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An Experience in the Amazon

December 5, 2013 Travel to Ecuador, Travel to the Amazon No Comments

La SelvaLa Selva Jungle Lodge has finally become fully operational after completing the finishing touches on everything from the suites to the unique, one and only butterfly spa in the Amazon. Along with their already outstanding level of service and accommodation, it is hard to imagine La Selva becoming any better than it is now!

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I was able to visit La Selva Jungle Lodge for the first time as one of their guests for their grand re-opening May 31st to June 3rd, after being closed for the month of May. The trip began Friday as I was met by one of our very friendly representatives at the Mariscal Sucre International Airport. His English was great and he had everything I needed to board my flight, including a small survey to fill out about things I would like to do at the lodge during my stay.

The flight to Coca was very short, about 30 minutes. The Coca airport is quite small, so it was easy to walk through to the other side where the taxis and guides were waiting for us. The guide was also easy to find. He was very friendly and led us to the bus we would take to the river port, which was only a five minute ride. At the river port there were numerous La Selva staff members who took our luggage for us and bagged them in case they became wet while heading down river to La Selva Jungle Lodge’s private boat landing.

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The boat ride down the Napo River was very relaxing and enjoyable. The motorized boats are built long and are perfect for cruising down the river. About half an hour into the ride the staff provided us with a rucksack with La Selva’s logo on it with a packed lunch, along with a fruit and pastry. Throughout the entire ride there were drinks available as well, so you can ask for a soda or a nice cold beer, a perfect combination with the wind blowing through your hair! It’s also a good thing the seats included cushions because it took about two hours just to get to La Selva’s boat landing. By no means am I suggesting it was a boring ride! Along the river banks we saw indigenous families either doing chores by the riverside or children playing in the water. We were also able to see different wild life if we looked closely and the tall, beautiful trees along on the edges of the river were also quite a sight to see. It was actually a very peaceful and pleasant ride.

Once we arrived to La Selva’s private boat landing, I could already tell that this weekend was going to be something else, something I had never experienced before. The construction of the boat landing is incredibly well put together and looks fantastic, creating a great first impression. There we stepped off the boat and walked up the landing steps into a gazebo type hut where we put our life jackets away and then walked into a small clearing. There my first thought was “Yes, bathrooms!” Whoever thought to put these quite civilized, but still ecological bathrooms here were geniuses!

La Selva Experience

Once everyone was ready we began an easy walk through the jungle to the awaiting canoes that would take us to La Selva Jungle Lodge. Let me tell you, if you are a nature lover and have never been to the Amazon before, these first steps into the jungle will stay with you forever! It was like walking into a National Geographic magazine coming to life, things you only see on TV! While walking the trees loomed up over us in the most profound hues and tones of green I had ever seen with streaks of sunshine peeking through to the jungle floor. There were so many different birds and fascinating sounds. As we began to walk further into the jungle, birds and butterflies fluttered by gracefully in front of us and if a short 15 minute walk amazed me so much, I couldn’t help but think what more could be in store.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUpon arrival to the lodge the staff led us into the reception area where we were greeted first with moist towels to refresh ourselves and then with a scrumptious cocktail and a platter of delicious appetizers, perfect after the ride in from Coca. While enjoying our special greeting, the hotel manager explained everything about the lodge to us and important details we needed to know, including emergency procedures and what not.When we reached the beginning of the lagoon it looked like a scene taken out of a movie where the Marines are trudging through the water slowly with the trees leaning over with vines and plants entwined in one another. It was so beautiful, once you stop imagining the camouflaged Marines! At the end of the trail we were then helped into the canoes and the staff began paddling us on one last ride on the water towards La Selva Jungle Lodge. We glided along so peacefully through many nooks and crannies in the lagoon and finally into a larger open space of water. As we rounded a corner, at last you could see the lodge perched majestically on the edge of the lake. What a first impression! All you could hear from the other guests were gasps of awe and wonder, and then finally the feeling of giddiness and excitement of arriving and waiting for what was to come next.

