Day 58: Into the Amazon Jungle we go!

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South America » Ecuador » East » Shiripuno River
June 3rd 2013
Published: June 7th 2013
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Olly woke us up so thoughtfully at 5.40am! Rar! Price you have to pay for going into the amazon I guess! We got up, tried to continue to pack the limited amount of items we were allowed and pack up up our big packs with a sign on then for David from tropico to pick up and drop to our hotel we are staying at after the tour. We were still raving around where the doorbell went and the banging started, no doubt waking up everyone else in the hostel! Meh they kept us awake most of the night! We headed downstairs and met our driver for the day and our guide for the trip - Hamir. We quickly found out that it was just the 2 of us for the next 4 days which is cool! Our own private tour! We got told we had a 2 hour drive till an ICECREAM stop at 8am and then an hour more till breakie in banos then another hour to shell where we got on the plane. The first few hours went quick, prob cos I slept on and off. We got to know our guide who seems lovely, totally fluent English and super knowledgeable! He is one of the main guys helping out with the project at the huaorani ecolodge so knows it and everyone inside out! We had lots of questions for him and before we knew it we were eating icecream at this lil town apparently known for these lil frozen icecreams - helados, they make! Naturally it was 7.40am and no shops were open but our guide managed to get one to open for us! Can't say either of us felt like icecream but we were def hungry so we enjoyed it! Back in the car I fell asleep again ( I really can't cope with all these early mornings!) and next thing I knew we were in banos! We both fell in love with this lil town and were stoked cos we have booked to stay here a few days after the tour finishes. It is totally surrounded by mountains and waterfalls and us so pretty. We had breakie which was yummy - eggs, fresh bread, coffee of chocolate and fresh juice. It was doubly as good when we learnt it was included in the price of the tour! While we were there we used the wifi to book a hotel for our 2 nights there!Back in the car we stopped once to take pics of a waterfall and then wound our way through the Andes to get to Shell! The home of oil! This is where we were catching our FOUR seater plane from!! I have been on a 4 seater before with Elle to see the nazca lines and it was so bumpy I was almost sick! But Hamir ensured us it was smooth all the way and we were lucky cos it was a nice calm day. So they weighed our luggage and us and it was then that I realised Crap!! I forgot to put the camera charger in our day packs!! Dammit! We are gonna have to only snap pics of importance and not look at any till we are on the plane back! Man I'm useless!Crisis moment over and moving on we got on our lil plane and put our ear muffs on! And up we went! It was so much fun! Beautiful forest everywhere and there was no turbulence at all!! We loved it! After 40 mins Hamir pointed our our landing strip! Yes it was a grass strip!! We landed smoothly and awaiting our arrival was a huge group of the Huaorani community standing in the grass strip to greet us! Well we are claiming they were there to greet us. There was also a few people getting ready to hop on the plane after we got out so potentially they could have been waving bye to them! We turned around when we heard a yelling and saw a mum and her two naked children running for the plane down the grass run way thinking they had missed their plane! So two naked lil children were bundled into the plane and taken to Shell, hopefully to purchase some clothes!

We then got introduced to Gabriel - our Huaorani guide and our two motorboat drivers for the next 4 days. They gave us some fresh lemonade they had bought down for us which was nice cos it was so hot! And we were not expecting it to be! They then took our bags off us and lead us to our canoe. I was a huge canoe dug out from a tree trunk and they were so accommodating. Everyone sat around the edges and they made Ben and I sit on seats with extra padding they added for us, in the centre of the canoe! We felt very special! We only went for about 10 mins and they gave us gumboots and said that if they didnt fit we can change them when we get to the lodge. Mine were HUGE and Bens were slightly too big. This would have been fine except that we had a 40 min up and downhill slippery hike just round the corner unexpectedly. We stopped and Hamir told us that as part of the project they have set up cameras to track the wildlife in the jungle and teach the Huaorani people the importance of them to the jungle so they dont continue to hunt everything! This camera apparently in November caught a jaguar in action so Hamir wanted to go up and download the pictures taken in the last 6 months. So we started our hike hungry as anything and with gianormous boots, no water (cos we didnt realise how long we were walking for!) - I was not a happy camper! But we got to the camera eventually and he had captured a deer and some other small animals but nothing hugely significant. Along the way he kept stopping and showing us trees and plants that the Huaorani's use for medicine and food etc. It was 2x translation as Gabriel explained in Spanish to Hamir and he translated for us in English. About 50 years ago when the missionaries arrived they started teaching these people spanish which is very useful as Haorani language is unlike any other in the world and no-one is even sure how it came about. All the people speak Huaorani and most speak Spanish but no english! Thankfully Hamir has perfect english as he spent 2 years in the US learning.

Anyway, after finding the camera we started climbing down - even more difficult in huge boots! But not as strenuous! We (well mainly I) were pleased to get back to the canoe and get some water into us. We spent the next 40 mins in the canoe floating down the river with the current, getting stuck in a few places and Ben and I really wanted to help but they made us stay seated and let them do the work. So there was 4 of them in the water climbing all around the boat pushing and shoving to get this giant canoe through the shallow areas. We eventually made it and Ben and I felt extremely lazy sitting back with our feet up (shown in the pic!!).

We arrived at the lodge and only had a short walk from the shore. By this stage it was 3.45pm and we had been up since 5.30 only having eaten breakie at 8am so were hungrrryyyy and I was starting to not function! Thankfully they didnt need me to push the boat cos I wouldnt have been much use! The lodge is really well set out. They have 4 huts set up for guests with bunks in some and single beds in other with a bathroom and shower etc. It is very basic but is like you are actually outside cos the sides are made with mossie nets but there is a proper wooden slat door. We didnt look around too much as our stomachs were screaming so we droppe dour stuff and got lead to the dining room. It is really cute with a single table set up just for the 3 of us in the centre if the room and hand santitiser, coffee and tea and books around the room. We sat down and met Carmen - our waitress for the next 4 days. She is very very quiet and shy and doesnt really speak spanish even to Hamir. She served us up some lemonade and then this really nice cooked plabtain with onions and veges ontop for a starter (which we thought was all we were getting! and would have been totally satisfied with!) and then a whole big plate came out with rice, chicken and veges, then followed out with a orange and lemon mousse! We were absolutely stuffed full! And this is just lunch! We thought my goodness we will never eat dinner! We were so impressed with the food. Hamir said as part of the programme they train chefs for the tourists at the Marriott in Quito and you could tell. Diego is our cook and he did an amazing job today.

Stuffed full we wandered back to our room and literally fell on the bed and fell asleep for an hour and a half and woke in the dark just in time for our night walk. They fitted me with some new gumboots and they felt amazing! So much better! We dopily wandered out into the pitch black night full of no light but thousands of different amazing sounds around us! They told us to watch out for snakes so we were a lil worried sharing my tiny torch which wasnt very bright! But it turned out to be a fun hike for an hour but we didnt see any wildlife. Just a few grasshoppers and a toad outside our room!

And then before we knew it we were in the dining room seated for dinner again! We started off with popcorn, then really yummy soup, then rice and chicken and then fruit for dessert! We have asked them for half portions for me from now on cos i couldnt even get through half of mine! So much food! But they were stoked cos Hamir said the Huaorani crew that are working at the time for us all stay in the lodge too and get to eat what we are eating if they want - which they dont always want! Gabriel tells us they prefer to hunt and eat monkeys and just cook them up! Gahhh! So, anyway they would have been happy cos they got half of all my meals! With it being pitch black, us being completely full to the brim and all 3 of us knackered from a super long day we were all in bed and deeted up with insect repellent by about 9pm and fell asleep instantly with the beautiful sounds of the amazon in the background!

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