The rainy weather in Banos sent us heading back East into the Orient or Amazonian region in search of warmth and dry weather. We found it in the Amazonian jungle near Tena on the Rio Napo.
We camped for one night near a canoe launch site by a river in the jungle. It certainly was warm and came equip with all the wonderful and not so wonderful tropical bugs. We spent an afternoon lazing under the trees watching the fast flowing river and the riverboats as they took passengers back and forth to the many jungle lodges.
The following day we took a riverboat to an animal sanctuary up river. The boat ride was fun, and the sanctuary very interesting.
The sanctuary was established to take in injured animals, rehabilitate them and re-introduce then to the wild again. The sanctuary has bought up a large amount of the jungle to protect it. They have had many successful re-introductions. However a group of squirrel monkeys and a couple of spider monkeys that they took to the far end of the park to release, found their way back and now live in the trees around the sanctuary. Another part of the program is to provide a haven for animals that cannot survive in the jungle. A large amount of these animals were kept illegally as pets. People have the pets when young thinking they are cute but when they grow and their natural instincts kick in, the owners realize it is no longer a good idea. Some of the animals have been found in the hands of poachers. On the international market the animals are seen as being exotic and so they can fetch a big price. Unfortunately a lot of the birds have had their wings broken and can no longer fly. The sanctuary provides them with a safe home.
Amongst the animals there, are: turtles, caiman, ocelots, monkeys, tamarinds, peccaries, an anaconda, tadpoles, coatis and all sorts of birds.
Keira was so enthusiastic, telling the guide all the information she knew about bugs, and the birds and animals she had encountered. It was a good experience.
We headed a little north of Tena, and found a great campsite by the fork of 2 rivers. We paid the locals 2.50 per night to stay there. It was an amazing location. We were able to swim in the river, and Keira got to play with the local kids. Mike and Keira took the opportunity to build a boat from local materials. I took the chance to make a new fly door for our tent, as our zip had broken and we needed to create protection against our tropical neighbors.
Our next stop was some hot springs at Jamanco. We camped in the parking lot and swam in the warm pools. Keira had a great time sliding down the slide into the water.
Photos from our river camp.
Keira and Mike's boat made from natural materials.
We headed north from there, bypassing Quito to head to Otavalo. We camped on a soccer field below the Peguche waterfall. Keira and I explored the area, and then we visited the market the next day. The market was OK, but the quality of the goods in comparison to 18 years ago was not so impressive. We bought a few scarves and a small doll for Keira.
Our plan was to head to Quito on the Monday to visit a mechanic for some car checks and repairs. So we decide to make one more stop outside of Quito. We chose a destination near the Pululahua crater. The drive there was very pretty, however the crater, said to be one of the worlds largest volcanic craters, was nothing special. It was really hard to find a campsite as we were only ~ 35 kms from Quito. We chose a public park as a last resort. We had partially set up and eaten our dinner when the security guards asked us to move on. So we quickly did our dishes and packed up, glad we had not fully unpacked and headed back to a not so ideal spot we had seen earlier. Not perfect but safe and good for one night.
The following day we headed into Quito for car repairs. I have created a separate blog on Quito, which I will post soon.
Post Quito we headed north to Ibarra, our final stop in Ecuador before crossing into Columbia. We had heard of a great overland site called Finca Sommerwind, run by a German couple. We were looking forward to a chance to stop, complete washing, some car cleaning and some basic repairs, plus some relaxing. And we found it, 5 nights and we were able to achieve the above, plus a visit to the town to explore and get some supplies.
We ended up spending more time in Ecuador than we first intended to. We got to see some parts of Ecuador we had not previously seen, revisit some places and to spend some time with our friends Els and Gerret. We certainly were not disappointed in Ecuador. The people are friendly and helpful, the roads and conditions have improved, and the scenery was beautiful.
We decided the word for Ecuador was "nice".
HIGHLIGHTS/CHALLENGES OF THIS AREA:
MOST VALUED POSSESION: calamine lotion for bug bites
BEST EXPERIENCE: Mike-the orient/amazon jungle ; Keira- visiting the animal sanctuary; Riss- visiting the animal sanctuary
MOST CHALLENGING EXPERIENCE: Mike-finding a campsite outside of Quito; Keira- bug bites ; Riss- dealing with bug bites
BEST FOOD DISCOVERY: Mike- our meals, Keira- blue flavored popsicles; Riss- cooked plantains
BEST CAMPING SPOT: by river in amazon
Just a place to keep our mates informed on where we are at, and what we are up to.