The Wish List Tourist: Jungle adventures

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The Wish List Tourist has reached Ecuador.

A Northamptonshire woman has embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime trip.



You can follow her progress with the Northants Telegraph.

Rebecca has been enjoying jungle adventures and spa therapy in Ecuador.

Stepping out of a dugout boat in the Amazon jungle to the high-pitched sound of thousands of mosquitoes is foreboding and exciting.

The deadly welcome party was flying in synchronisation on the shore and together they performed a strange musical dance.



I took that moment to re-apply a good layer of super strong insect repellant. This mosquito buffet (me) was not going to be bitten.

The Ecuadorian jungle was one of the highlights of my trip.

Being there felt like travelling, rather than tourism. This was off the beaten path.

The trees shaded me from the sun, but the heat was intense and the air so humid, it was like walking through a sauna. I couldn’t breathe properly.

In my mind I was Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft. In reality I was a hot mess – and not in the good sense.

I stayed in a lodge, in Limoncocha, for three days, enjoying a view of the Napo River and spectacular thunderstorms through the trees.

The guides were from indigenous tribes of the rainforest and their knowledge and teaching was a real treat.

I was shown masses of different plant species, learned about shaman rituals and got to see so many unusual birds, insects and animals that it felt like David Attenborough could be just around the corner.

A truly special moment was at night on the river, when we quietly picked our way along the marshes, dotted with fireflies, noisy with the sound of frogs and captivating with close-ups of alligators.

Of course, Ecuador has more to it than jungle. It has cloud forests, volcanoes, fedora hats, ponchos, aloe vera, eucalyptus, spas, canyoning, and the equator.

Baños is a sweet tourist trap of a town, with a European feel, offering massages and beauty treatments on every corner. And Cuenca is a happy university city, with photogenic architecture.

But of all the experiences in Ecuador, one which stands out is coming face to face with the gruesome shrunken heads.

Travellers’ tips

Take anti-malarials and the strongest insect repellent you can find.

Try the white water rafting and canyoning in Baños – I didn’t and regretted it later after hearing about it from others.

Baños has so many spas it’s hard to know which to choose; I went to Huellas Natural Spa.

The Museo Municipal de Arte Moderno, in Cuenca, is worth a visit – and they only ask for a donation on entry.

Eat: Fresh chocolate from the jungle

Drink: Coca tea

Loved the distinct traditional dress of Ecuadorian men and women everywhere

Hated the destruction caused by the oil industry to the rainforest and its wildlife and communities

Where I stayed

Cabañas Pusara

Poquiño Paradiso

Cloud Forest Hostel in Chugchilán

Gran Hotel, Cuenca

Where I ate

The Magic Bean, Quito

Mama Clorinda, Quito

The chef at the lodge in Limoncocha was superb.

As a pescetarian in a meat-eating environment the kitchen staff did a fantastic job, including cooking up some tasty piranha.

What I saw

Laguna Quilotoa – a volcanic crater lake in the Andes, 3900km above sea level.

We walked a winding, undulating 20km with just 30 minutes for lunch.

I have never walked that far in one block of time. And never been that high above sea level. It. Was. Tough.

But the landscape, views and treks through small, traditional Ecuadorian farms were rewarding.

The Copa Kumho carrera de coches de maderas, or wooden race cars.

It is an annual event in Baños and often people are killed – not this year, thankfully.

Shrunken heads at the Ministerio de Cultura del Ecuador.

Musical memory

Pan pipes are played in a lot of tourist areas, and some of the buskers are worth a listen.

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