The amazon jungle is a place of dreams, a last frontier on our beautiful planet. Foreign and wild, it encourages the imagination to run recklessly with fantasies untold. Hidden within its depths is a place of peace and tranquility, La Selva. An eco-lodge named after the deep jungle surrounding it, it's a secluded refuge from the outside world. Joe and I were lucky enough to spend five days and four nights here, a wonderfully decadent treat after completing the first month of our journey in Peru.
The lodge is remote, accessible only by canoe, protected by a large lagoon known for its various species of heron. Here, civilization feels light years away. We flew from the Capitol of Ecuador, Quito to the Sub-Amazonian town of Coca which is the nearest town with an airport. Here we boarded a motorized canoe for the two hour ride up the Napo river. 93 kilometers, two beers and a brown paper bag lunch later, we arrived at an unassuming wooden dock by the rivers edge. Bellies full, and ready for a nap, we headed up the walkway shedding our life vests as we went. Our luggage quietly disappeared and we walked into the forest treading on wooden planks snaking through the jungle, dark with moisture and covered in moss.
The canopy is thick overhead only allowing mottled sunlight to filter though, the peaceful hum of insects mingling with birdsong. Quietly we treaded the packed mud, trying to take in everything as the walkway became a pier jutting over a small stream. Another smaller canoe was waiting at its edge and we boarded, eager to reach our final destination to get some rest and prepare for the coming adventures.
Waiting at the dock for us is the lodge manager Luis Miguel, ready to usher us out of the heat and into the cool first floor of the main building of the property. Before we know it, fresh passion fruit and rum martinis are in hand, and we are given a brief introduction to the 30 year old lodge, learning where it has been and what they see the future of ecotourism in the area accomplishing. The property was recently acquired by the Columbus Group and they closed for nearly to a year to modernize and update the facilities. Their aim is to cater to environmentally conscious luxury travelers, minimizing the impact of tourism, while at the same time providing plush accommodations.
After the presentation, cocktails and snacks, we were shown to our cabana. Ours was number eight, a spacious family suite with two bedrooms, a large bathroom, and outdoor tub set into a roomy patio. The patio faced the lake, with just a thin tree line between us and the water. Our escort reminded us to be at the main lodge at four thirty for an afternoon boat ride, and tucked quietly out as we surveyed our domain for the next five days. Spotting the ice bucket with chilled white wine within, we quickly poured glasses and claimed various spots on the patio, relaxing and putting off organizing our luggage, which was already waiting within.
Completely relaxed with the stress of travel draining further away with each sip of delicious Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, we basked in the vibe of nature, nearby Oropendola singing from their hanging nests in a nearby tree. Resisting the urge to pinch myself as I swung in the hammock, gazing at the blue sky and marveling at the complexity these birds accomplished in their intricately designed homes.
The time for our boat ride quickly approached and we finished our last sips of wine before hurrying to meet our group at the dock. We were on the water for almost two hours, being given an introduction to the lagoon and the types of wildlife you might expect to see. Nothing too in-depth just enough to get your toes wet and curious for the coming days adventures. We finished with the sun set casting the lagoon in shades of pink and orange. The sky was just beginning to cloud up as we docked, and we were cautioned that dinner would be heralded by a bamboo horn call.
The main lodge has a bar upstairs with ample comfortable couches arranged along the railing, and we headed up there for a pre-dinner refreshment. With drink in hand, we claimed a corner as our own just in time to watch the beginnings of a magnificent electrical storm that would continue through the night. Furious clouds lit up completely within by bolting electricity, their interiors colored purple and light grey. We were awestruck by the beauty and sheer power of the coming storm. Rumbling thunder accompanying the spectacular flashes, pulling gasps from my open mouth as they drew closer, the time between flashes and growls shrinking.
We were soon called to our first meal, where we met our group, whom we would be with for all of the activities in the coming days. Diana was to be our guide, and she informed us of the nature of the program and that we wouldn't find out the days plans until dinner the night prior. We were delighted to find that our next morning would be spent high up in the forest canopy bird watching from above. Less delighted to find out we would be woken up at 5:30 am.
After a satisfying three course meal, we headed to bed early, ensuring the early wake up would be slightly less painful. Lulled to sleep by the sounds of the jungle and the pouring rain, lightning and thunder were unable to keep sleep from reaching us within our overstuffed canopied king sized bed.
To be continued...
La Selva Jungle Lodge