Text and photos by: Juan Pablo Verdesoto, Metropolitan Touring Ecuador
Show me the way to the lushness with real plants and trees, good roads, great weather, great drives, delicious food, friendly people and a congregation of a “few” that come, all over the world…. just to relax…You know that old story that Ecuador is also famous for its short distances between regions that allows you to move around easily, the story that you can be in one day in the Galapagos Islands or in the high Andes the next day, or just the next hours you could jump into the deep jungles, it is quite true!!.
Imagining taking a 35 minute flight from Quito and you will be already in the jungle, not mentioning the same amount of time for being in the warm, quite, and sunny Pacific shores…doing some whale watching.
It takes me about 30 minutes to get from my home in the valleys to my office in a regular day basis when traffic flows like the Amazon river. If you think about that, I can be in the jungle already for that amount of time! But when you tried to get further south or north during the rush hours in our beloved city, it can take serious hours.
One day, I was trying to get somewhere in those days that you wished you stayed home, I got caught up in a heavy traffic jam…, not much to do but being patient and wait.. wait..and wait.., while waiting I kind of felt sleep, and my mind took me back to a luxurious and modestly priced, 5-bungalow haven, planted in exuberant rainforest along the Napo River, one of the finest eco lodges to have nestled now days in this particular region.
I began to dream of traveling from Quito towards east, wondering always what is behind those mountains…in front of me?, well not much!!, but an endless vast, rich and mega diverse jungle that seems to be at your hands, that you can almost embrace as you overlook down at this immense area, literally from a natural balcony at the skirts of the Eastern Andes range, when reaching the rim of these great mountains.
Making your way and pass through these Sierras is an incredible experience, not only because of the views, that are dramatic in a word, but climbing up to near 4000 meters above sea level and then start descending through, narrow valleys, along white water rivers, patches of primary forest, volcanos, passing by two national parks! and other reserves, plenty waterfall on both sides of the road, you get to witness the transition of various ecosystem that finally lead you to the serenity and calm of the low lands of the jungle… it will definitely make you feel like those romantic explorers of the early centuries in the quest for fortune and adventure.
The road to this region used to be famous for its bad condition, a paradox since it was the only main road that link the Amazon region and its multibillionaire industry of oil and related products, this reality make you wonder why rebuilding this road took so long (over 35 years) if they already had the means to do so ?
Things are changing for good these days, and what before took you 6 hours to cover a distance less than 200 km between the Capital Quito and city of Tena, now days is a marvelous ride of 3/30 min, that will make you want more….and hit the road Jack.
I heard a horn… so I kind of woke up again, just to see over my shoulder an angry guy yelling trying to push what is impossible, to move this long tale of stocked cars!!
I went back to dream and I heard that in the region of Tena, just a few minutes out side Puerto Misahualli, there was a nice place to stay and get lost, someone told me its name was Hamadryade, curious name that called my attention right way. I find out that this name means “Fairy or nymph ” the fairies that live in the forest and take care of the trees. This meaning will all make sense here.
Arriving at the lodge is already an experience, you follow a small path full of plants and vegetation that welcome you. Once in the lodge you are greeted by Sebastian and Melaine the owners, a french couple settled here not a while ago and seemed to have found their little paradise. They are very happy, nice, simple people that are the X factor for your experience to be unforgettable. They have created a spectacular contemporary ambiance reflecting Amazonian culture, colors and icons, they also coordinate along with the community their endeavors and help native guides ensure visitors are in harmony with the ecosystem, so the environmental foot print is no less than positive. This structure seems to be the only way to succeed in this business, that with the time becomes more of what we care for the place we live in, and live for and the people that we shared our vision.
Everything at the Hamadryade Lodge is just good: environment, nature, smell, sounds, cleanliness, design, local, pool, food, service, people, relaxation and adventure.
Your stay at Hamadryade included all activities, as well as excellent meals made out fresh organic local production served in the top of a panoramic deck overlooking endless vegetation. Sebastian actually cook most of the meals. The Lodge also has outdoor eating area with french-ecuadorian cuisine prepared in a gourmet way. Fantastic food that incorporated some of the local production that includes all kinds of exotic fruits and fresh fruit juices at breakfast with the french touch…
Many activities can be set up for your from Whitewater rafting to rituals and dancing with Chiripuno natives, as well as a 6-hour trek discovery jungle mysteries are just some of the options in the menu of activities. If you do not feel like walking 6 hours under the shadows of the forest, a tranquil visit to the amazing butterfly garden on the Hamadryade property can be your choice. You are able to relax in a serene and lovely setting when not exploring. Massage sessions are available on demand along the day also.
The hotel was perfectly designed by Sebastian with the help and keen eye of his lovely wife Melanie, very laid back people for whom anything is possible in the mighty jungle. They blended architecture and surrounding, altogether got to the level of comfort you wish sometimes to have in the middle of lush of the jungle. The sensations go through total quiet to total sounds of the canopy. It is nice to relax anywhere here, take the sun by the pool even if it rains, not mentioning taking the most placid naps you can ever dream of.
The lodge is well appointed on vaulted stilts overlooking the river, the views were fantastic, ceilings painted with mosaics and spacious bathrooms, this lodge optimizes the use and saving water. Great beds and bedding, amazing hot showers, all the amenities you would expect in “civilization” are found in your bungalow. The products in the rooms are all eco-friendly as the focus of Hamadryade Lodge is on being respectful of the environment while living in great comfort. It is very clean, and well maintained.
Sebastian and Melaine, the former owners are available any time to help you. They are the best on what they do, to host people and help them arranged any kind of local activity, but above all, to make your stay unforgettable… time to wake up!! the line of noisy cars beeping each other, just made me release that I have no time for another dream, move along mate!!