Bears, Binoculars and Bucket-List Birds: A 15-Day Tour in Ecuador



We spent 5 blissful days at Sani Lodge, which is owned and operated by the Indigenous Sani tribe. We watched the solar rise over the jungle from a 120-foot-high metallic platform — Mr. Gualinga helped construct it when he was 14, he mentioned — within the crown of a 900-year-old ceiba tree, and waited for scarlet macaws to descend upon a clay-lick to eat minerals that neutralize toxins of their eating regimen. For lunch sooner or later we took instruction from a bunch of Sani Village mamitas in the neighborhood middle, folding tilapia and coronary heart of palm into lengthy, inexperienced rumi panka leaves, which we then roasted over an open hearth, together with two kinds of plantains and chontacuro beetle larvae. We paddled by means of flooded forests on the lookout for anacondas and fished for piranhas alongside a small creek.

Sure, the Wi-Fi on the lodge was spotty. And no, there was no pool. By this level, Olaf had just about gone rogue, disappearing with Mr. Gualinga and one other rower earlier than the remainder of us met for breakfast, and returning lengthy after lunch, solely to go out once more on his personal, returning after we’d completed dinner.

One morning, Martha and I had been gazing by means of our binoculars at a fabulous paradise tanager — inexperienced, blue and crimson — after I was full of a type of piercing pleasure that had been sneaking up on me at odd moments. “This journey is especially poignant for me,” Martha mentioned, “as a result of it could be the final time I see plenty of these birds within the wild.” I put my arm round her, contemplating this.

Birding will not be for everybody. I’m not even positive it’s for me. What is for me, nevertheless, is experiencing the pure world in all its richness and surprise, and seeing how different individuals reside, and listening to their tales, all whereas understanding how very totally different we could also be, and likewise how very related.

By then, I’d gotten used to my binoculars. I’d additionally observed that when Mr. Gualinga tracked a chook, he moved low and quiet by means of the forest, whistling softly, as if talking on to the chook till it responded, when he’d stand very nonetheless on one leg, whereas slowly motioning for us to return look.