The first day of this tour will begin with a short 30-minute flight from Quito to the city of Coca. Coca is considered the gateway to the Amazon and is where Francisco de Orellana set sail in 1541 on a brigantine his men built in Coca. Orellana and his crew were the first to complete an exploration of the Amazonian River.
We will be much more comfortable on our trip down the river than these first explorers as we’ll be taking a motorized canoe equipped with twin outboard motors. This initial trip will take about 2.5 hours, after which we will reach our first destination, the Napo Wildlife Center (NWC) welcome station. At the welcome station we will transfer onto smaller canoes, where we will continue our journey by paddling up the Añangu Creek to reach the Napo Wildlife Center lodge. This peaceful lodge overlooks a beautiful lake and is surrounded by a large expanse of the rainforest where the government has banned hunting.
On our journey along the creek, we’ll see our first Hoatzins and get a taste of the diversity of this region, as we take in the local birds, perhaps seeing the Rufescent Tiger-Heron, the Sungrebe, the Red-bellied Macaw, and the Green-and-rufous Kingfisher. We will then spend the night resting at the Napo Wildlife Center lodge.
(The number of days for this trip can be extended if passengers request it in advance.)
For three days (or more), you will be able to begin your exploration into the many species of avifauna that live in western Amazonia and gain a deeper understanding of the complex, habitats and microhabitats that are found close to the lodge. One morning activity that we will enjoy is visiting the treetop canopy tower, which allows us the unique experience of viewing this world that exists seemingly separate from the one below on the rainforest floor.
Birdwatching aficionados will have the opportunity to see many birds existing in their natural habitat. Look for oropendolas, aracaris, tanagers, and euphonias as they search the trees in the canopy for fruit. Try to locate the Spangled and Plum-throated Cotingas from where they glow on their treetop perch. You can even see raptors drying off on the sun-bathed branches,, White-browed Purpletufts and Crowned Slaty Flycatchers rummaging for insects, various types of parrots and macaws searching for fruiting trees, and the many other avian species that can be seen flying past, and sometimes through, the canopy tower.
Exciting forest trails allow bird aficionados the ability to explore the avifauna found on the rainforest floor. Some species that are easy to spot include woodcreepers, antbirds, and tinamous. You will also likely have the opportunity to encounterthe extraordinarily loud and melodic Screaming Piha and the visually arresting Blacknecked Red Cotinga.
On this alternative bird watching tour, you will spend your days exploring the many clay licks (or “saladeros”) that can be found on Napo Wildlife Center lands. Hundreds of parakeets and parrots flock to these clay licks, since the minerals found in the clay aid in digestion. From the clay licks we should be able to see and listen to these majestic birds. This is truly a wonderous spectacle like no other. You will also be able to take exciting canoe rides around the lake and creeks that surround the lodge. On the water you can hear the melodious song of Silvered and Plumbeous Antbirds echoing through the forest.
Birds that we will be looking to find include the relatively unknown Zigzag Heron, the native Point-tailed Palmcreeper, the Orange-crested Manakin, and the stunning Long-billed Woodcreeper. We may also be lucky enough to see the many species of monkeys and the Giant River Otters that call this forest home.
We will also visit the local community of the river-edge forest. This community built its own local lodge, and here we will be able to look out for many other bird species like Turquoise and Magpie Tanagers, Rufous-headed Woodpeckers, and Swallow- winged Puffbirds.
Finally, this tour will include explorations of the many islands in the Río Napo, which vary in age and support an array of avifauna that are distinct from those found only a few hundred yards away on the “mainland.” Some of the Islands’ unique species that we hope to encounter include the Black-and-white Antbird, the Olivespotted Hummingbird, and three species of spinetails. We will also be able to see the more usual river bird species such as Capped Herons, Collared Plovers, and Yellow-billed Terns. All nights will be spent at the Napo Wildlife Center lodge.
The final day of the tour will be spent heading back up the river to Coca where we will take our flight back to Quito.