Squeezing the most out of life | An Aussie and a Colombian living life with a wandering spirit. Eight years together & over 60 countries up our sleeves, we're sharing the love |

Getting a feel for the Amazon

Five years ago I took a couple of months out to do a whirlwind trip to South America. Mainly I had dreamed of seeing the animals on Galapagos Islands and hiking in the high altitude mountains of the Andes. This is the continuation and retelling of that journey. Kris

Leaving the city hustle of Quito behind with my new group, we took an all day bus ride to get to the Amazon in the East of Ecuadour; travelling over high mountain passes and back down in to the steamy jungle. Our cloud covered journey was punctuated by a visit to the hot springs – just what I needed after the previous days of hard volcano hiking.

Then the road got bumpy and rough, as we travelled along some very high, very scary, dirt tracks. The kind of South American roads that instill fear in to many a traveller. I tried not to notice the precarious dark tunnels and landslides until we were forced to jump bus and walk around a completely demolished stretch of road. The mountain views were worth it though, with misty clouds hugging the deep blue mountains. It’s the rainy season after all, so with the extra dangerous roads comes lush green landscapes.

We drove through villages of straw huts, bustling markets and waving children as we got to the middle jungle. It’s always good to be reminded of how simply so many people live and how indulgent our lives our.

We arrived just before sunset at a river tributary of the Amazon river. Into wooden canoes we hopped, cruising down the cool river as the light changed to night. Our lodge without electricity was alight with candles but surprisingly luxurious. Rustic style buildings, wooden furniture and carved animal figure chairs; perfectly natural and earthy with the dense jungle filling every space around it.

We spent our evenings sitting around the fire, listening to the heavy rain and the noises calling out from the green spaces. You can hear so much more in the still of night – everything comes alive – screeching birds, monkeys and the raging rainy season river nearby.

Part of our stay was a jungle hike through the muddy lushness, complete with very intense greens, flowering plants and weird palms that even walk towards the sunlight. We visited a rehabilitation place that was caring for animals that have been injured or smuggled in terrible conditions and later rescued. It’s very inspiring to see the work being done to save some rare species. Beautiful animals such as giant guinea pigs, ocelots, spider monkeys, Macau birds, toucans and jungle cats.

My favourite Amazon experience had to be chilling out in rubber inner tubes as we floated along the river. A boat took us upstream over some small rapids and we spent an amazing two hours floating back to the lodge. Drifting and looking at the jungle from a whole new perspective as the landscape moved past.

Reluctantly leaving the jungle behind we travelled further South to Banos, a cool little town surrounded by mountains and an active volcano dominating the landscape. I had my first BIG experience of Spanish nightlife at a weird little disco place in the main square. We all went out for a groove and the music was an odd mix of English tunes, like a bit of Reggae and Eighties combined with Spanish Salsa. It was hard for most of us to ignore the $3 margaritas and we all got really into it – dancing in hiking clothes is definitely not attractive though. Fueled by some alcoholic false confidence, by the end of the night we all thought we could Salsa with the locals. Funny times.

I’m absolutely loving the life and energy of this country – with Peru and Bolivia up next!

Kris

Little did I know that five years later I would be back to the landscape that so impressed me; living and working in a dense part of the Amazon, but in Andres’s home of Colombia.

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