The Amazonas of Ecuador!

Hello again, this time from Ecuador our 10th country of the trip!

So as you know, we are driving south to Patagonia, but there are also travelers who are moving in reverse, heading from Patagonia to parts north on the Pan American Highway. When you cross paths with travelers who have just been where you are about to go, it is thrilling because you get to share recent info with each other and get even more excited about what’s to come. It was one of these meetings that convinced us to do the Amazon jungle from Ecuador. We met twowheelnomad in Costa Rica, a couple from the UK who are driving their motorcycles north from Patagonia. When we asked for their South America highlights – they told us about the Amazon jungle.

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Welcome to to the jungle


Heading into the Amazon jungle wasn’t on our original “must explore” list, but it should have been. The Amazon and its murky rivers have always freaked me out a bit. I don’t particularly like large lake creatures, and being in the brown water with snakes, piranhas and alligators isn’t appealing. Hiking through hot jungles with wild pigs, bugs and spiders that can kill you also didn’t seem that fun. Give me mountain hikes and clean oceans to swim and surf in instead. However, besides the spider part, I was way off on my expectations for this region. The lakes and rivers in the Amazon jungle were a joy and even spiritual to swim in and you really feel a special energy hiking through such an incredible diversity of flora and fauna. The Amazon jungle is alive in a way most other places can’t match.

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Start of our 5 day Amazon tour in Cuyabeno, Ecuador

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Me and our awesome guide Jacob who is from a village deep in the Amazon

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On our on our 2 day paddle through the jungle to our lodge

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We found a boa!

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A dead boa that is!

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Morning coffee at camp our first night

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MaCaw Couple - they mate together for life

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Jungle Sloth!

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The is a banana spider - the most deadly in the jungle. Spotted during our night hike. Look alive folks

As for my concerns:
The scary lake animals (caimans and anacondas) are all sleeping during the day and the piranhas are only going to mess with you if you are bleeding badly or when they bite your fishing line. Surprisingly, the bugs & mosquitoes weren’t an issue; we’ve been on many beaches in Mexico that were way worse. The rivers and lakes keep the jungle at a nice temperature, and I was never that hot. It was really incredible to be in such raw nature. Another unexpected plus was how affordable the trip was and how the tourism industry hasn’t seemed to dampen the experience.

Our tour was reasonably priced at ~$350 for 5 days all inclusive, we booked with Magic River whose lodge is located in Cuyabeno Ecuador. We chose them because this tour includes two days canoeing the river to the lodge and we got to spend the night camped in a tent in the jungle on the first night. All of the other tours take you to the lodges via speedboats. Spending two days canoeing through the rivers really allowed us to see more wildlife. Although most animals are still trying to hide from you, its a jungle after all, they do so a little less without a motor roaring from a boat.

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After two days of rowing, we made it to our Camp - Magic Rive Lodge (http://www.magicrivertours.com)

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Exploring the flooded forest in the Amazon

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Decided to take a dip at sunset with the piranhas, anacondas, giant fish, and caimans

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Piranha on the line!

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Look at those fashionable J. Peterman Trekkers!

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Beautiful sunsets in the Amazon

An added bonus with this tour was spending the day in a native Amazon community of the Siona tribe. They taught us how to make fresh Yucca bread, we learned about Amazon medicine, and we got to spend time with the Shaman – he cleansed our spirits. We even wrapped up the day playing soccer with the kids while in our rubber mud boots.

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Peeling the Yucca - 2nd step in making Yucca bread

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Jenine goes first

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Fresh Yucca bread - from digging up the plant to ready in about 30 minutes - and it was delicious

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After making bread, a Siona Shaman came in and blessed us

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Afterwards we found were they grow and make the Ayahuasca - we didn't try it - but a local had just cut a part of this root down and boiled it up to make the potent 'trip your face off' liquid that you see in the Coke Bottle

Our guide, an Amazonian native named Jacob, was just amazing at spotting cool animals and birds that no normal being could ever see. We even got an amazing show one day when 95 monkeys crossed the river above our heads by jumping, or rather flying, from tree to tree.

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Flying monkeys cross the Amazon river

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The birds in the Amazon were quite cool to spot - this guy is punk

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This bird disguises itself to look like it is part of the tree. I still don't know where the tree ends and the bird begins

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After 5 excellent days, we returned back to civilization. Thank you Jacob for being an excellent guide. What a trip!

The Amazon was really special and we loved it.

In other news, after being inspired by the Rich Roll podcast, the movie Forks over Knives, and the book The Good Gut we’ve decided to start eating a plant based diet. So upon entering Ecuador, we ditched the meat and stocked up on the legumes and veggies. Jenine read Rich Roll’s book The Plant Power Way and we haven’t had meat since August 24th, although we still eat fish sometimes. We’ll see how it goes but so far we don’t miss the meat. I highly encourage anyone to check out these books and movie! Next time we’ll be reporting about the Galapagos, which we just returned from, and it definitely lived up to the hype!

Hasta Luego!

