By Eilene Lyon
As much as we were impressed with our time in the Galapagos, I believe the real highlight of our 2007 trip to Ecuador was our time in the Amazon basin, along the Napo River.
The Sacha eco-lodge arranged our transportation from Quito by plane, van and motorized canoe. Smaller boats carried us from the main river to a blackwater lagoon.
We had our own thatch-roofed cabin, very comfortable accommodations. Food was served in the large central lodge and was delicious and filling.
There was a large deck out on the lagoon where you could sun, fish, or go swimming with the piranhas and caimans.
C’mon, you’re not afraid of these little guys, now, are you?
Seriously, we did swim in the lagoon and nothing took even a little, teeny nibble. I guess people don’t taste like chicken!
The lodge has their own butterfly breeding facility.
We had a professional guide who spoke excellent English, as well as a native guide, Pedro (below).
Pedro got a little put out when, after he had already moved on ahead, I spotted this “jungleman” lizard next to the trail. “Hey, come back! Check out this guy. What’s this?”
He isn’t small, either. Jungleman probably is at least a foot, nose to tail.
So Pedro put some extra effort into showing us some cool wildlife, including this pair of crested owls. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the proper equipment to get a good, clear picture.
And a tiny, poison tree frog.
The lodge also provides a couple of ways to explore the canopy. One is this large elevated bridge.
The other was a tower built around a large tree. Warning! Skip these photos if you get vertigo!
From the canopy bridge, we got good looks at two varieties of toucan. Here, a pair of white-throated toucans.
And this aracari that I can’t find a name for. (The closest match appears to be the chestnut-eared.)
On two mornings, we headed out to the river very early and went downstream to the clay licks. Parrots, macaws and parakeets flock to these areas to get vital minerals, and possibly to counter the toxins in some of the foods they eat. Blinds have been constructed so the tourists can get a good look without disturbing the birds, which arrive in the hundreds, if not thousands.
One evening we took a tour about dusk around the lagoon. Especially cool were the fishing bats that would swoop low over the water, flying right by our canoe.
If you go to Ecuador, I have to say absolutely do not miss the Amazon region. And I can highly recommend the Sacha Lodge.