Amazon Wilderness: Tiputini and Yasuni

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There are some things everyone knows about the Amazon. It is called a rainforest for a reason. There are billions of mosquitos, millions of scorpions, and countless tarantulas. Heat and humidity will drench you in sweat every hour of the day. And getting lost is a bad idea.

In anticipation of the exotic birds, animals and plants to be seen, I forgot about all that and instead spent Thursday afternoon–the day before leaving–daydreaming about pygmy monkeys, parrots, and giant river otters.

Naturally we ended up getting lost. At 4:00 AM no less, in the middle of the jungle, surrounded by all those aforementioned terrors–humidity, heat, and millions of bugs.

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Exactly a day prior at 4 AM we had woken up in Quito, at 10,000 feet in the Andes, where you can gaze out the window at snow-capped peaks. In Ecuador, one day is enough to teleport you from the comfort of a house in a modern city to an unfamiliar trail in the middle of the amazon jungle.

All around us hummed the night sounds of a rainforest. A Tawny-bellied Screech-owls whistled softly, while a bizarre Great Potoo screeched from somewhere in the distance. Insects chirped and clicked incessantly. I walked quickly, rivulets of sweat rolling down my back, headed towards our destination. Pausing to catch my breath, I took a moment to ponder the phenomenal place I was fortunate enough to experience.

Finally we made it. I’d only thought I was lost.

Three-hundred narrow oversize steps and we reached the platform, immediately encountering more tarantulas and a shred of orange on the horizon. Slowly, the sun rose.

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I’d say it was worth it.

We saw a lot during our three days in the jungle. We learned that there’s a plant that turns your tongue blue if you chew it.

We also learned about all sorts of trees:

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And about all sorts of animals, like the giant river otters or strange pre-historic-looking Hoatzins:

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It turns out that everything I had daydreamed really did exist. Our trip was filled with Paradise Tanagers, finger-sized pygmy monkeys, butterflies, and hundreds of other exotic species.

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On the last afternoon, after trekking through the rainforest of Yasuni National Park to see pygmy monkeys, we swam in the river. The water was warm, and though the thunder cracking around us unnerved me just a little, it was the perfect afternoon.

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2 thoughts on “Amazon Wilderness: Tiputini and Yasuni

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