• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Tena vs Coca (1 Viewer)

gdhunter

Well-known member
In the message just posted, I expressed the intent of our group to spend approximately two weeks in northeastern Ecuador (as defined in Navarrete's online guide at http://www.birdsinecuador.com/en/chapter-4). I envision two nights after arrival in Quito, acclimating to a higher altitude in preparation for stops immediately thereafter at Papallacta Pass and Antisana Ecological Reserve. We may spend 2-3 nights each in the temperate zone at Guango Lodge and the upper subtropics at Cabanas San Isidro. Assuming a limit of 14 days (after which we will undertake a separate "northwest extension" of perhaps four days), that allows 6-8 days for the lower and upper tropical zones associated with the Rio Napo region.

I've been inclined to sacrifice a measure of birding and habitat quality for the convenient access of Tena and its surroundings, spending possibly 3-4 nights in the area around Misahualli, maybe at the budget-friendly (but well-regarded at TripAdvisor) Banana Lodge (http://bananalodge.blogspot.com/p/banana-lodge.html) or Anaconda Lodge (http://www.anacondalodgeecuador.com/) situated on an island not far from Misahualli.

After that, We've been considering time in the upper tropical zone at or near WildSumaco Lodge, perhaps as one of the few budget splurges on the trip (but compensated with feeders, antpitta worm stations and an extensive, well-maintained trail system).

The tour operators with whom I've had contact seem a bit dismissive of the birding around Tena & Misahualli (excepting possibly Jatun Sacha) and they've recommended consideration of a "jungle lodge" reached through Coca; one example is Yarina Lodge (http://www.birdsinecuador.com/en/chapter-4/item/68-431-yarina-lodge).

I do not doubt that the birding would be better as we move deeper into the northeastern lowlands, but I also recognize that we essentially sacrifice two days to transportation. The only feasible way to fit that option in would be to combine the days I've allocated for lower tropical and upper tropical birding.

Is anyone in this forum willing to address the extent to which we will sacrifice birding quality if we retain our initial emphasis on convenient access? Are there any options (like perhaps a full-day boat tour) that would help mitigate some of the disadvantages?

Thank you.

Gary Hunter
 

ptickner

Well-known member
Gary - I can't address all of your questions, but I have gone downriver from Coca and it was a great experience. You do lose a fair amount of time in travelling. We flew out of Quito (old airport) on an early morning flight to Coca. We were in Coca for just over an hour, and then headed downriver to Napo Wildlife Center, about a two hour boat ride. The Yarina boat ride only looks to be an hour, but if you are going to go all that way, I would pick the lodge you wanted to go to and not worry about the boat ride times. We had some good birds from the boat.

Anyway, we spent 6 nights there to minimize the impact of travel time. Most people only seem to spend two or three days, which doesn't seem like enough time to me. While it was a fabulous experience, it was not our first trip to Ecuador. I don't know of any birding boat tours. There are so many good places to bird in EC, even just northwest EC, that you can't hit them all in a couple of weeks. I think a lot of times people sacrifice some overall quality of the trip by worrying about trying to cover too many sites.
 

gdhunter

Well-known member
I think a lot of times people sacrifice some overall quality of the trip by worrying about trying to cover too many sites.

In 2008 we made our first trip to Costa Rica, characterizing it as "once in a lifetime". Have returned once every year since then. We're now treating Ecuador as "once in a lifetime"!

Your last point is well made. During two weeks we're planning to get at least some exposure to tropical, subtropical, temperate and (en route) paramo zones. However, that's made easier by keeping the route simple & accessible. Apparently the highway distance between Quito and Tena is about 185 km (115 miles) and the estimated travel time just over 3 hours(?). Our plan is to break that up by staying near temperate Papallacta (perhaps Guango Lodge) for a couple of nights before going to Tena/Misahualli; that gets about 65 km behind us.

We're contemplating four nights in the lower tropical zone around Misahualli before moving (for two nights) to the upper tropics at WildSumaco Lodge (perhaps 20 km from Tena). Thence another 40 km or so before two nights in the upper subtropics at Cabanas San Isidro, concluding our eastern slope adventure (after which we're planning on a 4-night "northwest extension" centered around Mindo).

That's all penciled in and subject to change, but the distances are not daunting and the time between sites seems quite manageable. I'm not sure just how dramatically the birdlife changes along the Rio Napo from Misahualli to the area east of Coca, but the one bird list I've seen that is apparently most applicable to Misahualli (the Jatun Sacha checklist found here: http://www.pululahuahostal.com/Birdlist_Jatun_Sacha.pdf) suggests reasonably good birding potential, especially for birders who have not ventured into South America.

I do not know that "once in a lifetime" will become "once a year" in this instance, but I would not be surprised if we don't use this trip to establish a bit of familiarity before returning with a more concentrated geographic focus.

Thanks for the observations and advice.

Gary H
 

ptickner

Well-known member
Your last post made me laugh. After years of going to Ecuador, I just returned last Friday from a trip to Costa Rica! We're going in opposite directions.

If your planning a day or two in the Quito area, I'd give Yanacocha some thought. It is a little higher than Quito at 10,500 ft, but it has some excellent birding and can be done as a day trip. You could also drop in to Pululahua, which is lower than Quito.
 

gdhunter

Well-known member
You could also drop in to Pululahua, which is lower than Quito.

Am actually thinking of allocating three of our four "Mindo extension" nights to Mindo and the fourth to Pululahua. That would be the last night before our return to Quito for departure. It looks like an area that could produce a few nice additions to a trip list (and life lists).

Gary H
 

ovenbird43

Well-known member
If you have even a few days available to spend at a lodge along the Napo, I think that the quality of the birding will far outweigh the time lost to transportation (which is not entirely lost, the journey along the Napo is enjoyable and can produce a few good birds). Especially if you come from Wildsumaco, it's a 2-hour drive to Coca (if I recall correctly - double-check with somebody), and depending on what lodge you visit it's only another ~2 hours' boat ride.

Just my 2 cents, and of course you may decide that it is better to wait until you can spend 4-5 days at the lodge, to get the most out of the journey and the cost. FYI, Wildsumaco has a "budget" option, they have researcher housing that is open to visiting birders (pending availability I assume) for $50/night including meals (as of two years ago). It's up the road about 1 km from the main lodge, and visitors who use this option are still welcome to view the feeders at the main lodge.
 

Nick French

Well-known member
If you are going to Pululahua Lodge - Renato is a good guide for anywhere around Quito, speaks English very well and will drive you to all the locations in the area. He has taken me out for two short trips and both have been excellent and certainly can give good advice on where to go. In the area Yanacocha is good, as is Refugio Paz de las Aves and on East slope Antisana, Guacamayo, Guango Lodge, WildSumaco and Cabanas San Isidro. To be honest you cannot go far wrong - enjoy!
 

gdhunter

Well-known member
If you are going to Pululahua Lodge - Renato is a good guide for anywhere around Quito, speaks English very well and will drive you to all the locations in the area

Thanks for the advice. Had originally planned to devote 5-6 days (4-5 nights) entirely in and around Mindo (extending to include a trip to Rio Silanche) but am wondering if (with dedicated transportation, at least) Yanacocha, Pulululahua Geobotanical Reserve and the Tandayapa Valley might merit at least some time. Apparently within striking distance also is a well-known oilbird cave and a lodge known for its umbrellabirds.

Gary H
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top