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exploring caves in archidona

(May 2006)

In 2006 we visited Tena. It was very warm and friendly but basically a standard Ecuadorian town stuck in the jungle. My wife was expecting monkeys and toucans on the street corners and had contacted most of her nearest and dearest to advise we were going off the radar so she was quite disappointed to find rooms with cable TV and a full telecoms service. We considered going rafting but there was no time to get a group together in low season, so we settled on a trip out to an island which was a bit more Amazonic.

The next day we went to some caves. They are located near the town of Archidona so you have to catch a bus north to the entrance. We were told to put on swimming trunks and wellies and followed our guide into the entrance and a deep stream. He said nothing, but occasionally would wave torch at a wall or the ceiling as if there was a bat there.

We waded through up to our waists until after 10 mins he turned and asked ...... ¿nadar? (swim). Guides always want you to swim in pools, so I plunged into the water under a waterfall and splashed around. I think the other word was “can you” not “do you want to”, because he looked at me in disdain and quickly led Maria Fernanda through the pool and up through the waterfall.

I followed, sheepishly. However, at least he started talking after that, and explained about the caves and the formations as we slipped around the narrow muddy tunnels. We felt a bit silly behind him as he was twice as agile despite having a wooden leg. It was a very good tour but not for the claustrophobic.

At the end our guide led us out of an opening into daylight at the back of one of the caves, we stood surveying sunset over the forest canopy. Then I went and had a go on the water slides which washed (quite dangerously until I mastered the bends) into the natural pool created by the stream emerging from the cave.






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