The Amazon Jungle: Full of energy, breathing life, and adventurously addicting.
Instead of taking the more traveled pan-american highway to Peru I took the back road through the jungle and stoping in the small town of Macas for a little cave pitstop.
Macas is a burning hot heated jungle town with hundreds of caves. The ¨Caves of the Tayos¨ have many myths and stories about them. One is about the lost city of Atlantis that may found there where you can literally spend days walking through the complex network of trails. All the caves are naturally made, and some even go as far as saying that there are indigenous people that live in the caves with higher intelligence than anyone else in the world.
There’s been books, movies and legends about them and the caves reach all over the jungle fo Ecuador and Peru. I would of liked to spend more time doing the four day walk through some of the caves, and eventually end breaking through the ground with a stick to get out of the caves when the guide permits. It is possible to do that through Zamora, I would of loved to check it out!
With me my friend, Natasa came to the caves! We weren’t prepared for the day we got into as it was much longer and less planned than anticipated.
We caught a 6:30 am bus from Tena to Puyo, 1.5 hours ($1.5 USD) and then a bus from Puyo to Macas, about 3.5 hours ($5 USD). Once in Macas we tried to find a guide because you cannot go into the caves without one (you wouldn’t want to anyway, they are scary and complex).
We searched around town for 1 hour trying to find someone in the scorching heat. We had limited amount of time and were banking on someone being avaialbe for a say of tour to take us.
We knew there were two tour agencies in town. First place was closed, and so was the second. We were so lost and wandered for what seemed hours. Finally a hostel gave us a random flyer of a man who offered tours. We managed to reach his house, a little cottage tucked away on a street corner. The man, Darwin was just leaving an jumped at the opportunity to take us for a hike. He said 3 hours, lunch, transportation and 1 hour in the caves would be provided and the price would be $25 a person. That is a great price for a jungle tour, most start at $40 and we were booking it last minute so of course we said yes!
This leads me to my next point and lesson in traveling:Never, ever, ever assume anything.
As the tour started we walked quite a way from the mans house and we were expecting to get into his car and go to the caves. Well ends up we were walking to the bus station. ¨Okay¨, I thought to myself. ¨I do not mind taking the bus, but I was expecting a car¨. No bus came, we ended up hitching the way there to the entrance of the path for the caves. We tried to find a car to the entrance but after 1 hour of waiting around we had to walk the 4 miles just to get to the entrance of the hike. All of this would have been fine if I wasn’t worried about catching my bus that I had booked, a night bus, at 7:00 pm.
So we start to walk, and by walk I mean run. Darwin didn’t wait for us one bit and knew that I probably wouldn’t make my bus and was trying to make up for it with running the trail. It wasn’t even a trail, it was just treking through the jungle (gorgeous) and finding ways to get around huge bolders and rivers and streams.
The hike was divine, we were in the deep jungle, bats flying by just barely garzing my face, and flowing powerful rivers playing in and out of the trees.
The caves were out of this world, I’ve never seen anything like them. We came upon a huge bloder rock wall and looked down into the rocks cracks which was a window into another world.
We crawled on our hands and feet, through the thick clay mud and into the darkness.
Big boots were necessary as at the entrance of the cave was a river deep and loud which would become our hiking path. The sound of the water echoed in the caves and you couldn’t see a thing, it didn’t help Darwin was still going fast and was the only one with the light.
The river was shallow in some parts, but deep in others. The whole time our boots were full of water and heavy in weight.
We hiked for about an hour and turned off our lights to feel the energy from time to time. Powerful, dark, cold and yet still full of life. I felt like an animal, primitive and timeless. It was a trip, so beautiful I couldn’t take in all I was feeling at the time.
Once we hiked out of the caves, we had only limited time to get back to town to catch my bus. So we walk the same 3 miles back to the road and hitched a ride back to Macas.
I would of never entered those caves without a guide, but honestly this guy Darwin I would never go hiking with again. He was smoking joints the whole time and walking ahead of us. However, I am glad he was there because I wouldn’t of had the nerve to go through the caves alone. And as a bonus when we were heading back from the hike we ran into a venomous snake that has a rodent in its mouth and wasn’t letting us pass. The guide grabbed some cigarettes and blew smoke in its face and had some type of drink with him in case it did bite. That made me feel better.
Darwin said that he once saw a anaconda kill a little boy in a river about 15 years ago. A bunch of kids were washing up in the stream and he watched the snake strangle the kid and then squish him to death before eating him. Could you imagine! The stories from this guy were pretty rough he has lived his whole life in the junge and been going to the caves since he was a kid.
If I were I do the tour again I would take it from Puyo, not macas and make sure I asked ALL questions and not assume that all guides are professionals. Even though the guide wasn’t the best, I was back on time for my bus with two minutes to spare and was off! Macas to Loja night bus is supposed to take 8-9 hours and it ended up being 10-11 as there was tons of traffic an construction. The trip cost $14 USD and led me to Loja where I took a bus for $1.5 USD to Vilcabumba. The whole trip was worth the stress and adventure. The caves were definitely a high light and the energy from them is something I will remember for the rest of my life! (Photos to come soon!)