The Huaorani Eco Lodge is the perfect place if you are looking for a cultural experience in the Amazon rainforest. The award winning Huaorani Eco Lodge is situated at the headwaters of the Amazon and run by the Huaorani, one of the most isolated ethnic groups on earth. This is a life changing experience where you will learn how to use a blowgun, climb trees, smear your face with red achiote, take a two day meander down the Shiripuno River in kayaks or dugout canoes watching tropical birds and monkeys and listen to an indigenous leader relate the tribe's fight against oil exploration. With luck you meet Moi Enomenga; a conservation hero honored by National Geographic and the Buffett Foundation.
The lodge has been designed to be intimate, harmonious and environmentally sustainable to share time with the Huaorani and experience the richness of their natural environment, while creating the least possible impact on the surroundings.
The Eco Lodge provides room for a maximum of 10 guests in 5 comfortable traditionally built, palm thatched cabins, each with private bathroom and a porch. Electricity is supplied 24 hours a day by solar panels. Environmentally friendly soaps and shampoos are provided, and the lodge has a hammock house on the banks of the Shiripuno River, for those few occasions when you are not engaged in activities away from the lodge.
You will be picked up from your Quito hotel early in the morning. By private bus you will be taken down the Avenue of the Volcanoes - descending slowly towards the rainforest.
From the town of Shell, named after the oil company, you will depart in a light aircraft for the 45- minute flight to the Huaorani community of Quehueri’ono (keh-weri-oh-noh). From here, you will start your expedition downstream in a shallow dugout canoe called a quilla (kee-yah) along the Shiripuno River to the lodge. Immediately you will begin to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the Amazon. The entire paddle downstream will be filled with amazing wildlife viewing, and you’ll likely catch a glimpse and photo of the many riverside birds, including the Yellow-rumped Cacique, the Greater and Lesser Kiskadees, and any of the four Amazonian kingfishers. Upon arrival to the lodge an introductory briefing about the Huaorani culture and their relationship with the rainforest at the discovery trail. Free time to settle into your new lush green surroundings.
After breakfast, a Huaorani guide will accompany you on a nature hike into the forest. The local guides are experienced hunters and they will teach you the secrets of rainforest survival without killing any of the creatures that live there. You’ll learn how to set traps, make fire without matches, build a shelter in minutes, use a blowgun, practice the perfect swing of the machete, catch fish in small creeks and the uses of medicinal plants. The afternoon will be spent with the community, when you’ll get to know the members personally. The relaxed, informal visit may lead you to share a bowl of chucula (a sweet drink made of ripe bananas). Admire the beautiful handmade artifacts, including woven hammocks and bags, blowguns, traps and necklaces. You’ll also have the chance to visit the Ecology Education project and learn how to harvest manioc, also known as yucca or cassava. You return to the lodge at the end of the afternoon to relax and have dinner.
After breakfast, you set off canoeing down the Shiripuno River in traditional Huaorani style. Today the day starts extra early in order to catch a glimpse of the many different birds out at these hours. Next up is a stop at the Apaika community, located inside the Yame Reserve. Here you will enjoy a quick snack and visit Apaika’s mini interpretation center, where you can learn more about Yasuní National Park. To complete the afternoon, you’ll be able to join the community in some of its daily activities and share in its history, myths and magic. Afterwards, the group continues a couple more hours downriver near the Huaorani village of Nenquepare. You will spend the night here, camping out along the Shiripuno River, sleeping with the sounds of the Amazon’s animals. The well-constructed and comfortable campsite is part of a community initiative, so you will really get to participate in and support community tourism at its finest.
Before the return journey and after being treated to a delicious breakfast, you will have the opportunity to hike the community trail to visit an impressive waterfall, one that has special importance for the Huaorani. You can take a dip in the energizing waters to recharge for the trip back to Quito. Once back at the campsite, the group will bid farewell and start the return journey downstream in canoe. This will begin the “toxic tour,” an introduction to how the oil industry has impacted the Huaorani lands. The group will head to the border between traditional Huaorani territory and that of the petroleum companies, though it all used to belong to the Huaorani. You will witness the crude reality of our collective thirst for oil as you ride alongside miles of pipelines, which go from the Huaorani community of Tihuino to Lago Agrio, the oil hub of el Oriente, to be pumped across the Andes to the port of Esmeraldas. This brief journey through oil territory illustrates the reality of the threat facing the rainforest and the Huaorani people. You will also realize why your visit to Huaorani Lodge was so important! After a 2-hour overland ride you will reach the banks of the Río Napo and the town of Coca, where you will catch your flight to Quito.
On the 5 day tour this is the itinerary for the third day:
Day 3: After breakfast, you will start a three-hour hike through the terra firme (never flooded whose composition is predominantly tall trees with little understory vegetation) and varzea (occasionally-flooded) forest. The trail winds through towering trees and different streams, to the summit of a small hill where a giant ceibo tree stands. Lunch will be served at the lodge, and then you will canoe back downstream to an oxbow lake, where you will walk inland for a few minutes. Here you will have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the extraordinary Hoatzin, as well as anacondas, capybaras and caimans with some luck. On the way back, you will visit a salt-clay lick. Many animals gather here to feed off of the mineral-rich clay, and if the animals haven’t been scared away, you will get to see them in action. If it is inactive, you will still have the opportunity to see how the lick functions and its importance as a dietary supplement for rainforest creatures. The return trip is a brief night outing to see nocturnal animals. The night comes alive with gigantic buzzing insects, shimmery-skinned snakes and beady-eyed caimans.
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* All lodge information is correct at time of publishing but subject to change by the lodge owner.
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