Along the Cuyabeno River
The Cuyabeno National Park is a 1.5 million acre rainforest reserve at the northeast corner of Ecuador, sharing its borders with Peru and Colombia.
The park area was set aside in 1979 and in 1986 they began letting tourists visit, provided they be accompanied by a guide at all times.
Our guide was Quiro, and while he wasn’t born in one of the tribes, he knew the jungle like he was raised by a monkey.
Moments later, Quiro asked if anyone wanted to go for a swim, insisting that our new neighbor would leave us alone. No one took him up on his offer.
Upon our arrival, a rambunctious wooly monkey named nacho greeted us at the dock.
We spent a few hours seeing how the tribe people lived, learning to make yucca bread, and trying to keep Nacho out of the jelly.
With Quiro translating, the shaman told us about the history of shamanism, some of the medicinal uses for the myriad of rainforest plants, and how he receives visions about healing his sickest patients from the sacred Ayahuasca tea (a blend of vines and shrub leaves).
The vines are ripe with MAO inhibitors that, when mixed with the DMT in the leaves of the shrub, form a powerful hallucinogenic mixture which allows the shamans to connect with the spirits of the plants and use them to help heal his patients, a tradition going back thousands of years.
The next morning we were supposed to go on a 5AM bird hike, but surprise surprise, it was pouring. You’d think it was a rain forest or something.
So instead, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, packed our backs, and caught the canoe back to the bus back to the plane back to Quito! We took a two day break in a beautiful Eco-Lodge in the mountains overlooking the city and then packed our bags for the final destination… THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS.