We left Quito on a small turbo-prop plane for a 30 minute flight over the Andes to the town of Coca. (See right.)
We were then bussed across town to catch a large "canoe". These canoes can carry 25 people and their luggage. However, we only had about 18 people in our canoe. We proceeded down the Napo river for about 2 1/2 hours and finally reached our landing spot. However, this wasn't the end of the journey. We then had to trek through the jungle for about 1 1/2 miles. The trail was a mixture of wooden planks and MUD. Finally we reached the spot where we could get into a smaller canoe for transport across the lake to Sacha Lodge. Below is a picture of one of the canoes going across the lake.
We were shown to our lodgings which were really quite nice. Not fancy - actually for jungle standards they were fancy. Each pod cosisted of 2 rooms. Each room was quite spacious and had its own bathroom and a porch with hammock.
One of the first orders of business upon arrival at the Lodge is going to "boot camp". Here we were outfitted with Wellingtons. You'll see these later in a picture of the intrepid jungle explorer.
We were divided into small groups. Our group consisted of 5 people, ourselves and 3 people from the UK. Each group has a naturalist guide and a native guide. To the right is a picture of our group.
From left to right are Angela and Graham, Oscar (our naturalist guide), Granny, Grandpa, Gerry, and Ernesto (our native guide).
We were very fortunate to have a wonderfully compatible group.
The normal schedule for the day is to be up between 5 and 6, have breakfast, and leave camp between 6 and 7. We would either start with a canoe ride up one of the small creeks to the starting point of the trek, or we would go directly from the Lodge on one of the trails. Either way, the uniform for the day was long pants, shirt, Wellingtons, binoculars, hat and day pack for things such as water, etc.
On the treks, we were looking for birds - which we saw some and missed lots, animals - mostly monkeys which we mostly missed, insects of various and sundry types, and plants that were not the usual varieties we see.
The trails consisted of mud, deeper mud, planks which became slippery when wet (They were always wet!), uphill and downhill over rocks (also slippery), planks across (or sometimes through) the water, and more mud. Two of the destinations were towers which required climbing what seemed like THOUSANDS of stairs. Actually it was only in the hundreds.
Angela, Graham and especially Gerry were more experienced bird watchers. They could spot many more birds than we could. I even had trouble seeing the bird when it was lined-up in the center of the scope that Oscar setup. In spite of all this, we did see a lot of birds, albeit mostly from great distances, insects, plants, etc.
Ernesto was amazing with his ability to spot the birds, frogs, insects and everything else that might be of interest. He was also a fund of knowledge about the plants and how the natives used them for all sorts of things including poisons for paralyzing the animals, healing wounds, and other medicinal pruposes.
We went slogging through the jungle on trails that were hardly trails at all. And sometimes we were looking down on the jungle.
On the left is the intrepid jungle explorer dressed and ready for action. This picture was taken at the top of the Kapok tower. This is a 135 foot high tower built around a giant kapok tree.
On the right is one of the trails.
Below is the suspension walkway over the jungle canopy. The walkway is 940 feet long.
Frogs of many varieties including the poison arrow frog on the left and the horned frog on the right.
Here are the WORLD travelers taking a well deserved rest at the center lookout platform of the suspension walkway. This platform is ABOVE the jungle canopy at a height of about 94 feet. When you're walking up the steps, it feels like it's 300 feet.
This really was jungle. Below left is the view from our balcony. On the last day, we were sitting there and saw a monkey in one of the near trees. Below right shows one of the jungle creeks that we traversed by canoe.
Below are some pictures of some of the things we saw and the places we went
We saw many types of fungi. Two of them are shown in the pictures left and right.
On the left is a salamander we saw on a night walk. We also saw many millipedes like the one shown on the right.
There were also many flying insects. On the left is a wasp's nest that was high up in the jungle canopy. Contrast that with the bee hive hole found on the ground along one of the trails pictured on the right.