Ecuador is an amazing country especially for wildlife lovers. Most people will instantly connect Brazil with the Amazon Rainforest, but the largest habitat on this planet is bigger than just one country. Ecuador has access to the upper regions of the Amazon river and it is here the highest biodiversity on this planet can be registered.
For all those individuals searching for the Ecuador Amazon tour I felt like sharing my personal experiences in the rainforest, which are the best national parks in Ecuador and it’s definitely worth to visit.
After spending few days in Andes mountains with its cool fresh air we found ourselves in completely different world when arrived to the hot humid rainforest, what a contrast!
We have entered the rainforest by road and then by boat to one of the jungle lodges tucked away on the river. It is really remote and unspoilt Amazon, everything you see in those BBC documentaries is there.
Where to Stay
We stayed at eco-lodge Liana Lodge in small bamboo cabins, if to be honest you can’t ask for better place. There are mosquito nets stretched on the windows, no electricity, just the moonlight and the peaceful sounds of the jungle. By night we would swing in the hammocks on the terrace and listen to insects creak through the night, magnificent!
There is a cozy restaurant in the reception area where you can enjoy delicious local meals, after dinner we were listening to the whispers of the forest in the flickers of the fireplace or at the bar with a spectacular river view. Very romantic setting!
Blessed by local Shaman
At this lodge we were given an introduction to the shamanic practice one evening by the fire. We witnessed songs and chants, the concept of oneness with nature and how part of this tied in with rituals and ceremonies. Sitting around the fire, listening to shamanic chants creates truly fay and mysterious atmosphere. The shaman has performed cleansing ceremony, we were advised to sit down to receive the blessing.
Deep into the jungle
The Rainforest is an incredible spectacle with thick, dense jungle seemingly full of animals waiting to be spotted, colourful birds and oversized flora and tributaries which wind their way peacefully around the national park with overhanging vegetation touching the water.
Local Quichua speaking expert gave us an insightful peek into life in Amazon.
The night walk was the best part as we stumbled upon many odd insects; besides, the thrill of jungle trekking in the dark was priceless.
We got met a Quichua indigenous who showed us how to shoot with traditional Amazonian harpoons.
We were invited to their home and offered to try traditional hard liquor “aguardiente” or “chicha” brew, a beer – like, fermented beverage made from chewed yucca that makes up significant part of the Quichua diet. The guide informed us it would very rude to refuse to test that drink and upset the hosting family.
Amazonian Rainforest inhabitants
There is a good chance of seeing kingfisher, parrot, oropendula and other bird species. Squirrel and Capuchin monkeys can be seen in this area, although other larger mammals are considerably more shy and harder to spot. The insect life is also fascinating, with beautiful butterflies flashing by and Army ants and Leaf-cutters on patrol. It is also possible to see some of the forest’s larger inhabitants such as tapir, capibara, pecari and various species of monkey.
Animal rehabilitation centre
Ecuador is one of the countries actively protecting the jungle of the Amazon. This animal rehabilitation centre AmaZoonico Animal Rescue Centre is just one part of that, with other laws being set in place to protect other aspects of the rainforest including confiscated land and jail time if anyone is caught cutting down trees and other forestation.
This centre is run mainly by volunteers, they work 5 days a week, 7am to 5pm, with 2 days off a week. They work for a minimum of 6 weeks and get a variety of experiences. It is hard but very rewarding work.
Spanish lady showed us through AmaZOOnico, we learned more about the animal rescue centre’s mission. Its primary goal is to try to rehabilitate every animal that comes through its doors and help it return to the wild. The goal is lofty but unfortunately, by the time they arrive at the centre, approximately a third of the animals they receive are in such bad condition that they don’t survive.
Of the animals that do, half cannot be rehabilitated and will have to remain in captivity. Usually it’s because their senses have become dulled through disuse or because they are no longer afraid of people. The volunteers are thrilled whenever they can bid an animal goodbye one of the remaining animals can be rehabilitated and released back to its natural habitat.
At the end of the day, our Ecuador Amazon rainforest trip was short, but it was unforgettable. Seeing this extraordinary jungle, experiencing for ourselves the incredible diversity of life, and hearing about the many medicinal and health benefits the forest continues to yield, left an indelible mark on us. From the mesmerising shades of green and the curious sounds at night to the charming lantern-lit boardwalks of the lodge and mysterious shamanic practice watching, our time in the Amazon is an experience we won’t soon forget.
Yellow Fever in the Ecuador Amazon.
According to World Health Organization dated March 16, 2017 there was one confirmed case of yellow fever in 2017 in the Province of Sucumbios. The last reported case was in 2012 in the province of Napo. So there is a risk of yellow fever. Is yellow fever common in the Ecuador Amazon? Apparently not. However you must always consult with your doctor about the vaccinations recommended and required to travel to Ecuador.
Climate in Amazon Jungle.
It’s hot, humid, and rains pretty much every day. On average this area receives about 3200 – 3500mm of rain per year. The temperature averages around 23-25 °C. The dry season usually begins in December and ends some time in March.
Avoid to drink the tap water, or the water in lakes, streams or rivers in the Ecuador Amazon. There could be waterborne diseases and parasites in the water which could make you very sick and ruin your trip. It’s only safe to drink purified bottled water while traveling in the Ecuadorian Amazon. You should make sure to brush your teeth with bottled water as well. And be careful not to get water in your mouth while in the shower.
What to take.
It can get seriously hot and humid in the jungle so pack for sweaty weather. Light coloured long sleeves and long pants are good for the evenings though when mosquitos come out to play, and repellent of kind is a very good idea.
You might consider a power bank to charge your phone, tablet, and other camera batteries as most of the lodges don’t have electricity.
featured image © James Martins