This is Part 2 of our Amazon Jungle trip, Part 1 is here if you’d like to read it first.
Everywhere, from forest floor to the treetops, the jungle was seething with all manner of life from small ants to giant otters.
wonders of the jungle were introduced to us by our local Anangu guide and Juan Carlos. Some of our time in the jungle was spent doing:
Lead by our native Anangu guide we explore night time in the jungle, discovering new plants and colourful or well camouflaged insects.
He is loaded up with a huge battered powered spotlight and off we go into the night in search of creep crawlies and night animals.
He’s expert on the forest’s secrets and medicinal plants – speaking in his foreign tongue and translated by Juan Carlos. Before too long we encounter frogs lizards, spiders and all manner of small insects. It’s nice to be up close to small and giant insects.
He tells us the largest mammals like jaguar, puma, tapir, giant anteater and giant armadillo have been spotted in this area, We have no doubt they are there – just elusive by nature!
So, what on earth are clay licks, some sort of ice – cream? No, they’re best described as a clay cliff where parrots and macaws gather to get minerals not generally available in the jungle. A short walk through the jungle brings us to a platform where we watched hundreds of squawking lime-green parrots get their fill. It’s a superb natural event full of unique sounds and brightly coloured plumages!
There are many different species including Mealy, blue headed, yellow crowned, orange winged and orange cheeked parrots, cobalt winged, dusky headed and white eyed parakeets – not that we could tell them apart.
Lucky for us our guide has a scope so we get a closer view.
Armed with a spotting scope, binoculars, and our guides we climb the 120 ft tower high above the canopy. It’s misty way up there but through the scope we see the gracious toucan perched on a branch faraway.
Then in a flash three macaws fly past.
A colourful spectacle that cannot be missed. According to our guide they’re a rare type of Macaw that is not often seen in these parts. Juan Carlos is ecstatic and can’t stop talking about this amazing bird.
A birdwatcher’s heaven. However if like us, if you’re not an avid birdwatcher, then you might find this part a bit boring.
Don’t get us wrong. We love to see the birds. We just don’t have the patience to sit and wait for them all day.
Interestingly 568 species of birds have been recorded in this region. That’s more than 1/3 of all of Ecuador’s birds – that’s a large number indeed.
A canoe ride at dusk brings out the sound of crickets, cicadas and frogs. Fishing bats swoop over our heads; then the great black tarantula shows up on a branch right overhead. Next it’s the scary eyes of caimans glowing in the beam of our flashlight. One of these mighty crocodile looking beast rose out of the water, just feet away from us.
A few hours earlier several people were swimming here – it gives me goosebumps to think about it. We’re assured despite the caiman and piranha; you can swim around the dock area next to the lodge. Not for us, although we would have enjoyed the cool refreshment in the humid heat, we’re just too chicken.
Our cabanas are very comfortable, nice bed, hot showers, nice views of the lake and a hammock to relax after a hike.
Every morning on the way to breakfast we encounter lines of leaf-cutter ants. They must have been 100 yards long – travelling from the heights of a kapok tree along a well-etched trail to several giant ant-colony mounds.
Although very remote and isolated this region still faces the threat of development by oil companies, logging and ranching.
We see evidence of this on the river trip and in places where the forest canopy has been destroyed. There’s strong pressure on the native people to lease their ancestral lands to the developers. The Anangu, however, have opted for a different means of economic sustenance through the creation of Napo Wildlife Centre.
Since the early 90’s they have gradually built this project to provide themselves with jobs. Affording them the ability to protect their land which covers over 82 square miles of the most pristine Amazon Rain Forest.
According to the International Ecotourism Society, the goal of ecotourism is “uniting conservation, communities and sustainable travel.”
While environmental consciousness is by itself commendable, the cultural dimension is also integral thus offering a further definition:
“Ecotourism is responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people”
It was these principles that attracted us to stay at Napo Wildlife Centre.
Visiting the world’s largest tropical rainforest is top of the list when most people visit South America. The Amazon basin covers around 2.5 million square miles across nine countries so there’s many choices, in many countries.
There are varying styles of travel and we chose a trip to the Napo Wildlife Centre in Ecuador. In hindsight was quite expensive, around $700 each for 4 days. Next time we would rough it a bit more.
We left for our jungle trip with pretty high expectations, after being exhilarated by our close wildlife encounters in the Galapagos.
Although it’s unfair to compare the two, a better plan might have been to visit the jungle first, leaving the Galapagos for last.
For me the initial vision of paddling the Amazon in a canoe, reminded me of Sir Peter Blake, Pirates, thugs, and dangerous animals!
In reality though it turned out to be an exciting and pleasant adventure and we look forward to our next visit.