Beyond Misahuallí: an Amazonian Route


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It is not a hot day. Even so, the weather and the humidity force us to change our clothes as we pass the town of Tena. That’s how the jungle is, it prepares you before you enter it. Fortunately, the vehicle in which we travel for this adventure is the one recommended to us by Budget rent-a-car, and just like us, it is also ready for everything!

We took the road towards Talag, a parish within the Llanganates National Park. Along the road, the Jatun Yaku River is our guide to our first destination: Laguna Azul (Blue Lagoon or Waysa Yaku for the locals).

We pass through the parish of Pano, where we are pleasantly surprised by all the signs and advertisements of activities to do in the place: camping, glamping, visits to botanical gardens, butterfly gardens and, of course, countless trails and waterfalls that tell us that we are already entering the jungle.

It is a little more than 25km. through pure nature. We park the vehicle and get ready for a refreshing swim. The Waysa Yaku complex has four natural pools that are formed before flowing into Jatun Yaku (big river). The environment is beautiful, but something that stands out are, without a doubt, the huge volcanic rocks from the last great explosion of Cotopaxi according to the locals. A place to relax, enjoy and taste typical food.

We resumed the route back to Pano, where we made brief stops to admire the scenery and think of all the wonders that still remain to be explored in this area.

On the way to Misahuallí

We had heard a lot about the Cascada de Latas, one of the must-see attractions in the Misahuallí area, so we returned to Tena to head there, a drive of about 20 minutes.

We took the detour to the waterfall but, as in Pano, there were a large number of signs indicating other destinations that also looked interesting. So, we moved on to discover something new. Once again, the jungle took the reins of the road.

It is a short, hot and intriguing drive. We stopped at the entrance to the trail that leads to the Kallary Paccha waterfall, which means something like the beginning of the earth. The place is managed by the locals who decided to dedicate this piece of land to tourism. The waterfall has a small slope that flows into a quiet natural oasis where you can refresh yourself for hours. The sound of the water and its fall purifies body and mind, a hidden purpose of these places in the area that receive visitors without expecting it.

The afternoon begins to fall and we know it is time to find a place to rest, one that ideally preserves the atmosphere of this adventure. Just ten minutes down the road to Misahuallí, we visit the ideal place that maintains this characteristic: Hamadryade Lodge.

The path to the lodge emulates what it ends up being, a door to a paradise in the middle of the jungle. Its cabins, pool, lobby and restaurant have a wide view and are immersed in nature. After a long day like ours, spa services, massage, temazcal (rock sauna) and ceremonies are offered to accompany a unique experience in the area and we recommend you visit for a comfortable stay or an authentic jungle glamping.

On the shores of Arahuno

The next day, we took a boat tour from the port of Misahuallí. Undoubtedly, the most popular place for tourists who have fun with the playful monkeys that can be seen strolling around the main square at all hours. At the same time, they are a symbol of the immense diversity of fauna in the area, which we will learn more about after entering the Arahuno river.

We accompany a group of foreigners on a visit to the animal rescue center ‘Amazoonico’, where wildlife of all kinds has found a safe home. The animals here have been rescued from various situations so that they can heal in captivity and, if possible, be reinserted back into the wild.

It is a visit full of wild and unique encounters at the same time, where the stories of caimans, monkeys, toucans, turtles and coatis of the place keep alive the hope to continue working to conserve its immense diversity, not to mention that you can appreciate them up close! Walking through the trails guided by local volunteers will be an experience not to be missed.

Back to the river, on the way to our last stop, Carlos, our native guide, makes a brief stop at the caiman lagoon, where he feeds these animals in front of the astonished looks at the subtlety with which they tasted the meat thrown to them. We then stopped in the parish of Arahuno where we had lunch before visiting a local community.

Half an hour took the boat ride to the surroundings of Puerto Misahuallí, where the Kichwa community ‘Ayllu Awarina’ is settled. Its people, cheerful and wonderful, welcomed us with open arms to introduce us to their culture and traditions that are kept alive despite the passage of time. A time capsule of incalculable value.

The women’s clothing is still made with their own hands and with local natural materials. They welcomed us to the communal house. With indescribable grace, the women and girls of the community perform a welcome dance which we would join after drinking some freshly prepared chicha de yucca.

Walking through the community, you can buy native fruits and handicrafts, which help in their growth and development. There is also a small rescue center where animals that have been found in unfavorable situations in the surrounding area are kept. All this is part of a community system in which care for others and their environment is a priority.

So, after this community experience, we reflected on the importance of visiting the places along this route, which contribute to a sustainable and beneficial development for the province and its inhabitants, humans and animals. This is why we will come back (and we hope you will too) to discover new places that were not written here.

Photos: Juan Fernando Ricaurte / Carlos Puga

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