EPLORING CUYABENO NATIONAL PARK
The Amazon Rainforest. The lungs of the planet. 5.5million square kilometres of dense jungle, home to 400,000 species of plant-life and 2.5 million species of insect alone. Spreading across 9 countries and home to 250,000 people, speaking 170 dialects - the Amazon jungle certainly looks good on paper. Yet it's only when you visit this immense natural wonder in person that you realise there are few facts or figures that could possibly do it justice.
In early 2018, Katharina and I were lucky enough to venture deep into Ecuador's small corner of this natural wonder. Traveling by bike, bus, jeep and finally canoe, we entered the web of tributaries that lead to the Amazon River and its mouth, which meets the sea 4000miles to the east on Brazil’s Atlantic coast.
For nearly a week, we lived in a small wooden hut along the shoreline of the Cuyabeno River, exploring each day (and occasionally, though more tentatively, at night) the immense labyrinth of rivers and hiking trails that snake their way through the jungle. Under the protection of our local guide we tracked 20ft-long anacondas, swam with pink dolphins and wandered amongst some of the strangest animals that evolution has managed to concoct.
There is nothing that immerses your senses quite like wandering through the Amazon rainforest. From the explosion of noise that echoes throughout the towering emerald canopy, to the soft, cushioned feel of the damp jungle floor underfoot (which I assessed intensely with every step so as not to startle any of the countless hazardous insects that inhabit the Amazon), it is a setting that feels very much alive, as if the rainforest itself were one vast and breathing entity. Peering up towards the summits of the trees can make you dizzy with wonder, while your eyes may begin to feel the strain as you stare with such vigour while trying to spot or identify any of the well-camouflaged wildlife that may be watching you from overhead. There simply is nothing quite like it.
Having spent 5 days immersed entirely within this wilderness, I was left feeling incredibly small, almost to a point of meaninglessness. I felt like I had been humbled in a way that I hadn’t ever experienced before, as I became aware of just how immense and diverse our planet and its environments are. Like me, you've probably marvelled at glistening skyscrapers and foreboding mountain ranges, those huge structures that can easily make anybody feel insignificant. However, in the Amazon, it is the density of life that makes it feel so overwhelmingly huge, rather than the defining characteristic of one, awe-inspiring feature. Indeed, as you peer into the dense forest from the hiking trail or shoreline, it’s hard to see further than 3 or 4 meters before the jungle swallows your vision into a blur of green - a constant reminder that you are only scratching the surface of what is hidden in its mysterious bowels.
If you ever get the chance to explore Latin America, a visit to the Amazon jungle is an experience you must include, and whilst Ecuador is undoubtedly better-known for its Galapagos Islands, a journey to the nation's remote Eastern corner is an adventure that should be at the top of your itinerary. Experience the generous culture, glimpse the peculiar fauna, and enjoy feeling small in the world’s greatest rainforest.
I'm George and this is my blog.
I'm currently exploring Latin America on my motorcycle, traveling to some of the world's most remote communities to work with local nonprofits and share their stories through Grassroots Collective.
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