Ecuador! Quito and the Amazon.
For those of our readers that don’t know, Luke and I decided to experience South America with an overland company called Oasis. We’ve travelled with them before and have only good things to say about them. You can check out their site if you’re interested, Oasis Overland
We arrived in Quito after a very long day of travel and got a taxi at around 1130pm into the city and to our hotel. Quito is a big city of over a million people with an elevation of 2850 metres. At this altitude going up one flight of steps made us short of breath. We only had one day to explore the city before heading off with the group so we tried to make the most of it. Our first stop was the Basilica del Voto Nacional, an impressive cathedral with some very sketchy stairs and ladders that take you right up to the top. It only cost $2 to entre and was well worth the visit.
After spending a good hour there we headed into the old town, winding cobble streets leading to open squares and more churches and impressive buildings. It was a good day, and we realised we could have easily spent a few more days in this interesting city.
Day one on the truck, everyone fresh faced and excited about the trip ahead, we drove to the equator to have a look at the monument and then carried on to the town of Otavalo. As we headed into town to have a look around we were lucky enough to stumble across a parade. It was lovely to see the people in traditional dress dancing through the streets.
Otavalo is a small town in the mountains, most famous for it’s saturday market. The central square overflows down the streets with stalls filled with alpaca blankets and sweaters, brightly coloured bags and pants, and amazing street food. It was the kind of day I love! Luke did venture into the market, after climbing up to a crater lake with a few of the other guys from the truck.
Next on the agenda was a trip up the Shrirpuno River into the Amazon for 3 nights stay at the Nenkepare Campsite. We had two lovely guides, Andreas and Luis from Tropic, who took us on jungle walks, introduced us to some of the local Huaorani tribes, and told us as much about the jungle as our brains could remember. Highlights were learning to shoot a blowpipe from a tree, dancing with the locals, and floating silently down the river in the dark.
The campsite was pretty basic, raised platforms for our tents, but with 2 flush toilets and someone cooking us delicious food it felt a little luxurious. We set up our tents in a rain storm, but after that were very lucky with sunny days, hot enough to swim in the murky waters of the river. We were assured that we would not get eaten by either piranhas or anaconda. It was a brilliant experience.
So far so good, and onward to the next adventure.