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Afterwards we were then escorted to our suites, which was another pleasant surprise. Walking onto our deck, the first things we noticed was the Jacuzzi on our patio right next to comfortable chairs awaiting us with a bottle of wine and two glasses. The staff brought us our bags and left us to discover what was left of the room. We found the most comfortable king size bed ever! Everything inside was very neat and clean, and I almost couldn’t wait to go to sleep that night just to lay there in our fairy tale like bed with the canopy sheets draped around it. Overall the experience with the room service was the best my husband and I ever had. After excursions in the morning the beds were made and the room was just as clean as it was when we first arrived. In the evening while we were at dinner, the room service staff once more cleaned our rooms and made our beds ready to sleep in with night lights ready for our arrival back to our room. We definitely give them a five star rating for room service!


Once all together we started walking towards the trails behind the lodge and our first adventure of many began. While walking I had no idea what to expect. But let me tell you, Rodrigo knows this place like the back of his hand! I don’t know how he did it, but if I would have been alone, I would have never seen a thing! He was able to point out things high up in the trees like monkeys or some type of special Amazon indigenous type bird like it was nothing, and he knew everything about each species. One time, walking towards the butterfly farm he just stopped and picked up the tiniest frog I’ve ever seen to show us. I wondered to myself, how did he even see that? Moments like these were never ending on any excursion we had with Rodrigo. There were times where he would make some kind of bird or monkey call, and it was so clear and precise. I thought I was hearing the actual animal until my husband told me otherwise! But as I found with time, and each time a wonderful surprise, he was always able to spot or hear whichever bird or monkey species he was trying to call.
Our first excursion took place about two and a half hours after arriving. We were told that we would meet Rodrigo, our bilingual guide.

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One of the following days when we went to the observation tower, which had been newly rebuilt at 40 meters high, we saw many, many different types of birds. After climbing all the way to the top, the view was breathtaking. It was like a completely different world, a sea of green in the canopy where you could see so many birds flying effortlessly above the jungle. No wonder La Selva Jungle Lodge was so well known for bird watching enthusiasts. And, for each bird we saw, which was more than we could count, Rodrigo could tell us their mating season, what they ate, behavioral patterns, how they took care of their young, and why they were certain colors or had beaks shaped certain ways. It was absolutely incredible how much he knew about each different bird species.

Rodrigo also had an assistant with him each time we went on an excursion named Nelson, our Native guide. He spoke no English, only Spanish and his native indigenous language Kichwa. I remember one time it seemed like we were really deep in the jungle and all of a sudden Nelson began talking to Rodrigo, who then said to us, “Everyone be very quiet.” And we all just froze in our steps and looked all around trying to catch a glimpse of what it was he saw or heard. Then he said, “Follow us.” And we followed our two guides off of the original trail as Nelson began clearing a path with his machete when all of a sudden, a huge group of spider monkeys appeared in the trees! Talk about a truly breathtaking experience. They just came out of nowhere, jumping and leaping above us. Two of the monkeys began arguing and you could hear them shouting at each other, while just to the left of them were babies running around playfully in the tree tops. It was so awesome how Nelson knew the sounds of the jungle so well and was able to hear the monkey’s calls and knew exactly where they were headed so that we could see them. Rodrigo and Nelson always did their absolute best for us to see everything possible, and we greatly appreciated it!

All the excursions we took were great. We got to see really amazing things, all thanks to Rodrigo and our native guide, Nelson. Another exciting excursion was when we went to the Parrot Clay Lick by Yasuni National Park. There weren’t many birds at the clay lick when we first got there, but that was probably because of the ginormous tree boa that Rodrigo, once again, amazingly pointed out to us on a branch. Now, from where we were, it looked like an ordinary branch sticking out from the banks, but with a closer look and a pair of binoculars, this guy was beautifully patterned and quite large! Just another example I had to share about of Rodrigo working his guide magic!

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The most memorable experience of all was when Rodrigo told us we would be going to visit the home of a small Kichwa family. What a nice surprise it was to experience cultural and community tourism with the people who actually call the Amazon their home. On arrival, the mother of the family greeted us in Kichwa and invited us to take a seat in her home. She was very humble and kind, and was very happy to have us as guests.

