After two days in Banõs, we spent 2 days on the outskirts of Ecuador’s portion of the Amazon rainforest, perhaps a 30 minute ride from the city of Tena.
If I’m being honest, these two nights that we would be spending in the Amazon rainforest is the main reason we made a trip to Ecuador. Environmental sustainability is a cause that is near and dear to my heart. With the way that the Amazon rainforest is being destroyed in its current trajectory, we wanted to experience the forest before its destruction was past the point of no return, whenever that might be.
We also only chose an Ecuador tour with *two days* in the rainforest because I wasn’t sure how I would fare with the mosquitos. Turns out, with the right clothing and a bunch of mosquito repellant, very well, thank you! But more on that later.
Upon arriving, we immediately set off into the jungle, guided by our homestay host. It was a short stint, perhaps fifteen minutes or so, as a way to introduce us to the nature around us.
Our reward was this view peeking out into the vastness of the rainforest.
Some of us also had the pleasure of a spa-like activity by gathering wet mud and slathering it on our skin.
Once back in our homestay, we competed in a darts throwing competition, of sorts.
Around these parts, the locals use poison darts to hunt. The blowgun, pictured above, is long! Perfect for getting animals that are further away.
We took turns trying to hit our target.
The winner received a handful of live grub as their prize!
I didn’t win, but the winner didn’t quite feel the need to eat all of these delicious rubbery insects all by himself, so he was kind enough to share them with the group.
Our host brought the prized grub into his kitchen and cooked it, I believe, with butter and salt.
The result? I kid you not, deliciousness!
It tasted very similar to bacon – fatty and salty. My mouth is salivating just thinking about it.
We then got a demonstration of how they make chocolate on the grill.
Right next to it, the cook of the homestay is making freshly-caught fish. It was SO good!
Throughout our stay, we were fed breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and each meal tasted amazing.
Aside from the photo above, I sadly don’t have any further images of our homestay. Most of those, I took on my phone, which subsequently got stolen at the Miami airport.
But let me try to paint a picture.
The building straight ahead is where our homestay hosts live. To its right, there is a raised dining area (pictured below).
In the courtyard, there is a hangout area where several hammocks and wooden benches are available. Its roof is made of leaves found in the surrounding forest.
To the left of the courtyard was where we stayed. It’s a two-story building with several rooms. The roof is made of tin, this time, so when it rains, it sounds like it’s absolutely pouring. There are no lights in the rooms itself, only in the open hallway, so at night, we use flashlights to see around us. There are also open space between the ceiling and the wall to let some natural light in, but it also lets in bugs (thankfully, the bed included a mosquito net), the hallway light, and noise from your neighbors talking or using the communal restrooms.
it was roughin’ it.
I would not say I had the best sleep staying there, but everything else about the place made it worthwhile.
For our final activity, our host showed us around the jungle with the intent of teaching us how the plants have helped him in his livelihood.
I was amazed at how the locals are able to utilize the plants and their properties so extensively. Knowledge that are passed down from generation to generation.
It’s worth noting now that his property does not have wifi, has limited supply of electricity, and they still operate using a landline. Healthcare is not completely accessible where they are at, and therefore, they try and use whatever is available around them first, as that will be easiest.
Though we did not encounter any wildlife (be it in birds or four-legged creatures) aside from a few pesky mosquitos, our stay in the Amazon rainforest just outside of Tena, Ecuador allowed us to fully sample what being in the jungle is like.
A couple of things that were lost in photographic form – white water rafting down one of Amazon’s rivers (first time white water rafting, and it was a lot of fun!), as well as just relaxing in a crystal clear stream mere steps away from the homestay, while the sound of a waterfall filled the otherwise silent air.
Visiting the Amazon rainforest has been on my bucket list for many years, and I am now a completely happy camper.