Napo Wildlife Centre Eco Lodge (Ecuador)

Napo Wildlife Center Eco Reserve offers 4 and 5 day packages. You are based at the lodge and go out for your choice of excursions each day on rain forest trails or in quiet dugout canoes on lakes, to view the incredible wildlife in Yasuni National Park. Experienced bi-lingual naturalists and local guides accompany you to teach you of the intricacies of this amazing ecosystem. You stay in comfortable private cabins and enjoy a small group atmosphere.

Napo is also a fine example of community-based ecotourism. Located within the unique ancestral territory of the Añangu Quichua Community, and part of the Yasuni National Park, it actively protects 82 square miles of pristine rainforest based on a true conservation partnership with the local community.

A little history.

In the early 1990s, the Añangu community had a vision: to build their own lodge to provide jobs for themselves and to protect their land. They wanted high quality facilities to provide an intimate, exclusive and personalized rain forest experience for a small number of guests. They began building a few structures, however, they ran out of money and with no infrastructure, could not finish. The buildings remained incomplete until 2000 when they received help from several local and international contacts and could finish the project.

Thanks to the Añangu Community initiative, their manpower, support by the best technical assistance, and financial aid from donations in partnership with the independent Ecuadorian nonprofit conservation organization, EcoEcuador, Napo Wildlife Center was born in 2003. In June of 2007 the entire lodge was transferred to the community, and currently, Napo Wildlife Center is 100% community owned and administrated.


Uniquely located within Yasuni National Park, Napo Wildlife Center is a private nature reserve of 82 square miles inside the northern portion of the national park. This region is a UNESCO biosphere reserve and among the most biologically diverse areas on Earth. Napo is the only lodge on the south bank of the Napo River, home to 30% more bird and animal species than the north bank.  It has 2 parrot clay licks, eleven primate species, giant otters, and 568 species of birds, one of the finest wildlife destinations in Amazonian Ecuador.

By visiting Napo, you not only have a fantastic experience, but also you help to protect both the community’s reserve and Yasuni National Park. At the same time you are helping to support the local people.

Situated right on Anangucocha Lake, the lodge itself is beautiful and comfortable. All buildings’ are designed in the local style. There are only 10 cabanas to maintain an intimite feel, a large dining hall, library and well-stocked bar. Attached to the bar is a 50-foot viewing tower from where you can see the Andes on a clear day! Nearby blinds built at parrot clay licks bring the action to you. Deep in the forest is another viewing tower, 120 feet high up in the forest canopy where you experience life above the forest floor.

During the day you’ll take excursions to see monkeys, parrots, and giant otters on forest trails and on the lake, led by a bi-lingual guide and a local guide. At the end of the day, you enjoy the comfort of a hot shower, tasty dinner, and a cold beer.


Departures: 4 to 8 Days, daily (except Sunday) all year

2016 Rates, per person 

(INCLUDES round-trip airfare Quito/Coca)

ProgramStandard Cabin, Double/TripleStandard Cabin, SingleSuite, Double/TripleSuite, Single
4 Days, 3 Nights$1,289$1,934$1,489$2,234
5 Days, 4 Nights$1,536$2,304$1,799$2,699
6 Days, 5 Nights$1,788$2,682$2,087$3,131
7 Days, 6 Nights$2,029$3,044$2,386$3,579
8 Days, 7 Nights$2,259$3,389$2,662$3,993

Children’s Discount: under 12, 30% off lodge, 30% internal airfare. Under age 5, lodge is free, 30% air

Included in the lodge rate: round-trip airfare Quito/Coca/Quito with assistance from the airport in Quito; accommodations, all meals, purified drinking water, river transport from/to Coca, daily excursions with local guide and bi-lingual naturalist guide, visit and entry into the parrot-macaw clay licks, visit to Añangu Kichwa community, entry fee for Yasuní National Park; use of rain poncho & rubber boots

Not included: soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are not included, but are available at the lodge; gratuities to guides and staff; laundry, personal items

With no set itineraries at Napo Wildlife Eco Lodge, you spend each day viewing wildlife and experiencing and learning about the complex natural beauty of the Amazon rainforest via guided walks and canoe rides, accompanied by bi-lingual expert naturalist guides. Choose from a list of excursions best suited for your interests and activity level. Of course there’s plenty of time to relax and enjoy the lodge as you’re experiencing the essence of the rain forest.

