Some travellers love Christmas
You can see all the ‘A Travellers Christmas’ posts here.
The buffet table looked exactly as you would expect it to look in North America – turkey, stuffing, vegetables, gravy and even festive lights. But appearances can be deceiving. The inky black of the night, the sound of scuttling bugs, and unfamiliar noises emanating from the depths of the jungle lay to rest any thoughts we had that we were near civilization…of any sort.
Our family of four had flown with friends deep into the Amazon jungle a few days before Christmas. A two hour motorized boat ride on the Napo River, a tributary of the Amazon, followed by a 1½ hour paddle in a dugout canoe finally put us on the doorstep of the Napo Wildlife Center.
Considering our location the lodge was amazing.
And so were the experiences we were to have over the next few days.
Christmas Eve in particular was fun but it certainly wasn’t the highlight of our trip. Looking back what stands out most to John and I were the insects. John addressed the grasshopper in our room by the term SIR – as it was the size of an Austin Mini and the sound wave from its chirp caused one to jump. And on one hike at dusk our guide found a beetle the natives covet – as its eyes are like giant LED’s and literally act as flashlights.
It wasn’t just the insects either. My friend Jo observed while eating breakfast in the outdoor dining hall that her white china plate was moving…only it turned out to be the world’s smallest centipede or millipede or whatever…and not a fine crack in the plate. Later that day on a FIVE hour hike in the jungle she saw his larger six inch cousin in the tree.
On another day Jo and my daughter Kristen were sitting by the caiman-filled lagoon enjoying the afternoon sun. Jo took the opportunity to clip her nails and being cognizant of not leaving a footprint so to speak she piled her clippings into a nice neat pile…to which the leaf-cutter ants quickly stole one by one. Nothing goes to waste in the jungle.
I think we all came away feeling lucky to have experienced the Amazon once and it was certainly the most unforgettable Christmas we had …but none of us are in any rush to return. It’s a very hostile environment but the most biodiverse one in the world. Yasuni National Park has over 900 species of trees in a single five acre plot. No one could ever count the number and kinds of insects. In our bedroom and bathroom alone I saw dozens of species I’d never laid eyes on before.
The “look before you touch” rule applies in the jungle. If you’re out walking it’s worth looking up for constrictors, six inch spiders and gigantic lizards. Look straight ahead and sideways for anaconda and centipedes of all sizes and ants that kill you. Don’t freak out if there is a rodent the size of a small dog in the shower or a massive toad on the path to the dining hall. And make it a habit to tip over and shake your rubber boots before putting them on.
My daughter Kristen had this to say – the jungle was heavily infested with mosquitoes resulting in a zillion bites for me. I did see the most exotic looking spider ever, enjoyed the monkeys climbing on me even though they tried to steal from my backpack.
Would you like to venture into the jungle?
Leigh, a travel blogger based in Calgary can be found at HikeBikeTravel where she aims to inspire you to get outdoors. You can also find her on Twitteror Facebook. Her next big project is a book – 100 Quintessential Canadian Outdoor Adventures.