Amazonas – Cuyabeno

Ecuador is famous for its variety in wildlife and climate. One of them is the Amazonas, a must-visit if you are around to, hopefully, see some beautiful (and creepy) animals. Not before long, we were sitting in a canoe, taking us down the river to our lodge. We were very lucky on this first “wildlife viewing”, and got to see e.g. four anacondas, one sloth, pink river dolphins and monkeys. What a good start!

Spider web by a social spider species, who live in colonies of up to hundreds. A snake bird taking a rest. Their beak is used as a harpoon to catch fish.Anaconda sunbathing.Can you spot the two colourful parrots?

Our lodge.Resting place. I call dibs! (See last pic)

Next activity, after a well-deserved rest in the hammock, was a night-walk. Rubber boots on, bring a flashlight and cover up! People tried to scare each other along the way, but it was not needed. The jungle itself was scary with all noises and snakes falling right in front of you. A red “candy” snake about fifty cm long dropped right in front of the two of us when we looked closely at something else. Scream and laughter! The mud was also really bad at some places, “don’t fall!” they said, as it worked like quick sand, but we made it out alive.

A huge female tarantella spider, just five meters behind our room. It was the size of a hand.Ain’t no insects stopping this lady. The guide said not to touch anything, yet Minna managed to put her hand on spiky trees every now and then… Mr.Frog.Insanely huge cricket! No joke, it’s a real cricket.

Walking around in the jungle during the daytime was different of course. Other sounds surrounding us and other animals awake. The mud however, was still the same. We got to try different things such as, sniffing jungle garlic for sinuses and getting bitten by a small ant (hurts quite a lot). After a while, no one wanted to be a volunteer anymore…

Typical muddy trail in the jungle. Sneaky little lizard, its tail grows our again if it gets bitten off.The walking tree, being able to move 4-6m in twenty years to catch better sunlight. No wonder indigenous people believe plants have spirits.Tree of life, each with its own ecosystem of species.Newly discovered species of Swedish monkey.Termites, yum!Bullet ant. About three cm long! Another, not so gracious, insect.Resting time for the bats. Impressive camouflage.World’s smallest monkey, also called pocket monkey. Can you spot it? Hint: On a branch slightly above the bundle of “red” leafs in the middle.

Amazonas princess.

As part of our tour in the Amazonas, we got to visit a family of indigenous people to see how the live, and help out to make our own lunch: Yuca bread. It was a fun and highly interactive, including digging up the root from the ground, peal it, wash it, grind it, flour it and cook it. Yuca bread is eaten like pitas with homemade guacamole, chilli, vegetables etc. It was a more than filling meal.

Mama Aurora showing the way with the machete. Later she, 80+ years old, would be squatting own the ground and shopping up Yuca roots with her machete. Very impressive! Grating the yuca into a paste.Pushing out all but 5% of the water in the paste. Turning the now dry paste into flower. Frying the flower. Nothing else is needed than Yuca flower due to the starch inside the paste, which works like glue, keeping the bread together.

One piece of bread.

On our last night before we left, we visited Laguna Grande, and on our way there the sky opened itself and heavy rain fell like it can only fall in the tropical jungle. We became absolutely soaked. Laguna Grande is an area that’s flooded during wet season and dry as a “desert” in the dry season, to watch more, but different, wildlife. Again, we saw pink dolphins. Then it was time for a swim before dawn (as if we were not wet enough) when caymans go hunting. We cruised threw swamped trees and bushes and spotted many beautiful birds and snakes.

One curious princess.Beautiful tree-line over the water One sleepy princess. There ain’t no beauty sleep in the Amazonas.

After a short morning watch, cancelled after a while by the rain, it was time to pack our bags and head home. No luck with animals this time, but overall we think we’ve been lucky. Good bye the Amazonas and back to Quito to spend a day and prepare for a new climate: Galápagos Islands!

Stinky bird. Apparently their breath smell awful, like our laundry in this moist environment. Walking boards from the dock to the lodge.One tired jungle potato saying thank you Amazonas for this time.