We had to be at Hosteria reception by 8am for the jungle tour Sue and I had booked. Then Mike from Scotland and Chris from Vancouver decided to come as well. Mike’s wife Katrina had fallen off her bike a couple of days ago and needed to stay behind to get her bike fixed. Chris’s partner Jackie was stuck in her room with gastro! While we were waiting we found out a number of the other riders now also had gastro and suspected the meal the night before. Hopefully as I still taking medication I won’t get it again, and hopefully theirs will be shorter lived than mine was.
The tour driver turned up, for $50 USA we were doing a full day tour, including:
- Walk through the jungle looking at plants, flowers and birds
- Going to a fish growing farm
- A canoe trip
- Walking to a viewing point where you can see the jungle stretching out for as far as the eye can see, plus the opportunity to go on a rope swing from a clift
- Hand crafts and customs at a local village
- Pretty good value, especially in the context of having paid $45 USA for the not very good red wine in the restaurant (about 70 NZ).
The first step was to the tour base in town, to get coats and gumboots. Mike bought socks for everyone from a shop across the road as gumboots with no socks is a really good way to get blisters! While we were waiting for him to come back we were watching a procession go past. The tour guide said it’s an annual pilgrimage of an indigenous tribe from the Amazon who celebrate their coming out of the forest in time of drought to Puyo. They walk 16 kilometres during the procession.
Off we set in the tour van, the first stop was a fish farm. The fish were imported from Africa, they are called Confiscadas de Crianza de Tilapias. They imported 50 fish from Africa, but only 6 of the original 50 remain, the others have died over the years for a number of reasons.
There are a number of fish ponds. One where the small fish to feed the bigger fish are produced. The 6 original fish are 6 years old and have only just started laying eggs. They grow to 4 meters and about 80kg, and when fully grown they sell for about $1,500 USA. The fish are huge, and remind me a big of eels – only wider. They track your reflection on the water and move across the pond following you.
Back into the van to the next stop: the jungle walk. It was amazing! We got shown various medicinal trees and plants.
First was the vines that are used to make poisonous darts. They are boiled and then pounded to get the poison – the indigenous people have an antidote.
We were also shown a tree that had sap that is used as an ointment for wounds for infection, a tree that the sap is used for bee stings, a plant that the leaves are used to make a tea for upset stomachs, and a tree that the bark is menthol and is used for chest and sinus infections.
As well as this we saw a tree that the sap is used for painting faces for ceremonies that last up to three days.
We saw some pretty orchids and got to have face masks from river clay.
We also went to a waterfall where Chris and Mike had a swim, and saw some recent stone carvings.
Lunch was included as part of the tour. It was steamed fish, salad, rice and plantain.
We then went to a village of local indigenous people and learnt about some of their customs and saw some of their crafts.
My camera battery had gone flat by this stage so any photos for the rest of the day will need to come from Sue’s blog. (Editor’s note: Just as well I looked at Sue’s blog, as you’ll see below, there are photos of Kaye holding monkeys and parrots, getting her face painted, being near people holding snakes, and having a bunch of other adventures she’s completely failed to even mention here!).
Then we went off on the canoe trip. The canoe was a shelled out tree and fitted four people, plus the person steering. It was a bit scary at first as the river was fast moving but it was great fun. The guide said that the wet / rainy season is usually January / February but this year the rain has not stopped. This explains the numerous landslides and fast full rivers.
After this we went to a place that you could climb up and get a great view of the forest and rivers, whilst relaxing looking at the view from hammocks. There was a rope swing to go on which was over a huge drop. I started wondering how secure the branch was that the rope was tied to, and after I had thought that I was not able to go on swing.
After that it was time to head back to the place where we were staying. On the way back we could hear the clutch on the tour truck was slipping. It got so bad that we had to get out twice to push the tour truck up the hills. We were still 16 kilometres from where we needed to go but after pushing it twice we had got back to the main road. We left the tour guy there as there was nothing we could do and caught a taxi.
The dinner at the place where we staying on the first night was pretty meagre so a number of people, including me, went elsewhere for dinner.
Six more days riding till the next rest day.