Aventuras en La Amazonia - Tena, Ecuador

Nuestra tercer semana en Ecuador! 

This past week we were able to explore another region of this beautiful country, the Amazon, in Tena, Ecuador. Many of our excursions on this trip have been a first to most of us, especially everything we did in the Amazon region. Here we hiked to a waterfall, went on a motorized boat ride, floated down a river, visited the AmaZOOnico, and went caving!
On our way to Tena, we made a stop to see the amazing view. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017:

Some of our girls during the hike up to the
We hiked in the Rainforest Reserve Colonso, our goal was to hike to a waterfall. A couple months ago with the strong rainfall there was major damage to certain parts of the rain forest, caused by the falling of many trees. This lead us to taking a non-traditional route up to the waterfall. This new path away allowed for us to explore other parts of the rain forest, by having us hike up the stream way of the water, through large rocks, muddy areas, sand mountains, and many fallen branches. This hike allowed our team of students to support one another along the pathway. It also gave us an opportunity to see different plants, flowers, and have a taste of lemon flavored ants. When we reached the waterfall, a large portion was covered by fallen trees. This prevented us from enjoying the entirety of the water fall, but that did not stop most of us from going under the falling water. The water was coming down strong, but many of us enjoyed the freshness after the hike. Although the waterfall was not in the condition we thought it would be in, being able to be inside of the rain forest and experiencing its immensity and biodiversity was a great experience.
The waterfall we hiked to,
visible are some of the
fallen branches. 
Making our way up the waterfall, with the assistance
of Eduardo.
Under the waterfall. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017: 

We started our morning visiting the Misahualli town. Here many were able to eat grilled Chontacuros, a delicacy of worms that tastes like bacon. In this town we were able see many monkeys as they climbed from tree to tree, stealing from food vendors or tourists, and chasing each other. After this visit, we went to the Shiripuno community (read about it on Brianna's blog😉).
One of the hanging monkeys at

Some of our girls on the boat ride.

Making our way down the Napo River.

Katie enjoying a Chontacuro.

We then went to the main part of our day, to the Napo River. Here we enjoyed a delicious Talpia dish with some amazing aji, in a restaurant right by the river. Soon after, we strapped on our life jackets and went on a motorized boat ride down the river to the AmaZOOnico. Before reaching our destination, we stopped by about a mile way to a high peak area where we were able to swing from a rope and fall into the river. It was such an adrenaline rush to be to get on a rope and hang on till the right moment to fall into the water. After the fall, many floated/swam down the river to meet the rest of us on the boat. at the entrance of the AmaZOOnico. The AmaZOOnico is a non-profit animal rescue center, they take care of wild animals that have been abused, neglected, raised as house pets, and/or have been a part of illegal trading. All of their animals are brought in through the Ministry of the Environment. It is the hope of this non-profit to help the animals develop healthy coping mechanisms, learn how to live independently, and care for them, to one day set them free into Selva Viva. Not all animals can be set into Selva Viva because they could not survive in wild life, for example their anaconda is a predator by nature, but she missed her window of development to learn how to hunt and now she does not know how, therefore they have to feed her dead animals. Animals like the anaconda cannot be taught how to survive on their own, so they have to stay in the animal rescue area.The work they do in this non-profit is admirable, all of the animals have their own stories and were saved just in time before dying or being killed under harsh conditions. I enjoyed learning about how they care take of the animals according to their needs, how they interact with others, and the potentials they see in each one. This was my first time being in an animal rescue center, it opened my eyes to another form in which humans have hurt the natural habitat and lifestyle of animals, mostly caused by ignorance of proper caring for these animals and ambition for money. Non-profits like AmaZOOnic are essential to teaching us about the importance of learning about the world we live in, nature, and animals to better treat each other and allow for nature to take its course without the interruption of human greed and destruction. It is also an example of how critical development stages are for all living species. This non-profit is mainly run by volunteers, so thank you to all of those individuals for their work! 😊

One of the many saved monkeys
by AmaZOOnico.

A flightless Tucan at the AmaZOOnico.


One of the many saved Maccow Parrots at the AmaZOOnico.

