This spot on the edge of the jungle is perfect if you want a taste of the jungle without the big spending. We went for a weekend from Quito and stayed in a hotel on an island in the river. Don’t come to this, or any other secondary forest in the Amazon expecting pristine forest and loads of animals, but do come with small kids who are just too young to go real jungle trekking just yet.
Danny was around 6 months when we went, so the 5 hour drive from Quito was more than enough for him ( I think it’s more like 3 hours now).The hotel had a pool, the food was reasonable and it is accessed by boat, so lots of pluses. On the downside they had a monkey in a cage, which seems frankly ludicrous given that there are monkeys running around free all over the town. Still on the bright side somebody let him out when we were there and he wreaked havoc in the kitchen.
From Tena you can visit local indigenous Quicha communities, we went to two and saw the good and the bad. One, had pet monkeys and the hard sell (the nearest one from town down river) and the other had better handicrafts, a shaman, local food and chicha making and an all round friendly vibe.
We ended up staying a few hours in the this second community, chatting with its members and washing Danny in a bucket and changing him on banana leaves.
A trip to Tena town was also fun for the monkey show, watching a monkey get amorous with somebody’s pet dog (a small one), is still one of the funniest things I have ever witnessed.
This post will describe the trip we did to Kapawi Lodge in the Ecuadorean Jungle. If you’ve got some spare money (quite a lot of it), or you’re willing to do a load of overtime at work (which we did), the price is worth every penny and more of the hefty price tag.
We decided to go to Ecuador to visit family and Tommy had done the rainforest at school so we thought it would be great to get a bit of field work done, seeing as the rainforest was on our doorstep.
You have to reach the lodge, which is on Achuar territory by scary small plane, which you get from a small airfield on the edge of the jungle to a scary airstrip cut out of the jungle. The flight lasts 45 minutes, did I mention it was scary (although the kids never noticed that part)
Is built on traditional Achuar principles, which means your basically sleeping outside under a big roof. The showers were a bag of water on the roof that got warmish in the sun, but at least the bogs were flush jobs.
Meals were eaten in a communal dining room and the food was good and plentiful. The chef was happy to do boring stuff for the kids so there was never any danger of them not eating. We ate with other guests at our big table so meal times were to catch up on the highlights of the day. Our table was shared with Holly and Phil from Worcester (yes, Worcester) and some lunatic botanists and photographers from Spain and Quito, one of who took the fantastic frog picture of Tommy (which is photo shop free :)).
It’s also worth noting that the a tour based around a river is a good idea if you have kids as it allows you to move around easily, trekking through the forest with a 5-year-old gets old pretty quickly
What we did all day
This trip was basically KID HEAVEN. They forget iPads, TV and the rest of it for the whole time they were there. This was not only because of the place but the sheer range of activities and the people we were with (more about them in a minute). Come to think of this place was all of us heaven, never mind the kids….
We went jungle walking, night walking (but not that kind), canoeing, fishing, bird watching blowpipe shooting and neighbour visiting. Highlights were the night walks, you just go around the camp but find insects and snakes every few metres it seemed.Travelling by canoe made it easier to cover ground and the day we canoed under our own steam (downriver), the motorized canoe picked us up on the way back. My third highlight was the visit to our Achuar neighbours and watching Phil and Holly drink the Chicha which we knew had been fermented by the woman in the family chewing on tapioca and spitting it out…
The Flora and Fauna
As many people will testify the only birds I’m interested in…blah, blah, blah but even for a beer swillin’ hard rocking tough guy like me the animals and plants and that were cool. God knows what the names were, but I definitely know a monkey when I see one, and a snake, bats, frog, turtle, caiman, horribe spider, horrible insect,….
Although looking at the animals came a close second to looking at the boys looking at the animals…
Like just about every trip we go on the people we meet make it. Everyone on this trip, members of the Achuar community, especially our guide Don Guido, our Quito guide Sebastian and the other tourists especially the Worcester posse. When we arrived we worried that we’d be stuck with some kid haters, but after a few days everyone at the camp was happily shouting at the boys just like us :). If anybody was thinking about taking kids on a trip like this then make sure the camp offers kid friendly options like Kapawi, in this case that meant lots of canoe and not too much walking, which we could only do because Phil and Holly were cool with it as well.
I also think some of the simplicity of the Achuar rubbed off on all of us, we never saw or felt any tension whilst we were in Kapawi and this made all of us chilled even the kids… this is not always our experience staying with indigenous communities in Ecuador by the way… other groups (who will remain nameless), kick off a fair bit. one group we stayed with subsequently burned the lodge down and got into some other serious ructions…
Danny’s Jungle (dictated to dad)
I played army with my brother called Tommy. We played army on the beach, we had fun. We went on the boat and we rowed.
La selva de Tomas
Fuimos a la selva y fue bacano y fue muy bonito y me gusto pescar para piranas.