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Hello again, friends! I’m currently writing from an airport lounge in Mexico City at 5:30AM. I just finished a five hour flight from Quito and have a four hour layover until my flight home to Texas, and desperately wish I was asleep right now. But since I’m not, I’m so excited to tell you about what I have been doing for the past week.
I took a solo trip to the Ecuador Amazon Rainforest. It was one of the best travel decisions I’ve ever made.
Because the Amazon Rainforest is such a remote and unique location, I chose to book my trip through Traverse Journeys, a local Austin company who specializes in ecotourism to exciting and adventurous destinations. Once my trip was booked, Traverse Journeys handled every aspect of my trip for me! They arranged my nature guide, my stay at an eco-lodge owned and run by the local indigenous community, and took care of all my transportation needs. It could not have been easier. Everything we did felt 100% authentic, and the words “tourist trap” never crossed my mind.
The Ecuador rainforest trip runs Sunday through Friday and is available for any week you choose. I decided to visit in mid-September, which is the end of the dry season but after the tourist high season ends. The busiest season is between July and August, and the rainiest time of year is March to June. The dry season is the best time to go to decrease your chances of excursions being rained out or less enjoyable.
Why Visit the Amazon? Biodiversity!
One of my primary reasons for going to the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador was the opportunity for wildlife viewing. As the most biodiverse place on earth, there are millions of species of animals here in their natural habitats, and I had a running list of which animals I most wanted to see each day. I was able to see nearly all of them – but enough of the list remained elusive to ensure that I will return to the Amazon one day!
As the cutest animal in the jungle, monkeys were at the top of my “must-see” list, and they made it quite easy to find them as they leaped through the rainforest canopy. The petite squirrel monkeys made so much noise as they jumped from limb to limb.
We first spotted them high in the treetops during a forest hike, and then later the same day as we canoed back to the lodge. While canoeing through a small corridor lined by mangroves and leafy trees, the group of squirrel monkeys walked across hanging tree limbs to the other side of the river right above our heads.
So much of wildlife spotting is being lucky enough to be in the right place at the exact right time, and seeing the squirrel monkeys so close was definitely one of those times.
The second day of the trip, we were canoeing to an area of the jungle to begin our hike first thing in the morning. Still several hundred meters from shore, we began to hear a distinct roar coming from the middle of the jungle. Upon first hearing it, I was sure that my guide was taking me to what must be the epicenter of jaguar territory in the Amazon. It sounded like there were a group of jungle wildcats together, maybe even in the middle of some sort of battle. The malicious roaring grew louder as we approached and my guide informed me that we would (unfortunately? I really wanted to see one…) not be walking into a jaguar battle but into an area currently populated by the howler monkey.
I was quite perplexed because that noise I was hearing was decidedly NOT howling. But as we disembarked the boat and moved, as silently as possible, deeper into the forest, the “howling” got louder until Jose pointed to the treetops and we all looked up to find a group of golden-red monkeys perched in the trees. I could not believe the relatively small and few monkeys I saw above me and created the incredibly loud roar that had originally sounded like a large monster from the depths of the jungle.
These howler monkeys were a lucky sight, as they move through the tree tops completely silently (when not roaring/howling), making them difficult to spot. Their golden color was quite striking against the many hues of green leaves once you were able to spot them!
Why Visit the Amazon? To Meet World-Class Nature Guides!
The biggest contributing factor to my wonderful experience on this trip was, hands down, my amazing guide Jose! I was blown away by his knowledge of the wildlife, plants, and trails. As we hiked through the jungle each day, he navigated the trails and waterways with expert precision. Even when there wasn’t really a path ahead of us, he knew exactly where we were going which, although it should be expected for a guide, was just mind-blowing to me! I found myself consistently surprised when, out of nowhere, the start of the trail appeared and we were back where we started.
Jose’s knowledge of the local plants and wildlife was very impressive. When I couldn’t see even the colors of a far away bird without binoculars, he was instantly identifying the exact species (with just his eyes!). He taught me interesting uses and histories of several plants that have been traditionally used as medicine in his culture, knowledge I would not have gotten anywhere else. Jose was the perfect guide for this trip. I can’t imagine going with anyone else!
Why Visit the Amazon? To Help Protect It!
After visiting this enchanting, pristine section of the world, it’s extremely important to me to advocate for its protection. The Amazon Rainforest is a total of 2 million square miles, and the vast majority of it remains untouched by humans.
While canoeing down the Napo River, you will see some gorgeous scenery: lush forests as far as the eye can see, macaws soaring above in groups of two, and the ever-present jungle sounds of thousands of species of birds, animals, and insects.
But there’s another, darker sight common along the river…barges carrying semi-trucks and construction equipment to assist with oil drilling operations. It was truly heartbreaking to see pipelines, paved roads, and forest clearing destroying parts of the rainforest. I don’t know how the oil companies can justify what they are doing, but the best way for us to fight back is to give our tourism dollars to the lodges and communities in the rainforest.
By voting with our dollars, we can help empower the native communities to turn down offers for their land in exchange for hefty profits. By supporting eco-tourism in the area, we can support the preservation of the rainforest and get an amazing experience at the same time. Win-win!
How to Book Your Trip
Visit the Traverse Journeys website for further details on the trip itinerary. You can choose the week that works best for you and then reserve your spot with a deposit. Payment plans are available, making this trip affordable and attainable for everyone. The value that you receive back on this trip is well worth every dollar and then some.
I can’t recommend visiting Ecuador with Traverse Journeys enough – every aspect of my trip was seamlessly organized and completely enjoyable.
Book your Amazon Rainforest experience with Traverse Journeys!
www.traversejourneys.com | 512-553-0577 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday – Friday dates available year-round
From $2495 per person – Use Code AFA100 to save $100
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I receive a small commission after any purchases made via these links, which keeps this site running. Thank you for your support!
This post is sponsored in part by Traverse Journeys. While I did pay for the majority of my trip, I received a media discount in exchange for sharing my honest opinions with you. This in no way affected my opinions.