|Zamora street art.|
|The path less travelled. Zamora-Chinchipe|
Back to information ... what information?! The tourist office looked like it had died a slow and prolonged death years ago! Whilst Alex sat with the backpacks I walked around to see if I could find something, someone, something ... and I found Inza Coffee, a cafe run by a gorgeous Colombian couple ... who also had loads of information on what to do in the area. Colombians aren't just known for their good coffee ... they also excel at customer service. Sorry Ecuador, they leave you for dead on that front! I called Alex over and we had a coffee whilst chatting to Linda and ........ about places to stay and things to see. Great coffee guys! We would be back. Our mission was to first find a place to stay.
|Hanging out with Linda and Julian, Cafe Inza, Zamora.|
The highlight of the area really is the lowland part of Podocarpus National Park. We spent a couple of days walking around and in it and it was indeed beautiful. And what makes it even more so is the total lack of tourists. It was a pleasure to walk around and take in the beauty with peace and serenity. Bubbling streams, enticing rivers, the sounds of exotic birds, rumbling waterfalls, paradise!
|Podocarpus National Park.|
|Exotic fungus, Poducarpus National Park.|
|A lesson on how to make patacones with Rebeca.|
|Alex drinking 'chicha' with the Shuar, in Shaime.|
The river itself was spectacularly beautiful, surrounded by high sub-tropical mountains, breathtaking waterfalls and Shuar villages. We did it all! We went on a walk through lush vegetation, high up above the river and passing trees older than our brains could cope with (7000 years!). We were often up to our knees in mud (thankfully we were lent gum boots), but the views still blew our socks ... right out of our gum boots! To say WOW would be an understatement. I felt like an extra in an Indiana Jones movie! We also visited Shuar villages, like Shaime (and drank the local fermented alcoholic fruit drink known locally as 'chicha'), and a number of waterfalls such as the Cascada Los Dioses (Waterfalls of the Gods). Wow, wow, wow, wow! Ecuador, seriously, you need to start promoting this hidden gem. We also walked within metres of the Peruvian border. Set in the thick of the Amazonian jungle, this was once a war zone, and there are still live mines. We saw the signs to prove it.
|Day trip to Alto Nangaritza Reserve.|
|The labyrinth of a thousand illusions.|
Noe took us around with his car and showed us a few other places locally. We also spent a Sunday with his daughter, Marlene, and her children who had come down from Zamora. One of the greatest pleasures of travelling is always meeting and spending time with the locals.
|With Noe and his family, Guayzimi.|
|Waterfall of the Gods.|
"If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door." – Milton Berle
Dedication: To Noe, Marlene, Rebeca and your families. For taking us into your homes and treating us like family. Some people you remember, others you forget. You are the ones that leave a permanent imprint on our hearts. Thank you.
Dedicación: Para Noe, Marlene y sus familias. Para dejarnos entrar en sus hogares y tratarnos como familia. Hay alguna gente recordamos y otros que no. Ustedes son de los que dejan una huella permanente sobre de nuestros corazones. Gracias.
Next: Catching up with Jorge in Macas and visiting Yasuni National Park, deep in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Remote, exotic, mostly untouched by tourism. One of my dreams about to come true!
|Boat ride along the Nangaritza River.|
|Flora of Podocarpus National Park.|
|Walk to Podocarpus National Park.|
|Zamora street art ... minus Alex!|
|Practising English with the Guayzimi locals.|
|Rebeca cutting us some fresh cane sugar from her property.|
|Alex and Noe enjoying a wine.|
|Serious looking local fauna.|
|The walk around Alto Nangaritza Reserve.|
|Alto Nangaritza Reserve, the trunk says it all!|
|Breathtaking Nangaritza River.|
|Locals crossing the Nangaritza River.|
|Local boy, Las Orquideas.|