Reflections on the June 2016 STF! Ecuador Ecotour

Phyllomedusa George Quiroga

In June 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! led a group of 17 Americans through the rainforests and cloud forests of Ecuador for 12 days on the inaugural SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador EcotourBelow are the reflections and photos of ecotour participant George Quiroga, a professional photographer and wildlife enthusiast who joined us in Ecuador.

I am finally unwinding and have some time before my flight home to reflect on my days in Ecuador these past couple of weeks. It has been a wonderful trip of beautiful scenery, spectacular wildlife, new friendships, rich history, wonderful food, amazing experiences, and boundless new knowledge. There has been adventure, physical challenges, emotional moments hearing of local tragedies, but also the jubilation of discovering awesome creatures, breathtaking scenery, and the camaraderie developed with like-minded enthusiasts along the way.

Phyllomedusa George Quiroga

Thank you to George Quiroga for preparing this video:

Life is a balance between happiness and sadness and this trip was no exception. For all of the happiness that we created along the way, there were also a few sad moments. Seeing the aftermath of a juvenile ocelot that had been beaten with a stick by children was balanced by its rescue by our hosts and cared for with the loving attention from the animal experts in our group. Saying goodbyes as our trip came to an end was a sad moment but pales in comparison to the heartfelt tears of our group leader, Chelsea Carson, as she recounted her eyewitness accounts of seeing the destruction and assisting the victims of this year’s devastating earthquake. There was also the moment when local authorities rode with our rafting groups to assist in the unsuccesful search and rescue efforts of locating the missing school children after their school bus plummeted off a bridge into the chilly, raging Rio Quijos river below. There was also the sadness of seeing the devastation of Amazon rainforest caused by gold mining and deforestation along the Napo River. Even learning of the detrimental effects of chytrid fungus on amphibian populations gave me a deeper glimpse into how delicately our environment is balanced and how impactful we humans are.

bird eating George Quiroga

However, as a counterpart to the sadness, the bulk of the trip was filled with joy, peace, fascination, excitement, and breathtaking moments. The scenery and wildlife was the eye candy. The sounds of frogs croaking during the night hikes, the birds and insects singing and buzzing during the day, the wind sweeping up mountainsides and the rain dripping through the jungle were music to my ears. Hiking waterfalls and steep mountain trails at high altitudes in inclement weather, practicing yoga with our excellent instructor and leader, Chelsea, and trekking through jungles in the dark was pleasure. Tasting the delectable treats of new foods and recipes was magic to my mouth and satisfying to my stomach. Being up close to delicate and tiny frogs, colorful snakes and lizards, huge spiders, beautiful butterflies, colorful birds, and bizzare, alien looking insects filled my mind with visual dreams of wonder. The relationships and bonds formed between our cheery band of froggers, that had previously been strangers, along with all of the hosts, guides, and drivers along the way, was soothing to my psyche and a satisfying social experience. We had a positive energy that bonded our group and further enhanced the experience.

Photo by George Quiroga

Then there was the newfound knowledge. Learning about the lives of each member in our group, the environment, the history of the country and the local people, the information from our expert wildlife guides, and the diverse knowledge from all the members of our group was the icing of this trip. The in-depth personal stories and factoids on food, culture, frogs, biology, zoo keeping, conservation, environment, and travel I gladly absorbed and hope to retain. I’m looking forward to creating beautiful art from the images and videos captured and using them to document and share our story of this beautiful time together. A deep thank you to the SAVE THE FROGS! crew, the participants, and all of those directly and indirectly involved in making this trip a success. Love, joy, and peace to you all. May your journeys be safe and filled with joy and may our paths cross again.


bird bananas George Quiroga

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Ants George Quiroga