Welcome to the Jungle – Cuyabeno Reserve

Getting out to deep amazon jungle on your own is a bit difficult. The primary form of travel in the Amazon is via the millions of rivers and water ways that wind through the rainforest. There are very few roads and access via automobile is rare. We always regret not installing deploy-able Pontoons on the 4runner in situations like this…

I looked at our map of Ecuador and found the Cuyabeno National Park which appeared to be the most remote Amazon jungle area that we could actually drive to. Well you could not really drive INTO the park but you could get damn close. At the end of the road we would have to hitch a ride in a motorized canoe to actually make inside the parks boundary.

We hooked up with a cheap jungle lodge company in Quito that would agree to let us drive to the jungle ourselves. We had less than 24 hours to make it all the way across Ecuador to a random bridge in the jungle where there would (hopefully) be a canoe waiting to pick us up.

No big deal.

We hauled ass from Quito that afternoon. We crossed up and over the Andes mountains into a thick fog. We broke through the fog to see the low-lying Amazon jungle below us as far as the eye could see.

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The death road to Ecuador and Las Lajas Cathedral

We hit the highway once again from San Agustin. Looking at the map we are so close to Ecuador we could taste it.

There are 2 routes from San Agustin towards the border. One involves a bit of back-tracking north to catch another highway back south again. I hate going backwards. The other route led us straight down to Ecuador but our friends at fromAtoB.org warned us of poor road conditions. Apparently the route between Mocoa and Pasto was very rough, rugged, and dangerous with lots of wash-outs, large trucks, and little clearance between you and a sheer cliff drop-off.

Being the kind of people who usually hear good advice and then completely disregard it, we of course chose to take the hard route.

It started off easy enough from San Agustin. We were on smooth well-maintained highway. After about an hour I started to wonder what the hell AtoB was talking about…

We were in some pretty remote country, apparently popular with Colombian FARC and guerrillas. The military presence was strong along the highway. We passed a few of these bad-ass truck TANKS.

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Desierto Tatacoa, The Tatacoa Desert, Colombia

We popped open our guidebook and searched for “What’s Next” while we drove south from Bogota.

Lauren found a short blurb describing a strange geological area of Colombia. The Desierto Tatacoa (Tatacoa Desert) is described as one of the “most attractive natural settings” in Colombia.

The guidebook described large sand pillars painted with orange and yellow hues, 30 foot deep eroded gullies, and miles upon miles of open land. It also stated that the Tatacoa Desert is one of the best places in the world for star-gazing due to lack of light pollution and close proximity to the equator, making it possible to view both the Northern and Southern hemisphere constellations. Sounds good!

Volcanoes popping up on the horizon

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