Day one from Quito to ontavalo.
Stop at equator for photos.
Arrive ontavalo and visit local market and watch Netherlands and Mexico.
Then 7 of us off in a small taxi to go and see waterfall and got wet. Visit crater lake and take a boat ride.
Go into local town and see street parade and men dressed up dancing and getting very drunk. Riot police everywhere with tear gas. Good fun.
Buy party pants.
Visit local man who makes woolen clothes on the way back for demonstration.
Back to hotel grab some dinner then bed. Bloody barking dogs wake us all up at 4 am but very comfortable bed!
Day 2 - 4
We stay at a cool jungle lodge on the outskirts of the amazon jungle.
We arrive mid afternoon on day 2 and are staying in small lodges with bunk beds. The whole campsite reminds me a lot of being in Fiji. No beach but a river running next to us instead. All mosquito proof. We are all given gumboots and told we will need them.
After dumping our gear in our room we all grab some beers, put on our gumboots and head into the jungle for some fishing. Using sticks and fishing line and worms for bait I managed to catch a very small fish after about 20 minutes.
We all enjoy a big dinner of soup, rice and a meat and vegetables and then a dessert to finish off. Fresh juice too. This is a standard meal here. We have a few more beers and hang out around a campfire for the rest of the night.
Day 3. My bunk area are both sick. Likely food poisoning from the day before. (24 hours later they will both be well better)
We have a huge breakfast of toast, fruits, juices, and plantain and cheese pancake type thing.
After breakfast we put on our gumboots and go on a 3 hour trek into the jungle with a guide who stops regularly to show us plants and bugs and what we can eat and what their medicinal uses are. Federico our guide starts by painting all our faces and putting a Toucan Nose on us all. Again reminds me of Fiji. It’s amazing how every plant can be used for something. The locals do not use any western medicines or tablets. We eat some ants that taste like lemon and some Cocao beans. Don’t see any wildlife though.
We arrive back tired and sweaty in time for lunch, being soup, rice, fish (with lots of bones) and a dessert with fresh juice. Very filling.
After lunch we see some local kids dance and a ceramic demonstration.
With 3 hours till dinner we had free time and instead of lying in a hammock or napping a group of us decide to go and walk into the local village. This turns out to be a great decision.
We grab a few beers at the local “pub”. $1.50 for a huge bottle and then we go to the local soccer field to play soccer with the local kids which has been the highlight so far. Completely exhausted from the days hike, and having drunk half a beer, the soccer game is tough. The pitch is VERY muddy but we run around bare foot and I end up covered in Mud. I end up playing some game where we throw dollar coins in the mud and try to hit each other’s coins, with our goalie in between points. He is about a 5 year old boy. I don’t understand the game but he keeps begging me to play.The kids are hilarious and love playing with us. Luckily one of the girls on my tour, Mary, speaks Spanish so it’s helpful to have a translator with us!
Me and a few others end up jumping in the creek with the kids. Great way to wash off all the mud. We have a few more drinks then come back to our lodge to wash up before dinner. No hot water sadly. A few of the kids have come back and continue to kick the soccer ball around with us. Dinner is another 3 course meal with pork this time.
After dinner I am exhausted so head to bed early with my sick bunk mates.
Day 4. Best nights sleep yet. Everyone is over their sicknesses.
After breakfast we take a quick boat ride across the river and walk to the local Shaman’s house. He lives on top of a hill with his wife, 10 kids, 4 dogs, 1 cat, lots of chickens, and who knows what else.
He and his wife show us how to make fish traps, bird traps, weave baskets, how to make the local alcoholic drink, similar to Kava I’m Fiji, but white and made from plantains (kava is way nicer!).
He demonstrates how to use a blow dart and we all get a chance to try it out.
We hike back down and catch the boat back in time for lunch.
A hot sweaty walk back and after a delicious lunch (soup, rice, chicken, vegetables, fruit) we get ready to go tubing.
I do a few shots of rum before hand, after referring to our overland vehicle as a bus and not a truck. Every time we call it a bus we have to complete a forfeit dare.
