Amazon Wildlife Kayak Exploration, 5 Days
Activities: Searching for Wildlife, Lake and River Kayaking, Hiking, Bird Watching, Observation Tower, Indigenous Community Encounters
Amazon Wildlife Kayak Exploration, 5 Days
Deep in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon lies Calluacocha Lake, located in the heart of a 40,000 hectare nature and wildlife sanctuary home to more than 500 species of birds, 13 species of monkeys, 1,000 species of butterflies, and 1,500 species of trees, as well as caimans, jaguars, ocelots, otters, millions of insects, and more. We experience this amazing biodiversity firsthand by kayak, traversing the Amazon’s breathtaking waterways around Calluacocha and Pañacocha Lakes. Pañacocha Lake is home to the endangered freshwater pink dolphin and the equally rare Amazonian manatee. These reserves are located in a wildlife corridor that connects two important larger reserves: Yasuni National Park (982,000 hectares) to the south, and Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve (600,000 hectares) to the north.
Our home base for this extraordinary trip is a beautiful lakefront lodge that offers quality accommodations, personalized service, and gourmet meals. The lodge and nature reserves we visit in this wildlife journey are 100% Kichwa-owned ecotourism projects. When you explore these amazing reserves, you will contribute directly to improving these indigenous communities’ education, transportation, and health systems. This sustainable tourism operation promotes nature conservation, cultural identity preservation, re-integration of ancestral customs, and political autonomy despite the pressure of nearby oil companies.
- Amazon kayaking in two different pristine wildlife reserves
- Searching for the endangered Pink Freshwater Dolphin
- Actually seeing over 100 different bird species
- Stay in a quality Kichwa-owned eco-lodge and dine on gourmet meals
- Contribute to a 100% Kichwa-owned ecotourism project
- A 30 meter (100 foot) observation tower over the Amazon canopy
- Close encounters with the Black Caiman crocodile and other nocturnal life
- Hiking through pristine primary forest
- Cultural encounters with traditional Kichwa indigenous families
- Parrot Clay Lick with hundreds of parrots from 4 different species
Day 1: Transfer to Coca & Kayaking on the Challuayaku River
Day 2: Kayak in the Challuacocha Lake & Observation Tower
Day 3: Kayaking in Panacocha Lake
Day 4: Jungle exploration hike & Kichua Community Visit
Day 5: Parrot clay lick & return to Quito
DAY 1: TRANSFER TO COCA & KAYAKING ON THE CHALLUAYAKU RIVER
We depart in the morning from Quito for a 30-minute flight to the Amazon frontier town of Coca. From here, we board a motorized canoe down the Napo River, a major Amazon River tributary. When we arrive at the entrance to the reserve on the Challuayaku River, we are greeted by a Kichwa family who live in a traditional wood, bamboo, and thatch-roof house. After a safety briefing, we slip into our kayaks and paddle down the river for about 2 hours to reach our lodge on Challuacocha Lake. As we kayak, we keep an eye out for nesting golden orioles, toucans, blue morpho butterflies, and many other species of birds, as well as the occasional monkey family that gathers in the trees above. Once we reach the lake, we may be greeted by Black Caimans – a formerly endangered crocodile species – as well as herons, parrots, and more. We settle in our lodge for the evening and enjoy a delicious, gourmet meal prepared by our Kichwa hosts. In the evening, we explore a nearby trail to learn about howler monkeys, bats, and other mammals that make up the incredible nocturnal wildlife of the Amazon basin. (L, D)
DAY 2: KAYAK IN THE CHALLUACOCHA LAKE & OBSERVATION TOWER
After a buffet breakfast, we board our kayaks and paddle to explore Challuacocha Lake. From the water, we will be able to observe a great variety of bird species, especially in the early morning. We reach a narrow tributary surrounded by vegetation, which we follow for a couple of kilometers while seeking out tiger herons, blue cotingas, black-capped donacobius, and other exotic bird species. We reach a small trail head where we leave our kayaks and go for our first jungle hike. Our experienced guides help to reveal the secrets of the forest around us. Here, we look for wood creepers, toucans, cragids, and much more. Our trek will lead us back to our kayaks and back to our lodge in time for lunch. In the afternoon, we leave for another jungle hike that brings us to the observation tower. The tower is a 100-foot (30-meter) high platform built around a 500-year-old Ceiba tree. From this height, we can appreciate the canopy of the Amazon, and our guides will point out dozens of exotic bird species as the sun sets over the horizon. Afterwards, we return to our lodge for another gourmet dinner. In the evening, we venture out to the lake for a closer look at the Black Caiman, a crocodile unique to the Amazon which can grow as long as 14 feet. (B, L, D)
