Transfer to the airport with a local representative for the morning flight to the Amazon Rainforest, a 45 minute trip. It is ten minutes from the airport to the banks of the Napo River and 60 miles (2.5-3 hours) by motorized dugout canoe down river to the entrance of La Selva Lodge. When you arrive at La Selva’s isolated dock, a half-mile boardwalk of bamboo slats keeps you above a vast palm swamp as you make your way to the lake. The boardwalk ends at Garzacocha Lake where paddle canoes await you to take you across. A quarter mile along the lodge begins to peek out at you: your first expedition of discovery in what will be a vacation filled with marvel and wonder. La Selva has been in successful operation for about sixteen years, and it is one of the most highly respected jungle lodges in South America; the World Congress on Tourism and Environment awarded it their “Ecotourism Award.” At the lodge you will find that the owners of La Selva have built upon their years of experience in the jungle lodge business to provide you with comfortable accommodation in cabins of native design that both blend in with the surrounding rainforest and provide comforts you would expect of a first class hotel. Rooms have modern bathrooms with hot running water, screened rooms with a view of the rainforest, bottled drinking water free of charge and excellent, international cuisine that incorporates the delicious tropical fruits of the region.
See the canopy of the rainforest from a tower, 43m in height (141 ft), and choose from dozens of walks of varying lengths and difficulty; several routes can only be accessed by canoe. Choose from a variety of activities: wake up early for some bird watching or stay up late and go out on a boat to view caimans by flashlight. Learn about the environment and wildlife from your naturalist guide, who accompanies you to ensure you get the most out of your excursions. The opportunities for birding, botany, hiking, herpetology, canoeing, photography, entomology, fishing, relaxing and swimming at La Selva Lodge are boundless. You decide which paths to explore and which adventure to experience, according to your own ability and interests. In the 16th Century, Spanish conqueror Francisco de Orellana ventured from Quito into the eastern jungle, in search of El Dorado, a mythical stash of Inca gold hidden away in the jungle. While he didn't find gold, he did discover Ecuador's Rio Napo which, along with Peru’s Marañón, combines to create the mighty Amazon. He followed the Napo into the Amazon mainstream and travelled all the way through the dense jungle to the Atlantic Ocean on Brazil’s coast. Consider the variety of mammals living in Ecuador's Amazon: armadillos, honey bears, sloth, 60 varieties of bats, tapirs, peccaries, jaguar, monkeys, manatees and much more. Birds are the richest group of Amazon vertebrates, at approximately 1000 species. Visitors will see hummingbirds, toucans, macaws and tanagers on land, and darters, herons and gulls on water. If fortunate, you may catch a glimpse of the prehistoric looking Hoatzin, with its brightly coloured feathers and sharp talons. Over 500 species of trees per acre have been recorded in the jungles of the upper Amazon. If this doesn’t seem particularly astonishing, consider that this is ten times greater than either Europe or North America, and you will begin to appreciate the significance of the conservation of this area and others like it. The rainforest is also the traditional home of many indigenous communities, whose traditional homelands and way of life are threatened by the encroachment of 21st Century industries like mining, petroleum exploitation and large-scale cash-crop farming.
Head back down the river to the town of Coca to catch your flight back to Quito. Your trip ends at the airport in Quito.