While we sat, Rodrigo explained to us how they lived and raised their children. One of the interesting facts about the children was how they walked 10 kilometers just to get to school. It made me realize just how far we really were from civilization and how materialistic things are just that, materials that we don’t absolutely need. I also began to wonder how many times I’ve taken things in my own life for granted. As I was having my own small epiphany of how I could lead a richer fuller life, not focusing on so many materialistic things, and living a simpler life, Rodrigo announced that the mother would be serving us some typical dishes of what they ate in their community. Soon to be another lesson in living in simplicity! One of the specialties she prepared was a leaf platter of Sago Grubs cooked on skewers. I was feeling pretty daring that afternoon so without hesitation I grabbed one, took a picture for proof for my friends back home and with one deep breath I put the little fat guy in my mouth. Once I got over the fact I was eating a huge bug or larvae actually, and focused on the flavor, I realized it tasted kind of like burnt chicken. A little bit chewy and a little bit crunchy, but overall not bad with a smoky flavor! And that’s how it went for the rest of our visit, trying some homemade beer made from yucca which is made by chewing it up and then spitting it into a bucket to ferment over time, eventually becoming the homemade brew. The last sampling to try was probably the most potent of all. Basically a much, much stronger version of moonshine, made from sugar cane. If anyone had a chill before taking a sip, they sure didn’t afterwards. As for me, it’s not like I’ve never had a drink before and I can tell you that I’ve never felt my own ears and throat burn for that long! Shortly after, we left the Kichwa family to head back to the La Selva Jungle Lodge with a better understanding and appreciation of those who make the Amazon their home.

One of the things we always looked forward to at the La Selva Jungle Lodge was heading back after an excursion for the incredible meals that were prepared for lunch and dinner. Especially after an afternoon of Amazon delicacies! Lunch was always buffet style, but what an amazing buffet it was and always accompanied by a delicious dessert made with typical Amazonian fruits or Ecuadorian chocolate. Different types of meats, salads and vegetables were served, cooked and flavored to perfection. Dinner was exceptional and served with an entrée, followed by the main dish and dessert. I swear I have never eaten so slowly in my entire life, only to savor the deliciousness of each dish! Sometimes we would sit in silence and just look at each other shaking our heads side to side in disbelief accompanied by comments of “Wow, this is amazing” or moans of satisfaction after taking a bite. It was that good!

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When dinner or lunch was over it was always nice to lounge around in the lodge overlooking the lake. It was also really great for the few families that were also visiting La Selva Jungle Lodge. There were tons of activities for the kids to do and it was nice for the parents to not have to worry about them as I noticed the staff was really great with the little ones. It was always a perfect afternoon or ending to each day. Kayaking along the lagoon was a very calm and fun activity. At many times, you could see the Hoatzin Stink Birds together in the lower branches of the trees by the water. It was hard to miss them as their feathers make a very loud rustling sound when they fly and when they communicate with each other they are quite noisy.

One evening after dinner La Selva’s massage therapist gave us a personal tour of the spa room and area, which was quite impressive. Right then and there I begged my husband to please, let me get a massage! I’m so glad I did because inside the spa it was so relaxing. The massage was pretty incredible and the atmosphere was so tranquil with beautiful Amazonian accents. I left feeling like a new person, very refreshed and rejuvenated. The room gave off such a serene atmosphere.

Overall, after my first visit experiencing the Amazon, I’d have to say there is no other place to go rather than La Selva Jungle Lodge if you plan on experience the jungle. Go ahead, get lost with your guide and see incredible and amazing things that you will never see anywhere else while pampering yourself at the same time. Take time out of the day to go out on the kayaks, go to the spa and get a relaxing massage or sit in your Jacuzzi sipping wine. Whatever you decide to do at La Selva Jungle Lodge, it will be a time in your life that you will continue to reminisce about until the day you return. As for me, I would go back in a heartbeat and live it over once more to relive the tranquility, peacefulness and adventure the Amazon and La Selva Jungle Lodge behold.

I hope you enjoyed my experience and that it inspires you to get adventurous and visit yourself, or with your loved ones, La Selva is a great place for family adventure.

- Written by Katie Beckwith

If you’d like to learn more about La Selva Jungle Lodge, visit our website at www.laselvajunglelodge.com. There you can find more pictures and descriptions about our accommodations, restaurant, honeymoon packages, activities and much more.

In order to contact us, all the information you’ll need is also on our website. La Selva Jungle Lodge will be looking forward to your arrival and will be waiting with open arms to make your stay one you will never forget!

See you soon and kindest regards from all of us at La Selva Jungle Lodge!

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