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Trip Report I Enjoyed the Amazon

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I was pleasantly surprised by my one week stay at La Selva Jungle Lodge near Coca in Ecuador. After spending the night in Quito we took a 30 minute flight into Coca which was followed by a two hour motorized canoe ride down the Napo river.

The lodge is quite big, with a capacity for about 50 people, although it was not more than half full during my stay. The rooms are very clean and comfortable. It rained on and off just about everyday and it was lovely to come back to a clean room and a hot shower. If any item became damp, then it was doomed to remain so for the entirety of my stay due to the high humidity. The books at my bedside buckled and warped, changing shapes of their own magical accord.

I was prepared for the worst, but the wildlife sightings were far better than that which I'd experienced in the nearby Tena region of the country. I booked a private guide through the lodge which made a big difference in the quality of the experience.

Wildlife was not as visible as on the typical African safari or Pantanal visit; I saw no megafauna and the wildlife that exists is incredibly well camouflaged. Not all of it was distant though, there were toads, frogs, snakes, bats and insects that were near at hand. A few birds were also skulking within close range, but I unfortunately did not notice many of them until they exploded into flight at the very last second as we approached.

Activities were composed mostly of walks and canoeing on the lake. There were two outings a day in the morning and evening, each lasting 2-4 hours. Guests were accompanied by a bilingual, formally educated, naturalist guide and another guide, native to the region, that was intimately familiar with the local terrain and the flora and fauna and their myriad uses. Both guides had an ability to hear and see creatures that was amazing to behold. We joked that for the locals a walk in the rainforest was the equivalent of a trip to Walmart.

I'm a casual observer, and don't keep lists, but below are some of the birds we encountered. I've only listed the ones I saw repeatedly or got a fairly good look at. There were several more that were fleetingly spotted, or that were heard frequently and loudly, but not seen.

CORMORANTS
Neotropic Cormorant

DARTERS
Anhinga

HERONS
Striated Heron
Boat - Billed Heron
Rufescent Tiger - Heron

AMERICAN VULTURES
Greater Yellow-headed Vulture
Black Vulture

KITES, EAGLES, HAWKS
Swallow – Tailed Kite
Plumbeous Kite
Double - Toothed Kite

FALCONS, CARACARAS
Black Caracara
Red - Throated Caracara
Laughing Falcon

PARROTS, MACAWS
Scarlet Macaw
Chestnut – Fronted Macaw
Cobalt-Winged Parakeet
White - Eyed Parakeet

CUCKOOS, ANIS
Greater Ani
Smooth - Billed Ani

HOATZIN
Hoatzin

POTOOS
Great Potoo

SWIFTS
Neotropical Palm – Swift

HUMMINGBIRDS
Rufous - Breasted Hermit
Great Billed Hermit
White - Necked Jacobin

TROGONS, QUETZALS
Amazonian White –Tailed Trogon
Black-Throated Trogon
Amazonian Violaceous Trogon

WOODPECKERS
Crimson-crested Woodpecker

KINGFISHERS
Green - and - Rufous Kingfisher
American - Pygmy Kingfisher

MOTMOTS
Blue - Crowned Motmot

PUFFBIRDS
White - Fronted Nunbird

TOUCANS, ARAÇARIS
Many - Banded Araçari
White Throated Toucan

TYPICAL ANTBIRDS
Warbling Antbird
Silvered Antbird

TYRANT FLYCATCHERS
Great Kiskadee
Lesser Kiskadee
Social Flycatcher
Black-tailed Tityra

COTINGAS
Spangled Cotinga
White - Browed Purpletuft
Purple - Throated Fruitcrow

MANAKINS
Green Manakin

SWALLOWS, MARTINS
White-winged Swallow

WRENS
House Wren
Black - Capped Donacobius

TANAGERS, HONEYCREEPERS
Blue Dacnis
Yellow-bellied Dacnis
White-lored Euphonia
Swallow Tanager
Green-and-gold Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager

SALTATORS, GROSBEAKS,
CARDINALS
Blue Black Grosbeak

EMBERIZINE FINCHS
Black-and-white Seedeater

BLACKBIRDS
Yellow-rumped Cacique
Russet-backed Oropendola

I was lucky enough to see all six species of monkey that are known to be in the region:
Duskey Titi Monkey
White Fronted Capuchin
Pygmy marmoset
Tamarind (the one with the cute white moustache)
Night Monkey
Squirrel Monkey
Red Howler Monkey

And odd and sundry snakes, toads, frogs, insects, and of course plants.

I would most definitely look forward to a return visit, but would again plan on having a private guide (otherwise the ratio is 8 guests per pair of guides). I spotted more in the Amazon than on the Osa Peninsula, but to be fair I was with groups of as many as 8 on the Osa (some of whom were on their cell phones during walks!) and sometimes included high energy children.

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