Spend five exotic days kayaking and hiking in Ecuador's largest national park, the Yasuni. This one-of-a-kind Ecuador tour deep into the bio-diverse world of the Amazon is made all the more memorable by your hosts, the Huaorani people, who until 1950 were unknown to the world. Here at the mighty river's headwaters, they have lived for millennia as hunters and gatherers, and today remain mostly isolated from the contemporary world. This moderate to challenging trip requires no previous kayaking experience. The rivers born on the eastern slopes of the Ecuador Andes travel down to the lowland Amazon, the world's largest rainforest, and home to dozens of indigenous cultures. A population of 1,200 Huaorani live in the region of the Napo, a whitewater tributary of the Ecuador Amazon, in and around Yasuni, the country's largest National Park, considered the world's most bio-diverse forest. The Huaorani had no contact with the outside world until the late 1950s, and some of their clans avoid it still. Within the Huaorani Ethnic Reserve that is surrounded on three sides by the park, the people maintain a largely traditional lifestyle as hunters and gatherers, sharing the forest with wild animals and protected from their fiercest enemy, progress. This kayak expedition is about experiencing paradise through the eyes of the indigenous people who dwell here.
On arriving at the Quito, Ecuador, international airport, you will be transferred to your hotel. If time allows, optional tours of Quito's museums and other popular sights may be arranged.
You will be transported from your Quito hotel to the airport for your thirty-minute flight to the Amazon frontier town of Coca. From here you will be taken overland for two hours to the banks of the Shiripuno River, where kayaks and a bi-lingual Huaorani guide will be waiting. After a safety briefing, your Amazon kayaking adventure gets underway. Travelling along the river, you will learn about rainforest flora and fauna before arriving at your first campsite destination near the Noneno community. Besides enjoying a gourmet meal prepared by your guides, you will have the opportunity to visit with a Huaorani family to learn about the lifestyle and beliefs of this ancient culture from their stories and chants. (L,D)
After breakfast and before heading out on a full day of kayaking, you'll stop for the first of your Amazon tours: a visit to the Noneno community. This is a settlement of thatched-roof dwellings where you will learn more about Huaorani rainforest traditions, including the exchange of gifts and how to use a Huaorani blow gun and spear. The rest of today's Amazon travel paddles through a wildlife-rich area of colorful birds, monkey species and mammals surrounded by lush vegetation, where you'll see first-hand how adept the Huaorani are at surviving in a rainforest environment. Dinner will be prepared at the evening's campsite. (B,L,D)
After breakfast, you'll continue paddling through another picturesque segment of the river, watching for wildlife and stopping to gaze at a giant Ceibo tree. In the afternoon you will reach your accommodations for the next two days: the comfortable, but basic Shiripuno Lodge. The complex has a wooden deck and social area with hammocks for relaxing. In the early evening you'll finish your Amazon tours for the day by setting out to explore the rainforest on foot in search of nocturnal wildlife such as frogs, snakes, spiders, owls, rodents and bats with both naturalist and Huaorani guides. (B,L,D)
For a change of pace, today you'll enjoy an easy four-hour Amazon rainforest hike, exploring a varzea (flooded) forest and the forest floor where Parkia, Ficus, and Ceiba trees are common. After an early breakfast, you'll reach the nearby trailhead by canoe and hike through the forest up a 1,000-ft hill to get a look at the multicolored canopy from above. This is an area where woolly monkeys, white-lipped peccaries and jaguar tracks are easy to spot. You'll find out more about the Huaorani's practical, medicinal and spiritual relationship with the rainforest from your guides, returning to the lodge for lunch, and later explore some small lakes in canoes. This fascinating flooded forest is a popular fishing spot for the local population and a memorable excursion for guests on Amazon tours because it is good place to view shore birds, including the bizarre-looking hoatzin, and caimans lurking in the vegetation. You'll also explore some giant ant colonies and learn about the symbiotic relationship among insects, animals and plants. Back at the lodge you'll watch the Huaorani work with chambira, a palm tree fiber used for a variety of purposes. At the end of the day, there will be time to relax in a hammock before dinner. (B,L,D)
This morning you'll get an early start for your return journey to Coca by motorized canoe, making short stops along the way to view wildlife. Likely sights along this route are different monkey species including the red howler monkey, the spider monkey and the woolly monkey. If you encounter Huaorani families cooking or making handicrafts, you'll have an opportunity to observe their activities and perhaps share some fresh yucca, a rainforest staple, with them. By afternoon your Amazon tours come to an end when you reach the bridge where the vehicle will be waiting to return you to Coca for one last relaxing night in the sultry Ecuador Amazon at a comfortable hotel. (B,L,D)
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the Coca airport for your flight back to Quito. (B)
Southern Explorations' services end with your transfer to Quito's international airport for your departure home. Galapagos adventures, trip extensions to other regions or extra days in Quito can also be arranged if you have more time to explore Ecuador. (B)
Perfect for the adventure traveler who wants to experience it all, this comprehensive Ecuador tour offers many opportunities to explore the country's history, culture, wildlife and stunning landsc...select
On this exhilarating Ecuador tour, explore the expansive Cotopaxi National Park, camping in the shadow of Cotopaxi, the world's highest active volcano. Spend two days hiking, bicycling and seeing ...select