We signed up for 3 day/2 night jungle tour through a travel agency in Misahualli. It just so happened to be the agency our hostel in Banos recommended.
Jose decided that he didn’t want to do the jungle tour so he headed out with Katie and Cali back to Quito. It was a good plan since he likes cities and had not yet been to Quito, and I had already spent 3 days there.
So it was just me and Jeremy. We negotiated the rate from $45 a day to $40 a day, or $120 total for the trip.
They supplied us with all the food we needed and boots. It was very muddy so we definitely needed the boots.
We started out the first day with 3 guides, a Swiss couple, Jeremy and I. The swiss couple were only on a day trip so one of the guides was for them.
The trip was surprisingly very well planned. We started out with a 20 minute ride in the back of a pick up to the trail entry. We hiked 3 hours and the main guide Javier stopped along the way to show us all sorts of plants
Trees (rubber tree)
and insects. They let an ant clip onto Jeremys ear
This was a giant worm hole
After the 3 hour hike, we stopped for a half hour break and had a simple lunch by a stream
After lunch we continued our hike and saw some funky funguses
And more insects
We went slightly out of the way to stop to see a giant 700 year old tree
After crossing a bamboo bridge
We arrived in the village where we were greeted by curious children
At this point one of the guides and the Swiss couple took off in a canoe to head back to town. We were about 15kms into the jungle.
We continued on about 15 more minutes until we finally reached our camp.
Our camp was a simple shack with a generator for the lights and the kitchen.
It was outfitted to fit 20 or so people but it was only the two guides, Jeremy and I. We were exhausted all day; it was so hot and humid it drained us. After a delicious spaghetti dinner we headed straight to bed. The rooms were not screened in so we had individual screens over our beds.
We really needed the nets, the bugs were incredibly bad. I had 100% deet bug spray and thought I was prepared. It turned out the only way to get away from them was to either be in the river down the hill from our site
or in our screened in bed. Long sleeves helped but they still bit my neck. Plus it was just so hot to wear long sleeves. The locals aren’t bothered by the sand files, they have thick skin that is used to them they can’t bite through. The mosquitoes came out at dawn and dusk to add to the bites.
We went to bed no later than 10 and slept at least 11 hours. Exhausted.
The next day, we went for a swim while the guides cooked breakfast. We went for a short 1 hr hike to a mirador where we could have an overlook of the city.
On the trail, Javier showed us some more medicinal plants, herbs, insects, and fruit.
Javier demonstrated the weaving of the palm tree branches that the locals use for their roofs. Last 10 years!
After the hike, we were completely drained again from the heat, so we napped..
After lunch we went tubing. We hiked back up through the village
and took a canoe across the river. We jumped in for a 45 minute ride down stream. It was beautiful.
So lush and green and relaxing. After napping once again, we had dinner.
After dinner, we headed out for a night hike. We would sit silently with our lights out and wait to see if any animals came by. None did. He would turn on the flashlight and show us tiny nocturnal spiders and other insects. Just sitting there in the dark was amazing with all the noises of diversity. The sky was so bright with stars.
We did run across a baby bird that couldn’t fly but not too much else.
Our final day was pretty laid back. The idea was we were to visit with the village people. They showed us around their village including the community building
and we met the kids. Absolutely adorable. Javier gave us some animal crackers to give to the children as they formed a line.
They had them sing a song to us, and we in turn sang back “the wheels on the bus go round and round” and “this is the song that never ends”
We couldn’t help but laugh about how rough they played; one kid grabbed rock in his hand and slammed it over his friends head. Later on the same kid threw a rock at another kid. Violent!
After playing with them for a little while, we went back across the river to their house.
We met up with the rest of the family and also gave them animal crackers. It was clearly a treat for all of them. We gave some to a drunk guy and he hogged the rest of the bag.
We packed all our things up and Javier quickly tried to show us how to pan for gold (but did not find any)
We were initially going to take a canoe back to town, but our second guide randomly left on the second day. He said he had some sort of meeting and Javier was not to pleased about it. It was also tough for Jeremy and I because the other guide spoke english and did a lot of translating for us.
We told Javier we still wanted to take the canoe, and we weren’t sure why but he made us pay $20 to rent it from the family. It was well worth it as we had a nice relaxing hour and a half ride back.
But of course, after a little while we decided it was down river and Javier could handle the steering so we napped 🙂
Emerging back to civilization definitely felt weird. It had seemed much longer than 3 days. We jumped in the back of a pickup and made our way the rest of the way to Mishualli.
Overall it was an amazing experience. Although at times the bugs were so bad I couldn’t wait to get back, in the end the bug bites will be gone and I will still have great memories.
If I were to do it again, I would definitely take the trip from Lago Igrio. It is deeper in the jungle where there are piranhas and more wildlife. I was disappointed we didn’t really see any animals, and we had to wait until the villager’s dogs stopped barking at night to hear the wildlife. The locals were also always buzzing up and down the river on motorboats so I felt we could have had a better jungle experience.