We’d finally arrived in Iquitos after taking the cargo boat down the Amazon river from Yurimaguas. It was quite the adventure but it had taken a lot longer than we thought. Yes, even though we’d left ourselves a few extra days to play with.
Unfortunately this meant we were short on time to travel deep into the Amazon before our flight to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. But we weren’t content with just staying in the rather busy, touristy Iquitos. We found a trip that would allow us to go into the Amazon rainforest and back in just a couple of days. The place we’d be going was El Chino and I was so, so excited to explore a tiny part of this incredible ecosystem!
About El Chino
El Chino is a small community in the Amazon Rainforest. There are about 50 families (300 people) living there and we were told that the community hasn’t grown much in the last 5 years.
The community is on the banks of the Tahuayo River and the families all live in wooden houses on stilts. This helps them to avoid flooding during the high tides in rainy season (December to March).
We were to spend 2 nights in El Chino learning about this community and exploring some of the rainforest.
How we booked our homestay in El Chino
Our hostel in Iquitos, Green Tracks, had a highly recommended 4/5 day trip deep in to the Amazon jungle. Since we only had two and a bit days to play with before our flight to Ecuador we opted for their trip to El Chino which isn’t quite as far away!
To book a trip like this then visit the hostel once you arrive in Iquitos or try emailing them.
What we did in El Chino
We arrived in El Chino at lunchtime and after eating a tasty meal cooked by Jorge’s wife we headed off on a three hour trek into the jungle.
On the trek we learnt a bit about the village, saw the foundations of the new collegio, and also about the plants growing in the jungle.
Amongst the plants were the “jungle knife”: a plant with razor sharp leaves, and the “jungle chair”: a tree who’s branches wind round making a seat.
We were lucky enough to catch sight of some monkeys swinging high above us too! Unfortunately they proved impossible to get a photo of, so you’ll just have to believe me.
Unlike our fishing trip in the Pantanals, this one on the Amazon was a lot more entertaining.
Within a few seconds we felt a pull on our line and after a few attempts at reeling in the fish I successfully hauled in a sardine! Over the next few hours we caught piranhas, sabados, and a lot more! There were so many fish that if you went 30 seconds without feeling a pull, you knew you’d lost your bait to nibbling piranhas!
As a side note, did you know piranhas make a funny grunting sound? I certainly didn’t before!
As we headed off back to Jorge’s home we stopped by another part of the river to see electric eels – they were huge!
We enjoyed some of our catch for dinner: can’t get much fresher than that!
When we first looked at trips in to the Amazon (before we even started this journey!) we knew we wanted to canoe along the river, but couldn’t find any trips offering canoes that weren’t motorised.
In El Chino we got to paddle down streams, past broken trees and over sunken trunks. We spotted a monkey sleeping high above us too!
Leaving El Chino
The following morning we woke early at 4am and got on the small motor boat. As we travelled down stream the sky ahead was lit up by lightening every few seconds.
Just as I was nodding off to sleep I got a blow to the ear, followed by the sound of something slapping in the floor of the boat. A fish that had jumped out the water found itself on our boat (via my ear)! There were a few more close escapes as hundreds of fish could be seen jumping in and out of the water.
Our Amazon adventure was topped off by watching a group of river dolphins swimming nearby. The perfect ending to a great adventure!
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