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Questions about the Amazon

Palm Beach Gardens...
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Questions about the Amazon

My wife and I are traveling to South America in September 2006. We are not limited in time or destinations. As part of our trip we certainly want to explore part(s) of the Amazon. Most posts are by country, i.e. from Peru, or from Brazil, or from Ecuador. Are there great differences between the Amazon experiences of one location over another? Is any one area recommended as the best? Is there enough difference to warrant visiting from mulitple locations? Should we take a boat cruise from Manaus, or a lodge visit in Peru or Ecuador? Any suggestions, recommendations, comments would be greatly appreciated.

1. Re: Questions about the Amazon

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Bellingham
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2. Re: Questions about the Amazon

The Amazon you will see in Ecuador and Peru are very different. Ecuador is up land, faster rivers, less undergrowth in the jungle. Peru is the Amazonas Real, Big rivers, hot and way more humid.

Traveling in Ecuador you would get to the Amazon through Banos to Shell and Tena. Tena is the best step off point to get down the Napo River to the Lodges there. Great place to see all through that area. Ecuador has worked very hard at getting new eco-tourists, Is very friendly to all nationalities, uses the US dollar, has spent lots of money on improvements. Quito, Otovalo, Banos, Tena, all must see's. Banos sits at the base of a very active volcano, hot rocks were bouncing across the road last time I was there. (2 years ago)

Peru is still behind the times, Have to go through Lima to get to Iquitos and the jungle, Elevation is lower in Iquitos so its hot and humid. Even droping the 500 or so feet from Shell to Tena to the Jungle you can feel the changes. Lima is a tough town stay in Miraflores and you will be safe. Iquitos is old and dirty, they really haven't figured out what gringos are looking for. Don't get me wrong, I have been to Iquitos 4 times and am going back this year. Lots of very remote areas up river. Great ferry system some what like the Mississippi in 1700s. Fantastic national park up river from Iquitos about 100 miles. Down the Amazon from there are lots of lodges ect. If you are not comfortable in rough latin american towns just travel trough Iquitos and hit the lodges. Good hotels down town Iquitos "El Dorado" and do "Aris" for a gringo burger and shake across the street.

Not much experiance in brazil, Been down the Amazon to the border and back.

If you want more help or good contacts for eco-tour in Iquitos. Let me know.

Palm Beach Gardens...
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3. Re: Questions about the Amazon

Thank you JungleMaster. Your info is very helpful and the first explanation I've seen of the differences between the various areas. Are there any specific lodges that you would recommend in either Ecuador or Peru or both? My wife and I are both in our 70s. We used to do a lot of camping but are not in to as much roughing it these days. We are particularly interested in seeing BOTH the flora and the fauna of the area. I am not a birder but I LOVE to see the various species of birds. I found them MUCH more interesting than the large animals in Africa. All suggestions are appreciated.

FriendlyEuropean - Thanks for your input. I had looked at Kapawi Lodge and it does look excellent. There are so many lodges and cruises that I have a hard time determining which would be best and for what reasons.

Thanks again to both of you.

Bellingham
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4. Re: Questions about the Amazon

Check out this site ecuadorexplorer.com/html/amazon_hotels.html

and this lodge. http://www.casadelsuizo.com/ I have been by this place on the river and it looked great. Also recommended by a resident in Tena. It is owned by a swiss gentleman hence tha name.

I took some one that was 74 to Iquitos and the humidity was very hard on her and her lungs started to fill up with the humidity. I would recommend Ecuador, Stay in Quito its a wonderfull city with anything you could want. Stay a night in Banos, very international, Brits, germans, swiss, all walking the streets. Inca ruins nearby.

Then go to Tena about 6hours through Jungle ravines and river gorges, Upland jungle too. Could stop in Shell-Mera nice town with mission hospital and very open to gringos.

On the river it will be much cooler than in the cities, always a slight breeze. The coast is Ok but not real Amazonas adventure

All in all You can do it and it will be fun, always can hire guides and tours. Lots of places to get help too.

Tom

Detroit, Michigan
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5. Re: Questions about the Amazon

Sayre: My fiancee and I traveled to Ecuador in Early September of 2005. We spent 5 days cruising the Galapagos Islands (HIGHLY reccomended!) and 3 days at Kapawi Lodge in the Amazon.

The website for Kapawi Lodge will tell you that you will see a wide variety of wildlife (including Jaguars) in the immediate vicinity of the lodge. This is simply not true.

