‘This is nothing like the Rainforest Cafe,” cracks my boatmate. He’s right. Rather than the cacophony one might expect, the sounds of the Ecuadorian jungle are surprisingly ordered at dawn on the Napo River, the Amazon tributary from where Francisco de Orellana first navigated the full length of South America’s great river. The macaws caw. Then the frogs chuckle. Next, the howler monkeys howl a message that is conveyed from tree to tree. Everyone takes their turn. Think about it: If they all spoke at once, who could make sense of it?
Vines, ferns and fronds the size of Smart cars droop wearily in the swelter that grows heavier by the minute as the wan sun gains strength. We paddle noiselessly past a thick tree trunk. On it is a spider with hair-thin legs that span the size of a pie plate.