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A weekend in the wilderness

Napo Wildlife Centre Ecolodge

rain 31 °C

The journey from Quito to the Napo Wildlife Centre in Yasuni NP was an adventure in itself:

  • a 30-minute flight to Coca, an oil-rich supply city and staging post on Rio Napo, a tributary of the Amazon in the eastern part of Ecuador,
  • then 2 hours (about 70km) on a motor boat along the Napo River,
  • followed by 1.5 hours down Añangu Creek in a people-powered canoe, until we reached Añangu Lake.


After travelling all day, we arrived at the lodge just as the sun was setting on Friday evening.


No wakeup call was needed on Saturday morning, as the howler monkeys were already on the job! It sounded to me like they were right next to my window, but when I opened the cabana door I realised they were across the lake. If you watch this clip, turn the volume up loud!

Our first proper outing with the naturalists was an early bird-watching session from the 40m tall observation tower not too far from the lodge. They were incredibly talented in spotting the birds and anticipating what they were going to do next. With their amazingly powerful scope, we were also able to see and photograph the birds as if they were only an arms-length away.


Walking back from the observation tower, we got to study the tiny creatures and the flora of the rainforest floor, provided we followed the rule – DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING; IT MIGHT KILL YOU. Point well made.


Through the middle of the day it was too hot for birds, animals or people, so apart from panting to the top of the lodge to admire the view, we just relaxed and watched the turtles in front of the cabana as they took turns sunning themselves on a submerged log.


As the afternoon cooled down, we enjoyed the antics of a few different monkey species in the creeks around the lodge. There are 10 different species in the NP, and over the course of the weekend, we were lucky enough to see 6-7 of them.


On Saturday night I had my first experience of rainforest rainfall – so much wet! No night-time forest walk, and unfortunately it also meant we had to cancel our visit to the clay/salt licks to see the parrots the next morning. It would have no doubt been the highlight of the weekend, but I just look at it as a good reason to return one day!

Instead, while the rain continued, Sunday morning was largely devoted to a close encounter with a golden-mantle tamarin family, of two adults and one very young youngster. They were slowly making their way through the trees towards the Lodge’s small papaya orchard for breakfast.


Throughout the day there were a few breaks in the rain, so we got out as much as we could; searching for the local giant otter family that had been sighted that morning after a long absence, watching the birds, monkeys and butterflies, and participating in some cultural activities with the local Kichwa people. At one point we were caught out on the creek in a deluge, and even though I was quickly wrapped up in a Napo poncho, I still got soaked within seconds.


On Monday morning it was time to return to Quito, and with the extra 3m of water in the creek, our 4am departure in the pitch dark felt a bit scary to me. The locals were amazing though, navigating in the dark even with the changed water level. Our canoe was grounded a couple of times – stuck on fallen trees and other detritus – but after a quick check for lurking caimans, our paddler would get out of the canoe and rock us back into flowing water so we could continue on our way. It was a long, slow, fraught journey, but we made it to the airport in Coca on time.


Posted by Andrea R 21:26 Archived in Ecuador Tagged birds rainforest wildlife nature lake river amazon

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