Ecuador, Latin America

Hidden Yasuni National Park

Ecuador Latin America

I was born and raised in Ecuador until I was 14 years old, then I moved to America. High school happened for two years; then college followed. During this period of my life, I was too focused most of the time and I had no time to travel. Back when I lived in Ecuador, money was enough to live day by day in my family. Nevertheless, I must say my childhood was simple and joyful.

My experience during these years made me realize I must know where I come from before I even attempt to travel the world. Therefore, as soon as I finished college, I traveled back to my homeland for a year. That was perhaps the best decision I could have ever made in my life. I was able to learn about my own culture and most importantly, about myself. That should be the main focus for every single person who travels. I stayed at different friends houses and jumped from city to city.

From all these small experiences in Ecuador, I have chosen to write about Yasuni National Park (March, 2015). I visited it with my brother and we had no idea how long it would take to get there.  From Guayaquil to Yasuni, the journey was 24 hours. The trip consisted of: Guayaquil to Coca (12 hrs), Coca to Rocafuerte (8 hours on a simple old boat). In Rocafuerte, we met a tour guide named Juan Carlos Cuenca he and I agreed to travel the next day into the Virgen Ecuadorean Jungle known as Yasuni National Park.

The next day, bright and early in the morning, we traveled one hour to enter Yasuni National Park. My first reaction was a genuine and mesmerizing “WOW.” I was welcomed by pink dolphins and the music of all the animals that surrounded this paradise. I was evolving around birds, monkeys (12 species in this jungle), macaws (different colors like rainbows), frogs, insects, reptiles; endless amazing sounds to my ears. The first day, we settled into our simple yet stunning hotel created by Juan Carlos Cuenca.

Once the hotel was settled, I enjoyed myself for two days, full of adventures and squat toilet usage. The first day, we walked through the jungle and got to listen the sound of animals closer and observe them even closer. I must say my favorite animals were the monkeys and the macaws. The opportunity to see these animals in their natural habitat rather than a zoo made me realize that we are intruders and they should be free in their world rather than a zoo. Walking through the jungle, Juan Carlos used a machete because there was not a path-walk set up for us. Furthermore, I got to eat ants that tasted like lemon, see a variety of trees, and drink water from tree branches.

Mid-afternoon, the sunset was by far the best I’ve ever seen and our tour guide was ready to go fishing. The sky was darker, so we were using flashlights. Yes, Juan Carlos decided to take us fishing in the dark. It was terrifying and also unbelievable to see the guide fishing by walking in the swamp without shoes. I was shocked to see the countless amount of fish he caught.

The last day in this paradise, Juan Carlos Cuenca cooked fresh fish and we enjoyed more adventures in the Yasuni National Park. As we got closer to Rocafuerte, a rain storm hit us as a special goodbye from Yasuni. As I finish this story, I realized this was an amazing trip and worth every single risk I took. My eyes were enriched and I desire the same for anyone who decides to travel anywhere in the world.  Maybe Yasuni National Park would be a great spot!


Contributed by Genesis Ladinez