A friend of mine told me once, that whenever she thinks of a happy place she thinks of the ecuadorian jungle. After I finally visited it I can say exactly the same thing. So far it was the biggest highlight of my trip!
4 nights/5 days in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by all kinds of animals, from monkeys, through caymans ending with tarantulas hanging out in the bathrooms!
To get to the Cuyabeno reserve we had to get 8 hour bus from Quito to Lago Agrio. From there we were picked up by another bus that took us to the river shore from where we started our 2 hour canooride to the lodge we were staying at. Our schedule from the beginning was packed. We started with another boat ride to spot an anaconda, then went for a swim in the same lagoon that we were fishing piranhas couple of days later. In the evening, after the dinner, we took a walk around the lodge to see the tarantulas, frogs and another animals that were living with us. On the second day we walked through the jungle and learned all different facts about the medicinal plants that can be found there. In the late afternoon we went piranha fishing. It was my first expierience with a fishing pole and I managed to catch 2 piranhas! Day third we visited a local community, learned how to make yuka bread, played with very cute, but sometimes abnoxious monkey named Nacho, that we soon found out will end up on a dinner plate. Afterwards we visited the local shaman and listen to unbelievable stories of his life. We could also ask him just about any question that we wanted! At night we took another walk through the jungle. This time around it was a bit more scary. The jungle comes to life at night and we saw so many insects and spiders that would have given you chills if you saw them in your house. At one point our guide told us to turn off our flash lights and put hands in front of our faces. We couldn’t see nothing! Day 4th was another walk through the jungle. This time our guide let us eat lemon ants, that taste exactly like…well guess;) He also showed us vampire ants that were used by the indigenous to stich up the wounds. If anyone has seen the Apocalypto movie, they know what I am talking about. Late afternoon we set for another piranha fishing and swam at the lagoon during the amazing jungle sunset! Last morning, few hours before the departure we went on another canooride to watch the birds. Cuyabeno reserve is considered to be one of the most biodiverse sites in the world and keeps more than 550 different bird species.
Unfortunately Cuyabeno sits on top of vast oil reserves already coveted by the multi-national oil companies. The already existing petroleum exploration brings negative and irreversible effects to the land and communities that live there.