El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana

El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana
The Conquistador who put the Amazaon baisn "on the map"....Francisco Orellana

Monday, May 7, 2012

Spanish explorers gave Amazon River its name

The wide Napo River, where Ecuador's ecolodges stand, has a famous place in history.

It is where the journey of the first Europeans to traverse the Amazon began.

In 1541, Spanish soldiers searching for gold and spices in the New World left the Pacific coastal town of Guayaquil (now in Ecuador), and headed east. At Coca, desperate and nearly out of supplies, the expedition's leaders sent Capt. Francisco de Orellana and 50 soldiers down the Napo River on rafts as an advance party.

Swept down the whispering, swirling Napo, unable to turn back, they encountered no gold and no cinnamon. But they did pass towering forests and thriving settlements of native people.

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.

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