To get to Napo Wildlife Center, you fly by jet from Quito to the town of Coca (officially known as Francisco de Orellana) on the Napo River. After a short drive from the airport to the dock, you board a large, motorized, covered canoe for a scenic two-hour trip down the Napo River. Upon arriving at the entrance to the NWC Reserve, you switch to smaller, dugout canoes and are paddled up the blackwater creek to the lake and lodge (no motorized transport is allowed on the creek or lake so that wildlife isn’t disturbed).

Paddling up the stream is a great introduction to this unique area, and can take anywhere from one to three hours. You might see giant otters, potoos, kingfishers, Hoatzins, jacamars, hawks, and monkeys. You have lunch en route and arrive at the lodge by late afternoon.


Parrot and Macaw Clay Licks.

The two licks at Napo are the most accessible parrot and macaw clay licks in Ecuador. Blinds have been built for guests to view them so as to keep a low profile. Clay licks form an important part of the biology of parrots and macaws. Both parrots and macaws live by eating nuts from a variety of trees. Some of these trees have a toxin in the nut to protect it against having their nuts eaten by animals and birds. Any animal that eats the nut will then become sick.Parrots and macaws have evolved with these trees, and have developed their own response to the toxins in the nuts. The response lies in the clay. Certain minerals in the clay neutralize the toxins in these nuts, so parrots and macaws seek out deposits of this very special clay. Once a deposit is identified, parrots and macaws will come many miles to eat the clay. This allows them to eat more nuts, and in turn allows them to survive periods when the non-toxic nuts are not available. Napo has discovered almost a dozen exposed areas of this clay within the reserve.

Saladero de Loros Lick:

The blind nearest Napo (Saladero de Loros) is typically visited by hundreds of individuals of Mealy Parrot, Yellow-crowned Parrot, Orange-winged Parrot, Blue-headed Parrot, Dusky-headed Parakeet, and occasional White-eyed and Cobalt-winged parakeets. The blind at this site is huge, with plenty of space to hold 30 guests at a time, and even includes a basic bathroom. Access is a simple 50 meter walk along an improved path.

Saladero de Pericos Lick:

The blind in the forest (Saladero de Pericos) is typically visited by a thousand or more Cobalt-winged Parakeets. The noise is incredible! From late October through early April, hundreds of Orange-cheeked Parrots are also found in the mix, as are rarities such as the Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlet and occasional Scarlet and Red-and-Green macaws. It is almost certain that other small parakeets visit this clay lick, and new species for the region and Ecuador are just waiting to be discovered. Access to this clay lick involves a 700 meter hike on an improved path with stairs and boardwalks where necessary. The blind itself will hold up to 20 guests and affords fantastic views. Birdwatchers will note that this is where one can find the famous “Manakin Trail” with 6 species of manakins.

Canopy Tower

The 120-ft. (36m) high canopy tower 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. The platform in the top of the tree was constructed by tree platform specialists brought from Peru and incorporates bumpers to make sure that the platform does not scar the tree. From here you’ll see flocks of colorful tanagers pass right through the canopy of the tree, Blue-and-yellow Macaws fly past, and 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.


568 species of birds have actually been seen in the Napo Wildlife Center Reserve area. Some obvious highlights include the world’s largest and most reliable population of Zigzag Herons, frequent sightings of Agami Herons, virtually guaranteed sightings of all five kingfishers found in the Amazon, and a great population of mixed-species understory flocks and ant-swarm specialists. There are 51 species of antbirds here. The Canopy Tower has produced some amazing sightings including Black-faced Hawk, Crested Eagle, and Harpy Eagle in addition to the cotingas and canopy tanager flocks that pass right through the tree.


