October 28, 2007

Welcome to the Jungle

After nearly a week in Quito, Jared and I were itching for a change of scenery, so we booked a trip to the Cuyabeno Reserve in the Amazon Basin of Ecuador. While Ecuador no longer has access to the actual Amazon river, the Cuyabeno River and Aguarico River flow into the Rio Amazonas.

During our six days in the rain forest, we saw monkeys in the trees, swam with pink river dolphins, and were bitten by countless mosquitoes and sand fleas. But our whole jungle experience can be summed up in one word: anaconda.

Our guide had seen an anaconda on his last trip, so our group spent two rainy afternoons in a motorized canoe looking for the giant snake. We pulled up to every large hollow tree in the Laguna Grande, but saw nothing. The more we looked, the more obssessed we all became with finding the mythical anaconda, but the rain was making things difficult.

The sun finally came out after we visited an indigenous shaman. The shaman brought us luck, because an hour after we left his village, our new friend Barna yelled "Anaconda!" and the boat quickly doubled back. There it was, curled up on the shore, taking a nap in the sun. Our boat pulled up next to it, and suddenly I was barely five feet away from a 17-foot long anaconda.

The anaconda was sleeping, and our guide assured us it wasn´t going to wake up anytime soon. Barna and Margot, a girl from Australia, were crazy enough to get out of the boat and stand next to the snake. (Barna took the above photo.) It was all going fine until a twig snapped and the anaconda woke up and flew into the water beneath our boat. I didn´t know that something so big could move so quickly, and my pulse is racing just thinking about it.

Round-trip ticket from JFK to Quito: $500
Six-day jungle tour: $270
Standing five feet from an anaconda: Priceless

UPDATE: Thanks to our new friend Dan, we now have a video of the anaconda. Watch it with the sound on.

My pictures from the trip are here.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

amazing! take a video next time. would love to see the animals come to life...