Tringgggggg….The alarm blares right into my ear and is literally telling me to get my lazy backside off the bed. It’s 7 in the morning. which is pretty early according to my standards (I am soooo.. not a morning person :/ ), but since we had to reach for our tour this morning at 8 sharp, I did not want to take any chance of being late and thus getting the dirty looks from the other people who were going to be with us on this tour to the amazing Amazon. One thing I had realized in my short stay was, that unlike back home in India where 8 AM would mean 9 AM, here, 8 AM meant 7.45 AM.
So after about 5 minutes of my brain convincing my lazy bones to wake up and become active, I finally did get up and got ready for a day I anticipated to be very exciting and interesting.
Located in the eastern lowlands of Ecuador, the Ecuadorian Rainforest is maybe the next biggest attraction for tourists after Galapagos Islands. The region descends from the foothills of the Andes, and is considered as one of the hot spots for the biodiversity in the world. The climate is usually at an average of 26 degrees with rainfall almost everyday. You will find the below facts interesting, because I certainly did, and these Amazon Rainforest facts contributed largely to my keenness to visit it.
1) Amazon forest is the largest in the world and is spread out through 9 countries: Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador,Columbia, Bolivia, French Guiana, Guyana and Suriname
2) It is home to:
– More than 40,000 plant species
– 2 million insects
– 2000 bird species
– 2000 fish species
3)There are still many tribes which are residing in the deep, dark forest who have no contact with the outside world and vice versa.
4) The forests are dark all year round and at any time of the day, as the trees are so tall, thick and dense. If it rains, it will be a good while before you can feel the raindrops on you.
So, with all this information in our minds, and with the keenness to know as much additionally as we could, we were there at the pick up spot at dot 8 AM.( Ummm..earlier than the required time is just not possible. We are just not wired that way. In fact, we are embarrassed and feel odd if we reach before time, and so: we reached right on time).
Below are the things which I suggest you must and should not forget to carry when planning to visit the big, bad jungle. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to be in the forest without these(take it from someone who didn’t take most of them and regretted every step taken thereafter).
1) Raincoats/Capes: As I had mentioned earlier, it perpetually ALWAYS rains inside the forest(it’s called RAINforest remember), and plus there are the very many waterfalls inside the rainforest which you would want to see up-close. And so you will not be too happy walking for hours in your wet clothes. Most of the tour organizers provide you with one, and so check before you buy one for yourself.
2) Good, sturdy, long boots: These are the most, MOST important in the list of must haves. One, because you wouldn’t want to spoil your shoes when walking in wet, slimy mud in the forest and two, because it saves you from the sting of the deadliest, meanest mosquitoes in the world. I am not kidding when I say, that one sting of these mosquitoes will make a grown man cry like a new born baby. Just imagine then what thousands of mosquitoes would do to your legs. FEAST…..Which brings me to the next point.
3) Mosquito Repellent: A magic portion which will keep you safe from the mosquito demons and will bring a smile of pride on your face for having one of these, when you see the condition of those who forgot to bring one with them.( Sadistic much???)
4) AGUA: The long walk inside the forest will definitely tire you out and water will prove to be a mans best friend.
5) Camera: To click away all the wonderful sights, which will serve as your memory boosters in the years to come.
At sharp 8.15 AM we were all packed up in the bus(around 8 of us), and were on our way to commence the widely anticipated adventure.
The first stop of the tour, is a view point which gives us an idea of what we are getting into…Literally ‘getting into’… The place which was around 2.5 hours away from Baños is at a height and when you stand at the edge of the mountain/cliff, you can see the wide spread, dark, dense, dangerous Amazon forest below you. This was the perfect place to give us an actual idea of how HUGE the forest actually is.
Our tour guide was very informative and helpful and was happily sharing his knowledge with the interested bunch of people.
After this, our next stop was Zoologico de San Martin. This zoo was an interesting walk as there were a number of almost extinct animals kept here. The monkeys were super-active, the bears super lazy and the Galapagos tortoise was huge and seemed to be ‘chilling’ in life. We did not spend much time here, considering there was a lot more to cover before the sun set, and hence off we went to our next stop.
Now, this is what I was truly interested and keenly waiting for – A trek into the Amazon forest. Around an hour further away from the zoo, we reached the place where the walk would commence.
The Amazon being such a major tourist attraction has a downfall, and that is the presence of small shops selling food and drink items even here. But well, this is only the case in the outskirts of the forest, just before you enter and start your long walk.