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Upon entering Ecuador we decided to go vegetarian - after listening to several guests on Rich Roll podcast and reading the Good Gut

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Quito, where we booked our tours from, is full of cool night life options like this cafe

More Pictures:

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Bienvenido! This border was supposed to be a breeze but was a pain. The bureaucracy in Ecuador is apparent

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Our first look at Ecuador after crossing the border - Mountains!

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Upon entering Ecuador (8/24) we decided to go vegetarian - after listening to several guests on Rich Roll podcast and reading the Good Gut

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Quito is full of cool night life options like this cafe

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The main social square in Quito- where all the bars / hostels are

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This elevator man was no help

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Beautiful views in old town Quito

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Quito, historic center

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Start of our 5 day Amazon tour in Guyabeno, Ecuador

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Look a bird!

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Me and our awesome guideJacob who is from the Amazon

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Starting our on our 2 day paddle through the jungle to our lodge

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We found a boa!

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A dead boa that is!

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This snake is alive and doesn't look friendly

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Lazy day on the Amazon Rive

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Monkey certainly put on a show for us - 6 different species to spot

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Morning coffee at camp our first night

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Camping by the river on night 1

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Candlelight dinner - night 1

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The is a banana spider - the most deadly in the jungle. Spotted during our night hike. Look alive folks

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You can see through this guy

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MaCaw Couple - the mate together for life 🙂

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Jungle Sloth!

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After two days of rowing, we made it to our Camp - Magic Rive Lodge (http://www.magicrivertours.com)

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Our accommodations at Magic River

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Dinning room and chill out area at camp

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Heading back out on the Amazon river, searching for life

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Two canoers on the river

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Exploring the flooded forest in the Amazon

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Jenine's not worried about what lurks beneath these waters

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Decided to take a dip at sunset with the Piranhas, Anacondas, giant fish, and Caymans 🙂

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Sunset in the flooded forest, Amazon

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Tying up our canoes for the night in the Amazon

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Sunset Amazon

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We caught a Piranha!

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Piranha on the line!

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Time to trek with our guide Jacob

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Look at those fashionable J. Peterman Trekkers!

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This is how you cross a river in the jungle!

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Jenine gives it a go!

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Good thing we have fancy rubber boats on

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Jungle Rope climb!

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Now that is a big tree.....

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The four trekkers. We have fun hanging out with our friends from Germany

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The grand lake - Amazon

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Exploring the brush for wildlife

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This bird disguises itself to look like it is part of the tree

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These Woodpeckers win for best hairstyle

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Every night a sunset, we'd go exploring for Caymans and other creatures that come out at night in the Amazon

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Sunset over the lake in the Amazon

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This little monkey is running up the tree

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This is a walking tree. It can actually move itself or "walk" to get better sunlight

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Hey little frog~

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Visiting a local village of the Siona Community in the amazon

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The Sionas would teach us how to make Yucca Bread

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Digging up the Yucca - first step in Yucca bread making

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Peeling the Yucca - 2nd step in making Yucca bread

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replanting the Yucca stalk - it'll regrow in about 3-6 months

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Grinding up the yucca - step 3

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Placing the yucca in a woven basket like contraption

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Step 4 - squeezing the Yucca hard to get out all the water!

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Now time to make bread with the dried ground fresh Yucca

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Jenine goes first

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Fresh Yucca bread - from digging up the plant to ready in about 30 minutes - and it was delicious

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We all made our own Yucca Bread

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After making bread, a Siona Shaman came in and blessed us

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Jenine getting blessed and cleansed

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Afterwards we found were they grow and make the Ayahuasca - we didn't try it - but a local had just cut a part of this root down and boiled it up to make the potent 'trip your face off' liquid that you see in the Coke Bottle

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Tiny lizard!

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The birds in the Amazon were quite cool to spot - this guy is punk

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Cayman spotting! You shine a flashlight and spot them when their eyes reflect back

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After 5 excellent days, we returned back to civilization. Thank you Jacob for being an excellent guide. What a trip!

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Flying monkeys cross the Amazon river

Posted in Ecuador Tagged with: , ,
7 comments on “The Amazonas of Ecuador!
  1. Karie says:

    Amazing guys. Love the trip report!!

  2. Joe and Pam Lara says:

    Jenine and George,
    This was amazing…OMG what a trip.

  3. Geneva says:

    There are a few hilarious photos here.
    The guy with the moonshine looks like he started the day with a full Coke bottle.
    George looks a little irritated with the shaman ceremony thing.
    And the photo of you two in your white shirts, gray slacks and rubber boots is right off of an Abercrombie ad.
    Marvelous stuff!

  4. Meghan says:

    Gasp! What an amazing side trip! Love the pictures and the stories! Such an awesome experience! XOXOXO

  5. Emma says:

    You’ve got me inspired to visit the Amazon now. Although that banana spider made me waiver for a minute, the ninja bird that can disguise itself as part of a tree sold me. 🙂 Also, those photos of the sunset in the flooded forest certainly help!