The Amazon. Otherwise known as the ‘Lungs of Planet Earth’ because it produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen. It is a vast rainforest reaching into Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru and Bolivia, and boasts one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. Life here moves at a different pace, and you’ll find it easy to slip into the jungle way of life – early starts to watch the sunrise, daily excursions to visit remote tribes and learn about their culture, boat trips to see endless wildlife and night-time adventures to discover the magic that goes on when the sun sets and the jungle comes alive with nocturnal creatures.
I was lucky enough to enjoy a few days in the Ecuadorian Amazon earlier this year, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Here are a few of my highlights...
From the highest treetops to the depths of the second longest river in the world, the Amazon teems with birdlife, insects and animals. It is home to 427 species of mammals and over 400 different types of reptiles. Before we’d even arrived at the lodge we’d already spotted numerous birds, alligators, monkeys and pink dolphins. Each day our passionate guide would point out new animals and enlighten us with his amazing knowledge about them. After a few trips it was barely necessary to slow the boat down as it was just another sloth, caiman or river turtle.
Gliding peacefully down the river in a motorised canoe for a couple of hours before reaching our lodge was a truly remarkable experience. We arrived in true rainforest style with the heaviest rain I’ve ever witnessed, and got shown to our cabañas which were on stilts, with walkways leading to the central dining area. Our lodge was powered by solar energy and built using sustainable materials, with hammocks to relax in and a terrace overlooking the river. Meals were served in copious quantities, and each day we would be introduced to something new and exciting – from piranhas that we’d caught earlier in the day to one of the 3000 types of fruit grown in the rainforest.
Life in the Amazon
Nothing will beat waking up each morning to the bizarre screeches of the howler monkeys, living up to their name and letting us know whose territory we were on. They are the loudest of all the monkeys, and can be heard up to three miles away - certainly a bit more exciting than the usual alarm clock. Between activities we’d come back to the lodge and have some time to ourselves to take in our surroundings. Being on the river provided constant entertainment, whether it was sitting on the jetty waving at passers-by who whizzed past in their boats, lying in a hammock with a book or feeding the playful monkeys who would pop down to the lodge for a visit when they got bored of swinging through the trees above us. Each evening our guide would join us for a delicious dinner followed by a few card games and jungle stories, and talk us through the activities that we could expect the next day. We’d then go back to our cabañas and fall asleep to the jungle’s live performance of crickets, frogs, monkeys and birds.
Each day on an Amazon adventure bring something new, whether its meeting the local shaman, learning to make yuca bread in a remote village or paddling through mangroves in search of anacondas. Learning about the people who make the jungle home can add a fascinating dimension to your visit. As you navigate through the elaborate tangle of waterways, you’ll spot tiny villages and simple wooden homes belonging to riverside dwellers who maintain a simple and traditional way of life. The rainforest is home to hundreds of indigenous tribes who are scattered throughout the jungle, often in inaccessible locations which makes them disconnected from the rest of the world. Some of our other excursions included hiking through the forest in search of monkeys, snakes and anteaters, as our guide pointed out how the local flora is utilised for its medicines and practical properties. Another jungle highlight is visiting the macaw clay licks, where hundreds of parrots and macaws gather.
Whether its Peru, Brazil or Ecuador, you’ll experience an obscene amount of biodiversity, culture and natural beauty.
See our Peru Amazon holidays here.
See our Ecuador Amazon holidays here.
See our Brazil Amazon holidays here.