft as I hadn’t expected it to rain quite so much in the rainforest!
After a night bus journey through a huge thunderstorm I arrived in Lago Agrio to await pick up from my next accommodation, Nicky Lodge. We were driven for about 2.5 hours towards a nature reserve before stopping for lunch. It was then a 2 hour canoe ride along the Rio Cuyabeno to Nicky Lodge inside Cuyabeno National Park. During the canoe ride there were lots of animals to see including a sloth, a morph butterfly which is quite large and a beautiful blue colour, tree bats and five of the ten different species of monkey who are native to the Ecuadorian Amazon – wooley, red howler, capuccine, squirrel and saki. However half way through the journey, it started to rain and just when I thought it couldn’t rain any harder, it got worse! Not so pleasant in an open canoe and I don’t think I could have been any wetter! Once we arrived at the Lodge and were allocated rooms, there was some chill out time before starting a night walk once it was dark, although I had already seen a frog on my bed!! We didn’t go too far from the camp on the walk but still saw lots of insects including crickets, grass hoppers, centipedes, and spiders including a couple of tarantulas. After this the group had dinner together and were told our plans for the next day.
On Tuesday morning there was meant to be a 6.30 bird watching walk but as it was raining, the plan changed and we went out in the boat to see if there was anything to see. Unfortunately, the rain seems to make most of the animals disappear so we headed back to camp feeling quite soaked again!
After breakfast the next activity was walking through the forest to meet locals from the Siona tribe. We saw lots of insects as we walked and learnt about many of the medicinal properties of the different plants and trees. With the Siona ladies we dug up the roots of a yuka plant and stripped off the outer layer. Once we’d washed the roots we then had to grate them which took quite a long time! After that the water needed to be squeezed out leaving a dry soft mixture. This was then passed through a sieve to make a flour and it was ready to cook with. One of the ladies showed us how to use the flour to make bread in a wide clay pan over the fire and then I got to have a go too! We tried the yuka bread with tuna salad, guacamole and chilli sauce and then chocolate sauce. It was quite dry but amazing that nothing else needed to be added and its vegan too!
We returned to the Lodge for lunch and chill out time before heading out on the boat towards the lagoon where I jumped off the boat and swam in the Amazon! The water was actually fairly warm although it was still raining! It was dark by this point and we drove back to camp looking for nocturnal animals and saw plenty of birds and bats.
It rained all night long and the early boat tour on Wednesday morning was, secretly thankfully, cancelled due to the weather. The highlight of the morning was seeing a snake in the dining area having seen frogs there the previous evening. We had a walk through the forest as our main morning activity and learnt more about the plants and trees as well as the animals and insects that live there. There were hundreds of mosquitoes which was quite off putting but as I was wearing a waterproof jacket, trousers and wellie boots as well as a ton of insect repellent, it was only my hands and face which got bitten!
In the afternoon, miraculously the sun started to come out! We went out in a canoe without a motor so we could just drift downstream. The peace and quiet, without even the sound of rain was amazing! We saw quite a few more animals and birds including some tiny pocket monkeys and lots of birds including different kingfishers.
Typically on the last day the sun was out and the forest felt completely different! It was much easier to see animals, including a white billed toucan, tamarind monkeys, jaguar herons, macauws and yellow-handed titi monkeys as the canoe took us back to Cuyabeno Bridge for the bus journey back to civilisation.