An Insiders view on Amazon, Ecuador

By Charles Cumella 

Ecuador is an amazing place, full of natural and man-made wonders. Ecuador has some of the most unique landscapes in the world, including the Highland region (Sierra), the Coastal region (Costa), and the Galapagos. But there’s no way to forget the Amazon region (Amazonia), and its enormous amount of fauna and flora. There are a few national parks and protected areas in Ecuador’s Amazon region, including the Cuyabeno Wildlife reserve, the Yasuni National Park, and the Limoncocha Biological Reserve. There are 2 species of animals discovered every day in the Ecuadorian Amazon, this demonstrates that Ecuador is one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world!

What makes Amazon in Ecuador a good travel destination?  

The Amazon is an amazing travel destination because of all of the flora and fauna that can be found there, the passengers will be amazed of everything they can see; from 10-foot snakes to dolphins in the middle of a river.

Tell us something that every traveller should know when travelling to the Amazon?

Every  person that travels to the Ecuadorian Amazon should know that they are in for a huge surprise with everything they’ll see, and that they’ll have one of the most relaxing and impacting trips of their lives.

Any essentials that one needs to carry when they travelling to Amazon?

Insect repellent, sun block, sunglasses, light clothing and water resistant ponchos are all indispensable things to have with you in the Amazon. Also indispensable, is the desire to learn about the ecosystem and communities that call this place home.

Which are the most surreal places to visit when in Amazon?

The Cuyabeno is one of the most surreal places to visit in the Ecuadorian Amazon. It has the highest amount of flora and fauna in the Ecuadorian Amazon, having 12.000 species of plants, and 320 species of animals. It’s a wildlife lover’s dream!

Can you tell us a little about the life of the locals?

The local communities that call the Ecuadorian Amazon home are very diverse, some like the Siona community in the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, are very used to visitors and even welcome tourists to partake in their daily lives. Others, like the Taromenani tribe located in the Yasuni National Park, do not welcome visitors and are very violent. The communities are very different and very comfortable living out of our “normal” society.

What are the local delicacies/drinks which one must try and where Amazon?                                

The Ecuadorian Amazon has many strange local delicacies, one of the most polarizing ones is the Chontacuro grubs, these are large insect larvae that live in trees, these are then grilled and served. The “chicha de jora” is a drink you will most likely find in the Amazon, it is a fermented corn flour drink that the locals drink like fruit juice, but once it is sufficiently fermented, it becomes an alcoholic beverage.
Yucca is a type of root vegetable used as a base in almost every local food and is grown everywhere in the area.

What are things which one must buy when in Amazon?

The best things to buy in the Amazon are souvenirs, supporting the local communities, such as things made with Tagua, a special seed used for manufacturing jewelry and others.

Which are the most romantic places to visit in Amazon?

Cuyabeno is the most romantic place in the Amazon, it has white and black water lakes which is an amazing place to enjoy a beautiful sunset with your loved one.

What are the local festivals which one must visit when in Amazon?

In Archidona, there is the festival of Chonta, which is a tradition in order to celebrate the region’s success over the invading Spanish forces. This is held during April.

The things guidebooks will not tell anyone about Amazon?

Sadly, there is a lot of oil exploitation in the Ecuadorian Amazon region. This is something that may not be in many guidebooks but it is also a necessary insight into local life in the area.

According to you what is the best thing about Amazon?

For me, the best thing in the Amazon is the huge amount of wildlife and the rest and relaxation you can have while there. It’s an unforgettable experience.

Check out our latest package on the Amazon.

The Middle Eastern Experience – Jordan and Israel

By Veena Suman

Many of our friends were surprised at our choice of a destination as far as Jordan was concerned. The general impression amongst a lot of people was that it is not very well-off, and a conservative nation. We chose to go there as we were keen to visit a Middle East country that blended tradition with modernity, and I am glad to say that we were not disappointed.

Arrival at Queen Alia International Airport was a pleasant surprise. It is an efficient airport, very clean and user-friendly. We found the Jordanian people to be extremely warm and hospitable, who seem to take pride in the fact that their country is peaceful in these troubled times.

We had an exciting time visiting the Blue Mosque, which besides being very beautiful, required us womenfolk to wear Abayas…. a first and novel experience for us! The abayas are very thoughtfully provided by the shops outside the Mosque, free of charge.

Jerash, Petra and Wadi Rum are awesome experiences, and more than justified our decision to visit Jordan. Everywhere you go to in Jordan, you come across pictures of the present king and his very beautiful Queen Noor and their children, who seem to be very popular.

Floating in the Dead Sea is another great experience, though not as easy as it sounds. For one, the water is highly salty and tends to sting if one has even a minor scratch. It’s a good idea to carry a bottle of fresh tap water from the hotel to rinse out your eyes every time the salt gets in. It takes a couple of tries before you get the hang of lying on your back and relaxing, but once there, the feel is exhilarating!

Visiting the Dead Sea scrolls was a must for me personally, as I was told that Jordan is the only country that has the original and only copper scrolls. Israel is a unique experience, especially Jerusalem. It is a good idea to read up as much as possible about the city, in order to get as enriching an experience as possible.

The whole city comes to a standstill from Friday evening till Saturday evening,which can be a disappointment for most, but very interesting for me personally as I could see how the Sabbath is observed. The huge Rams horns used for announcing Sabbath, being sold in the shops on Via Dolorosa make an interesting sight. We bought some souvenirs for our Christian friends and had them blessed in the churches when we walked for the Stations of the Cross. Jerusalem is full of Indians who have come for a tour of the Holy Land. We saw very few Indian tourists in Jordan.

We were very lucky that our guide in Israel was a member of a Kibbutz, who gave us a lot of information on the functioning of a kibbutz. We were very lucky that we could see a number of bar-mitzvah ceremonies at the Wailing Wall. The Jewish people prefer to call it the Western Wall, and we were careful to call it by that name. My only disappointment was that being non-Muslims, we could not see the truly magnificent Al-Aqsa mosque but had to be content with a distant view. Early risers can however, go near the precinct after early morning prayers are over.

To end-Israel has delicious fruit, one must do full justice to it. The Medjool Dates are the best in the world. We brought back boxes as gifts for friends and family. Olives are another must buy.

And yes- for travelers to both countries it is advisable to carry a headscarf, for visits to holy places. A lot of walking is involved in both countries, so comfortable shoes are a must.

As far as food is concerned, I am not aware if there are any Indian restaurants. We dined in the hotels and were happy to sample the local cuisine!

To Book your Middle Eastern experience. Call The Wanderers  on +91 22 67023377