Yasuni National Park – Day 1: Arrival and first adventures


Getting to Coca

The Yasuní National Park was the goal of the next 4 days for Diego and me. I’m Elisabeth and I’m currently an intern at the partner agency in Quito. The two of us made our way to the Yasuní National Park to visit the two lodges Napo Cultural Center and Napo Wildlife Center. We took the night bus from the Quitumbe terminal, which is located in the Ecuadorian capital Quito, to the city of Coca, also known as Francisco de Orellana. From there you should then continue by boat towards the Napo Cultural Center. The night bus runs from 12:00 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. and costs US$15 per person. In principle, there is also the possibility to fly to Coca by plane, which is of course faster, but is more harmful to the environment and costs more.

Letters in coca

explore coca

So, slightly exhausted from the night, we arrived in Coca, had patacones and tigrillo for breakfast, and then walked about 40 minutes to the port where the boat to the Napo Cultural Center was supposed to leave.

Since the boat didn’t leave until 11 a.m., Diego and I still had some time to see the city beforehand. So we walked about 10 minutes to the museum “Museo Arqueológico y Centro Cultural de Orellana”. Unfortunately, we had to find out on site that the museum was closed. Nevertheless, we were able to walk onto a viewing platform and had a great view of the Cocas promenade and the Rio Napo. The climate in Coca is definitely different from Quito, where December is rather cold and it is advisable to dress in layers. It was warm in Coca and therefore the perfect weather for a shirt and shorts.

Observation tower in the city of Coca

After Diego and I looked at a few small shops on the promenade, we went back to the departure point, which we left at 11 a.m. with a motorboat to go to the Napo Cultural Center.

Boat anchorage in Coca

We were greeted with small welcome gifts, including a “dry bag”, a drinking bottle and food. The journey by motorboat across the Napo River to the Napo Cultural Center took two hours. Four guests, our guide Miguel, Diego and I got off here, the other guests continued to the Napo Wildlife Center where Diego and I were supposed to go the next day.

Boat that goes from Coca to the Napo Cultural Center

At the Napo Cultural Center – Living with the Añangu community

The Napo Cultural Center is owned and located in the territory of the indigenous community “Añangu”, which is kichwa and means “ant” in English. The Napo Cultural Center offers the opportunity to get an insight into the life of indigenous people and at the same time enjoy the Amazon rainforest.

At the Napo Cultural Center, we were welcomed with soft drinks and a small snack by María, the manager. After a short break we moved into our rooms, which impressed us because of their great facilities. Diego and I stayed in a standard twin room for one night.

Anangu Community at Napo Cultural Center

We had a break of almost three hours until we wanted to go on an excursion with our guide Miguel and used this to discover the area of ​​the Cultural Center on our own. Diego’s and my excursion was worth it after just a few meters, because we discovered various plants and small animals. The highlight was probably a purple plant maybe 15 meters from our room that was full of butterflies. Sometimes it’s the little animals that impress us all the more.

Butterflies and blossoms at the Napo Cultural Center

The observation tower of the Napo Cultural Center

At 4:00 pm we met up with Miguel, walked past the Añangu children’s school, and then continued along a path in the middle of the rainforest to the observation tower of the Napo Cultural Center. In the Amazon rainforest, breathable, thin and long clothing is generally recommended to protect against mosquito bites. Diego wore long loose trousers, a shirt and rubber boots that Miguel had given us. I, on the other hand, wore a long-sleeved sports top with sports leggings and also rubber boots. Diego and I had also sprayed ourselves with anti-mosquito spray so that we were really well protected from insect bites. In the rainforest we were surrounded by an incredible variety, by meter-tall plants and leaves that were larger than our heads, if not larger than ourselves, and by exotic animals. Again and again we looked around impressed and even discovered tapir tracks on our way.

On the way to the lookout tower we stopped to spot animals that crossed our path. The tower, which has its highest point on the top of a Ceiba tree and is about 35 meters high, gave us a great view.

Observation tower in the Napo Cultural Center

Miguel brought a telescope that could focus things sharply for miles, making the jungle experience even more incredible. We saw a sloth, toucans, squirrel monkeys, mantled howler monkeys, parrots and in the distance the Napo River we had come across.

Monkey eating in the trees

We also watch the sunset, which was impressive. Maybe it was so beautiful because you rarely see it in Quito, but maybe also because the sun was shining on the many trees and you realized that this patch of earth would soon sink into deep black. Miguel, Diego and I left the tower around 6:15pm and then had 45 minutes of relaxation time before our dinner.

Sunset in Yasuni

Delicious food and a little night hike at the Napo Cultural Center

At around 7 p.m., Diego and I walked to the restaurant of the Napo Cultural Center, where a three-course meal awaited us. The food was very tasty, Diego received meat dishes because he has no restrictions, I received vegan alternatives due to my diet. The Napo Cultural Center, as well as the Napo Wildlife Center, take all diets into account, whether vegan, vegetarian, intolerances or other food restrictions, the kitchen seems to be well prepared for every diet.

Dinner at Yasuni National Park
vegan dinner in Yasuni National Park

During dinner we discussed the schedule for the next day with our guide Miguel and then said goodbye to him. On the way to our room, Diego and I discovered a wide variety of nocturnal animals, including small animals such as beetles and moths. Shortly afterwards we went to sleep, exhausted from the day, but also grateful, happy and processing all our impressions, because our alarm clock would ring at 5.30 the next morning.

green beetle in Yasuni National Park

Diego’s and my experiences at the Napo Cultural Center in the middle of the Amazon rainforest have aroused your interest? Our team will be happy to advise you on tours in the Ecuadorian rainforest and offer you the opportunity to customize your trip. Discover with us one of the most biodiverse places on earth and get ready for unforgettable experiences!

Do you want to get to know Ecuador? We offer individual trips and group trips to Ecuador and Galapagos.

The post Yasuni National Park – Day 1: Arrival and First Adventures appeared first on Travel to Latin America.

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