Birding Northern Ecuador
|Coca, Rio Napo and Sacha Lodge
Altitude 983 feet
|11 Feb 09 - Sacha Lodge, Rio Napo, EC
A lazy day. Breakfast at 8 AM. Bus to Quito Airport's domestic terminal (mostly unchanged from our 2002 trip to the Galapagos) for TAME Flight #213 to Coca. The town's actual name is Puerto Francisco de Orellana, but as José noted, it's far too grand a name for a seedy little oil town. It's at the confluence of Rio Coca and Rio Napo; hence, Coca. The flight was uneventful. Heavy clouds obscured the ground most of the way. Nicely organized, with escorts to the departure gate and at the arrival gate.
After a very basic lunch on arrival at Sacha Lodge's Coca office, we met our guide, Oscar Tapuy, and boarded a boat for the 2.25 hour ride downstream to the Sacha Lodge landing. It rained the whole way, varying only from drizzle (at the start) to drenching (at the landing). The boat doubles as a river shuttle for Sacha employees, and we dropped some off part way downstream. Despite the rain, we saw some good birds along the Rio Napo: Osprey, Great Egret, Black and Yellow-headed Caracara and Ringed Kingfisher. It's odd to say, but it was cold out on the river, boating into the teeth of a head wind with rain kiting under the boat's canopy. Not what you'd expect in the equatorial tropics.
At the landing, we waited in a covered building for the rain to let up a bit, watching Striped Cuckoos, and Smooth-billed Anis. Then we walked - mostly along a boardwalk - about .75 miles to a dock, boarded paddle-powered pirogues to cross a "blackwater" pond past a small flock of Hoatzin to Sacha Lodge, arriving at twilight.
As with San Isidro, the cabins are located a fair distance from the lodge building. And on a knoll, the one of the highest bits of land around.
Supper was a barbeque out on the end of the dock; nice food, and we met Ernesto, our "native guide" who comes from the same village as José.
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