Our trip with REI and our 12 other companions was pretty comfortable in this Mercedes van. We had the most amazing and knowledgeable guide in the person of Miguel Vera who was a walking wikipedia on Ecuador and all things historical, not to mention flora, fauna, and every other topic.
Our first destination was the Amazon basin which involved crossing a 13,000 foot pass over the Andes. We even took a hike near the top with no ill effects for anyone. The road was much better than we anticipated, and with Miguel to narrate, the trip was actually fun.
Our lodging was the cutest lodge in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, strangely named Hakuna Matata. I'd thought from my viewing of "The Lion King" that 'no worries' applied to Africa, but here, in the Amazon, aside from the bugs and the torrential rain, worries seemed far away.
During a long hike, we came across this version of plumbing which made all of us glad for the indoor facilities of our lodge. I must admit that we were impressed with the ingenuity of the owners.
After a 4-hour Class III river rafting excursion, we found ourselves with some time on our hands, and wandered to the small river near the lodge. The thing about travel is that, rather than checking a place off my list, I usually find myself adding a place to which I must return. Hakuna Matata definitely qualifies and a further exploration of the Amazon Basin is now on my lengthening bucket list.