Napo Cultural Center Ecuador Amazon Lodge Review

I'm not sure exactly what I was thinking when I signed up for an extension to my Galapagos trip to go to the Ecuadorian Amazon.   It sounded exotic and colorful and fascinating and so I just signed up....then the realization - massive heat, humidity, huge spiders, snakes, and other poisonous critters lived in the amazon...I was a bit nervous to take on this particular endeavor.

It was a bit of an adventure that is for sure!   I did this trip as part of a group trip with Aaron's Tours.  It was an exploratory add-on after Galapagos with a few days in Quito in between.

The trip started with a 6:00 am breakfast and a 7:00 am departure for the Quito airport.  It was a quick 30 minute flight to Coca.  

the mountains from the airplane window

Upon arrival we gathered our bags.    The restrooms at the tiny airport were maybe typical for a remote place. No running water and no electricity the day we were there.

We met the folks that were transferring us to the lodge - and oh what a transfer it is.   Our bags went into the back of a pick up truck and we went into an air-conditioned bus.   

street view of the city

Unfortunately, the bus broke down about 1/2 way to our destination, so we all got out and started walking with our camera gear and briefcases.   After a little while, the pick up truck came and took our gear and we walked the rest of the way.   It was an easy walk but warm in the sun.

the group walking down the street with all their gear

We got to a secured area with nice bathrooms, lounge chairs, cold water.   We had to sign some waivers and then we were given water bottles and a packed lunch.   We claimed our luggage to make sure it was all accounted for and tagged properly and the luggage left on a boat.

We then all loaded a power canoe.   It had one seat on each side and we all had our cameras / carry-ons with us.   We had to wear life vests on the power boat but it was covered from the sun and when it was motoring, the cool breeze felt very good.

me on the powered canoe in my life vest

We were on the power boat for about 2 hours and it started on the Payamino River and went to the Napo River.

view of the shoreline from the power boat
view of a building from the power canoe
view of the jungle from the power canoe
views of buildings from the power canoe

then the boat landed on a small dock area.   We all got out and were able to fill the water bottles and another really nice restroom break.   

From here, we got into small paddle canoes.   We watched as our luggage was taken on another canoe and we all boarded one canoe with our cameras and briefcases.

canoe loaded down with our luggage
another canoe with seats waiting for passengers

As we were paddled in the canoe down the river, the amount of wildlife was astonishing.    So many birds - and one of the participants with us, Grant, was an avid birder and fabulous spotter.  several types of monkeys, caiman, and oh yea....spiders.

a huge spider on the bark of a tree

And you know, it would have been one thing if the boat stayed in the middle of the channel with water all around and the spiders on the branches and leaves on the LAND....but many many many times, the boat would brush up against the bushes and leaves...and yup...don't you know, the spiders would hitch a ride in the canoe with us (or on one of us in the canoe).   Eck...it's making my heart pound just writing about it - as many of you may know, I am incredibly scared of spiders.  And I was not the only one.

The good thing is - we both kept our witts - even when a baby tarantula (yes, you read that right) hitched a ride on Chantelle's arm.   We did not tip the boat, no one went over board (well not because of spiders anyway) and none of the equipment went over either.  

I'm not exactly sure how we managed that one.   Enough about spiders...it's time to talk about the cool stuff...the stuff I came to the amazon for...

We saw a brown throated 2 toed sloth (it was the only sloth of the trip)

brown two toed tree sloth climbing high in the trees

Howler monkeys, spider monkeys, and a squirrel monkey baby, caymen and so many birds.  

monkey in the trees
monkey walking on a branch
caimin eyes
butterfly
monkey hanging from a tree
2 monkeys playing on a branch
back of a black and white bird
front of the black bird that has white on its wings
birds that resemble chickens
paddling thru the rivers while the sun is setting

And this was just the transport to get to the lodge.

Big Caimen in the lake in front of the lodge

The river opened up to a lake that was in front of the lodge.   The lodge looked straight out of a movie.   

Napo Lodge from the lake

It was fairly dark by the time we got there because we stopped so much on the way to take pictures.   The luggage was already in the room waiting for me.

The room was very comfortable with a twin bed and a double bed, a little desk, a cabinet and a bathroom with toilet, shower and sink.   It also had a hammock on the front deck which I did not get an opportunity to use.

One of the beds in my room
the twin bed in my room
the desk in the room
the bathroom

My room was right on the water (as were many of them) - it made for the most amazing sunrises.

beautiful sunrise over the lake in front of my room

And also just stunning views from my deck.

view from my deck
panoramic view from my deck

We got settled in and then met for dinner.   There are a lot of stairs to go to the main lounge / dining area from the rooms.   I didn't see a handicap accessible area - but I didn't ask, so there may be one.   If you need an accessible lodge, be sure to ask before booking this one.

There was a bar in the lounge and a sitting area as well as the dining room.   Meals were served buffet style and the food was incredibly good.   No one went hungry, that's for sure.

bar and dining area

The building that the bar / lounge / dining were in was a tower.   There was an elevator that you could take up the tower or you could make the many flights of stairs.  At  the different levels of the tower were seats to have a beautiful view all the way around.    

one of the levels of the tower
some of the stairs to walk the tower
another level of the tower
sculpture of a giant river otter

I actually didn't go up to the tower until the last night - so I didn't see it during the day.

view from the tower at night
the view from the tower at night

Each morning we took the canoes out.  Sometimes we would get out and hike and other times we would stay in the canoe.

The diversity in plant life and animal life here is really amazing.   It is incredibly clean and the food is really great - which is surprising with the remoteness of the camp.   

I am so glad that I went on this extension and got the opportunity to stay at Napo.   I highly recommend a visit there (even if you are afraid of spiders).

a panorama of the lodge

Below is my video review of the lodge - very similar to this written review but it has some additional information.

To view more pictures from this trip and others visit my travel gallery at

www.lisamroberti.photos


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