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Reviewed 10 January 2012

It's hard to know what to add about the Napo Wildlife Center that hasn't already been said. The cabinas are private, clean, well-stocked, with great beds (and even hot water in the shower!), and I don't know how you can beat relaxing in the hammock on the porch in the afternoon after an early start and a long, rewarding hike. Our guides, Delfin and Mariano, were terrific -- very knowledgeable and enthusiastic and a delight to get to know throughout the days and evenings. The transportation arrangements were all smooth, the food is good and plentiful. We saw six different species of monkeys, many frogs and birds, several caimans, and numerous scarlet macaws and parrots (especially at the clay lick). Bring all the items on the suggested packing list, especially the mosquito repellent and binoculars, but be sure to pack dark/earth tones instead of bright colors. Also you will need your jacket primarily for the boat ride from Coca to the welcome center so make sure you have it handy and do not put it in your suitcase that rides separately. You need to have adequate cash with you for the staff tips. We were there at Christmas and they had a lovely celebration on Christmas Eve with the staff all joining in, and it made the holiday a really special and memorable one. Truly outstanding and highly recommended!

  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled with family
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9  Thank Elanor_69
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
NapoWildlifeCenter, Guest Relations Manager at Napo Wildlife Center Ecolodge, responded to this reviewResponded 4 March 2013

Thanks for your review although it was a while ago, we appreciate the link to photos as well. We take all comments on board and now our native guides are taking a daily English course to improve their language skills.

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Reviewed 3 January 2012

Similar to the other reviewers, our family and friends (total of 6, including two teenagers) had an incredible experience. The travel arrangements were excellent (although we had some delay in connecting with the Napo agent at the airport but called her on her cell phone), transfers well planned, accommodations (lodges) incredible, daily tours perfect, food diverse and plentyful (buffet), staff excellent. All was perfect.... Tips: Remember to bring cash to tip your guides (and if you want to purchase local-made Kichwa goods in the community); use the rain ponchos provided; bring backpack for day essentials; they provide water bottle so no need to bring one; bring wash cloths if you use since none provided; if possible, bring binoculars; do not BRING WHITE OR BRIGHT clothing (although the webpage does not indicate this, your clothes should be earth tones, if possible) Great experience and one we will always remember. GO!

  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled with family
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10  Thank leisurebug
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
NapoWildlifeCenter, Guest Relations Manager at Napo Wildlife Center Ecolodge, responded to this reviewResponded 4 March 2013

Thank you for your review although a while ago. Please feel free to share your experience with others

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 December 2011

The morning I was heading downstream on the Napo River it was swollen and extraordinarily foamy due to heavy rain in the Andes. The river is wide and fast flowing, but the driver time and time again hit debris and hat to stop the 200 horsepower outboards to check for damage and take out stuff that had clogged the propellars.

If that wasn't enough, huge underwater sandbanks were everywhere, and the only sign they were there was huge fallen trees that did not move like the rest of the debris. So the idea of getting to Napo Wildlife Center in an blink of an eye due to 2x200 hp outboards was quickly dropped.

After a couple of hours the boat seems to head straight to shore, but only a few metres away I notice what seems like creek and black water mixing with the muddy Napo. This is the entrance to the domain of the Anangu Quichua people who changed so dramatically from ancient traditions to modern eco tourism. From now on the only power was manpower! We were paddled for 1.2 hrs up the small river to the center! The only means of transportation to and from the center is the canoe! And donæt think the river will be flowing the same direction! If it hasn't rained locally, the river will flow towards the Napo river! If the Napo River is swollen like, it's power will inundate the lsmall river, and force itself upstream and thus - change the direction of the flow! I experienced this many times during my 3 night stay, and pondered how they cope with this da in and out. But thy are of the forest, and the flow of the forest is the flow of the lives of the Anangu Quichua people.

The first thing that hit me when I arrived at the pier was that the cabanas were so much larger than what I got through the photos of the place. Inside they were spacious and very modern, and yet again I pondered - how did they manage to transport all the material just by canoes? They did and still do as they continue to expand. Several times I watched canoes so laden with stuff that they were floating only a few centimetres above the water - filled with building materials, food and what not.

