I had a fantastic time in the jungle in Ecuador. There were some very precarious moments during the five-hour bus ride from Quito to Tena through the mountains - we narrowly missed hitting a car coming the other way! One of the girls had her purse stolen from her bag along the way as well.
We stopped in Tena only to grab lunch - the portions were big and most dishes came with chips, rice and salad. Then we hopped on a bus for 45 minutes to the Cotacocha jungle lodge; the bus was jam-packed with people sitting and standing in every available space - it was so hot and I was squashed up against a very sweaty smelly man - it was like the Tube on a bad day
At the jungle lodge we stayed in gorgeous little bungalows with nice bathrooms; they had no electricity but were lit by oil lamps in the evenings.
First off we went for a walk to a nearby village of indigenous people with our local guide, Elias, pointing out various plants and birds along the way. We saw how the indigenous people make pottery, use a blow-gun to hunt, make a drink from fermented yucca (a plant similar to potato that they eat a lot of here) and pan for gold on the bank of the Nama River. Many of the women in the village don't speak Spanish, only their Quechua language, though most of the children now learn both.
Then next day we donned our wellies and lifejackets for a trip up the river to begin a trek through the jungle to a waterfall where we could swim. Some of the guys climbed up on the rocks and jumped into the pool of water at the bottom of the waterfall. Along the way we saw some strange creepy crawlies and plants, including the plant that chocolate is made from - it has a tasty fruit.
When we had walked back down to the river, we went tubing for an hour back to the campsite over some little rapids and some calm sections of the river - it was very relaxing.
After a big lunch and a siesta we went for another trek through the jungle for a couple of hours; among other things we saw a huge spider, some 'conga' (like huge ants, apparently they have a vicious bite), the tree that 'walks' and the plant used to make Panama hats, ropes and roofs for houses.
The food at the lodge was absolutely delicious and in the evenings we would stay up chatting for a while after dinner. There was an enormous hairy spider on the roof of the bar - the size of my hand! Apparently it had been living there for three months and wasn't dangerous but I didn't fancy getting too close to it. The morning before we left we also found a scorpion in our shower