When we first touched down in Quito, the tiredness of a sleepless flight completely went and excitement and adrenalin kicked in. This country was nothing like the expectations I had. Everywhere you looked mountains were in view and everything was so scenic.
After arriving and having a quick freshen up, we set off for our walk around Old Town Quito. We had to take it quite slow, as we needed to adjust to the altitude – which is a really weird feeling. It was something I was quite worried about, but I kept myself hydrated and luckily I wasn’t affected.
After our first night, we were up early and prepped for the long transfer to our first camp of the week, Camp Esmeraldas. As soon as we arrived, we were greeted with beaming faces from the Camp staff and a hit of humid air which we hadn’t yet experienced. Whilst visiting the camp, we took a river crossing and a 45 minute walk to visit one of the schools and communities we work with. Although it was a tough walk in the heat, it was so lovely seeing the local children laughing and having fun as they had a basketball game.
Next stop was Camp Kuri Kucho, and I was just in complete awe of my surroundings as soon as I arrived. It was like we had entered a completely different country, and the views available are just indescribable. Before we knew it, dinner was served and Guinea Pig was on the Menu! At first, I refused, but then I remembered I had promised myself to get stuck into the culture and try new things and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The following morning, we woke up bright and early (wrapped up in as many layers as we could find) to make sure we saw the sunrise over Cayambe, and what a sight it was. Whether you’re into mountains or not, the view is just jaw dropping.
By lunchtime, we had arrived in the Amazon Rainforest. It was crazy how you could go from wearing all kinds of layers to wearing a t-shirt and shorts in the space of a couple of hours. It made you realise how diverse the country really is. After a coach journey, boat ride and another drive we had arrived in the heart of the jungle and it felt so surreal. Camp Chilli Urku is one of my favourite camps that I visited. Whilst it’s very basic, you fully appreciate how the locals live. We watched our dinner being cooked over a fire, and took full advantage of the bucket showers. That evening, we visited a local school where the community performed a number of dances.
It was inspiring to watch their stories and experiences through dance and felt honoured to be asked to get up and join in – which we all thoroughly enjoyed.
After exhausting ourselves, we headed back to Camp and went to bed in our hammocks, falling asleep to the natural noises of a jungle.
If anyone has the opportunity to travel to Ecuador, you are extremely lucky. It really is a magical country, and there is so much to experience. From sitting round a camp fire toasting marshmallows to a boat ride on the river in the Amazon Rainforest, you really do see it all!