It’s been almost 500 years have passed since the discovery of this magnificent river system that flows through the world’s largest primeval forest, containing 10% of all existing trees, 70% of all pharmaceutical compounds, and native Indians that live symbiotically with their unique ecosystem. This is the habitat of wildlife that is sure to be watching you – or vice versa – if you are lucky: freshwater dolphins, 500 species of birds, half a dozen species of monkeys, caimans, tapirs, 2500 species of butterflies.
Today, you can be a temporary guest in this magical wonderland for young and old. Our Amazon Manatee Explorer, designed for adventure, yet featuring the comforts and advantages of modern technology – is the result of over 20 years of experience in running expeditions others think are extinct. Come aboard for an experience of a lifetime!
The new Manatee Amazon Explorer riverboat has been specially built for cruises in the Ecuadorian rainforest on the Rio Napo. You will visit Monkey Island, Yasuni National Park and Biosphere Reserve, walk jungle trails and explore virgin rain forest. The Manatee Amazon Explorer is 90 feet long (27 m) 24 feet wide (7 m) and accommodates 30 lucky guests in comfortable cabins with private bathrooms and running hot water, individual air conditioning, on board laundry service, large dining room, inviting bar and lounge area, panoramic terrace, delicious cuisine and the finest multilingual naturalist guides. Plus the highest safety standards, personable service and efficiency.
Depart from Quito in the morning (8:30 am), flight to Francisco de Orellana (Coca), arriving to Coca at around 09:00. Transfer to the Napo River port then the motorized canoe ride downstream will be approximately two hours, during the trip we will provide of a box lunch and important information about the region. Once on board the Manatee Amazon Explorer will start navigating down the Napo River for the whole afternoon. At night our first live experience with the Ecuadorian Amazon basin will begin (night walk or canoe ride will depend on the river level, climatic conditions, wildlife behavior and accessibility to a location)
On the second day of our cruise, we will explore one of the fantastic tributaries of the Napo River that comes from the core of the Yasuní National Park. At this river, we will navigate upstream in search of the evasive Giant River Otter, the mysterious Jaguar and the timid Spider Monkey. After our return from the excursion, the manatee will continue its navigation to arrive near the international boundary with Peru. At night, there will be an excursion into the Yasuní N.P. to look for large rodents like Capybaras and reptiles of the night like Caimans (South American alligators). We may stay camping overnight to enjoy the jungle at night.
Manatee will navigate into the Aguarico River, the largest tributary of the Napo River to get through the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, one of the highlights of our exploration. On our way to Cuyabeno, we will visit a Peruvian town and meet local people.
A full day visit to the Indian Community will give as an idea of how indigenous people live in the forest. At the community, a local guide accompanied by our expedition leaders will enlighten you with the use of plants for medicinal use and other purposes. After a walk, you will stop at a local house where these true forest dwellers will bring into the light their way of life and traditions. This will be an opportunity to buy handicrafts made by the local people. There will be plenty of traditional food and hospitality.
This remote area is accessible to you only through the Lagarto (Alligator) River, a black water river surrounded by freshwater mangroves (Coussapoa trinervia), Macrolobium trees, and Palm trees adapted to flooding conditions. Lagartococha (Alligator Lake) is not one but a system of lakes situated along the Ecuadorian-Peruvian boundary. This black water system is the home of the legendary Pink River Dolphins, River Turtles, Black Caimans and the enigmatic Amazon Manatee. Moreover, if we look at the vegetation on the shores, we may well see Red Howler Monkeys, Three-toed Sloth, the leaf-eating bird locally known as Stinky Turkey (Hoatzin) and other wildlife. The canoe trip upstream will reveal the overwhelming beauty of this aquatic region. An overnight in the forest could be arranged for this day.
From this day, we will start our return to the point where we boarded the Manatee Amazon Explorer for the first time. There will be navigation throughout the entire day to relax and observe the Napo River banks, the forest and perhaps some wildlife. Late in the afternoon, after a relaxed morning, we will explore the Napo River banks and tropical river islands in quest of birds like the ornamented Umbrella Bird, the colorful Blue-Gray Tanagers, Kingbirds, Social Flycatchers and many more.
We will continue our navigation upstream to arrive at the mouth of the Pañayacu (Piranha River). After arrival, there will be a canoe trip through the Piranha River to see the sights of this interesting protected forest. There is a possibility to observe Pink River Dolphins, the agile Common Squirrel Monkeys and much more. The Piranha Lake area, contrary to Lagartococha, is an ecosystem flooded by white waters. The rivers and lakes of that place are perfect habitat for the infamous Piranha, the Water Monkey Fish (Arawana) and White Caimans. At night, there will be an optional excursion to explore the forest and river banks.
The Manatee Amazon Explore will arrive to the point were we started our adventure. Early morning, we will visit the most accessible Parrot and Parakeet clay licks in Ecuador. There are blinds or hides to watch and enjoy this nature show so close! It is difficult to imagine hundreds, sometimes thousands of parrots and parakeets coming all together at once into the clay licks. This area is also located inside of the Yasuní N.P. Early afternoon visit the CICAME Archeological Museum that preserves pottery from the Omagua Culture, one of the first forest pre-Columbian residents of the Napo River basin. After the visit continue to the city of Coca to take the flight back to Quito.