Just back from three nights in the jungle. After a long drive from Otavalo we stayed a night in a hostel in Tena with views of the Napa River. The next afternoon we took a boat to the Arajuno Jungle Lodge on the river of the same name. It was an awesome place, we stayed in little cabins, everything was solar powered, the dining room was open and looking out over the river, and a cheeky monkey would steal your food when you weren't looking. The monkey was a pet of the owner. Her name is Mona, she's a woolly monkey, an endangered species, three years old and always after attention, though she'd prefer it to be from guys. Cute but naughty. The food was amazing. We got three full meals a day, cooked breakfast with fresh fruit, lunch with dessert, and a three course dinner, soup, main and dessert again. Vegetarian was not a problem, most of the meals were anyway, and when there was meat they just replaced it with something yummy. On our first morning we split into two groups. My group went to Amazoonica which is a wildlife refuge programme which takes a lot of wild animals abandoned as pets or found in strange places. When they can they release them back to the wild. They had lots of birds and monkeys and a lovely ocelot who came right up to the fence and seemed to want cuddles that we weren't allowed to give. The afternoon was free time and it was so hot and sticky it was hard to move anyway. In the river was the best place to be. Day two we swapped with the other group and spent the morning on a hike in the jungle learning about some of the local plants and wildlife. In the afternoon we were taken up stream and floated back on inner tubes, nice and relaxing. This morning we came out of the jungle and drove to Rio Verde, not far from Banos. Tonight will be our first night camping on the trip.
There is a website for the jungle lodge, www.arajuno.com
Rio Verde was a good place to relax. There were extreme sports available but not really my thing so I spent the time chilling out and doing walks.Close to the campsite was a walk to a waterfall apparently ranked in the top ten in the world, not sure how they judge it, Pailon del Diablo. After a long walk down hill there were balconies to view it from and you could crawl through a sort of tunnely thing and get in behind the waterfall. For a more distant view there was a swing bridge which you were only allowed five people on at a time. Then came the walk back up. I don't know how I'm gonna survive the Inca Trails! On the walk back to the campsite we came across a rather big snake lying across half the road. Didn't really know what to do so we took pictures... It didn't do anything threatening but was still quite scary to come across such a big snake with no barriers and no idea if it was poisonous or not. While we were looking at it a local guy came along, and a car behind him. We pointed out the snake and he spoke to the people in the car, we thought telling them to go around it but no, they drove right over it's head. The poor thing disappeared into the bushes probably to die. Not nice.
Next day was a trip into Banos for a bit of a look around the town. Not much to see really. After dinner a big group of us went in to the hot springs which Banos is named for. It was quite crowded but we had a good time and were all relaxed and ready for bed afterward.
Ready for a big drive the next day. Leaving at 7am and made our way down along the Andes toward Peru. We arrived at 6.30pm at a quarry not far from the border where we free camped for the night. This morning we crossed into Peru and have come to the seaside resort of Punta Sal where we are camping on the beach for a few days. The beach is lovely, we've already seen whales jumping on the horizon!