Monday, July 24, 2017:

Right before entering the cave.
Before saying goodbye to Tena, we made one final stop to the Caves Jumandi. This was my favorite part of the trip! Here we were guided by two of the locals. Part of one, consisted of a hike to a cave that has been used as ritual ceremonial site. In this cave shamans or other practitioners of indigenous medicine come to share their knowledge, some stay overnight to embrace the concentration it takes to be in the space. The second part, was into a more adventurous cave, it consisted of walking through tight spaces, going through water that sometimes reached up half our body, crawling, sliding, and being careful of stalactites. This activity also needed communication from the entire group to give each other tips and support throughout the journey. I enjoyed everything about caving, mostly that I had to learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable in a different setting and context. Walking through the Amazon rain forest and experiencing caving allowed me to not care about how dirty I got or what I encountered, instead it mattered where I stepped on to not damage Mother Nature, how I approached a difficult pathway along the way, and taking in the beauty of the environment. In many ways I felt like a child, everything was a learning experiencing and something new to see, hear, touch, and smell. Although we have been learning about how the environment influences how we are raised and our views of the world through course content, being in this completely new environment allowed me to understand that concept in depth. I was raised in the city of Los Angeles, where I walk without thinking much about the ground I step on, trees are not always around, bugs and other wild animals are mostly in the zoo or outside of the city area, and our form of medicine comes in a container or packaged. In the Amazon, there are many healing plants, nature needs to be respected, and people live in these areas. Although the rain forest is 50/50 good and bad, it's biodiversity in plants, animals, and people provides opportunities for everyone to experience, learn, and appreciate another form of everyday life.
Angel exiting the cave. 

Katie inside the cave. 

Jasmine exiting the cave.
Flori entering into the ceremonial cave. 


  1. I'm so glad you recapped all our adventures! We did so much in Tena and had so much fun. I agree with you when you said it felt like being a kid again. Everything did feel like a learning experience, especially when I needed to listen closely to try to understand the spoken Spanish.

    My favorite part of Tena was visiting the Amazon forest! Everything was green and beautiful.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Our adventures that we went on in the Amazon are some of my favorite memories while here in Ecuador. Like Valeria said, I was also reminded how precious nature is, and that it should be treated with care. Whether it was when we were hiking,caving, or floating down the Amazon river, I was left in awe because I truly got to just soak in all of the wonderful views that the Amazon has to offer.

    This trip also reminded me that there are always going to be new opportunites to keep on learning, so one should really just have an open mind and forget about their own personal baises. By doing so, one can truly open their eyes to new understandings of life.

    Also, those lemon ants and chuntacuro were surprisingly tasty!

  3. Honestly, I was kind of dreading this trip because I'm terrified of bugs and bites. But to my surprise I ended up loving it! Every day in Tena was a huge new adventure and I've never gotten so dirty/muddy/wet like that before in my life. This trip was full of many firsts and facing many of my fears like caverning and floating down down the Amazon river (especially when my host brother said there were pirahnas). Still, I'm super amazed at how much fun I ended up having! I'm happy I put my big girl shoes on and forced myself to do everything, this whole trip was definitely a priceless experience.

    Also, the pool table was fun!

  4. The comment about the development window relates back to what we learnt in EDS 115! Feel that I relived the Tena experience after reading your blog. Great collaboration with Brianna so that the readers know what to expect in both of your blogs.

  5. Thank you for recapping all these adventures. By far Tena was my favorite of all the field trips we have made! Hopefully we can go visit again one day!

  6. Oh my gosh was that Tilapia dish to die for! Since it is a typical dish served in the Amazon region, I must have had it at least twice during our trip to Tena, but I enjoyed every bite of it!

  7. I left a little piece of my heart in Tena--I was so scared to go to THE AMAZON but I loved it so much!

  8. This trip was such an adventure! Not going to lie, I was a little scared about this trip - especially with my brother talking about crocodiles and piranhas. And who can forget the movie Anaconda?? Oh no. haha But I was glad I participated in all of the activities. I had a lot of fun and learn a lot too - though I'll try to sleep on the top floor (looking at you girls! hahaha)


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