Being a single traveler and a photographer I was assigned an Anangu Quichua guide, as I was not interested in missing any opportunities. He did of course only speak Spanish. I had many a canoe trip with him, as they all know their territory inside out, and also the English names of almost all that is inside the park. Thus the language barrier was somewhat frustrating during meals, as we could only suggest and point or ask for translation for the most mundane of things, but out in the field it was nothing less than an existentional dance of life!

The food was exceptionally good, and as said before I had to wonder how they managed the logistics! Strawberries and apples in the Amazon? Well - the Andes is not far away, but what a difficult journey!

The operations and everything about this place radiates professionalism on the highest level, I was immensely impressed! It stands as a beacon for all others to follow.

As for the wildlife...... I don't know where to begin! It's so rich in species that it's hard to comprehend that so much life can be supported.

Just as an example: during a night canoe trip, I noticed the incredible amount of bioluminescence. Most know of the fireflies, beetles and glow worms, but the amount of each species was simply staggering. In Norway I was happy one summer to count more than 20 individuals in an area perhaps 400 metres square. On the floating vegetation on the edge of the lagoon and the streams flowing into and out from it, I'm certain there was more than 1000 in the same sized area! On one leaf there could easaily be 10 worms! I so much wanted to photograph it, but being in the middle of the Caiman domain - the water - I dropped the idead.

Another example is that fish just jumped into the boat - time and time again, as the canoe perhaps resembled a big Caiman, and thus they jumped out of the water to escape and ended in the canoe instead. In fact the sheer amount of fish and fish species support a rather large population of Caiman. Some are really huge (4 metres), and at night you can hear some really powerful splashing sounds from them, as well as seeing them if you use a flashlight.

There are also quite a few anacondas, and I watched one small one (2.5 metres) kill and consume a turtle (!). Despite this - I really enjoyed to swim in the lagoon :-)

I cannot go on as nobody would want to read it all, but this topped Costa Rica's Casa Corcovado for me, and I never thought that possible!

The final "gift" was a completely clear sky the last night, with a full moon and light so bright that the frogs were hestitant to vocalize in their normal volume, and everything cast a silvery shadow.

My photos from the Ecuador and Napo Wildlife Center trips: http://www.ross.no/communicate
Napo Wildlife Center webpage: http://www.napowildlifecenter.com

  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled solo
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9  Thank Morten R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
NapoWildlifeCenter, Director de Relaciones con Clientes at Napo Wildlife Center Ecolodge, responded to this reviewResponded 6 March 2013

Thank you for your review, we hope you still remember NWC

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 December 2011

It's hard to know where to start with this place! We had between here and the Sacha Lodge and we're so glad we chose the Napo Wildlife Centre. I've never bothered to write a review before, but I felt that I had to for here!

The cabins were fantastic-clean and beautiful. The food was amazing too, there was plenty of it and the quality was great considering it comes in once a week by 2h paddle canoe ride!!!

For me, the thing that sets the Napo Wildlife Centre apart from other lodges is the guides. You get a naturalist guide (we had Lena) who can speak your language and has a wealth of knowledge on the wildlife and has eagle eyes. You also get a 'community guide' (ours was Mariano), who comes from the local Anangu community, so they have grown up in the area and has the most amazing knowledge of all of the flora and fauna as well as being incredible spotters. Mariano would spot stuff that it took us ages to see even when we knew it was there! I think we were probably very lucky to have Mariano and Lena, but I also suspect everyone thinks that regardless of who the guides were!

The other thing that amazed me was that they were always so excited to see things. I'm sure they must have seen a million squirrel monkeys and hummingbirds, but it didn't seem to matter what it was they were always excited to see it. We realised the following week (when our guide in the galapagos said things like, 'oh yea, that's just an iguana') that this can make a big difference!

We saw something new every 10mins including monkeys, bats, caimen, frogs and toads, a 3-toed sloth, snakes, a whole host of amazing birds and we even saw the elusive tapir!

Ok, so there were down-sides, it was hot and humid, there were mosquitos and really early mornings but all of that was totally worth it!

This is a really special place and now taken a special place in our hearts. It even made the Galapagos islands (where we went the following week) seem positively dull!!!

We were on our honeymoon and I can't imagine anywhere better in the world!

