From Andes to the Amazon

I just got back from a fantastic trip to Ecuador.  We spent two weeks touring Quito, the Amazon and the Galapagos Islands with Overseas Adventure Travel.

Our first full day was spent sightseeing in Quito. We went to a lookout point and later stumbled across a street parade during out walk around the old city. After getting lunch in the Franciscan Square we visited La Compania de Jesus, a baroque-style church where everything was covered in gold leaf. (Pics were not allowed so you’ll have to Google it for images.) At our welcome dinner we were delighted to discover that:

  • Ecuadorians put popcorn in cream soups (similar to croutons)
  • Fresh homemade salsa was always on the table.

Our second day started early with a bus ride over the Andes to the jungle. We made several stops along the way. The first stop was at a lake so we could get out and stretch our legs.

Our first rest stop at this scenic lakeside.

Our first rest stop at this scenic lakeside.

Then we arrived at a cloud forest with dozens of hummingbird species flitting around.  The air was moist and humid.  Tiny pippings and chirpings of the hummingbirds resonated through the trees. Sometimes I could hear the furious buzzing of hummingbird wings sailing past my ears.

Hummingbird hanging out in the cloud forest.

Hummingbird hanging out in the cloud forest.

The ride continued and my jaws were chomping furiously on ginger candies and chocolate to combat the effects of altitude sickness. I was still chewing away when we stopped to visit a family in the area. The hostess was named Olga. She gave us a tour of her home and picked fresh tomato tree fruits for us to taste. The shape and texture of the fruit is like an Italian plum, but bigger. The reddish-orange color of the flesh and seedy interior were similar to an actual tomato. Pretty tasty. And of course they grow on trees!

Our hostess picking fresh tomato tree fruits.

Our hostess picking fresh tomato tree fruits.

I made it over the highest point with only mild discomfort before starting the descent towards the jungle. We stopped for a delicious lunch of fresh trout. Then a quick visit at Hollin Waterfall to stretch our legs, enjoy the scenery, and marvel at the streams of leafcutter ants working industriously scurrying about on the trail.

We finally arrived in Coca and got fitted with knee-high rubber boots for our jungle walks. Then we boarded a motor-powered canoe for a 45-minute ride on the Napo River to the Yarina Lodge where we would be staying for three nights.  The boots are on posts in front of the cabin.

Our cabin at Yarina Lodge.

Our cabin at Yarina Lodge, note the hammock hanging out front.


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