Welcome to the Jungle

During our years of thinking about, dreaming about, and planning for this trip, we came across many, many places that we wanted to visit. Some eventually got dropped. Some became maybes. And some became priorities, places we felt we just had to visit. The Amazon jungle was one of those places. If you recall, in an earlier post before we departed, we asked you all to vote on how and where we should experience the jungle. In the end, time and circumstances dictated, and we opted for a jungle lodge experience in Ecuador, 4 days at Jamu Lodge in the Cuyabeno Reserve.

In the end, well, it was okay. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. Of all the must-see places that we’ve been to so far, the Amazon jungle is the only to disappoint. It’s really hard to say why. We had a good guide; he could spot things in the dark that I couldn’t have seen in the day time.

We saw lots of wildlife: squirrel monkeys and woolly monkeys, giant sloths, goliath tarantulas, anacondas, boas, tiny tree frogs, toucans, caimans, river dolphins, piranhas, lizards, and all kinds of other insects, birds, and other animals.

We didn’t have any bad experiences (though I have to say I wouldn’t particularly recommend our lodge to anyone looking). So what was wrong?

Well, have you ever been on the Jungle Cruise ride at Disney World, the one where you float around on a boat and random animals pop out? That’s how it felt to me. I never really felt a sense of adventure. Maybe it’s just that we got lucky and always easily spotted the animals we were searching for; we didn’t have to go too far or look too hard. It was too easy almost.

Or maybe it’s that we spent almost all of our time in a motorized canoe.

Every once in a while, when the motor was cut, and we could hear the sounds of the jungle around us, it felt like a cool place. But as we buzzed down the river, nothing but the sound of motor in our ears, it felt very much like an adventure park, and very little like an authentic adventure.

I don’t regret going. And I might even go again. But next time, I’d do it differently. I’d go for a longer time—say a few weeks. I’d take a small canoe and an oar to paddle it with. I’d go deeper. I’d move slower. I’d have a real adventure.

But that’s next time. And between now and then, I have a lot more places to go.