Yasuni National Park

Early morning we load up a small boat with all the equipment and bags and with a huge ice-chest and lots of water. We pass the border-guards (going downstream from Nueva Rocafuerte, you will end up in Peru – you can go as far as Iquitos). Turns out, there was (still is?) a long-standing hostility between Peru and Ecuador and we learn that there was even a war (which I haven’t heard about earlier) in the 1990’s over some disputed areass.

As we turn right onto the Rio Yasuni we spot a pink dolphin, which I take as a good omen. Alongside the river there are some clearings and settlements. After a while we get to the park entrance. There is a small house with a park-guard who seems genuinely happy to welcome some visitors. We pay the entrance fee and get some nice posters, showing the some of the animals of the park. It creates a little bit of a logistical problem (what shall we do with them, where to put them?), but then we continue down the river. After like two hours or so we get to a little “bay” where we unload our stuff and put up our tents. Sandro puts together a whole kitchen in a few minutes. I go down to the river and the first thing I see is a brown nose poking out of the water just a few feet away. Then it blows some bubbles and disappears. A manatee!! A call out to the others but we don’t see it again. Instead, there is a whole family of giant otters playing and hunting noisily across from our place. As soon as they notice us they hide among the vegetation.

giant otter in the Yasuni, photo by Ralf Darius

After our first meal we pile into the boat and go for a little ride. As the sun is setting down we see more and more pink dolphins surfacing. It is such an eerie sight – the water becomes almost pinkish with the sunset and then the dolphins, exhaling forcefully as the come up…amazing.

What is strange that we meet a boat inside the park and the family is fishing – as far as I understood, this is not allowed. Later we see more fishing nets at different locations and we hear quite a few gunshots in the distance – somebody is hunting…

Of course we try to do a short night walk around our campsite but the number of mosquitos is staggering (I think it is a new world-record) and we cannot take it too long – even though we are both wearing gloves on our hands and buffs to cover our heads and part of our faces. We see a few nice insects and spiders, like these:

leaf insect, photo by Ralf Darius

spider, photo by Ralf Darius

Then we climb into our tent, kill all the uninvited mosquitos and fall asleep.

During the next few days we explore the neighbourhood in, which usually starts with a boat trip and then we continue on foot.

the "road" is covered with flowers (photo by Ralf Darius)

photo by Ralf Darius

photo by Ralf Darius

It is funny – we are far away from every human settlements and I am eating some of the best food ever. Sandro is a really good cook and can whip up a fantastic dinner from 3 or 4 ingredients (maybe the secret is that little chimichurri that he puts into everything).

Sandro is preparing our dinnerA few times we have a huge storm in the afternoon with some serious rain, but our tent is staying nice and dry. I sleep really good here, even though I have never before camped out in a rainforest and I was a little hesitant about the whole idea first.

our tent in the park


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