“High Andean jungle” – those 3 words were enough to make my heart beat a little faster and begin a series of images flowing through my head. It was the offer to guide us into the jungle for an overnight stay from the owners of Magic Stone in Baños that also caused us to extend our stay from 4 days to 2 full weeks. The idea of not only exploring this new landscape but also spending the night was too much to resist.
And so it was that Monday morning we climbed onto a bus to take us out to Topo to begin our hike and adventure into the jungle. What we discovered was not only beauty and diversity, but also that every experience can be viewed in a positive light.
…hiking in the pouring rain up a river bed for 3.5 hours gives you the opportunity to see why the area is so green.
…crossing a hanging bridge built in 1935 that seems to have never been repaired allows you to face your fear and keep on going.
…falling down on the trail, beating up your shoulder, spraining your wrist and covered in mud is a chance to pick yourself up, literally, and decide to keep going.
…happiness can be as simple as arriving at your shelter, wet but oh so happy.
… discovering nature, and having it discover you is magical.
…not sleeping all night due to the cold and sound of a large animal visiting camp can be erased by a few simple comforts – coffee, a roaring fire, and candlelight.
…there is always something new around the corner (in this case a pair of trees that fell to block our path) and be thankful when your guide packs a machete (thanks Ove).
After 2 days we left our shelter happier than we have been so far on this trip. Of course, it would be easy to focus only on the rain, the lack of sleep, the drenched clothes, and 15km of hiking. However, as the picture below shows, we left with huge smiles on our faces. After all we slept out in the jungle under a blanket of fireflies and saw animals and plants that few have seen before. Life really is amazing.
For more pictures, check out our Flickr page.