We flew into Coca on the edge of the Amazon, and got on a large, motorized, covered canoe for a scenic two-hour trip down the Napo River, packed lunch provided. We passed barges with machinery for the oil wells, a sobering view. The open sided, single seat boat was great as we zipped up the huge river, swerving often to avoid trees and debris in the stormy waters! The clouds threatened and just as the plastic sides were rolled down, in came the rain, soaking the driver and the front row of seats, as one of the boatmen mopped the floor! Tony put on his rain gear and all we could see was his nose sticking out as he remained steadfastly in his front seat. Welcome to the rainforest! And just as quickly, it was over, and we were in steamy heat.
Upon arriving at the entrance to the Napo Wildlife Centre Reserve, we changed to a smaller, dugout canoe for the four of us and a guide and co-paddler. They paddled us up the blackwater creek to the lake and lodge , the tributary getting smaller and smaller till we were almost touching the sides, as we looked for different birds and monkeys. Two hours later, we oohed and aahed as the creek opened out to a beautiful lake, with an extraordinary lodge coming into view.
The Napo Wildlife Centre is regarded as one of the best lodges in the Amazon. It is located on the edge of the Yasuni National Park and the lodge itself supports a 212 sq km private reserve. It is run in conjunction with the local community of Anangu and proceeds go to the protection of the area and the local way of life. The lodge offers a 50ft viewing tower from which you can see the Andes on a clear day. There is also another canopy tower, located about 20 minutes from the lodge deep within the forest.
We were shown to the two overwater cabanas at the far end of the group, and were stunned by our rooms with glass bottomed lounge area, four poster bed, and outside a private jacuzzi overlooking the forest, all ready with bubbles going!