Caresse's 2007 Adventure to Ecuador and Peru travel blog

The top of the tower

Sky bridge

Ochote plant

Warrior girl

Girl eating lunch at the school

Parrot clay lick

Butterfly farm

Self portrait swimming with pirhanas

Jungle sunset from the canopy platform

Dwarf iguana

After another early morning wake up call we canoe across the lake, hike through the jungle and get to our motorized boats again on the Rio Napo. From there we cruise upstream to Yasuni National Park. This is Ecuadors largest mainland park and it is one of the world's biodiversity hot spots and has been declared by UNESCO as an international biosphere reserve. From the river we get to see quite a spectacle. It's a parrot clay lick and there's 100's of parrots of 4 different species eating clay and making a quite a racket. Because their diet consists of ripe fruit and toxic seeds, they must congregate daily to eat clay which absorbs some of the toxins. Incredible!

From there we head to a small traditional community along the river and sample chi cha. Chi cha is a traditional fermented drink, essentially jungle beer, made with yucca and human spit. Thank goodness they now use a fungus instead of spit. We also see the ochote plant which has brilliant red berries inside the fruit that are mashed and used as ceremonial body paint, lipstick and food colouring. Jen and I both get painted with the ochote, but definitely don't look like fierce warriors! We also get to learn about some of the plants that shamans, or witch doctors, use for power including the angels trumpet which is used as a truth serum when the inside of the flower is boiled and drank. Don't worry, we aren't offered any of the hallucinogenic plants or witch doctor potions.

From there we get to visit a small school. School isn't mandatory in Ecuador, but as incentive the government sponsors a free lunch every day for every child that attends. After we get back to the lodge, we go for a refreshing swim in the lake. Yes, this is the same lake that we caught pirhanas out of yesterday and saw a caiman in! The lodge assures us that is safe and that pirhanas are only aggressive when trapped in a small body of water.

In the afternoon we visit the lodge's butterfly farm and then head out for another hike through the jungle. This time we end up at the lodge's canopy walk which is even higher than the canopy tower we had to climb the other day. It's a dizzying and heart racing climb to the first platform, but the scariest part is then having to cross the bridge at over 150 feet high. It's such a relief to get to the platform on the other side until we realize that there's another bridge that we have to cross to get to a third platform! By the time I cross the second bridge, it's starting to feel like old hat and I relax, let go of the rope and even video my walk across. No problem! We stay up on the third canopy platform for over an hour watching toucans, howler monkeys and the sunset. It's a pretty spectacular way to spend the evening. The night walk back through the jungle is also a lot of fun and we get to see all sorts of creepy crawlies including a dwarf iguana, a blunt nosed snake and lots of really big and loud bugs. I also literally get biting ants in my pants and have to pull down my pants to remove one.

We're so sad this is our last night at the lodge! Our guides have been amazing, the food is great, our group of fellow travelers has been a lot of fun and we've just had such a fantastic time. I would highly recommend it to anyone that doesn't mind a few creepy crawlies and is interested in nature.

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