Home > Ecuador > From Ecuador’s Eastern Andean Flanks to the Amazon, Part three (Final)

From Ecuador’s Eastern Andean Flanks to the Amazon, Part three (Final)

As we leave the city of Tena, the road takes now an eastbound course and we notice not only that we are descending more in elevation but also that the rainforest alongside the road becomes flatter and wider, allowing us for some breathtaking views of the vast immensity of the Amazon plains, an unending expanse of greenery and life.  The other key element of this natural scenario is the mighty Napo River, whose waters, fed by dozens of smaller tributaries and waterways, crosses in capricious forms the giant green carpet of vegetation, sometimes forming narrow gorges, others becoming so wide that it features some islands in the middle of the great river.

Less than thirty minutes from Tena, we arrive into Puerto Misahualli; converted into the gateway to many of Ecuador’s Amazonian expeditions and amazing locations, lakes, lodges, indigenous communities and spectacular wildlife.  The small and highly picturesque town rests alongside the northern banks of the Napo River and boasts a natural sandy beach, more than 700 meters in length; which is a true delight for locals and foreign visitors alike; who can enjoy the relaxing and warm riverside sands as well as a refreshing swim on the calm waters of the sheltered cove formed by a natural river bend.

Puerto Misahualli presents quite a unique stage, formed by the multicolored houses, scattered around the beach and river port; a host of riverside kiosks selling from insect repellant, toiletries, canned foods, bottled water, candies, batteries, flashlights and a myriad other objects, as well as small restaurants, selling, in an informal atmosphere, a variety of local delicacies, from prepared dishes to exotic fruits.  At the designated port area, the activity is intense: all sizes and colors of dugout canoes, many of them carved the original way: from one single tree-trunk; either arrive or depart, most of them carrying tourists or all kinds of goods and materials.  This is a good place to observe the multi-ethnic composition of the Amazonian population, formed by indigenous Kichwa Indians (who predominate in the area); along with many “mestizo” types, some afro-descending settlers and a few Caucasian colonists.

It is a hot and humid afternoon, with high luminosity and blue skies, just to frame that emerald-green mass of Amazonian rainforest, home to one of earth’s most bio-diverse regions in the world, due to the number of animal and plant species existing there, per square mile.   Here we enjoy some cool refreshments, munch on fried manioc patties and watch the frantic movement of this extremely picturesque river port in one of the main entrances to Ecuador’s fantastic Amazon region. The backstage of this activity is the omnipresent forest, with its tall trees and thick vegetation almost reaching the river shores.  Several families of friendly and totally unafraid capuchin monkeys have made this area their home and suddenly take our eyes away from the river, the port and the beach, to focus on their amusing antics and amazing us, as they must do every day with the dozens of tourists who come and go through Puerto Misahualli. David, our guide, tells us that this is the departing point for many lodges and jungle adventures, one of the most popular of the country’s large Amazonian basin.

Within two days we have descended from over 12.000 feet on a high Andean pass of the Eastern Andes range, to one of the main entrances to the awesome Amazon rainforest; passing through a variety of ecosystems, sights and habitats, enjoying wildlife, people, delicious gastronomy and a host of travel experiences that only visiting Ecuador can provide.  Now we must make our way back to Quito, with an overnight stop in the popular thermal resort city of Baños, located at the  foothills of the very active Tungurahua Volcano; just one more of the many natural wonders of Ecuador…….

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