Ecuadorian Amazon Adventure
...but we'll try!
For years we had discussed the possibilities ofattempting a moderately deep penetration into Amazonia. We wanted to experience one of the most intriguing eco systems in a near natural state (without giving up our day jobs to be scientists). The eastern side of the Andes in Peru and Ecuador seemed the most promising, given the amount of annual rain fall, the density of the canopy and remote destinations still accessible with some degree of ease.
The Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve in Ecuador http://www.kapawi.com/ captivated our interests as we studied and learned more about the initiative begun by the late Carlos Perez Perasso to preserve the last vestiges of indigenous owned land not under exploitive foreign oil leases. As good fortune would have it, luxurylink.com offered a six day five night package to Kapawiin an auction with a minimum bid of less than 50% of the normal posted rack rate.
We bid and won!
The adventure begins with the initial air approach to the Quito airport, which is especially exciting, because of its location in relationship to the surround Andean peaks (commercial pilots call their approach the classic corkscrew descent). After passing through several layers of clouds and passing over and by a number of active volcanoes, we finally saw the landing lights of the main runways.
At 9,350+ feet above sea level, Quito is hardily the highest city in the Andes, but it is high enough to almost immediately feel the effects of altitude sickness. As we live at sea level, rapid change in altitude often induces the unpleasant symptoms of altitude sickness, which encourages us to take Diamox anytime we travel at altitudes above 5,500 feet.
The trip to Kapawi involved transitions from modern commercial jets (we arrived in Quito aboard a 767 operated by LAN), followed by a 20 passenger twin turbo prop landing at a military base, followed by a Cessna 206H bush pilots landing on a small patch of mud (jungle strip). Wewere happy to be alive andhiked a few hundred yards to a waiting canoe and loaded in our gear for the half hour river trip to the lodge.
Kapawi was carved out of dense vegetation and stood on twelve foot poles elevated in a backwater estuary.
Our dailyriver trips from Kapawi were filled with sightings of Pink River Dolphin, Amazon Manatee, numerous monkeys, sloths, otters, snakes, lizards, Harpy eagles and a variety of other exotic birds, cascades of colorfulbutterflies (the blue morpho encounters are very magical) and untold insects (many of which wanted nips of you or at least to share your accommodations).
We never missed an opportunity to hike in the junglewith our Achuar guides (machetes always chopping unmarked paths for us to explore in the near twilight caused by the dense upper canopy (most days we were soaking wet [the waterproof backpacks were critical for our digital cameras] and often knee deep in mud (the lodge provided rubber boots) or climbing across primitive log bridges using vines for handholds). Our guides never seemed to miss anything as we waded through the streams and swamps and carefully navigated the muddy slopes..their sharp eyes and keen hearing providing us with unbelievable sightings of canopy animals and birds as well as quietly sharing these experiences with us.At the main lodge, we were treated like royalty with wonderfully prepared meals from provisions flown in twice weekly.
Our cabanas were well ventilated, but offered us no A/C.warm water only on those few days when the sun broke through the clouds and heated our 10 liter solar water bags for showers. Some would consider this lifestyle roughing it, but the lack of common creature comforts is soon forgotten and the memories of the adventure last forever. The late nights were the greatest, after meals and drinks.when the lodge lights were turned off and the total darkness allowed for a celestial exhibition beyond description. Our guides then conducted heavenly tours of the constellations, stars and planets.
Prior to leaving Kapawi, we were invited to visit one of Achuar villages andmeet with a family in one oftheir typical dwellings (upright poles covered in palm thatching), with little more than a simple fire sheltered from the frequent rains. Wespend time asking and answering questions throughthe assistance ofour interpreters. We shared home brewed Chicha, an intoxicating drink of staggering proportions andreflected onthe luxury of this encounter with these wonderful people. When we departed, they thank us for coming and we thank them for allowing us the opportunity.
Thanks to luxurylink.com, we count thistrip among our riches travel experiences.not in the sense of bricks and mortar, room service or pristine beaches (we have enjoyed those luxury moments from luxurylink.comduring many other trips).to havewitnessed first-hand a vanishing environment and lifestyle, which, when lost,will never to be recaptured.......this we hold near and dear.
Maybe luxurylink.comwill bring back Kapawi Ecolodge at some future time for the enjoyment of other community members.
Message Edited by omegaet on 04-03-2009 08:11 AM