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After more than two years in Panama, it was time to move on. Despite the wonderful memories and lifelong friends we've made there, there was so much more we want to eat, see, and experience … so on June 1, 2013, we moved our belongings to our new home in … Ecuador!
Three days later, and we were on our first trip. Our plan: Five days and four nights in the Amazon basin, east of the Andes mountains, seeing parts of Ecuador most people never even thought existed. Now we’re back in our new apartment working on photos and stories from our trip.
We also took a lot of video clips; we'd like to turn them into short videos for our YouTube channel. (If you’d like to see them, go to our YouTube page and subscribe. You’ll be notified whenever a new one is available to watch.)
Two nights in the jungle
One of the highlights of the tour was our stay at Cotococha Amazon Lodge, a fabulous lodge that truly expresses the Amazon in its décor. Every building there, from social areas to bungalows, is built of wood and natural materials, in an architectural style typical to the region.
I particularly appreciated the thatched roofs. which were made with local palms. They made the open-air social areas – dining room, bar area, and even a nice sitting area with a fireplace – cozy, comfortable and welcoming.
As Ricardo, the lodge manager, gave us an orientation to our stay, two cute little coatimundis acted as welcoming committee and played overhead. I was so enchanted by their antics I almost missed an important question: “Do any of you have any dietary restrictions?” It's a small thing, but I thought it said a lot about their level of attention.
They then managed to plan all of our meals so everyone would be happy. For us: no red meat, no pork or shellfish, no wheat. We all got what we needed … and the chef did an amazing job, too.
Our amazing hotel room
Each of us stayed in our own spacious bungalows which, with no electricity or air con, made us feel like we were truly in the Amazon rainforest.
Our bungalow was on stilts – standard insurance against flooding – and its cathedral ceiling was thatched with local palms.The front and back walls were almost entirely screened for a cross-breeze, with curtains for privacy. The screening meant that the sound of the rushing Napo River would lull us to sleep and the raucous calls of Amazonian birds in the treetops would be our morning alarm.
Nothing wrong with that.
We loved our bungalow, with its comfy bed, large private bath with hot shower, and our own balcony or veranda, complete with reclining chairs to relax in and watch the river pass by. It was clean, too; I walked across the room in my bare feet a few times and didn't pick up a speck of dirt from the wood floor.
It was chilly and rainy when we arrived. Who knew it could be cold in the Amazon? Apparently, when it's winter down south the cold winds blow all the way up to the equator from way down south in Patagonia. Good thing their fireplace was going strong!
Once we settled in, we sat in the bar and enjoyed a drink while we chatted with some of our fellow tour members. Drinks were served with an apology the first night; they didn’t have any ice. Electricity is limited, I guess.
Welcome to the Amazon.
Each evening at sunset, the staff lit torches along the walkways. The glow from the flames were yet another reminder that we were in another world. Thoughtfully, every evening they brought a lantern and battery-powered light to our bungalow; they provided all the light we needed for reading and getting ready for bed.
What to do in the Amazon basin of Ecuador's Oriente province
But we didn't just lounge around in Ecuador's Amazon basin. Cotococha offers a lot of different activities, including an interesting visit to an Amazon animal rescue center.
We also enjoyed visiting an indigenous tribe known as the Kichwa and learning about their culture: