Saturday, October 22, 2011

Day 11: Many adventures

Just south of Tena (the "cinnamon capital" of Ecuador), we crossed the Rio Napo that flowed out into the Amazonia. We branched off the main road and followed the river to the end of the paved road that ended abruptly on the river bank. From there, it was a ferry boat to the village on the other side.

Judy and moto on ferry

Over a coffee and chat with the cafe shack owner, we found out that a month or so earlier, a flash flood raised the waters 20 feet in a few hours. Many humble homes were washed away and it prompted the Red Cross response. No one died and they took in all in stride.

We hired his 50-foot boat and river guide for the afternoon. We meandered down river and up a tributary to a wildlife refuge. We were given a tour of the facilities with a motley multitude of indigenous animals, some with sad histories, but most eligible for rehabilitation and release back to their natural habitats in and around the jungles here.

Jordan next to 1 of the river tour boats

We saw spectacularly coloured toucans and macaws. Huge families of spider monkeys running throughout the bushes and trees, and various other species of enclosed primates - ocelots, panthers, anaconda, and more. We noticed a delicate dragon fly that looked like a micro-sized helicopter. Its fragile wings invisible with the exception of vivid spots on the end, and with its beating movement, gave it the helicopter illusion.

The guide also pointed out the "walking tree". It actually walks! From its trunk, it has a number of root stalks into the ground - kind of like an 8-legged stool. It sends out a new root or roots in the direction it wants to go. Then it then kills the root(s) from the other side and the whole tree moves, up to 2 meters a year! 

The early afternoon came with its typical threatening rain as we headed back into the Andes. The canyon route we took was known as the Route of the Waterfalls. Not long into the recesses of the mountains, the Amazon's moisture was blocked and we were saved from too much of a soaking. By late afternoon and after much twisting and turning blacktop behind us and after numerous tunnel passages, we came to a delightful area and town called Baños de Agua Santa. The town is a focal point for many eco activities. Being at the base of an active volcano, there are hikes with spectacular views of not only the volcano itself, but cascading rivers with rafting, zip-lines, etc.

Just outside of Baños, we rode a tram a couple hundred feet over the main river to the other side and then zip-lined back. There were 2 awesome waterfalls right under us. We had to hike up a bit and then zip-lined back on a different cable line over to the right of the tram.

2 waterfalls below the tram heading over to the other side

With afternoon light running out, we were sent to Baños town Centro and what a delightful surprise to find a charming colonial town nestled neatly between the steep cliffs. There was no lack of finding hotel space or restaurants, and once we checked in, we wandered the streets with bustling pedestrians and settled in a great little restaurant with some wonderful eastern cuisine. It also shows free movies every night in another room!

Accomplished 195 km today.

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