The town of Puyo sits at the edge of the rainforest known commonly as the Amazon Jungle; in Spanish Selva Amazónica. Most of the rainforest is in Brazil but the far Western edge is in Ecuador and also spans 6 other countries to a small degree. I chose Puyo as a gateway to the jungle. The jungle! Cool!
I arrived here from Banos, taking 2 buses via Ambato. A trip of about 5 hours total. The buses were comfy with a large TV monitor playing a movie, in Spanish and no subtitles. The town itself is nothing spectacular or remarkable except to say the locals were very friendly, even a police officer zipped me to my guest house on the back of his motorbike when I asked him for directions.
The town is full of shops with suggested tours of the rainforest some of which include hiking, zip line, canoeing and climbing. I chose a day tour that included a drive of 1 hour east to an animal sanctuary, then a canoe ride down a river to a village and meet with the shaman of that village and have lunch with him.
Inside the village were about 20 homes/huts all colourful and a garden/crop area. The shaman greeted me and his attire was a little shocking to me, in a funny way. I expected the “spiritual leader” of this village to be wearing a long robe, with beads and maybe a funny hat. Instead, he was dressed in jeans and a very oil stained red t-shirt. It’s interesting how I had romanticised the truth of the matter! The wooden table was filled with food and was hard to see given the very dim light in this large hut. I also had the company of a monkey (or two?) and outside large colourful parrots guarded the entrance to the hut. The food was delicious consisting mainly of freshwater fish and corn.
Both the Amazon Jungle and any rainforest had always been on my bucket list of places to see and here I was breaking bread with a shaman, in the Amazon along with the company of a monkey, or two.
My two tour guides were also my protection from god knows what lays ahead. Before entering into the jungle my face was painted with symbols which would protect me from wild animals. I was told not to touch anything just in case it was poisonous or had had an allergy to it. I can also see how getting lost in the jungle could happen quite easily, the tree canopy is high and so reference points are difficult. I found myself recalling some TV shows featuring Steve Irwin and other intrepid adventurer/survival type guys as a “just in case” scenario. Fortunately I was back in my hotel bed that night.
No matter what time of year it is in Ecuador, the sun rises at 6:25 and sets at about 6:20 PM. The longest day in June and shortest day in December differ by only 6 minutes of daylight. Trips like my trek into the jungle have to be started early in the day for fear of still being in the jungle after dark. No thanks!