People seem to fall into two camps, those that travel and those that don’t. We fall into the group that travels. I have always been a sucker for new and different when it comes to experiencing the world. Different cultures, different landscapes and most importantly, the denizens of those landscapes. This is not to say we don’t like where we live, our home base is in a pretty inviting area. But we have lived in this house, on this little patch of ground for 19 (!) years. This degree of familiarity doesn’t necessarily breed contempt but is certainly enough to lead into a state of non-attention. This past October into November we spent about 3 weeks in Ecuador. Small by country size (about the same as our home state of Colorado) but in biodiversity it’s huge, with over 20,000 vascular plants and 1,600 identified bird species (129 of which are hummingbirds!). We went to experience and photograph some of that biodiversity. You can travel from sea level (Pacific coast) to the low elevation Amazon Basin, crossing the Andes (peaks up to 20,000+ feet) along the way. There is more to see and do here than could be experienced in a hundred such trips.
We started our journey by heading down the Napo river in the Amazon Basin. OK, we started in Quito (how far back should we go?), flew into Coca, a town on the Napo river and one of several jumping off points for travel into the Amazon. The Napo is a large tributary of the Amazon river that flows off of the eastern Andes. It is also the easiest way to visit the Oriente or the east of Ecuador. There are several lodges located along this river highway, all with great potential for the explorer. Places to stay, places where a guide could be hired, places full of birds and animals that could be discovered. Napo Wildlife Center, a lodge owned and operated by the indigenous Kichwa people is where we landed. Literally, 2 hours by large river canoe with big outboard motors and another 2 hours by smaller canoe, powered by our guides, paddled quietly along a small blackwater creek. We chose this place because the indigenous people administer it and it’s in Yasuni National Park, well-known as one of the biodiversity hotspots on the planet. Who wouldn’t want to go?
Over the next several posts we will share not only some images made during this trip but also some of the trials and tribulations that arise, not the least of all was editing the 6,000 plus images we made during this foray into near paradise.