  • Stayed: November 2011, travelled as a couple
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8  Thank chameleon19
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
NapoWildlifeCenter, Guest Relations Manager at Napo Wildlife Center Ecolodge, responded to this reviewResponded 4 March 2013

Thank you for your review although a while ago. Please feel free to share your experience with others

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 December 2011

Our family of four (with 2 kids, ages 11 and 8) signed up for the 5 night / 4 day experience at Napo Wildlife Center. We had researched all of the available options, and we were so glad that we chose Napo. It is located within Yasuni National Park, with great hiking trails only a short distance away (by canoe).

We paid extra ($325) for a private guide as we wanted flexibility with our children. Each day our extremely knowledgeable guide took us out canoeing and hiking along with a local naturalist (also exceptional). Our kids are experienced hikers, and we went on some challenging, and very fun, hikes where we encountered a flabbergasting variety of animal life—five kinds of monkeys, boa constrictors, a huge anaconda, colorful birds, black caiman, a two-toed sloth, camouflaged frogs, a wide array of fascinating insects and spiders.

Our time at Napo gave us a greater understanding of how important each creature (and plant) is to the whole environment.

I am giving Napo five stars because our overall experience there was incredible. No place is without its quirks, however, and here are some additional notes that may be helpful in determining whether this place is for you:

The cabañas were very comfortable. We had a spacious room with one king size bed and two twin beds. There are mosquito nets over each bed; however, on our first night my son had a very large (over 3 inches) flying cockroach inside his net. We got used to these large creatures inside our room (they were intriguing). Bugs are to be expected in the rainforest. I put an energy bar wrapper on my nightstand while reading in bed, and within 10 minutes the wrapper was swarming with teeny tiny ants.

And speaking of bugs, we did have to make liberal use of our mosquito repellant. We tried using a “natural” repellant, but that didn’t work at all (the mosquitoes seemed to love it), so we ended up with the hard-core variety, which did in fact work. We hiked through swarms of mosquitoes.

We did swim in the lagoon, which was refreshing. The water is opaque, and you cannot see anything below the surface. Something did brush against my leg under the water, which was a bit unsettling (this is the same water in which the caiman, snakes, and other sea creatures live). But our kids loved jumping off the dock over and over, and enjoyed the water immensely.

I don’t think that it matters which box you check on the questionnaire regarding whether you wanted intense or easy hiking. There seemed to be a basic itinerary for all the groups, with more flexibility for doing intense hiking if you have a private guide.

You are sorted into groups based upon your guide, and you stay with those groups for all your hikes and all of your meals. When we were there, there was a couple that didn’t pay extra for a private guide but actually got one because they were staying for a longer time. Then there was our family with a private guide. Then there was a large “melting pot” group of about 8 people who had the third guide. For each meal, we sat at the same table with our guide. I think that it would have been much better if there had been open seating during the meals so that we could have interacted more with other people.

The food was okay. Not bad, and the chef did seem to care, but it was nothing to rave about.

The tree-top tower offered a great view, but the railing is NOT safe for children—wide open spaces where a child could easily fall through.

The man waiting with glasses of fruit juice after each canoe trip was a good concept, perhaps, but he expected you to finish your juice on the spot and leave the glass with him. No time for sipping. I understand that they wouldn’t want sticky glasses left in the cabañas—due to bugs. However, the man’s energy was a bit too intense, and not in a welcoming, positive manner.

The Añangu Quichua Community provided a dance / educational presentation to show various cultural aspects of people who lived in the rainforest. However, the community only settled there within the last 75 years (or less), moving from the lower Andes mountain area and driving the Waorani people (who were actually living in this area) deeper into the rainforest and jungle areas of Yasuni National Park. Therefore, the dances / trapping methods / ways of life that were presented by the Añangu community were really part of another culture’s lengthy history, not their own. The presentations were still very interesting and educational, but not quite the same as if the people had been showing us their own traditions that had been practiced by their ancestors for multiple generations.

If it is raining, dress warmly for the motor boat ride down the river (to and from the lodge). It was pouring for our ride back, and even with the rain ponchos that were provided, I got very wet and cold from water blowing up under the boat’s side tarp.

With all of that being said, our experience at Napo was one that we will forever remember. It was fantastic, beyond our expectations, and we highly recommend it to others.

  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled with family
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9  Thank kathysjourneys
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
NapoWildlifeCenter, Guest Relations Manager at Napo Wildlife Center Ecolodge, responded to this reviewResponded 4 March 2013

Thank you for your review although a while ago. Please feel free to share your experience with others

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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