On our last leg of our trip through South America, we ventured into the Amazon Rainforest on an adventure tour from Baños. A pity we didn’t have the time to go deeper into the secondary forest where the jungle is more primitive and untouched. Along with the Galapagos islands, this has to be my favorite part of the entire trip.
We booked ourselves on an ‘Amazon Extreme’ tour that included white-water rafting, cycling and jungle-trekking for 2 days. Our guide Edwin, a local Quichua-speaking expert, was a great guy, who gave us an insightful peek into life in the Amazon. The night walk was the best part, as we stumbled upon many odd insects; besides, the thrill of jungle-trekking in the dark was priceless.
The Amazon Rainforest has always been well-known for its inhabitants – proliferate species of plants, animals and indigenous human tribes.
Our guide Edwin pointed out to us interesting insects, even let us try lemon ants (yes, ants that taste like lemon) and got us doing crazy Tarzan stunts.
As we climbed up to a lookout point in the middle of the jungle, the view was incredible, but we also tried swinging from tree to tree and got to meet a Quichua indigenous who showed us how to shoot with traditional Amazonian harpoons.
In the evening, we trekked to our cabañas (little bamboo huts) where we would stay for the night. Standing by a flowing stream, the setting was just dreamy.
We couldn’t have asked for a better place. Our bunk beds were all equipped with mosquito nets and there was no electricity, just the moonlight and the peaceful sounds of the jungle and flowing water.
By night, we would swing in the hammocks below our room, and listen to the insects creak through the night.
The highlight of the trip got us finding our way through the dense jungle in the dark, skinny-dipping in the waterfalls (I had my bikini on, but not the guys!) and coming up-close and personal with giant spiders and stick insects. It’s almost like a different world at night, when the nocturnal creatures come to life.
Boating on the River
As the sun gently spread its rays over the flowing stream, we hopped on a wooden canoe that drifted us through raw and captivating landscapes of rocky cliffs and sparse waterfalls. It was slow and calm — a different side of the Amazon.
Visiting Indigenous Amazon Tribes
We crossed the stream and found ourselves wandering through what seemed like a village in the jungle. An Amazon tribe has been living here for decades, and we explored their homes and their handicraft where tools and plates were made with barks and leaves from the jungle.
While driving back to Baños, along the Ruta de las Siete Cataratas (The 7 Waterfalls Route), our driver decided to take a plunge himself, in an attempt to tease our guts. I asked if he did this all the time, apparently, we were the few lucky ones to see him jump. I’d bungee-jumped in Thailand once, and decided once was more than enough to feed my thirst.
Our rafting experience down Class III rapids along Rio Pastaza was wild, I loved every minute of riding the ferocious rapids, paddling as a team and getting stuck in whirlpools of water. I for one, fell out of the raft as we were turning 360degrees in what looked like a tornado of white water. The cold was bitterly cold, the water really didn’t seem so scary when I was in it.
Most tour operators in Baños organize these trips into the Amazon Rainforest, and you can stay for multiple nights depending on your preference. We booked our ‘Amazon Extreme’ tour with Rainforestur, a highly reputed operator in the region. You can also contact our bilingual and interesting guide Edwin Chango, directly at [email protected].
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