For the last three weeks, I have had the pleasure of travelling around the beautiful South American country of Ecuador. Ecuador is a diverse little part of the world with so much to offer. From the beautiful, lush green of the Amazon rainforest to the volcanic landscape of the Andes, the dramatic landscape as you travel around is absolutely stunning. I had the pleasure of sharing this journey with a group of 16 people – like-minded and adventurous thankfully – and the help of a fantastic and knowledgeable local guide, Henry. The experiences of the three weeks will be too much for just one blog entry so I’ll split them up a bit over the next few weeks so as not to completely bore my readers!
The slogan that accompanies the tourism advertising of Ecuador says ‘Ama La Vida’ and nothing could be have been more appropriate or more true for our experience of this beautiful country. That is the theme of this post – Ama La Vida!
One of my favourite photos from this trip (with thanks to my best friend and travel buddy, Kirsty!). La Casa Del Arbol sits on the edge of a mountain in Banos, Ecuador. The tree house and the swing stand alone in the midst of the beautiful mountains, in the shadow of the Tungurahua volcano and overlooking the incredible forests that the eastern Amazon area of Ecuador boasts! When you go on the swing, you swing out over the edge of the hill to witness the most incredible views over the valley. For the few minutes you are on that swing, you do forget that there is anything else in the world but you and that moment.
Ecuador, being a volcanic, rainforest filled country, also boasts some of the most incredible waterfalls. As part of a rainforest homestay during our trip I had the joy of climbing up a waterfall in the middle of a rainforest downfall. The climb was exhilarating, challenging, a little bit dangerous and exciting. As we clambered our way to the top of the waterfall we could look up and see the tall trees of the rainforest canopy stretching far above us. We could feel the power of the water rushing down the falls. We could feel the warm tropical rain fall down on us. Climbing a waterfall in the pouring rain would never have been something I would have wanted to do…..and yet it was one of the most fun and exhilarating things I have ever done!
Ecuador’s Pacific coastline is stunning and is filled with incredible wildlife. Bearing in mind Ecuador also boasts the Galapagos Islands (which make up a whole other trip altogether) it’s very easy to witness some of nature at it’s best and some of these nature moments were big highlights! We took a trip off the coast to Isla De La Plata and on our way had the opportunity to see humpback whales in the wild. These whales could be seen very close to our boat and put on quite a display for us (accompanied by our excited ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ of course!).
Around Isla De La Plata, we saw the haven for wildlife that it was. Seeing the beautiful giant turtles swimming near our boat and then having the opportunity to snorkel in the same waters amongst the coral and the beautiful tropical fish below us…..there were endless smiles and happy faces from myself and my fellow adventurers.
Ecuador presented opportunities to challenge yourself and try new things. I tried bridge-jumping, zip-lining, hiking at 5000m above sea level, and snorkelling to name a few. Each and every new challenge brought a new lease of life for me. I felt exhilirated, excited and truly loved every new opportunity. Ecuador’s ‘Ama La Vida’ statement rings so very true!
These were just some of my highlights and there seem to be too many to put into one post so be prepared for another couple of Travel Tales posts coming your way soon!