The area around Kapawi is still actively hunted by the indigenous Achuar people, so the larger mammals in the area are rarely seen - unless you happen to be an Achuar hunter.

This is NOT to say that Kapawi is not an EXTRAORDINARY Amazon experience. It is fantastic in its own way, but not for an abundance of mammalian wildlife. Kapawi is the TRUE amazon - untouched, unspoiled, and REMOTE. There is an abundance of flora, reptiles, birds, insects, and fish. From that perspective, a trip to Kapawi Lodge is LIFE CHANGING something akin to a religious epiphany.

There is another lodge (of many) in Ecuador called Sacha Lodge which is located within a nature preserve that is surrounded by oil fields (you don't see the oil fields - this is a HUGE area). This has the effect of making Sacha into a very large natural zoo. The animals are more or less confined into a smaller area (as compared to Kapawi) by the oil fields and are therefore more easily found by your guides. While this is more exciting from the perspective of seeing animals, it is less representative of the REAL amazon as you would find it at Kapawi.

The food, service, guides, and accomodations are all EXCELLENT at Kapawi. The rooms are comfortable, with a bathroom/shower, two single beds with mosquito nets, and solar powered lighting. No phones (radio phone for emergencies), no fax, no internet. BE Warned - the water for your shower is 5 gallons of solar heated water - if the day is not sunny - your evening shower will be tepid to cool. Remember - this is a true eco-lodge and every effort is made to preserve the pristine nature of the jungle.

For a listing of additinal jugle lodges see: ecuadorexplorer.com/html/amazon_hotels.html

If you wish to contact me via email for more on Ecuador, please use: bcb631@hotmail.com

One other thing: Kapawi Lodge's guides will take you into the jungle on extended hikes of several hours duration. While you will be walking on trails, there are many times you need to step over fallen trees, slough through mud several inches deep, and ford shallow streams. It is moderately rigorous. I am 47 with a very painful arthritic hip and could handle most of the jungle trekking, but it was challenging at times. Bring a walking staff and good quality ankle high hiking boots. Kapawi will supply Wellington style knee high boots for the muddy trails.

If you have physical limitations, Kapawi's guides will be very happy to plan special, less rigorous adventures for you. There are many nice forays you can take via motorized dugout canoe. I found these extremely relaxing.

Enjoy your trip. Ecuador is a magical country. My fiancee and I are actually planning to retire there in early 2008.

Brett

Alberta, Canada
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6. Re: Questions about the Amazon

Wherever you go, pay attention to travel warnings issued by your government. These are available on the internet. We were robbed at a jungle lodge on the Rio Napo, downstream from Coca (La Selva Jungle Lodge) in 2004. Afterwards we became aware of warnings against travel in this part of Ecuador- issued by most goverments- see USA, Canada, Australia, to name a few.

Detroit, Michigan
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7. Re: Questions about the Amazon

The US Department of State currently has NO travel warnings posted for Ecuador.

Do you mean to say that there is crime in other parts of the world? Is it as rampant as it is in the US?

Alberta, Canada
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8. Re: Questions about the Amazon

From the US Consular information sheet:

"The U.S. Embassy in Quito advises against travel to the northern border of Ecuador, to include the provinces of Sucumbios, Orellana and Carchi and northern Esmeraldas Province."

The lodge I stayed at is on the Rio Napo downstream from Coca, on the border of Sucumbios and Orellana provinces, which are warned against in the above excerpt. Bandits walked in out of the jungle one night, firing guns, and cleared out the hotel safe, which contained the valuables of just about all of the guests.

Obviously, there is crime everwhere in the world. Just be aware that Ecuador has risks far and beyond anything that most North Americans or Europeans are use to. And that the Northern Oriente in Ecuador has more than its share of problems.

Alberta, Canada
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9. Re: Questions about the Amazon

From the Australian government:

"North-east border region: We strongly advise you not to travel to the north-east border region of Ecuador. Terrorist and organised criminal groups from neighbouring Colombia are active in Carchi, Orellana, Sucumbios and Napo provinces in the areas of north-eastern Ecuador bordering Colombia and Peru. A number of foreign workers have been kidnapped, and, in one case, killed. "

Detroit, Michigan
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10. Re: Questions about the Amazon

Sayre:

You emaile me not too long ago, and I think I lost your email.

I you wish to contact me, please use bcb631@hotmail.com

Thanks, and my apologies for the incovenience.

Brett