Monday, April 19

Paula: Horseback riding yesterday and white water rafting today - a plan designed to expose us to exciting activities in the beauty of Ecuador. Our plan had us high in the Andres one day, and the next day in the cloud forest of the lowlands. The experience not only found us dropping over 8,000 feet in altitude but also finding a significant increase in temperature and humidity. The wide variety of ecosystems in a small geographic area is one the things Ecuador is best known for.

Before starting the rafting, we had an opportunity to visit a small school in the nearby village. The children were shy at first but warmed up during their recess and soon were gathered around us asking questions. The girls were especially interested in speaking with Katie and wanted to know if she would be back later in the afternoon. David and Katie both found themselves wishing they could speak more Spanish.


Heavy and study rains eased us to sleep last night and we wondered whether this would effect our plans. In fact, the river levels were quite high and we decided to play it safe and settle for rafting on an easier (Class 2) river near the resort we planned to spend the night in. Unfortunately, the river was much lower than our guide realized, and we found ourselves continually hung up on rocks. After having to literally push and drag us through a few of these areas, the guide said that it wasn't worth continuing. Despite this, we enjoyed the shortened excursion, swimming in the cool refreshing water and seeing the dense vegetation on both sides of the river. David and Katie also had a chance to try out inflatable kayaks on their own.

After a picnic lunch on the riverside, we walked through the forest to our hut here at the Kaony Lodge, situated on the banks of the Rio Caoni in the middle of this cloud forest. The only entrance to the lodge is by crossing a rope suspension bridge or via the river. It had taken us 30 minutes on an unpaved road to even get to the bridge this morning, so we felt like we were really deep in the forest. The small huts are made out of bamboo and have thatched roofs. The surrounding garden attracts many birds and lizards, and we even discovered a colony of leaf-cutter ants busily working around our hut. After a refreshing dip in the pool, we retreated to our hut to enjoy the relaxing sounds of the rainforest and river.

This evening we did another bird watch with Henry, but unfortunately the rains came right when the birds normally fly back to their nests. Despite this, we did see some new varieties and have started making a list of all the birds we've seen.

Tomorrow, we will visit another cloud forest known for its wonderful birds and hiking, and then drive back to Quito before our flight the next day to the Galapagos Islands.












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