Published with permission from LuxuryWeb.com
The thrill of an anticipated adventure often outshines the real experience. Such was my recent escapade into the heart of the Amazon in Ecuador. The allure of the Amazon Basin had beckoned me for years, but plans were either postponed or canceled. This time, however, the news that our Ecuadorian journey would include a visit to an eco-resort in the Amazon was exhilarating.
But the reality? A mix of challenges and surprises.
Age had made me more susceptible to the tropical heat and humidity than I was three decades ago when the Amazon first captured my imagination. Beginning our trip in Quito, perched at roughly 9,300 ft. above sea level, we traversed altitudes touching nearly 15,000 ft. over the Andean peaks, eventually descending to around 1,600 ft. in the Napo River Valley, a significant tributary of the Amazon River. And the rainfall? Nearly incessant. After all, it’s aptly called a “rainforest.”
Our destination, “Cotococha Lodge,” is nestled on the fringe of the Sumaco, Cayambe, and Cuyabeno Reserves. This riverbank lodge, surrounded by a dense canopy of jungle trees and vibrant flora, boasts 21 quaint casitas.
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Though they lack electricity, they are equipped with basic amenities: sun-warmed running water, biodegradable toiletries, and daily fresh bottled water. Every evening, oil-lamps illuminate the porches, emphasizing the lodge’s commitment to environmental harmony. They even encourage guests to gently release any intruding insects outside.
Most of our fellow travelers hailed from the U.S., but the lodge also hosted French, Irish, and German visitors. Despite being the onset of the rainy season, the lodge was bustling, leading me to share my casita with another journalist from our trio of writers.
The rain accompanied us relentlessly. My romanticized visions of the Amazon had ill-prepared me for its realities; I had neglected to bring waterproof gear. As we ventured through the mud-drenched trails to visit a Quichua indigenous tribe village, my supposedly waterproof boots betrayed me.
Our activities included a thrilling canoe ride on the rapid currents of the Napo River, followed by a rendezvous with the tribe’s women showcasing their exquisite pottery craftsmanship. My fanciful imaginings had painted scenes of encountering anacondas or evading headhunters, but nature had its own narrative.
Our spacious thatched-roof cabins with three queen-sized beds became a haven from the relentless rain. An evening spent on the porch, sipping on a bottle of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, immersed in the symphony of raindrops, the river’s flow, and the chorus of tree frogs and crickets, was mesmerizing. But tranquility was disrupted by an unexpected nocturnal encounter, possibly with a local creature, leaving us bewildered and slightly alarmed.
The journey concluded with a hearty breakfast and a long drive back to Quito. Reflecting upon my damp yet thrilling Amazon sojourn, W. C. Field’s quip, “All things considered, I’d rather be in Philadelphia”, resonated with my sentiment.
Nonetheless, the allure of the wild Amazon remains, in its trials, surprises — and incomparable beauty.
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