DAY 3: KAYAKING IN PAÑACOCHA LAKE
After an early breakfast, we board a motorized boat and travel on the Napo River to the entrance of the Pañayucu River, which we follow until we arrive at Pañacocha Lake. The Pañacocha Reserve features a network of waterways and lagoons encompassing 56,000 hectares, all of which is 100% Kichwa community owned and managed. We will search for wildlife by kayak along the main lake and other small lakes, such as Piguallicocha, where we are likely to find species of kingfisher, jacamar, trogons, potoos, hoatzin, anis, terns, hawks, and eagles. We will also keep an eye out for species of monkeys and tropical plants that populate this lake ecosystem. Our main objective for the day is to spot the pink freshwater dolphin, which is an endangered species that has become extinct from many other Amazon tributaries. These intelligent animals grow to be up to 9 feet in length and are considered sacred by the local tribes, as there are tales of dolphins that have rescued human lives. In the late afternoon, we return to spend the evening at our jungle lodge. (B, L, D)
DAY 4: JUNGLE EXPLORATION HIKE & KICHWA COMMUNITY VISIT
After breakfast, we paddle to reach the Chorongo (Woolly Monkey) trail head and begin a hike to pristine primary forest within the Chuallacocha Reserve. We walk through dense jungle and cross muddy swamps on log bridges. Along the way, our guides will help us spot bromeliads, heliconias, orchids, and other tropical flowers and trees. We will also learn about medicinal plants, taste edible fruits and insects, and discover how to weave traditional palm-fiber bags. If we choose, we can get our bodies painted with achiote, a native plant. As for wildlife, we are likely to see cuckoos, tinamous, snakes, and much more. If we walk quietly and stay alert, it is also possible to see giant anteaters (with great luck), black-mantled tamarin monkeys, poison-dart frogs, and countless other surprises that the forest holds in store. In the afternoon, we visit a Kichwa indigenous community to discover more about their way of life. We tour the local school, health center, and traditional thatch-roof homes while learning about Kichwa medicinal plants, food preparation, and other ways in which they use the forest in their daily lives. It is also rewarding to see how your investment in this trip is making a positive impact on their way of life. (B, L, D)
DAY 5: PARROT CLAY LICK & RETURN TO QUITO
After an early breakfast, we board our motorized canoe to navigate the Napo River back to Coca. Weather and time permitting, we may stop on our way back to visit the Parrot Clay Lick within Yasuni National Park. The Clay Lick is an amazing gathering place of hundreds of parrots (4 different species) that use the clay to neutralize the toxins in many of the fruits and plants they eat. From here, we continue on to Coca and head to the airport for our afternoon flight back to Quito. (B)
Private road and river transportation, professional bilingual naturalist guide, local Kichwa indigenous guide, hard-shell or inflatable kayaks, life vests and other safety equipment, dry bags, deluxe jungle lodge accommodations, and all meals as described (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner).
Airfare between Quito-Coca-Quito; bar service at jungle lodge; and guide tips.
This itinerary is subject to change due to weather conditions and/or river water levels.
TRAVEL TIME: 30-minute flight and 3-hour boat transfer each way (Quito-Coca-Quito)
SEASON: All year
ALTITUDE: 700 to 900 feet (220 to 300 meters)
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE: Day 70-90ºF / 18-30ºC, Night 60-78ºF / 14-20ºC
SUGGESTED ITEMS TO PACK: Waterproof binoculars, quick dry clothing, hat, and mosquito repellent.