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Birdwatching at the Napo Wildlife Center

Listed under Birdwatching in Ecuador.

  • Photo of Birdwatching at the Napo Wildlife Center
  • Photo of Birdwatching at the Napo Wildlife Center
  • Photo of Birdwatching at the Napo Wildlife Center
  • Photo of Birdwatching at the Napo Wildlife Center
  • Photo of Birdwatching at the Napo Wildlife Center
  • Photo of Birdwatching at the Napo Wildlife Center
  • Photo of Birdwatching at the Napo Wildlife Center
  • Photo of Birdwatching at the Napo Wildlife Center
Photo of Birdwatching at the Napo Wildlife Center
Photo by Bonnie Pelnar
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Napo Wildlife Center is located in the tropical rainforest of Ecuador's Amazon. The lodge sits on Añangu Lake inside Yasuní National Park, and is run by local Quechua Indians who make sure that visitors have an outstanding wildlife and cultural experience while causing as little impact to the environment as possible. The town of Coca is just a 30 minute flight from Quito over the Andes Mountains. In Coca we were greeted to board a speedboat to criss-cross the the Napo River for two hours. The last two miles is via traditional dug-out canoe through a tropical rainforest. There are no roads to the resort.

There are only 11 individual large cabanas, each is private with a king and twin size bed and has its own bathroom. The water is hot (although not drinkable) and the electricity is 110 24 hours. Meals are served in the dining room three times a day and drinks are available at the bar. The food was very good.

In the morning we were up at 4:30 a.m. for a 5:30 canoe departure to head back to the Napo River to arrive at the clay lick by 7:00 a.m.

Saladero de Loros clay lick is visited daily by hundreds of birds. Mealy Parrots, Yellow-crowned Parrots, Orange-winged Parrots, Blue-headed Parrots, Dusky-headed Parakeets, and White-eyed and Cobalt-winged parakeets have been seen here. Clay licks play an important part in the biology of these birds. Both parrots and macaws survive by eating nuts from local trees. Some trees have developed defenses by having evolved a toxin that is in the nut to protect the fruit from being eaten before it is ripe. Animals that eat the nuts from this fruit will become sick. Certain minerals in the clay are able to neutralize the toxins in these nuts, so parrots and macaws seek out deposits of this very special clay. Once this mineral is identified, birds will come from many miles around to eat the clay. The noise of this was amazing. The birds stayed for about 40 minutes before they disappeared in a flock.

The next clay lick we visited was Saladero de Pericos located a little deeper in the rainforest. This area would become active at around 11:00 a.m. and attracted other species of birds including the Cobalt-winged Parakeet, Scarlet Macaw, Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlet, Red-and-green Macaw, and Orange-cheeked Parrot.

On the way back we stopped by the village to learn about some local history and traditions and see a local artist and Shaman Dominic who performed a ritual to cleans several of the people in our group. We then enjoyed a traditional lunch served to us by the local villagers.

Across the lake deep within the Terra Firme Forest the lodge has constructed a canopy tower which rises 12 stories to the top of a huge Cebia tree to a wooden viewing platform. From here you can see many miles to the surrounding rainforest. Colorful tanagers, Macaws, Spider Monkeys, Howler Monkeys and Tucans can be viewed from the platform. There are many trails and creeks around in the area, but plenty of life can be seen from the canopy tower right at the lodge. The last night of our stay we discovered how many Black Caymans there were in the lake. There were red eyes peering at us from all around.

Our guide Andres, who was from Colombia, helped to make the trip very informative and enjoyable. By the end of the trip I knew I would be back.

Written by  Bonnie Pelnar.

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