The Napo merged into another tributary, then another, until they reached the widest river of all that led them across the continent.
Nine months later, they reached the Atlantic Ocean in Brazil, 3,000 miles from where they began.
Today, Orellana is hailed as the man who named and discovered the Amazon. He named it after a Greek legend of a tribe of fierce female fighters.
Although Brazil is most famous for Amazon lore today, this mysterious part of remote eastern Ecuador is the source of the Amazon's most famous journey.
Booking: I recommend booking "Quito and the Amazon" through Latin Destinations (www.latindestinations.com, 866-645-2846), which can arrange your flights, hotels, transfers and tours. You also can book directly with the ecolodges, which will arrange all travel from Quito to the lodge.
People traveling to the Galapagos Islands can ask their tour company about an add-on to the Amazon.
Cost: Two people traveling together should plan to pay about $2,800-$3,000 per person for a week's trip, which includes airfare, lodging in Quito and at the lodge, meals, transfers and tours.
Lodges: La Selva Amazon Ecolodge is shut for major upgrades through June, but will reopen in July (www.laselvajunglelodge.com, 866-687-3109). Or try the nearby well-regarded Sacha Lodge (www.sachalodge.com, 800-706-2215) or Napo Wildlife Center (www.napowildlifecenter.com, 866-750-0830). Lodges include meals and tours.
Itinerary: I flew via United into Quito and stayed two nights for sightseeing, flew via AeroGal to La Selva for three nights, then returned to Quito for one night.
Packing: Lodges will give you packing lists. They provide rubber boots. Bring a raincoat and a good rain poncho in case of downpours. Bring plenty of socks to wear under your boots. Pack all clothes in Ziploc bags to keep them away from the damp. Pack bug spray, sunscreen, hat, small flashlight, clock, lightweight long pants and shirts, binoculars.
Health: No mandatory immunizations needed here, but be up-to-date on your booster shots. The yellow fever vaccine is recommended. Some travelers may wish to take anti-malaria pills; I did not.
— Ellen Creager
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