I got the wonderful opportunity to take a trip to the Amazon Jungle and to spend 4 days at Waita Lodge in the Cuyabeno reserve, in Ecuador! I experienced so many things in this short amount of time and I feel the best way to tell my story is to go chronologically, so let’s start from the beginning
The adventure started on the first day in the town of Lago Agrio in which I arrived in the middle of the night after taking a bus from Quito. I stayed at the D’Mario hotel until 9:30am, the time our driver, Marco, came to pick us up. I was actually so excited that I almost couldn’t sleep! We then started our road trip to the Aguarico river, gradually getting further away from civilization, going from concrete roads punctuated with lively towns to gravel roads lined with vegetation. We got lucky and saw a few monkeys on the way! We then got to the end of the road, to the river. It was exciting to see this powerful flow of water on which we would soon be floating!
And so started the second part of our journey to Waita Lodge, in a motorboat this time! We stopped a few times on the way to receive information and interesting facts about the jungle and the communities from our amazing guide Andrés.
After resting a little and discovering our cute lodges, it was time for dinner. Being a vegetarian, I had nothing to worry about concerning the food, the chef was very accommodating and constantly provided me with delicious typical food that never left me hungry!
The day was not over yet as we took advantage of nightfall to go on our first exploration in the jungle to see nocturnal animals. Armed with our flashlights, our rubber boots and sprayed with mosquito repellent, we set foot onto the small track in the middle of vegetation. Snakes, ants, spiders, insects, and even a tarantula, all those animals usually hidden during the day were enjoying their nightlife before our eyes.
Woken up at 6am with the sun and the chirping of the birds, we went on an early morning ride on the canoe to observe the animals of the jungle. We were able to spot sloths, monkeys, toucans, and many other birds!
After our delicious breakfast, it was time to start a new activity: paddle boarding! We went up the river by motorboat so that we could enjoy the way back to the lodge, driven by the current on our paddleboards. I had not been on a paddle board in a veryyy long time, but I got used to it super easily. It was such a relaxing ride, and we got a chance to get closer to some of the animals we saw on the riverbank.
The weather in the Amazon Jungle being quite unpredictable, we were caught in a downpour at the beginning of our paddleboard ride, but honestly, the whole jungle experience wouldn’t have been complete without a torrential rain at some point!
After getting changed to dryer clothes, we got some free time in the lodge before lunch. I was pleased to realize that they are concerned about eco-friendliness/sustainability, for instance, electricity is available only for a few hours everyday to charge our cameras or phones. There was no coverage or wi-fi, making for a stay totally disconnected from the rest of the world. One unique characteristic from the lodge, Andrés explained, is that the staff is part of a local community, each member having a specific role in the project: boat driver, cook, manager… The objective being to educate the local community to care about the jungle, to teach some of them English so that they can become guides themselves, to show them the potential of ecotourism compared to oil or palm exploitation.
We then went on another walk in the jungle, by day this time. Once again seeing all sorts of insects and getting some survival tips and explanations from our guide Andrés.
This morning again, we took advantage of the rising sun to explore the river by canoe, discovering more wildlife. After another amazing lunch, we had some free time and decided to go on a little adventure by paddle boarding in the area around the lodge, exploring on our own! Well, actually, not totally on our own as we were accompanied by a kid from the local community, eager to talk and share his knowledge with us. A future guide in the making!
It was then time to go on another jungle exploration by foot, guided by the one and only Andrés. We visited another part of the jungle with giant trees that we had not seen in our previous explorations. It felt like I was so small compared to the giant roots and I realized that I was indeed in the middle of the Amazon Jungle.
Back from our walk, we sat and relaxed in the common area of the lodge, and played some card games. It was a nice bonding activity and I was thankful for the lack of wi-fi which led to nobody ever being stuck on their phone and to everybody enjoying the moment together!
Already time to leave this little natural paradise disconnected from reality. Before leaving, we did one last activity: climbing to the top of the bird watching tower, situated just a few minutes away from the lodge by canoe. One of our last chances to see the birds of the jungle from up close and to get an amazing view from the canopy.
After saying goodbye to the lodge, we went back on the motorboat and made our way back to the starting point of our journey. I tried to print in my mind all these beautiful landscapes before coming back to “normal life”.
A few months ago, I wouldn’t have thought that I would visit the Amazon Jungle, and now, I already want to go back. It was very peaceful, the staff was welcoming, it felt like home and I would absolutely recommend it to nature lovers!