Yasuni National Park
Getting into the Amazon
Our journey starts with a 35-minute flight from Quito to Coca where staff will meet you upon arrival. We’ll then head to the banks of the Napo River and get a safety briefing before embarking on a 2 ½ hour boat trip on the largest Ecuadorian affluent of the Amazon, the Napo River. During the journey, we ‘ll get a perfect first taste of the Amazon – ancestral communities, life on the river, and birdlife such as herons, egrets and vultures. Upon reaching the main entrance port to the lodge, we’ll continue with a 15-minute walk through flooded forest followed by a 20-minute paddle canoe ride across the beautiful Challuacocha blackwater oxbow lake until we reach the lodge. The lodge staff warmly welcomes us with refreshing cold drinks and delicious snacks before settling down in our cabins.
After getting settled in, we’ll go on a short hike on nearby trails where we will get acquainted with the sights, smells and sounds of the Amazon jungle. We might see one of the forest’s 13 species of primate and a diversity of birds, frogs, or extraordinary flora. Back in the lodge we’ll enjoy a delicious chef-prepared dinner that caters to a wide variety of dietary preferences, including vegetarians and vegans. After dinner, we’ll receive a briefing about the Amazon region before heading out to the lake in search of nocturnal wildlife, paddling silently through its black waters – we might manage so see black caimans! Afterwards, we’ll return to the lodge.
Included: Bedroom and breakfast, English speaking guide, arrival transfer with English speaking
After breakfast at the lodge, we’ll set out for a full day of adventure in the rainforest. We’ll go on a hike to learn about the plants, animals and people of the Amazon, as well as the medicinal uses for the rainforest’s many plant species. We will also hone our blow gun skills to understand survival hunting techniques.
After a full morning, we’ll enjoy a picnic lunch in the forest in a special spot chosen by our guide. Then, we’ll make our way to the lagoon system where we will set out on kayaks for an afternoon of paddling and a stop at Sani Lodge’s observation tower. We will make our way up this 36-meter (108 ft) high staircase to the wooden observatory perched at the top of the forest canopy in a majestic kapok (aka ‘God’s Hand) tree. From there we’ll get to spot some of the 565 registered species of birds and, with some luck, we might have a chance to spot howler or squirrel monkeys or even sloths resting high in the canopy. The wildlife viewing from above is an entirely different perspective, and gives a chance to discover some of the Amazon’s biodiversity that can be difficult if not impossible to see from the ground.
After getting our fill of wildlife watching from the tower, we walk back to our kayaks for a (1 hour) recreational paddle back to the lodge. We will enjoy another delicious chef-prepared dinner before retiring for the night.
Included: Bedroom and breakfast, English speaking guide, lunch, dinner
Yasuni National Park Exploration and Indigenous Community Visit
After an early breakfast, we’ll depart for a visit to Yasuni National Park, Ecuador’s largest mainland park and a UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve. We’ll hike around the park, observing its flora and fauna and we’ll make our way to a viewing blind near one of the park’s famous clay licks. There we might be lucky to see parrots and parakeets that visit most mornings to eat clay that aids their digestion of unripe seeds and fruits. We might see mealy Amazon, yellow-crowned, orange-winged and blue-headed parrots, among other species.
Later on, we’ll visit the local Sani community. Here, we will learn about their women’s project, the community turtle breeding work, the kiwcha culture, and also participate in a cooking class, which will become our traditional lunch. Spending time with the Sani women in the kitchen allows for a special glimpse into their culture and customs, and also insight into our many commonalities.
Our cultural exchange and exploration continues after lunch, when we will hike back to the lodge on a “camino vecinal” (minor road/community path?) accompanied by our guide and a member of the local community. On our hike, we will get first-hand insight into local life while the Napo River flows by our side towards the Atlantic Ocean. We’ll learn about the local’s architecture, their farming activities and lifestyle, and discover plants in the rainforest that have medicinal and other uses.
We’ll return to the lodge in the late afternoon for dinner. After dinner, there’s an optional night walk in the rainforest to see insects, spiders and frog species come to life in their nocturnal habitat.
Included: American breakfast, English speaking guide, arrival transfer with English speaking guide, lunch
After breakfast, we will make our way back to Coca for our flight back to Quito. As we journey up the Napo River, we will learn about some of the challenges that local communities and ecotourism ventures face with the intense pressure that extractive industries place on the Amazon.
*Activities described in the itinerary
* Accommodation in double occupancy
* Meals described on itinerary
* Air ticket Quito – Coca – Quito
* Meals not described in the itinerary
* Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
* Personal Expenses