Ecuador Attractions: Amazon
Napo Wildlife Center
Artesania Workshop at the Napo Wildlife Center
The Lowland Quichua culture of the residents of the Centro Quichua Añangu community is a vital part of the Napo Wildlife Center. As part of the partnership with the community (which owns 49% of the lodge), the lodge built two large buildings where the entrance stream meets the Napo; River (at the Bocana) for community members to use as a workshop.
The handicrafts made by community members – primarily ceramics, woven bags of natural fibers, seed based jewelry and balsa wood carvings – are sold at the Bocana site and also at the lodge, where a portion of the bar has been set aside to display the goods. The lodge does not take any commission for this, and all of the money goes directly to the community member who made the piece that was sold. The workshop at the Bocana also has a museum area that is being constructed to represent a typical local house in the early 1900s – a glimpse into Lowland Quichua life 100 years ago.
Although the Napo Wildlife Center is the premier wildlife location in the Ecuadorian Amazon, they still value and celebrate their greatest asset – the Añangu community that had the vision to protect this wonderful area for decades and make their conservation project possible.
Once thought to have been hunted to extinction in Ecuador, Giant Otters thrive in the lake and streams surrounding the Napo Wildlife Center. These seven-foot-long (two-meter long) otters are unique to tropical rivers of South America and can be individually identified by their throat patches.
Parrot clay licks
The two most accessible parrot clay licks in Ecuador are part of the Napo Wildlife Center Reserve. Napo Wildlife has constructed viewing blinds at each of these clay licks so that visitors can comfortably watch as hundreds of parrots and parakeets come to eat the clay that aids in the digestion of their diet of unripe seeds and fruits. Parrots visit the clay licks at different times of day, so it is easy to visit both clay licks in a single outing.
The Canopy Tower at the Napo Wildlife Center
The 120-ft. (36m) high canopy tower opened to guests in November 2004 is a great way to experience the life above the forest floor. This is the second tower at the Napo Wildlife Center (the first is attached to the dining hall and allows great views of the lake). The canopy tower is located about 20 minutes from the lodge deep within the terra firme forest.
As you ascend the 12-story tower, you pass through different levels of the forest and emerge on top of a huge Ceiba tree. Here you cross onto a wooden platform that is actually built into the crown of the tree and experience the view formerly reserved only for the birds and monkeys.
The metal tower itself was constructed to the highest standards, galvanized, and carefully inspected by engineers. Safety is the priority, but so is ecological sensitivity. Most of the canopy towers in Ecuador encircle the tree with a scaffolding of wood. In addition to the obvious issues with using wood in the tropics, the weight of the scaffolding also compresses the roots of the tree that is encircled. Napo WC chose to do things differently, dug down below the roots of this Ceiba tree and put the cement base of the tower below the level of the tree roots – the result is that the tree is sustaining no damage from this tower. The platform in the top of the tree was constructed by tree platform specialists brought from Tropical Nature’s Peruvian partner organization Peru Verde and incorporates bumpers to make sure that the platform does not scar the tree.
Flocks of colorful tanagers pass right through the canopy of the tree, Blue-and-yellow Macaws fly past, in nearby trees Spider and Howler monkeys search for fruit, two species of large toucans call in the early mornings and afternoons, and the life of the forest canopy opens before you (lucky guests have even seen both Harpy Eagles and Crested Eagles in a single morning!). Animals that are virtually impossible to see from the forest floor far below are suddenly right beside you, oblivious to your presence. The canopy tower opens a whole new world to guests of the Napo Wildlife Center.
Lodges in the Amazon
- Sacha Lodge
- Napo Wildlife Center
- La Selva
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