This beautiful facility, set in a pristine environment on the banks of Lake Añangu, is also considered as being one of the best examples of community-based tourism to be found in Ecuador. The project is 100% owned by the Kichwa community of Añangu and more or less the entire lodge staff is drawn from there.
After a two-hour journey down the Río Napo from Coca by motorised canoe, the lodge is reached by a further one to two hour ride along the black-water Añangu creek, this time by a paddled, dugout canoe. This tranquil mode of transport offers excellent opportunities to have your first views of the park’s extraordinarily diverse range of wildlife and lush tropical vegetation.
On arrival, the view of Napo Wildlife Centre is equally enchanting: the clutch of thatched, pink cabañas reflected in the still water of Lake Añangu confirm that you have arrived somewhere truly special. There are 16 very spacious cabañas, each with a king-sized bed, private bathroom with on-demand hot water showers, 24-hour electricity and private deck with lake views. The comfortable main hall, with its traditional Kichwa open architecture, offers several social areas, including a well-stocked bar, reading lounge, dining area and an observation tower with a 360-degree view of the surrounding jungle.
Being inside the Yasuní reserve gives visitors to Napo Wildlife Center unrivalled access to wildlife. Day and nighttime hikes are undertaken with both a bilingual naturalist guide and a local Añangan, who are trained as Yasuní park rangers. The amount of wildlife within the park is astounding: macaws, toucans, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, golden-mantled tamarind, capybara, tapir and even an occasional jaguar, in addition to other species of rare birds and monkeys.
Lake Añangu is home to families of giant otters and black caiman while an early morning visit to one of two nearby clay licks affords an excellent opportunity to see a true spectacle of nature: parrots, parakeets and macaws that arrive by the hundreds to ‘detox’ by eating the clay that helps them digest fruit and seeds. A 36-metre observation tower offers fabulous panoramas over the canopy and another superb opportunity to view the prolific birdlife.
A visit to the Añangu community is highly recommended as it affords guests a unique insight into the daily lives and fascinating culture and traditions of these guardians of the forest. It also amply demonstrates how a visit to Napo Wildlife Center supports not only the sustainability of the community’s projects, but also their conservation of one of the most biodiverse, yet fragile places on the planet.