Many mammals have been found at the Napo Wildlife Center.  Upwards of six species of monkeys have been seen in a single afternoon from the Dining Hall tower, so you have a very good chance of seeing lots of monkeys. The Golden-mantled Tamarin is a stunning little monkey found only south of the Napo River, and so the Napo Wildlife Center is the only lodge on the Upper Napo River to have this species.

Giant Otters are also seen. There are two family groups that move among their dens, and they are found in all of the streams and in the lake in front of the lodge. These Giant Otters are one of the reasons that no motorized boats are allowed on the streams or lake, and appear to be curious (rather than scared) when visitors happen upon them. Again, Giant Otters are not found on the north bank of the Napo, so Napo Wildlife Center is the only lodge on the Upper Napo River to have this species. Capybara come into the lodge compound almost every night. You will have to stay up relatively late to see them, but they are almost always there. Peccaries, Tapir, Brocket Deer, and all of the Cats are difficult to find, but when found are generally seen quite well. There has been no hunting in the Napo Wildlife Center Reserve for well over a decade, so these animals are not abnormally scarce or frightened by humans.

More about the project, sustainability, and the Anangu community.

The Añangu community decided years ago that it was not going to succumb to local pressures to destroy the forest. Logging, market hunting, and oil extraction are all actively destroying local forests, and the income from the lodge will allow the community to continue to resist these pressures into the distant future. Often the most important part of a conservation project is the people.

The community land is located inside Yasuní National Park, and one might think that park status would confer substantive protection to the forest and its animals – after all, Yasuní was declared a National Park in 1979 and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1989. Unfortunately, the National Parks System in Ecuador is as under-funded as any other and does not have the resources to adequately patrol and protect Yasuní. The Napo project has worked closely with the Ecuadorian Parks System and the relationship has allowed the Parks System to rely on the Añangu community and the Napo Wildlife Center as their primary source of on-the-ground protection for this region of Yasuní.

What could be more effective than local residents protecting what belongs to them? All one must do is look at the barren cattle pastures of adjacent communities to know what could have become of this community territory in the absence of a legitimate, non-extractive income base. The community receives all of the net profits. The community has a democratic political structure that has decided how funds will be spent. The primary expenditures are for education and health care. The community does not maintain any debt from the construction of the lodge. All employees, whether from the community or not, are paid market salaries for the jobs that they perform. Members of the Añangu community make up between 85-93% of the total workforce at the lodge at any given time, and this variation is primarily dependent upon scheduling.

In the first half of 2005, 33 dry composting toilets were built in the Quichua Indian Community of Añangu.  One dry toilet was built for each family, plus two for the school, two for the community meeting hall, and five strategically located for the use of Napo Wildlife Center guests. The toilets are a double-chambered design, based on the concept of Ecological Sanitation in which our bodily wastes are respectfully returned to the soil, rather than contaminating the environment or being expected to disappear magically.  Urine is separated and drained directly to the soil, making use of its high nitrogen content for use as a fertilizer.  The average person excretes four kilograms of  urea every year, which holds enough nitrogen to fertilize all of the grains that he or she eats. Since the urine goes straight to the soil and is absorbed by plants, it does not have time to ferment and thus produces no odor.  Solids are covered in locally available dry organic material like ashes, rice hulls, or dry leaves and left to decompose naturally. The two-chamber design allows the contents of one chamber to decompose while the other chamber is in use. The aerobic design of the chambers creates odor-free decomposition into a rich and productive soil.

Quick Facts

  • Eco-lodge owned and operated by the Añangu community
  • 4 to 8 day all-inclusive packages, with departures any day but Sunday
  • Located inside Yasuni National park on its private 82 square mile reserve
  • 2 canopy towers for great wildlife viewing
  • 10 Cabins all face the lake and accommodate 2-3 people
  • Great for families
  • Daily excursions led by bi-lingual and local guides
  • 2 clay licks to see parrots and macaw