Just southwest of Manta, Ecuador is the Pacoche Wildlife Refuge. We would describe it as a jungle. It is a scenic drive 45 minute drive from Manta and a good way to see the local area. Upon arriving we were greeted by one of the Refuge’s Rangers. He informed us that we would be hiking the Pasaje del Mono (Monkey Path) and introduced us to our guide.
If you notice on the sign it even tells you not to touch the plants and there is good reason for that. For instance, on a very young bamboo plant it is covered in what looks like hair. That hair is very tiny barbed needles that once you touch them do not dislodge and hurt like the dickens.
The picture above shows you our guide. He was very informative and told us of the training he has to pass in order to be a guide for this wildlife preserve. Our guide happened to be born in the area and has been living there all his life so he knew about almost everything. Typical wildlife found in this preserve are Howler Monkeys, Panthers, Tarantulas, Owls, Hawks, Frogs, Termites, and several hundred species of hummingbirds, and that is just to name a few. We never saw any Panthers or Howler Monkeys but we could hear the Howler Monkeys very clearly. Our guide told us the jungle is a lot more active at night.
He said if you were to go camping there you do not sleep on the ground. At night he said the ground is almost completely covered with insect life and those insects are all being hunted by Tarantulas. So… there are a lot of those out at night too. The Tarantulas are huge. In the below picture you can see our guides hand and the Tarantula he coaxed out is as large as his hand.
This jungle trek was one of the best excursions we have ever gone on.