Let’s see…I left off while in Quito and we were leaving for the Amazon on Monday. Today is Tuesday, March 21, but I won’t be able to blog these photos until we get back to Quito on Thursday. There is wifi here, but it is really, really slow. I’m still amazed they have wifi, but it’s not strong enough to post. Sorry for the 3 day blog dump.
So, Monday we caught a flight from Quito to Coca. We arrived in Coca around 1:30 and made our way to baggage claim in the one room airport. The baggage was loaded into the airport off a trailer from the back of a tractor. So, needless to say, it wasn’t a very organized endeavor. We got our bags and made our way outside to our guide for the week, Marco. They loaded our bags in the back of a pickup truck, put us in a taxi and we headed to the Napo River, a tributary of the Amazon River. Once at the dock, we were loaded on to a motor boat and headed down river for about 2 1/2 hours. We arrived at the Napo Wildlife Center welcome area, and were loaded on a canoe. No motors allowed after a certain point, so we were paddled down a creek through the national park to our eco lodge in the middle of the jungle, on a lake. The Napo Wildlife Center Lodge is located inside the national park and all tourists and everything the lodge needs to operate is paddled in every day. It’s pretty amazing. While canoeing down the creek to the lodge we saw sloths, anacondas, quite a few birds, squirrel monkeys, anda caiman. We were on the canoe for about 1 1/2 hours and got a lot of wildlife viewing in!
We finally got to the lodge as the sun was setting, about 6:00. We got checked in and got to our open air rooms and had time to change quick for dinner. We didn’t arrive at the lodge until after 6:00. So, the first day was a lot of boat rides, which were awesome, and some amazing wildlife viewing. After dinner we went back to our rooms. Adam and I played some Yahtzee, then it was time for bed as we had a 4:30a.m. wake up call.
Today we had a 4:30 wake up call, which I missed. But, I did make it to breakfast in time to eat, just a few minutes late. After a quick breakfast, we went to the dock and got in our canoe and were on our way at 5:30. It was an eerie experience paddling through the jungle in the dark while the howler monkeys were screaming. But it was pretty cool to be there when the sun came up. We canoed down the creek back to the welcome center and were loaded back on the motorboats. The first stop was a clay lick where the parrots hang out to get nutrients. It was cool to see all those parrots in one place at the same time. I took some photos, but they didn’t do the place justice. After a while there we made our way to the local village where the women of the village explained life in the Amazon and cultural routines. It was very interesting. After the presentation and shopping for handicrafts that the women made, we went back to the boat and motored back down river to a hiking trail. We got off the boat and did a short hike through the jungle to a watering hole. We weren’t sure what animals and birds we would see, or how long it would take. So after sitting for an hour I started to nod off. 4:30 is an early wake up call. Finally there was the sound of a shit ton of birds and they started flying into the trees above the water. Then it seemed like all at once there were maybe 20 or more parakeets at the water. We watched them and took photos until something spooked them and they all took off and flew through the viewing area. It was like a scene out of the movie, The Birds. Since they weren’t coming back, we hiked back to the boat and went back to the village for lunch, which was delicious.
After lunch, we were loaded back on to the motorboat and taken back to our canoe. We spent the rest of the day canoeing back to the lodge while seeing howler monkeys, owls, a lot more birds, another anaconda, and that same caiman. I think maybe it was the same anaconda, as yesterday, too. Our guide, Marco, and the guys paddling the canoe are amazing at spotting wildlife! They would say things like “Monkey!!” and we would stop. I have no idea how they could spot monkeys in the tallest of trees through all the vegetation, but they sure did. The owls were in the jungle and they spotted them. I couldn’t even see the tree they were in. That was a pretty cool part of today as they pulled the canoe on the bank and we were able to get out and hike to the owls to get some better photos. So cool. We arrived back at the lodge at about 5:00 in the evening. While paddling across the lake, we saw 5 river otters right by the lodge. So we got off the boat really quickly and went to a bridge area to get some awesome photos of the otters. They are super fun!! We watched them for about 20 minutes while they ate fish and swam around. Probably the highlight of today. That and seeing the howler monkeys.
The otter watching was over so we went back to the canoe to grab our stuff and we had a couple of free hours until dinner. We went to the bar and had a beer and then went to the top of the viewing tower at the lodge, which is about 900 feet tall. Took some photos and headed back to the room for some photo editing and a Lightroom lesson for Adam before dinner.
Dinner was great, really good conversation with our guide, Marco, and a couple from Washington who have been in our group on the excursions since we got here. Now, I’m back in my room, did some editing of photos with Adam, and typing up the blog post for the past couple of days.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, is our last day here. We leave early Thursday morning. Tomorrow the wake up call isn’t until 6:00! I’m excited to sleep in a bit. We will be going on more hikes tomorrow and explore a different area of the creek. I have been wanting to hike, so I’m excited about tomorrow. One hike will be a night hike. Can’t wait for that!
I better get some sleep. It’s 10:45p.m. and I’m a happy exhausted from the day. It is so hot and humid here, it seems to drain my energy. But, hey, it’s an amazing experience!!! I will not complain. I’ll blog on Thursday, but probably have another blog for tomorrow that I will post when I get back to civilization. Thanks for reading and checking out the photos…if you are. Thursday…that will be the day of the blog dump! Take care…