Amazon Wilderness & Wildlife Adventure


When we first began exploring the Ecuadorian Amazon in the 1980s, we provided free medical treatment to communities of Kichwa indigenous people living along a part of the Napo River. One inspired community at Sani Isla decided to establish a strict 10,000 acre wildlife reserve on their land in order to provide a sustainable income from ecotourism. This is where Aqua-Firma will be running this 5 days Canoe, Lodge & Wilderness Camping safari, led by Ralph Pannell, formerly of Rainforest Concern and now a director at Aqua-Firma.

Ralph first explored these forests when leading a primate research expedition. Primates will certainly be one of the wildlife spotting targets for this trip, based for 3 nights in comfortable cabanas; whilst also trekking deep into Amazon wilderness with 1 night spent beside a narrow tributary which rarely sees a human being. We will establish a temporary tented camp here, all laid out with clean and comfortable bedding, surrounded by the sounds of primary rainforest.

From our tented camp, we will spend a long day paddling slowly south east, watching out for wildlife and birdlife as we go. Canoes enable us to move almost silently, causing minimal disturbance. We will be too far upstream to paddle all the way to where this river empties into the Napo River (and speed is not our aim), but by late afternoon, we will transfer to a motor launch to take us down to the Rio Napo and then back to our en-suite cabanas in time for dinner.

Spotting wildlife and exploring the Amazon environment in detail will be a priority. So too will be learning about Kichwa history and culture, taking the opportunity to visit a village where organic coffee and cacao is grown. We will also provide an insight into conservation challenges and solutions in this gem of a country on the Equator.


 

Some of our best birdwatching opportunities will be from a canopy tower, built around a huge Kapok tree. We will also head to clay lick where hundreds of parrots and parakeets often come to top up on the salt and minerals they need to neutralise acids their stomachs have to deal with when eating forest fruit.

Whilst much of our time will be spent north of the Rio Napo, we will also head south into the Yasuni National Park. This is Ecuador's largest protected area and the heart of this country's incredible biodiversity. Ecuador's north eastern lowland rainforests, an ancient Ice Age refugia nestled at the foot of the Andes, have been assessed as the most biologically diverse location on Earth. A few of its world records include 2,274 species of tree and bush, 83 species of reptile, 64 species of stingless bee and 100,000 species of insect per hectare. 644 species of tree have been found in a single hectare here, which is almost as many as you will find in all of USA and Canada combined. We can also find 550 species of bird, 13 species of monkey, 105 species of amphibian and 1,000 species of butterfly.

Of mammals we can hope to encounter, Red Howler Monkeys will almost certainly be clearly audible, with their dawn and dusk calls carrying up to 5km through the forest. The largest troops of monkeys you might see will be of Squirrel Monkeys or White-fronted Capuchins.

Of the smaller monkeys, Black-mantled Tamarins will be heard by their squeaking; whilst to see the world's smallest monkey, the Pygmy Marmoset, we will rely on the local knowledge of your indigenous Kichwa guides to locate a tree where they feed on tree sap.

Whilst larger mammals do their best to keep out of sight, camera traps set in this area have recorded Pumas, Jaguars, Peccary, Jaguarundi and Tapir. We will be looking out for the tracks of these elusive animals; and by day and night we will have good chances to see both Spectacled Caiman and Black Caiman, which are largest of all Amazon reptiles.

This hosted journey will take place just before one of our Galapagos Shark Research Insights and Photography Dive Liveaboard led by one of the World's foremost whale shark researchers and photographer, Dr Simon Pierce.

Itinerary

Amazon Wildlife & Conservation - Canoe, Lodge & Wilderness Camping Itinerary

Day 1

Our journey begins at Quito airport where assistance will be provided in checking onto your flight.

As we fly from Ecuador's Andean capital, watch out of the windows for volcanic peaks. On days when cloud does not obscure, we might be able to see the snow-capped peaks of Cayambe, Cotopaxi and in the further distance, Chimborazo, whose peak is the furthest point from the centre of the Earth, by virtue of Equatorial Bulge.

We will fly over the edge of the Andes, over Andean foothills and eventually see the Rio Napo beneath you as you come into Coca. At Coca, you will pick up your baggage and we will then take you to the river where we will transfer to a covered long motor canoe.

From Coca, we will follow the flow of the river about 2 ½ - 3 hours downstream. The forest steadily improves and we will eventually step off the canoe and onto the banks of the Rio Napo. We will walk for about 10 minutes through swamp forest, before transferring into a paddle-powered canoe which will take us down a stream which opens out onto a large oxbow lake.

We will help you settle into your en suite cabana, possibly to the tune of Red Howler Monkeys; and then set out on a night walk or lakeside paddle by canoe before or after dinner. Night walks are a great way for us to see some of the smaller life in the forest, as well potentially Night Monkeys which exist in this part of the Amazon. Canoeing a night provides easy opportunities to spot caiman, whose eyes light up with the reflection of your torch light.

Day 2

We will have an early breakfast today before taking a slow paddle across oxbow lakes, through swamp forest and along narrow tributaries in search of wildlife and birdlife.

We will then trek to a canopy tower, built around a giant Kapok tree. This will provide commanding views over canopy and swamp forest. We will be equipped with a scope to spot birds and wildlife for you, both near and far.

From this canopy tower, we will take you to a bird hide within the forest; and then on a forest trail seeking wildlife and birds, whilst learning a few things about local plants and their traditional uses.

After lunch, we will trek north for up to 3 hours, through terra firme and swamp forest; until we meet a narrow Black Water tributary to the Napo, deep in Amazon wilderness. We will already have set up a mobile a camp, with your tent comprising a mattress, clean sheets and pillow. We will then take you in search of wildlife, large and small, by day and into the night. Dinner will be eaten surrounded by the sound of Amazon rainforest that rarely sees a human being.
 

Day 3

Early morning, we will take you walking in search of wildlife and birdlife.

We will have breakfast back at the camp, before taking to the canoes, descending the river at a slow pace, watching for wildlife and birdlife as we go. We can stop whenever anyone wishes and perhaps take a walking detour into the forest. We will not be able to reach the point it empties into the Napo River by paddling, but by late afternoon, our motor launch will meet with us to take us the Rio Napo and then eventually back to your cabana in time for dinner.

Day 4

Another early breakfast, so that we can go in search of wildlife and birdlife again on an oxbow lake and narrow river. We will then take to a motor canoe and head to a salt lick where hundreds of parrots and parakeets come to top up on salt and minerals.

We will then head into the Yasuni National Park in search of wildlife.

We will take lunch at a Kichwa village where we will be able to show you some of the crops local people grow and natural materials they use to make the things they need. This will also provide us with an opportunity to discuss how life in the Amazon is evolving. Blow darting is a bit of a sport here, so if you would like the opportunity to dart a papaya or two, that can be arranged! Trip leader, Ralph Pannell, will certainly be aiming to hone his skills.

Further search for wildlife and birdlife in the late afternoon before dinner.

Day 5

Today you will head back to Quito, first by paddle canoe … then on foot … then motor canoe … and eventually by plane, arriving in the afternoon.

Dates

31 Aug - 04 Sep 2021 - £ 1,890
US$ 2,290

Single supplement
No supplement if you share, but £190 / $225 if you have your own room

Price includes
All guiding
Accommodation
Return flights Quito to the Amazon
All transportation in the Amazon by river and land
All meals on location in the Amazon
Park entry fees
Community fees
£25 towards Aqua-Firma's Rainforest4Climate fund
Water, coffees & teas

Ecuador

Galapagos

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