With a 12 hour journey ahead and my first night bus experience I wasn’t totally keen for the Amazon. I’m lucky enough to have the ability to sleep anywhere and generally at any time so I still managed a six hour sleep on the seven hour bus drive before we arrived at a random cafe in the middle of Lago Agrio where we waited three hours for our next bus. The next one was two hours and my sleep continued, followed by a two hour ride on a motorised canoe where we floated across the Amazon for the first time. We stopped for multiple anacondas, monkeys and too many birds to name on our way to the lodge, finally arriving and sitting down to lunch which was served immediately. I had made friends with the other solo female girls who happened to be both on my bus and my canoe and we got the small talk necessities over and done with so that the rest of the tour would be a little more comfortable for us.
The couple of days were packed with canoe trips which felt like I was back on African Safari only in a very different environment looking for very different animals. We had a couple of sunset trips where we could swim in the lagoon, but I declined, a person who doesn’t swim at the best of times, let alone where there could be multiple animals under the dirty surface that I don’t know about. The rain had come down on our first day too, allowing us to make use of our issued ponchos while sitting wishing I could’ve been anywhere else. I may sound negative but it wasn’t comfortable, and if I didn’t have my camera with me I could’ve enjoyed the rain and accepted the fact that I was getting wet, but attempting to save both the device and the photos that were yet to be backed up I wasn’t having the greatest time of my life. The sunsets were unfortunately subtle, hidden mostly by the clouds and quickly turning to darkness but still provided us with a nice end to the day.
The trip was good as we were given some opportunities to relax where I returned to the book I had forgotten about and just enjoyed being out in nature. Unfortunately, the humidity was difficult to handle and despite being one of the only Australians I really struggled to cope with it.
My least favourite part and the experience that was too far out of my comfort zone, past the point ‘where the magic happens’ as the iconic cartoon says, was the night walk. We looked for, and found, spiders bigger than my hand, insects and frogs as I walked through attempting not to brush any of the plants at my sides and using my shitty phone torch to see where I was going. A quick scurry past the wolf spider and banana spider was bad enough, until we were told to turn off our torches and enjoy the ‘jungle orchestra’, listening to the sounds and shutting off our other senses. It was so dark I couldn’t see my own hand let alone the multiple animals or insects that could’ve been crawling over me. The sounds weren’t very magical to me and I impatiently waited the minute to turn my light back on, my nervous chattering a trait I haven’t lost and something the girls definitely picked up on. After 45 long minutes of walking we returned to the boat and began the dark journey home, the sky providing us with infinite stars to admire as I tried to shake off the spider memories.
Despite facing and not conquering my fears, I did enjoy myself but that will be the last time I enter the Amazon. I feel lucky to have been able to experience it and I think the jungle is a beautiful and wildly unknown place, containing a whole world that we’ve really only scratched the surface of. It was good to be on a tour again; to have my meals made and be told what to do and when, without any wifi to distract me.
The 12 hour ride back was rough and I arrived back in Quito on Thursday night, ready for a few hiking days ahead before some days of rest in Banos.