Exploring the Amazon Forest

Whenever someone asks me what the best place I have visited is, the answer is always the Amazon Forest. At the end of January, we went on our 4 day trip in the Cuaybeno reserve and it has been the best experience of my life.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page for all the practical details, including what company we used and how to get there. Keep reading to see what we were up to during our four days in the jungle!

Day 1

There was a lot of travelling on the first day. From Baños, we got a night bus to Coca, and then another one to Lago Agrio. Here – after finding out we forgot our bag of sweets on the bus – we got another 3 hour bus and later a 3 hour motorboat, that brought us right in the heart of the Amazon forest.

The trip was amazing and it really felt like being in a wildlife documentary. After leaving our bags in the lodge, we went paddling on the river, looking for monkeys and birds. While we were out exploring, we came across an abandoned lodge, so we decided to get off the boat and walk through it.

Day 2

A lot of what you can and can’t due in the Amazon depends on the weather. On our second day there, the rain was so strong that we decided to postpone our jungle trek and just spent the day with the local community.

Finding out how the indigenous people live was very interesting. We made some cinnamon chocolate and we also picked yucca and made bread with it.

Making chocolate and yucca bread

Finally we visited Delio, the village’s Shaman, who gave Eoghan a special ceremony that was supposed to make his back better. In fact, not only his back didn’t get any better, but because the Shaman hit him with nettle sticks, it even hurt to put his t-shirt back on!

The Shaman Ceremony

But this wasn’t the only adventure we had on the day. On the way back to our lodge, our motorboat broke down and we had to wait for several hours in the river, under the rain, until a local family went by with their boat and gave us a lift back to the lodge.

Day 3

The third day was my favourite of this trip. After paddling through several plants and trees, we got off the boat and started our jungle trek, looking for edible plants and leaves, medicinal plants and animals. We saw several kinds of monkeys and birds – even lots of hoatzins, which according to our guide are prehistoric birds. We also saw pink dolphins and a huge anaconda, sunbathing on a brunch. During the walk we tried some leaves and flowers, some of which are used by the local community as an anti-inflammatory medicine.

In the afternoon, we went to the main lagoon to swim and watch the sunset. The colours on the sky were amazing and it really was one of the best sunsets I have ever seen. Take a look at the pictures…doesn’t it look magical?

After it got dark, we finally went for a night walk, looking for spiders and frogs.

Day 4

On our last day in the jungle, we got up very early to go and see the sunrise and some species of birds and monkeys that only come out at this time of the day.

After going back to our lodge and exploring the surrounding area, we sadly had to leave this place!

What company we used

Plenty of companies in both Baños and Quito will organise this trip for you. We booked it through Geotours and stayed in Green Forest Lodge. We were very happy with the accommodation and the food we got there. As a matter of fact, the meals we got there were some of the best we got in South America and they even had a different vegetarian option for me at every meal, with fresh fruit and vegetables.

The average night price for this tour is of $65 per night per person. We were asked $280 for the four day trip, but ended up getting it for $260, for a tour with only one more person beside us and a private double room with ensuite bathroom. The cost included accommodation, a bilingual guide, all meals, several equipment, such as mosquito nets, boots, raincoats, and drinks throughout the day. Not included in the price were the bus to Lago Agrio, plus $4 to visit the community and $4 dollars to meet the Shaman.

Getting there

You can book your trip in either Quito or Banos, but most tour agencies will ask you to make your way there independently.

We started from Baños, where we got a bus to Coca. Transporte Baños Bus Company leaves every night at 10:45 and 11:45 and it will take you approximately 7 hours to get to Coca. The fare for this bus ride is $12.

Once in Coca, there are several companies going towards Lago Agrio every 15 minutes, starting from 4am for $3.

Why Ecuador?

Although you could visit the Amazon forest in different countries in South America, I would really recommend visiting the Cuyabeno reserve, in Ecuador. Not only it is one of the cheapest places – together with Peru and Bolivia – to visit it, but you can also do so in the most eco-friendly way possible. Having talked to some people who experienced this place in both Bolivia and Peru, we realised how lucky we were with our trip. We saw plenty of animals, like monkeys, pink dolphins, anacondas, caimans, birds, spiders and frogs, but sometimes we saw them from so far away that it was very hard to spot them or we had to spend hours before we could see one. For this reason, we were so surprised when some people we met told us that they had monkeys walk on the arms, until we found out that monkeys were forced to live in cages and then brought closer to tourists.

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