Standing 120 feet up on the steep canopy tower, our guide points excitedly.
We glimpse a rainbow of feathers, and 3 macaws fly rapidly through the tall trees. Their bright plumage is stark contrast against the cloudy, misty backdrop of the rainforest.
In a flash they’re gone and we are left wanting more.
Making up the intense green forest is layer upon layer of vegetation… trees, plants, ferns, lichens, leaves, grasses. Wrapped around with vines, coils and tendrils, hanging, draping, spiraling, coiling, wrapping, twisting, altogether a real jungle web. Amongst all this green is a prolific though elusive range of fauna. Everything from howler monkeys to the camouflaged silent jaguar.
Not to mention the creepy crawlies like tarantulas, scorpions and huge spiders. We’re not too scared of this stuff, but when there’s a tarantula above us on a branch we’re pretty keen to get moving.
These streams, lakes and rivers are home to many creatures from; ferocious Piranhas, the crocodile like Caiman, Giant otters and more. Piranhas look like innocent regular fish – but with large, razor sharp shark like teeth. While the baby caiman may look cute we’re reminded they are part of the crocodile family.
You must keep your hands and fingers out of the water. Just in case. The caiman and the macaw are once-in-a-lifetime sights, and we know there are more exciting Amazon days to come.
After a short flight from Quito across the snow capped volcanoes of the Eastern Andes, we reach the headwaters of the Amazon Basin. Here we board a large motorised canoe for a three hour journey up the Napo River.
Heavy non stop rain for 3 days prior to our arrival puts the river in high flood.
It’s an exhilarating ride. Our guide tells us the rivers are full of sandbars and floating logs – and because it’s in flood we can’t see them. He says “don’t worry we’re going to be zigging and zagging all over the river to avoid getting stuck and we have a spotter”
Well that’s a bit of good news.
Our spotter’s perched on the front of the boat. We wonder how he can watch out for hazards when he is snoozing.
A sharp right turn wakes our spotter and the canoe slows as we spot a pile of turtles. They’re out of the cold river basking in the sun. They let us get close enough to take some photos before disappearing back onto the water.
Slowing down, we meander into a narrow tributary and arrive safely at the Anangu village. We clamber ashore, stretch our legs, catch our breath, anticipating the next leg.
Gazing down to the river we see a tiny dugout canoe. It’s dwarfed alongside our other boat. Oh, its looks awfully small, how are we going to board that without it tipping over? Suddenly we come to the realisation we’re in the middle of the wild Amazon jungle. And about to embark up piranha infested waters in a skinny little dugout canoe.
We’re a little apprehensive, is this skinny little boat is supposed to take 10 of us? We feel a sore bum coming on.
One by one we board this little boat, everyone taking care not to fall in the water. The native guide paddles us through the narrow, winding tributary of the Napo River. The water’s deep and muddy, much like a cappuccino. It’s hot, very hot, damp and still. We’re just little people dwarfed by dense high vegetation and huge trees.
We stop from time to time to listen. Sounds emerge from everywhere; we wonder what we are going to see next.
After 3 hours paddling, the calm and serene Lake Anangu emerges. We get the first glimpse of our little thatched cabanas where we’ll stay for 3 nights. Surprisingly, and to our delight, there are very few mosquitoes. We later discover the Lake has a PH balance that doesn’t allow the mosquito eggs to survive. A definite bonus, and that’s one less scary animal.
Part 2 of the Wild and Untamed Amazon is here where you can read about the Jungle Activities
The Amazon Basin is vast and eerie; you have to see and feel it.