7.30am on a sunday morning, and we are catching a bus. This time to Tena, and from there we make our way to Cotocotcha Lodge in the Amazon. The bus journey was a bit of a mission – the roads are full of serious twists and turns. In fact, on every bus I have been on so far there has been at least one puking local. Weirdly, it´s never the tourists! This time, a lady at the front of the bus opened her window and barfed all down the side of the bus. Delightful. I managed to hold it together, but was feeling pretty rank by the time we got to Tena!
The lodge was worth the bus ride. My roomie and I had completely lucked-out with our room, which despite being as far from reception as it was possible to get, was right on the Napo river! The first evening involved a visit to the local Quichua people, and we painted our faces, swam in the river with the local kids (whatever you do don´t pee in the river … have you seen that episode of Grey´s Anatomy??!), playing football, and watching the local people make pottery and practice with a blowpipe. We walked back in the dark, and it gets SERIOUSLY dark there! The plus side, is that you get to see loads of stars! There is no power in the lodge, but at 6pm you get an old-fashioned kerosene lamp delivered to your room. And there are bugs. Lots and lots of bugs. That bite.
Day 2, and after breakfast we´re off in a motor powered canoe, to get to the start point for today´s hike. Now, the trip notes describe this as a ´short walk´. What it actually was, was an intense scramble through the jungle, and in places was more of a climb than a walk. We were literally clinging to tree roots to pull ourselves up! However, another waterfall, another refreshing swim. And not as cold as Mindo!
The afternoon was spent tubing on the river. Sit in big rubber ring. Float down stream. Sounds easy enough, right? Apparently not, and there were a couple of scrapes along the way, myself included after careering straight into the one rock sticking up in the river. Thankfully I saw it in time to ensure the ring took the impact!
That evening, we had a few drinks and went on a bug hunt. Basically we were looking for tarantulas, which are nocturnal. We poked around the lodge with our torches, and didn´t find any tarantulas, but did find other big and creepy things. And then the ants came and it wasn´t fun any more.
I´m now running out of deet, and I think i´ve seen as much jungle as I need to see …!