Napo Wildlife Centre (NWC)
In the heart of one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet is Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park. This part of the Amazon Basin is rich with extraordinary wildlife and a vibrant local culture. The park spans nearly 2.5 million acres of Amazonian rain forest and dwarfs more famous parks such as Serengeti and Maasai Mara in Africa. This is truly a gem to be cherished. And the Napo Wildlife Centre is the best base, within Yasuni National Park, from which to experience the Amazon.
NWC is on the northern margins of the Yasuni National Park on the banks of the Napo River. NWC is built on a small ridge overlooking the huge Añangu jungle lake and surrounded by beautiful, pristine rainforest. Location is everything!
A 45 min flight from Quito takes you to the jungle town of El Coca. A quick change from plane to launch and, depending on The River Napo’s water level, 2 to 2½ hours later you reach the park gate.
The launch is weather-proof so even if it’s raining, you and your gear stay dry. At the Yasuni Park Gate formalities are completed and guests transfer to smaller paddled boats (petrol engines are not allowed within Yasuni). About 2 hours later you reach the main lodge via the Añangu creek. This leg of your journey is a wonderful introduction: the water is as dark as mint tea and the boats are silent; the canopy is dense and shrouds both banks and birdlife, primates and reptiles thrive. There is also a chance of seeing some of the larger mammal species (jaguars, tapirs and peccaries) but it’s down to luck. In the water expect to see electric eels and stingrays, and if you’re luck giant otters.
The creek gradually widens and opens onto the lake, and over on the far shore you will see the lodge. The fish population in the lake is very healthy and includes the massive lung-fish, rays, bass and of course the legendary piranhas. Where there’s prey there’s predators: so expect to see black caiman, otters and many birds that fish; for this reason bathing in the lake is not permitted. This evening we’ll take you on a black-water paddle-boat ride which is an excellent opportunity to see caiman, nocturnal primates and the hundred-and-one other night-time eyes that stare back at you!
The Ecological Tower
NWC has a 40 m tower, built entirely by local people using materials sourced from surrounding areas. From the upper floors you’ll be amazed at the panoramic view of the canopy.
Parrot Clay Licks
There are many parrot species that are endemic to the Amazon. Perhaps the most eye-catching are the scarlet, blue-and-yellow and hyacinth macaw species. They eat certain leaf varieties that are high in acid which means they need an alkaline to neutralise their diet. Close to NWC are the famous clay licks where flocks of macaws descend twice a day: an unforgettable sight.
Kichwa Añangu Community
The Kichwa Añangu community will be your hosts during your stay. This is literally their ‘backyard’ and they will be your jungle guides; at several times during your stay there will be the opportunity to visit local homes and learn about traditional Amazonia ways.
There are a staggering 610 bird species in this immediate area! That compares to about 550 in the entire UK including some of our rarer migrants! This is a birder’s paradise.
The Canopy Tower
A short walk from NWC is the canopy tower. It has platforms at varies levels so that you can appreciate the various canopy ecosystems.
The Kichwa Añangu have cut a network of trails through the jungle allowing you to explore on foot (with a guide). The surface is cleared and well prepared making the trails accessible to all levels of walkers. Your chance to see the many insects, animals and vegetation the Amazon offers.
Explore with the experienced guides the black waters of the Añangucocha Lagoon; see the animals that make a life there, such as the black caiman and the piranhas. It’s a silent way to travel and allows you a stealthy approach to birds and wildlife.
The premium tour: 4 days; 3 nights
The extended tour: 5 days; 4 nights
The birding tour: 5 days; 4 nights
The Main Hall
The main hall is a central structure where visitors and staff meet, dine and share their experiences. It includes several comfortable social areas including a fully-stocked bar; a library; the restaurant and a 20 ft high observation tower that provides an incredible 360° view of the surrounding forest. There is also a short trail behind the house where nocturnal creatures can be observed.
NWC has sixteen luxury cabins all with:
• A king-sized bed and a second bed.
• Safety deposit box.
• Private bathrooms with hot water.
• A private balcony with views of the lake and the surroundings.
• 24/7 electricity provided by a solar panel system and silent power generators.
• Plenty of 120v outlets to recharge your gear.
• Mosquito nests and screened windows.
• Ceiling fans.
The Interpretative Centre
The nearby centre is organized by the women of the community who have created displays of local life and wildlife. You will be introduced to the local Kichwa culture and traditions with examples of traditional hunting methods, use of medicinal plants, cooking, dances, etc.