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South America » Ecuador » East » El Coca
October 22nd 2012
Published: October 30th 2012
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Sani LodgeSani LodgeSani Lodge

Home for the next 3 days
The morning after the break down saw us leaving Coca on a motorized canoe finally heading towards the amazon jungle along the Rio Napo. The Rio Napo flows into the Amazon and according to the guide books contains some of Ecuador’s best jungle lodges.

Sani Lodge didn’t disappoint. After a 2hr canoe ride we hiked through the rain forest to a jetty on the edge of a lagoon deep within the Amazon Jungle. From the jetty we boarded small dug outs and were paddled down the tributaries to our home for the next 3 days.



Sani Lodge is run by the Sani Community, a combination of the income from the lodge, other projects and government grants means that they’ve brought and maintain a large part of the rainforest. As well as preserving their heritage it also ensures that the oil companies don’t get their hands on the land and start drilling – the amazon has a tonne of oil reserves, hopefully visits like ours will enable the tribes to continue to preserve the land for future generations.



Days were passed with sunrise bird watching trips – paddling in the dugout, seeing an amazing collection of birds, my favourite being a raptor like bird, related to the dinosaurs it’s a funky looking creatures and hops about high up in the trees, not really flying, more falling with style, a la buzz – afternoon hikes, piranha fishing and sunset trips in the canoes caiman spotting.



Hiking into the jungle with our guide Luis was an amazing (or Amazon-azing!) experience. Luis is a local guide with a vast knowledge of the jungle; he’s lived with loads of different tribes in the area to learn their ways, studied biology and sciences in the USA and even worked with David Attenborough on a documentary about Rio Napo.



He continuously sought out and described different flora and fauna. Imitating bird calls, naming plants and describing the indigenous uses for everything we stumbled across. Demonstrating how the smoke from burning a piece of old termite nest can be used as an insect repellent, which seeds burn slow enough to be used as a candle, which vines are strong enough to be used as rope and even a leaf that when stripped back is sharp enough to cut through leather…. We spied on monkeys, went looking for caimans and paddled and hiked our way all over the jungle. Even getting to view the area from above in a canopy top tree house!



The lodge is completely staffed by the Sani Community from the jungle guides to the kitchen staff serving up delicious 3 course meals every lunch and dinner to the girls and guys who maintained the rooms and grounds. On our last day we got to the visit the local community centre, an hour or so down river, the community welcomed us to their meeting place, showed us around the school, medical centre and community kitchen – demonstrating and getting us to help with the traditional cooking methods. Whilst the community is spread out across the jungle, this site is used as a place for meetings and the kids attend school here each day – with the school bus (canoe) picking them up and delivering them home – traditionally they learnt only local knowledge passed on from the tribal elders, but to ensure that they maintain their lands, keep the oil companies out and keep up with the changing world they have now expanded the teaching, adding a high school to the land and purchasing computers so the future generations will have the skills to continue to look after the communities interests.



With the amazing mix of traditional and modern in our minds, it was back to the lodge for a lesson on poison dart blowing and spear throwing!



3 days really isn’t long enough to experience all the this amazing piece of the amazon has to offer, but the morning of the 4th day it was time to leave the jungle and travel back to Coca. Whilst I was sad to move on the 92%!h(MISSING)umidity, mosquitos, spiders and other biting things, plus the ever present threat of malaria means that there are a few things that I’m not going to miss!



Arriving back in Coca it was back on the now fixe truck for a long drive to Rio Verde – the same road issues that caused the diversion earlier in the week are still in place so it was another 12+ hour drive doubling back on the zig sagging roads high into the Andes. This time without incident our destination was reached. Setting up the tent for the first time was an interesting experience….. but if I can do it at 1am with just the light of a head torch then it’ll be a doddle in future in daylight!



Camping in Rio Verde for the next couple of days, time to chill, hike, check out some thermal springs, do some much needed laundry and possibly do something silly and adrenalin fuelled.



Hope all is well at home, loving the comments from you guys – keep them coming!



Peace and love from Ecuador



Gemma x xx


Additional photos below
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LunchLunch
Lunch

and yes they are bugs on sticks in the background
Community Visit Community Visit
Community Visit

© Elke Werner
Raptor Bird Raptor Bird
Raptor Bird

© Elke Werner
Catching PiranhasCatching Piranhas
Catching Piranhas

© Elke Werner
Amazon Sunset Amazon Sunset
Amazon Sunset

© Elke Werner


30th October 2012
Luis

What is Luis holding???
Hey you - Loving the blogs - missing ya - what is Luis holding - did you eat it? speak soon xxx
30th October 2012
Luis

He was demonstrating that if you burn an old termite nest, the smoke is an insect repellent.... Not sure about the insects, but it kept us all away, it stank!

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