After a warm night, I packed up, returned my beer bottle to the old lady, who reluctantly gave me my $1 deposit, and went to meet the tour group in the hotel next door. Maxim and Katerine (the German couple I had shared a taxi with yesterday) were already there but so were a whole lot of other people. The hotel was a meeting place for all the jungle tour groups and there are about 18 lodges in the one area of Cuyabeno Park.
We identified the driver from his clipboard advertising Jamu Lodge and got onto the bus with the other 8 people, and then had to wait whilst he looked for 2 others. It turned out they had flown in so we set off for the airport to pick them up. We were eventually on our way at about 10.15am. Our party comprised a young English couple (Alan and Lucy), a Dutch couple, an Austrian lady (Terese), with whom I shared a cabin, and 6 Germans.
We had about 2 hours in the bus to reach the entrance to the park and our driver. The trip took us through lush and tropical scenery and we stopped once in an anonymous small town for a break. It was very hot and sticky and a typical country town with a number of little shops and a surprising number of people, given its size.
Once at the park, we were greeted by Pedro, our guide for the next 3 days but, before setting off for the lodge, we had to have our boxed’ lunch!
The rest of the journey was in a motorised canoe, with the 12 of us in one and our bags and assorted supplies in another. On our very slow 52km passage, we saw 4 different types of monkey, including the yellow hand, the Woolley and spider, as well as a sloth, the nose of a pink dolphin, which had surfaced for a great gasp of air, and a variety of birds.
On reaching the Lodge, we had an hour or so to settle in and then it was off to the Grand Lagoon to see the sunset. But first, we had to hunt for anacondas and caymans and then go for a swim with the aforementioned beasts that, luckily, we had not managed to find.
Jumping out of the canoe into the water was easy, once I had overcome the thought of swimming with piranhas. However, trying to get back in was an exercise in group bonding as several of us had to be hauled unceremoniously over the side.
After dinner, which was a marked improvement on the lunch, we chatted for a while over a drink before going to bed. There being so many Germans, the German language naturally predominated but, of course, the majority of them spoke English (as well as a variety of other languages).