Napo Wildlife Center
The Napo Wildlife Center, surrounded by a 53,000-acre rainforest biosphere reserve within Yasuni National Park, offers the most luxurious accommodations available in Ecuador’s Amazon. The lodge is located on the banks of Anangucocha Lake and is a model of sustainable tourism in conjunction with the Anangu Quichua Community. Fly from Quito over the Andes Mountains to the Amazon Basin town of Coca for embarkation on a motorized canoe journey 50 miles (2 hours) down the Napo River. At the border of the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, continue the journey on a 2-hour canoe paddle along the Anangu Creek (motorized vessels are not allowed) or enjoy a guided hike 1.5 miles to the lodge.
Napo Wildlife Center Review
AdventureSmith Explorations’ Napo Wildlife Center review includes a detailed description and photo gallery. Our adventure travel experts have stayed at Napo Wildlife Center firsthand and can help compare the Napo Wildlife Center with other adventure lodging and Ecuador land tours.
Choose this award-winning lodge if you are seeking a remote atmosphere with comfortable amenities and different ways to experience one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, including a central observation tower with an elevator. Of note, the Napo Wildlife Center is owned and managed by its native Anangu people.
Common Areas at Napo Wildlife Center
The Napo Wildlife Center’s architecture features the traditional thatched-hut designs of the Quichua people, with al fresco spaces that enable comfort even during the heat of the day. The central structure of Napo Wildlife Center, the main hall, offers several comfortable social areas in an open air environment, spread across seven floors. The welcoming lobby provides an entrance point to multiple floors, uniquely serviced by a glass elevator. A fully-stocked “canoe” bar compliments the high-tech kitchen and large dining hall, all featuring rich wooden beams and floors, and warm lighting. Attached to the bar is a 120-foot viewing tower with four platforms that offer panoramic views. On a clear day, views can reach the snow capped Andes Mountains, making for a spectacular sunset.
The 24-hour library creates space for learning about the plethora of wildlife that may be seen. The library is furnished with a TV and video collection along with a wide variety of books from natural history, biology, conservation, literature as well as magazines and scientific reports. This space also plays host to briefings by naturalist guides. The lodge boutique provides the opportunity to shop for souvenirs, personal care items and useful accessories. In addition, handicrafts are available at the interpretation center’s gift shop located at the first clay lick.
The Interpretation Centre, Kury Muyo, invites guests to learn more about the Quichua people, including a daily ritualistic morning offering of Guayusa. A natural beverage consumed for many centuries, Guayusa gives adventurous travelers energy for the rest of the day. The Interpretation Center is a place visited not only by guests of Napo Wildlife Center but also Quichuas from other communities and students of the Anangu community, where visitors learn all about ancestral traditions and the Quichua Anangu Community’s way of life; flora and fauna of the region; surviving in the jungle; medicinal plants and more.
Sustainability at Napo Wildlife Center
Gravity-pressurized water is filtered through a reverse osmosis system, ensuring is it safe to use. Hybrid systems, solar panels, state-of-the-art batteries and noiseless diesel engines provide 24-hour electricity and plenty of 120-volt outlets in cabins. Because Napo Wildlife Center is owned and operated by the native Anangu people, funds from the ecolodge have a direct impact on conservation efforts for the protected 82-square-mile surrounding area. By inviting travelers into the Amazon, the community employs itself while preserving Quichua traditions. The community voluntarily decided to ban hunting, fishing and logging more than 15 years ago, allowing nature to thrive. Funds also go toward the basic, primary and secondary schools, food for the children, satellite internet and the local health clinic. By reinvesting funds into the local community, Napo Wildlife Center helps ensure stewards of the rainforest remain there.
Dining at Napo Wildlife Center
The kitchen chefs create a variety of traditional Ecuadorian dishes and international favorites to tantalize the senses. Vegan and vegetarian diets can be accommodated, as well as special orders for a fee. Delicious food may be enhanced by the bar’s offerings of freshly-mixed cocktails and other concoctions made from locally-sourced ingredients. Curious guests may choose to try a signature drink including the Napo Wild, Morphorita, Anangu Cocha and Black Caiman. The expansive dining hall, located at the center of the Napo Wildlife Center grounds, accommodates all guests in one seating with a casual atmosphere. Depending on lodge occupancy, breakfasts may be served buffet-style, while lunches and dinners are plated and served by a polished serving staff.
Activities at Napo Wildlife Center
A diverse network of 26 trails though a variety of forest types surrounds the lodge. On daily walks, discover fascinating plants, camouflaged insects, leaf cutter ants, lizards, tortoises, frogs and an array of birds on naturalist-guided or self-guided hikes. At sunrise, in the afternoon and each night after dinner guests can join a native Anangu guide/Yasuni Park Ranger on a hike among the surrounding rain forest. Hikes can vary in length from easy walks to challenging treks. The lodge staff is constantly aware of wildlife movements, reporting when and where wildlife can be found. Although rare, even the largest mammals like jaguar, puma, tapir, giant anteater and giant armadillo have been spotted in the region. The surrounding lake and creeks are open to exploration aboard a dugout canoe paddled by expert guides, looking for black caiman, giant otters and piranha.
The highlight of Napo Wildlife Center is a visit to Ecuador’s most accessible parrot clay licks. Comfortable blinds at each lick provide outstanding views and excellent photo opportunities. Activity kicks off at the main lick at 7:00am and at second blind in the afternoon. Species include: Mealy, blue-headed, yellow-crowned, orange-winged and orange-cheeked parrots, cobalt-winged, dusky-headed and white-eyed parakeets. In optimal weather at least 800 individuals can be spotted. Enjoy a full day excursion visiting both blinds with a box lunch, or a half day visiting the main lick and returning for lunch at the lodge. Over 562 species of birds have been recorded at the Napo Wildlife Center, more than 1/3 of all of Ecuador’s birds. Expert resident guides will assist in spotting the amazing diversity of colorful birds.
In addition to the observation tower beside the lodge, a 118-foot observation tower is a 20-minute walk away, offering unsurpassed opportunities to view the colorful inhabitants of the lake and surrounding rain forest canopy. This magnificent structure stands next to a giant Kapok tree and accommodates up to 15 guests. This is a great place to spot some of the 11 species of monkey found in the region. Other sightings include actively feeding flocks of birds toucans, macaws, colorful tanagers or even a three-toed sloth.
Anangu is not only home to the lodge, it is also the ancestral territory of a Quichua indigenous community. Anangu people are active participants in the conservation and management of the park as well as partners in tourism. Visits to Anangu homes and schools provide insight into how these people live and learn. Guests can join families on their daily activities harvesting bananas, coco and manioc, a starchy staple root for Amazonian people; or help prepare chicha, a traditional drink based on fermenting manioc. Anglers of all levels can try fishing in Amazon rivers with help from the local natives and their particular techniques. The Anangu will also enchant travelers with traditional music while teaching its accompanying dance moves; they also offer opportunities to experience sacred ceremonies.
Accommodations at Napo Wildlife Center
The lodge consists of 20 luxury room options, each over 450 square feet with lake views. Features include private bathrooms with 24-hour on-demand hot water and electricity; safety boxes; ceiling fans; mosquito nets; screened windows; always-accessible internet and laundry service (each for a fee); and private porches overlooking the forest and lake.