This morning we’ll take a short (about 30- minute) flight from Quito to the town of Coca, gateway to the Amazon, whence in 1541 Francisco de Orellana set sail on a locally constructed brigantine and made the first navigation to the Atlantic. Our ride will be far morecomfortable – a canoe powered by twin outboard motors that will take us downstream about 2.5 hours to the Napo Wildlife Center (NWC) welcome station, where we’ll transfer to smaller canoes and paddle up Añangu Creek to the NWC lodge, set on the bank of a tranquil lake amid a huge tract of primary rainforest (where hunting is prohibited). Birding Tour
Along the way we’ll see our first Hoatzins and get a taste for the diversity of the region, with birds perhaps including Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Sungrebe, Red-bellied Macaw, and Green-and-rufous Kingfisher. Night at NWC lodge.
Three full days or more, to scratch the surface of the avifauna in western Amazonia and get a feel for the complexity of rich habitats and microhabitats within easy reach of the lodge. One or two mornings we’ll visit the very sturdy canopy tower, which offers privileged access to a world apart from the rest of the rainforest.
Flocks of oropendolas, aracaris, tanagers, and euphonias roam the canopy in search of fruit, Spangled and Plum-throated Cotingas glow from the treetops, raptors perch on vantage points to dry off in the morning sun, White-browed Purpletufts and Crowned Slaty Flycatchers sally for insects, numerous parrots and macaws fly by or drop in if there is a fruiting tree nearby, and many other species wander past (and through!) the tower tree.
Good forest trails offer access to another component of the avifauna, with woodcreepers, antbirds, and tinamous particularly well represented, and we should encounter the vocally striking Screaming Piha and the visually striking Blacknecked Red Cotinga. A number of clay licks (or “saladeros”) exist on the NWC lands, and here we should see (and hear!) the spectacle of hundreds of parrots and parakeets coming in to eat clay. We’ll also enjoy merous canoe rides around the lake by the lodge and along adjacent creeks, where the songs of Silvered and Plumbeous Antbirds reverberate through the flooded forest.
Birds we’ll be seeking here include the poorly known Zigzag Heron, the habitat specialist Point-tailed Palmcreeper, Orange-crested Manakin, and the striking Long -billed Woodcreeper, plus several species of monkeys and the impressive Giant River Otter.
The river-edge forest, where we’ll visit the local community that built and so ably runs the lodge, is home to numerous other species such as Turquoise and Magpie Tanagers, Rufous-headed Woodpecker, and Swallow- winged Puffbird.
And then there are islands in the Río Napo, which, depending on their age, support a varied avifauna distinct from that found on the “mainland” only a few hundred yards’ distant! Island specialties we hope to see include Black-and-white Antbird, Olive-spotted Hummingbird, and at least three species of spinetails, plus more “expected” river birds such as Capped Heron, Collared Plover, and Yellow-billed Tern.
Nights at NWC lodge.
Today we’ll head back to Coca for our return flight to Quito.
“The hug that Ecuador gave me was really good”
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