So, after freshening up, attending to nature calls, taking care of the hunger pangs etc; we all accumulated, wore our boots, rubbed on the repellents to our bodies, formed a straight line and started walking. With our tour guide leading the way, our task was simple: follow the guide, observe the bio diversity, keep a look out for any animal besides the mankind, not to step on any snakes which might crawl into your way and most importantly DON’T GET LOST.
Because in that case- no one can help you brother. If you are lucky and survive the end, then who knows. Maybe your own personal series of ‘THE LOST’ will be broadcast on AXN next ;). The walk continued for about an hour and a half or so. There is a saying “You can hear so much more in Silence“, and I could not agree more to it at that moment. The various kinds of sounds in the forests were intriguing yet at the same time frightening. Were they of insects, of animals, of birds; is something we all were unsure of.
What we knew, was that we couldn’t be more closer to nature than where we were at this exact moment. Suddenly, while doing the walking and the listening, we hear the distant fall of water from somewhere not too far. We kept walking towards the sound, and soon enough we walked straight into the sight of a beautiful, pristine clear waterfall. What a sight, I tell you.
The long walk had definitely made us hot and sweaty and we couldn’t wait to jump into the very inviting pool of water. SPLASHHHH….. Happy, chirpy noises filled the air as kids and adults all enjoyed the fresh, cool spring of water and the same continued for around 20 minutes or so.After which, we were to trek back to our starting point, but this time, through the water streams running inside the forest. You see, our tour guide didn’t like to do run-of-the-mill stuff and wanted to make it as adventurous as he could, and so he suggested this magnificent idea of hitting the streams. This is when I was most glad to have been given the boots by the organizers :).
We were made to walk on an up way path, deep inside the forest where after around 15 minutes we reached a small clearing. All that was in view was a grand tree at the edge of a cliff, deep forest below, dense trees all across and, the key thing to notice was- that one long, thick rope tied hanging from the tree.
Okayyyyy… I think I know what we were just about to do: ‘The Tarzan Jump‘…No safety belts, no equipment’s, no helmets…nada…Just grab the rope by your hands, hold on tight, take few steps back, say your gods name and then jump. Yes my friend, you heard me right…JUMP..
In my years of existence on this earth, I would say I have done a lot of adventurous stuff: Bungee Jumping, White water rafting, Paragliding, swinging between cliffs tied securely to a rope, Skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving etc etc. But nothing beats the adrenal rush from this Tarzan jump that I did in the Amazon forest. If you happen to be here, you must ask your guide to take you to the secret spot from where the jump is done. Trust me, it will be worth it.
And so, after around half an hour of getting everyone to do the jump, we headed to look for the water stream which would take us back to civilisation and out of the Amazon. This walk back, which was actually; a waddle back, through the water was extremely difficult since we had the slippery rocks and the fast water stream (in some places) to look out for. But finally after around 2 hours or so we were back to where we began from.
Since we had two more places to cover before we called it a day, we were asked to quickly settle down in the bus for our journey to the next place- The Camps of the Natives or the Indigenous Indians. After reaching the place, we were glad there weren’t any more physical activities involved, considering we were still sore from our previous one. We were taken into a hut, where we met the natives community, learnt how to shoot dart guns,drank the local drink called Chicha and lastly got our faces painted like the natives.In short, great fun.
With the hunger now having reached their peak, I was glad when we were told that we would be taken by a canoe to another native village where we will be served lunch. Local delicacies/local food was something I anyways wanted to try. And this was the perfect opportunity.
Content after a good meal and after a fantabulous day, we walked a bit to where our bus was now parked and settled down for our way back to Baños. The journey would be around 4-5 hours and we would reach by late evening after which I was sure I would be dying to hit the bed and sleep off my tiredness. More so, we had another journey back home for which I needed to be fresh for.All in all, this trip to the Amazon and to Baños will always be a memorable part of my life. A great experience which one must not miss if given a chance.“In the end, we only regret
the chances we didn’t take.”
Read more about Baños in my other blogs:
1)About Baños, Ecuador- The perfect mountain getaway- Day 1
2)Hotel Club Ejecutivo, Baños: Not worth the money spent.
3)Steak House Bambu, Baños: A meal which will guarantee your RETURN.
You can also refer to these other articles which I found helpful while looking for more information on Baños: