(and definitely not in an Axl Rose kind of way)
Where to even begin... This is one of those unplanned side trips that blew me away and makes me so thankful to have the opportunity to travel and see such amazing things. I decided to stay out of the mountains for the time being, even though Ecuador has many that I would love to stand atop of, and headed down into the Cuyabeno Reserve in the Amazon for a real life episode of Planet Earth.
We were very lucky to have ideal conditions and a stellar guide, Luis, who was not afraid to pursue any wild animal. I got to see an anaconda, a black caiman, a spectacled caiman, a pink river dolphin, yellow spotted amazon river turtles, several types of monkeys, many different birds and insects, and flora that was just amazing.
A few highlights (in addition to all the great sightings listed above) include:
- Fishing for piranha´s
- Seeing the lekking (mating dance and song) of the Golden Tipped Manakin
- Almost getting bombarded by a herd of White Lipped Peccaries (wild pigs)
- Hearing the Red Howler Monkeys howl
- Having Squirrel Monkey´s cross the river in front of us as we paddled down stream
- Swimming at sunset in Laguna Grande
- Seeing the full moon rise while the sun set, all against the back drop of a giant and full rainbow
- Paddling across the lake on a beautiful day in a wooden canoe in my underwear (it was really hot, and my undergarments have more coverage than my swimsuit)
- Learning about the symbiotic nature of many species in the Amazon
- Having a shaman ceremony performed on me
- Learning how to make casabe
- Having a wild tarantula in my room
I have pictures posted (http://www.flickr.com/photos/14158549@N02/sets/72157622427378297/), but they don´t do the place justice. It was an experience for all your senses...the smells, the sounds, the sights, the tastes, and textures.
I could go on and on, but I won´t. If you ever find yourself in South America near the Amazon, go! It´s amazing!