We are all given an inflatable inner truck tyre and jump in the river for a relaxing hour floating down stream. With rum and coke in toe it’s good fun and a sunny afternoon.
We take a boat ride back up stream to our campsite where we grab some beer money and head into town for another soccer game with the local kids. Not as many as the day before but the field is just as muddy. I even manage to score a goal! After the match we jump in the river and splash around with the local kids.
Before it gets too dark we head back to the campsite and shower before a pasta dinner. After dinner we hang out around the campfire and a few of us boys stay up late with Jono our Truck Driver and have a few laughs. In bed by 10 which seems early but was a busy active day.
Day 5 we get up at 8 for breakfast at our Amazon Lodge before getting on the truck and heading for Banos. One of the girls bags went missing after a massive fuck up at heathrow airport so we drive around hoping it has arrived but it hasn’t.
Scenic drive through the mountains and we stop on the way for lunch on the side of the road at a random restaurant.
Arrive in Banos about 3pm and head to the supermarket and a quick tour around the town.
Stock up on drinks and snacks for the next few days. Check out the bridge swing in town also.
Head back to our campsite about 15 minutes out of Banos. Set up tents for the first time, enjoy dinner together and have a few drinks. Boys stay up till about 1.30 playing Drenga. English boys are WAY more dirtier then the rules we play back home in Aus. Hilarious dirty fun!
Day 6. Don’t get much sleep as we are camped next to the main road and sounded like we had slept on a highway all night with trucks going past.
Have first hot shower in about a week which is great to wash away the beer I got covered in the night before as well as the dirt and sweat from 3 nights in the amazon.
Half of our group go canyoning and with a few of the others I go on a hike up one of the many mountains that surround Banos. From our campsite we have no luck catching a bus into town so we hitchhike and ride in the back of an open truck into town. 4 of us end up doing the hike taking us around 1.5 hours to reach the top and a “treehouse” that has a swing overlooking an abyss. We are slightly underwhelmed but a good hike all the same. We then hitchhike back down the hill on the back of a small pick up truck into Banos. A quick shop then we head to a local pub to watch the Brazil V Colombia game. At half time we go across the road and play a game of soccer with local kids. Completely outnumbered and full from drinking beers we run around and get beaten easily by a bunch of under 10 boys and girls. The kids are hilariously cute cheering and screaming together. They easily beat us and demand we buy them some coca cola as a prize for them winning which they go crazy over.
After Brazil wins, and we watch the Colombian player ‘James’ cry on the tv (reminder I should get a shirt of his) we walk back to camp for a shower, drinks and dinner. After dinner the lads all play poker and enjoy some red wine (not me) and whiskey.
Day 7. Up early after my best nights sleep yet. After breakfast 7 of us get picked up for a half day White water rafting tour. For $25 we are not expecting it to be too exciting. The only other time I’ve done rafting was in Costa Rica which I remember being really fun.
It’s raining when we start which kids sucks but doesn’t take long to get wet in the boat. The rapids are way better than we expected (class 3+). Lots of fun. I’m seated at the front of the raft and get very wet. Our guide is pretty cheeky and we are sure he is aiming to get us to fall out as many times as possible. I end up falling out 3 times during the 1.5 hours we are in the water. It’s pretty cold and a little scary floating down the rapids and trying not to swallow too much water. We are all well impressed with the value for money we got on the tour. We stop off for an included lunch on the way back, all pretty exhausted and tired. The afternoon is raining so most of us stay at the campsite an watch a movie (28 days later). We help out with a BBQ dinner and everyone is feeling super tired so no drinking games or crazy antics tonight.
Day 8 is a very long drive to Cuenca. Lazy slow day in the truck. Lots of roadworks so makes the trip longer. We arrive at our hotel for the night and are all so excited to see beds and nice rooms and not be camping. We all head out for dinner and I eat the biggest burrito I’ve ever seen.
Day 9 is spent in Cuenca most of us do a 2 hour bus tour around the city, check out a church and go out for lunch and ice cream. We go to the ‘Panama Hat’ museum which was actually invented in Cuenca. We have a lazy afternoon and then head out to a German bar for dinner. We end up playing fusball and pool with locals and turns out to be a semi messy night.