Ecuador New Year 1998

Map from, Copyright 1996 NGS Cartographic Division,
developed in association with GeoSystems Global Corp.

Just after Christmas, we headed off to the tropics, this time to the rainforest of the Amazonas region of eastern Ecuador. We travelled with Victor Emanuel Nature Tours (VENT), accompanied by guides Victor Emanuel and Peter English, with whom we had travelled to Belize for New Year's 1996.  From the capital of Quito (at approx 10000 ft elevation) we flew east about an hour to Coca, capital of the Amazonas province.  Then we had a boat ride down the Rio Napo (which flows eventually into the Amazon), a truck ride along an oil company road, and another boat ride down the Rio Tiputini to the Tiputini Biodiversity Station.  After several days there (Liza intermittently terrified by giant cockroaches), it was off to the Sacha Lodge - via boat, truck, another boat, a muddy walk, and a canoe ride.

Following is a photographic tour of our trip.  Ok, so not the greatest photos...when posted here (2010) keep in mind these are from 1998 and a lousy camera!  :-)

Click the photos to enlarge.

Liza's trip journal (pdf)

Robert's write-up (pdf)

At the Quito airport - Aeropuerto
Mariscal Sucre

The Quito skyline from our room
at the Hotel Alameda

Liza with Peter English of VENT
in Quito

Forget jetways - walking to our plane
for our flight to Coca

View of Antisana (volcano) from
the airplane (photo by Peter English)

Welcome to Coca!  Behind all those
weeds, the sign says "Bienvenidos"
Coca is an oil company town with
a bit of a rough reputation.  We asked
if one could walk between the dock
and the airport; the reply was, "that's
farther than you want to walk in Coca."
"Is it dangerous even in the daylight?"
one person asked.  "No," our guide
replied, "it's just ugly."

Coca's main street

Yasuni National Park occupies
a fair chunk of the area, borders
subject to arbitrary shifting

We hung out for awhile at La Mision,
a hotel in Coca on the Rio Napo,
where we got our first looks at (tame)
Black-headed Parrots...

...and Orange-winged Parrots

The broad Rio Napo

About an hour down the Rio Napo
in Pompeya Sur, where this truck
took us ~55 km down the Maxus Rd
(built by an oil company that went

Destination was the Tiputini 2 bridge,
where after a short birdwatching stop...

...we got into another boat for a
two-hour ride down the Rio Tiputini

The Tiputini river (photo by
Peter English)

Our destination - the Tiputini Biodiversity
Station, built by the University of San
Francisco in Quito on land purchased
by Boston University

Another view of Tiputini (photo
by Peter English)

At TBS, one could really feel
"away from it all"

A beautiful heliconia in the
rainforest at TBS

If you want to see canopy birds
in the rainforest, a 130-ft tower built
around a Ceiba tree is just the ticket,
unless you don't like heights, in which
case don't look down through the steps!

Victor Emanuel mans the scope
in the Tiputini tower shortly
after dawn

More views from the tower (photo
by Peter English)


ditto again

Robert peruses his field guide
outside our room, while Liza's
boots stand guard

Robert on the trail at Tiputini

Afternoon canoe ride -
Disney jungle cruise, eat
your heart out

Reboarding the boat starting the
journey to Sacha Lodge

Liza and Robert on the boat

Not bad for a big canoe

Peter English of VENT
is happy to be in the jungle

Victor scans the shoreline
from the boat

Once again at Pompeya Sur - after
getting thoroughly soaked in a downpour
on the boat ride

Liza soaked and not bothering
to dry off

First look at Sacha Lodge

Sacha Lodge

A raised (and rickety) walkway
leads to the cabins at Sacha

Our cabin!  So no giant
cockroaches here - only bedbugs
and smaller cockroaches that
flew :-(

Robert on an afternoon boat ride

Liza, Robert, and Victor in the

View of Sacha from the boat

Robert and Liza standing
in the lake

Group on the boat

Sacha sunset

Happy New Year! 

Victor and Robert

View from the boat

Another boat shot

Returning to Coca, which
interestingly looked better than
when we left!

Robert and Peter supposedly
looking at a Laughing Gull,
which would have been only
the third record of that bird
in eastern Ecuador

Final group dinner

Musician Wren (photo by
Peter English)

Fasciated Antshrike (photo by
Peter English)