Jungle tours are for chumps!
10.11.2013 - 12.11.2013
A tour into the Amazon Jungle wasn't adventurous enough - it was time for Jack to put his Spanish skills to the test and get us in without a guide.
From Quito we travelled to Tena, arriving around 1am in the morning, quickly finding the drop in altitude meant a significant increase in temperature and humidity.
With a quick bit of research the next morning, we jumped on a local bus (just 60 cents each), with people packed in and taking up all available space, and deeper into the jungle we went, with no idea of what we'd be doing once we got to Misahuallí.
On arrival, we cooled down in the River Napo, then donned our backpacks and we asked locals to drive us down the river in search of a Cabaña, witnessing this kid wandering the beach with a snake in his backpack...
We were taken to two locations.
I was practically sold on the first, as we walked up to the top of a hill to check out the cabaña, walking past a group of kids calling out "mira, mira, gringos!" - "look, look, gringos!".
We decided to check out the second option, and on arrival, our driver said we were at the better place. He suggested we get our backpacks, which Jack did in one trip up the steep incline from the river (four bags!), and left us standing on the edge of a soccer field, having not seen, or even been told of availability, of a cabaña!!
After an hour or so of playing frisbee with a couple of local kids, and watching the soccer match in play, we were finally led to our little cabaña for the next two nights.
The area we stayed in was built for tourists, but Jack and I found ourselves fortunate enough to be the only two in the area. Our cabaña was built for two, had a little balcony with a hammock, and fortunately our own little drop dunny and outdoor shower - there was a window near the toilets which necessitated the rule of not being allowed near it when anyone was going...
It was then a pleasant evening of swinging in hammocks, listening to the river flowing below and the numerous sounds of the jungle surrounding us.
Our second day in the jungle had a very relaxed beginning (finally!!), with breakfast served by our Quechua hosts at 8am, and eventually we walked back to Misahuallí in search of transport to the zoo we'd read about that was further down river.
Everyone Jack spoke to told us the price was $80 for a boat, and eventually we were informed by our "medio gringo" friend that this was a fixed price everyone had to abide by (we're pretty certain he decided he was half gringo only because he knew the word thank you...). He then managed to find us a ride to Puerto Barantilla for $15 which would get us close enough to take a boat for another $5 - half price!!!
So then it was David who took us out, full of conversation the entire way, questioning how women in Australia behave, asking Jack if I was his wife (the second time that happened in just a few days!!).
However, our run of luck with transport failed as we arrived and there was no one in sight to help us continue our journey.
Regardless, Jack and I chose to throw caution to the wind and wait it out as David returned to Misahuallí.
Fortunately, just ten or so minutes later, along came a boat and we were on our way again! Hooray!!
We arrived at Amazoologica (which we were told is "not a zoo") and were given a private tour in English. We saw all sorts of amazing animals:
I think the highlight for Jack was the turtles that were obviously ready to increase their numbers in a very noisy fashion...
After that eye opener into turtle life, we found the boat driver waiting for us, and jumped aboard.
And then... We were stuck...
There was no one to take us the 30 minute drive back to Misahuallí, and no cars heading past this remote area that we could hitch with.
Fortunately, we had David's number and managed to get hold of a phone to call him back to us.
In the meantime we had a cool down in the river with the locals:
And so it was that David arrived to take us back, speeding along the roads, smashing it through stop signs while keeping up his constant chatter.
It's a wonder we made it back to our little cabaña for our final night in the Amazon Jungle.