01-30-2013, 01:42 PM
Joined: May 2010
Location: Interior BC, Canada
Jan 14 Amazon Rainforest
Got back to Quito, sorted out all of our stuff needed from lounging around on a boat stuff to riding two up stuff. Had left the bike and a ton of stuff in the ample storage of Casa Helbling. Now just leaving a ton of stuff.
Headed east for the town of Tena in the Amazon Rainforest. Going to a place called Hakuna Matata. At this time I have to give some big props to MotoTreks who directed me to both Hakuna Matata and Casa Helbling. It is a huge help when we can rely on other traveler’s experiences to identify the great places to go.
A spectacular road through the Andes. Ecuador is making a great effort to upgrade most of their main roads and are doing a wonderful job. Great pavement, great engineering and spectacular scenery. The only bad habit they have is to build these really nasty v-shaped ditches on both sides of the road so, very difficult to stop and get decent pics.
Strange having someone on the back of the bike – everything is a bit different. But, we got along fine until the road into Hakuna Matata. It had started raining and the road was unpaved and a bit slick slick in places but quite rideable.
Came upon this little suspension bridge and we are going up the middle but I couldn’t figure out why I seemed to be slowly veering to the left . . . towards the boards for cars which are raised a couple of inches. Looking back.
I glance at the suspension cable on the left which is low enough at that point that falling on it will do nothing but act as a giant fulcrum as we launch over the side into the river below.
Finally decided a combination of me going too slow and Mrs RB intently looking over my left shoulder worrying about the little holes in the bridge ahead were giving the steering a life of its own.
Woke up and gave it a little right hand and got out of there with no problem.
Noticed the rocks in the road are now a lot rougher than on the other side and were pretty slick from the rain and crap on them. Figured riding two up (which I’m not particularly good at – hell, I’m not particularly good at riding one up . . . ) on these wet rocks wasn’t a good idea. So, stopped to let Mrs RB off to let her walk up, my foot slips off the rock it's trying to cling to and promptly dumped her in the weeds – see, told you I wasn’t that good. (Sorry no pics)
Got righted again and hauled ass up the road no hay problema. Waited for her at the little Indian community a ways. She decided to walk the rest of the way to the resort – that was probably a good idea.
I was checked in and unloaded when she finally showed up. She was yakking on about a snake she saw on the road along the way. We went down to the restaurant and had a look on Google for “Ecuador Snakes” and, I shit you not, this is the one she identified:
Mmmkay! Snigger . . . Showed it to one of the guides and amongst their sniggers, (I was guffawing by now ) he told us what she saw would likely have been one of the Giant Earthworms found in the area which look similar to this thing. Apparently the Indians cook them up and eat them . . . another delicacy I think I’ll pass on.
Hakuna Matata turned out to be a delightful place. Nice big rooms, beautiful location in the jungle, great food and the altitude is just high enough to not have mosquitoes.
They served an outstanding breakfast and dinner.
Decided we would do the Amazon Rainforest trip through the hotel. Pick us up along with our guide Fausto in a cab - typical cab for the area
and drive for about an hour to the edge of the Napo River. Hop in one of these long, narrow river boats and head off down the river.
All of a sudden the Native boat driver starts acting weird and turns the boat around and starts to kind of howl . . . for a few minutes. We are drifting towards this island and we find out this is where he lives and he is calling his wife (I’ll have to try that when I get home) to come out to the river. She finally shows and he throws her a couple bags of fish and we carry on.
The river gets quite shallow in places - it is hard to see in this photo but there is probably a good one foot drop off from the calmer water in the foreground to the shallow rapids
Branches seem to meander all over – we finally head down one narrow branch that is so shallow that the boat is sliding down the rocks – tough wood. This empties into a different and smaller river and we now head upstream. This seems like right out of the movies – jungle right down to the shore, lots of jungle sounds.
Finally spot our first monkeys, Wooly Monkeys
These guys are pretty beefy
Then a bunch of little Squirrel Monkeys
Boat drops us off and we start hiking through the jungle. Why they give us gum boots
The roots of this tree grow above ground and have some really nasty thorns on them. The natives use these like a grater for their food.
Little poison mushrooms
Fausto finds this very poisonous frog – the red on the back is where the poison is
Finds some of these nasty Conga Ants whose sting is apparently worse than any other. They are almost an inch long. I can now understand why survival in the jungle can be difficult for the inexperienced.
See these termite nests all over the place - at first we thought they were burls
Stop at an animal rescue place and look at all the animals they have. Mostly seized from smugglers trying to get them out of the country. Of the animals they receive, a third die, a third are released into the wild and the remainder are unable to survive on their own and are kept in their sort of zoo facilities.
Came across this guy paddling a traditional dugout canoe
Stop at a Amazon Native village. See how they make pottery, taro root drink and pan for gold.
They cook then mash up Taro root and let it ferment for a week or so then, party on. This lady had a big cup of the fermented stuff and passed it around. Let's just say it didn't suit my taste. Fausto grabs the cup and downs the whole thing and seemed quite pleased with his score.
Pan for gold with wooden pans - can get a few grams a week.