The morning I was heading downstream on the Napo River it was swollen and extraordinarily foamy due to heavy rain in the Andes. The river is wide and fast flowing, but the driver time and time again hit debris and hat to stop the 200 horsepower outboards to check for damage and take out stuff that had clogged the propellars.
If that wasn't enough, huge underwater sandbanks were everywhere, and the only sign they were there was huge fallen trees that did not move like the rest of the debris. So the idea of getting to Napo Wildlife Center in an blink of an eye due to 2x200 hp outboards was quickly dropped.
After a couple of hours the boat seems to head straight to shore, but only a few metres away I notice what seems like creek and black water mixing with the muddy Napo. This is the entrance to the domain of the Anangu Quichua people who changed so dramatically from ancient traditions to modern eco tourism. From now on the only power was manpower! We were paddled for 1.2 hrs up the small river to the center! The only means of transportation to and from the center is the canoe! And donæt think the river will be flowing the same direction! If it hasn't rained locally, the river will flow towards the Napo river! If the Napo River is swollen like, it's power will inundate the lsmall river, and force itself upstream and thus - change the direction of the flow! I experienced this many times during my 3 night stay, and pondered how they cope with this da in and out. But thy are of the forest, and the flow of the forest is the flow of the lives of the Anangu Quichua people.
The first thing that hit me when I arrived at the pier was that the cabanas were so much larger than what I got through the photos of the place. Inside they were spacious and very modern, and yet again I pondered - how did they manage to transport all the material just by canoes? They did and still do as they continue to expand. Several times I watched canoes so laden with stuff that they were floating only a few centimetres above the water - filled with building materials, food and what not.
Being a single traveler and a photographer I was assigned an Anangu Quichua guide, as I was not interested in missing any opportunities. He did of course only speak Spanish. I had many a canoe trip with him, as they all know their territory inside out, and also the English names of almost all that is inside the park. Thus the language barrier was somewhat frustrating during meals, as we could only suggest and point or ask for translation for the most mundane of things, but out in the field it was nothing less than an existentional dance of life!
The food was exceptionally good, and as said before I had to wonder how they managed the logistics! Strawberries and apples in the Amazon? Well - the Andes is not far away, but what a difficult journey!
The operations and everything about this place radiates professionalism on the highest level, I was immensely impressed! It stands as a beacon for all others to follow.
As for the wildlife...... I don't know where to begin! It's so rich in species that it's hard to comprehend that so much life can be supported.
Just as an example: during a night canoe trip, I noticed the incredible amount of bioluminescence. Most know of the fireflies, beetles and glow worms, but the amount of each species was simply staggering. In Norway I was happy one summer to count more than 20 individuals in an area perhaps 400 metres square. On the floating vegetation on the edge of the lagoon and the streams flowing into and out from it, I'm certain there was more than 1000 in the same sized area! On one leaf there could easaily be 10 worms! I so much wanted to photograph it, but being in the middle of the Caiman domain - the water - I dropped the idead.
Another example is that fish just jumped into the boat - time and time again, as the canoe perhaps resembled a big Caiman, and thus they jumped out of the water to escape and ended in the canoe instead. In fact the sheer amount of fish and fish species support a rather large population of Caiman. Some are really huge (4 metres), and at night you can hear some really powerful splashing sounds from them, as well as seeing them if you use a flashlight.
There are also quite a few anacondas, and I watched one small one (2.5 metres) kill and consume a turtle (!). Despite this - I really enjoyed to swim in the lagoon :-)
I cannot go on as nobody would want to read it all, but this topped Costa Rica's Casa Corcovado for me, and I never thought that possible!
The final "gift" was a completely clear sky the last night, with a full moon and light so bright that the frogs were hestitant to vocalize in their normal volume, and everything cast a silvery shadow.
My photos from the Ecuador and Napo Wildlife Center trips: http://www.ross.no/communicate
Napo Wildlife Center webpage: http://www.napowildlifecenter.com
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Napo Wildlife Center offers visitors a number of vantage points from which to admire and experience the spectacular, awe-inspiring diversity of the Amazon Basin. Climb the 120-ft. High galvanized-metal stairs to the jungle tower for otherwise impossible eye-to-eye views of canopy dwellers such as monkeys, eagles and macaws...Spy on clay licks teeming with parrots and occasionally visited by jungle cats or a magnificent elephant-muzzled tapir...Experience Man's ageless interaction with the jungle through the native community's perspectiveEnjoy evening walks to witness the astounding nightlife of the dense, entangled understory...Explore the many trails through "terra firme", "varzea" and swamp forest in search of the best that Amazonia has to offerBe it from the ground up, or from the canopy down, from hidden viewing blinds to silent paddling up black-water creeks, we deliver the biggest most intricate picture possible of this wonderful world. Napo Wildlife Center not only provides the educated perspective of bilingual guides but also the hands-on knowledge of the true guardians of Anangu, who live and witness the marvels of their jungle home every day. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Napo Wildlife Centre Hotel Yasuni National Park