Eyes of SWILD

  Trekking the Oriente Jungle, Ecuador

Misahualli on the Rio Napa

The starting point for the Oriente jungle trek is Misahualli on the Rio Napa. A pretty laid back and sleepy town. You can find plenty of guides to take you into the different parts of the jungle.

Curare dart blowgun

Paul had great SWILD fun perfecting a blowgun technique. The curare darts were extremely lethal and stuck over an inch into a tree trunk. I swapped a Walkman for this blowgun and managed to get it home to California in one piece. It's great if you have neighbors you need to dispose of.

Jungle huts

Accommodation is pretty basic. The locals had just built these huts. The mattresses were soaking wet from a recent rainstorm. And if you were lucky, every hut had a tarantula in the corner of your room, eating the roof insects.


Getting to Misahualli is another matter. As you can see, my bus from Quite, the capital of Ecuador, didn't fare too well in mudslides. At least we didn't slide off the cliff.

Transport on the Rio Napa

From Misahualli its a boat ride down the Rio Napa. The guide will knows the best place to start hiking.

Jungle trekking

And what a hike. It's wet, humid and bugs are everywhere. I have never felt so slimy in my live. And the mud was absolutely everywhere.

Walking the plank

Balancing across the moss covered logs in muddy sneakers was quite an art. If you thought about it at all, you were destined to slip and fall into the roaring river below.


Monkeys were everywhere - and hungry ones too. An extended arm with a banana quickly became a war zone. If you valued your fingers, you gave up the banana very quickly!

Biting parrots

The parrots would also come down and perch on your shoulder for a nut. This actually bit me quite fiercely and wouldn't let go. Someone had to come to my rescue.

Gigantic tarantula

The tarantula on this over sized Coca Cola bottle is absolutely huge. It moved pretty slowly and preferred to stay in the corner of the hut.

Needle tree

These 'needle' tress were exactly that. The trunk was covered in 3 inch needles for protection. If you happened to slip and grasp for the tree trunk, you hand would be impaled.

Hut monkey

The monkeys also made it a habit to visit all the huts searching for shiny goodies to 'borrow'. I wasn't the only one chasing them across the grass into the jungle.

Oriente tapir

This was the first time that I had seen a tapir. Quite an interesting animal not found in too many places. This one was friendly enough.