Huaorani Kayaking Expedition
The Huaorani Kayaking Expedition is in the Yasuni National Park, home of the Huaorani people and the biggest National Park in Ecuador. The Huaorani have inhabited the headwaters of the Amazon for millennia. They have lived as hunters and gatherers, entirely without contact from outsiders until the end of the 1950s. The Huaorani continue to maintain a largely traditional lifestyle, living in the rainforest, although missionaries and oil companies have had some influence.
DAY 1: INTRODUCTION TO THE RAINFOREST AND PADDLING
We fly to Coca and then transfer by vehicle for about three hours until we reach the banks of the Tiguino River, where our kayaks and Huaorani guide will be awaiting us. Our first visit will be a Huaorani community, where we will learn about their traditional lifestyle and beliefs. We will share experiences with local people, hear their traditions and history and feel the different sounds and colours of this unique habitat. We will set up our campsite and will be hosted by a Huaorani family, as night falls, and enjoy a gourmet dinner around a camp fire. (L, D)
DAY 2: TIGUINO RIVER PADDLING
After a safety talk, we will start paddling downstream in our kayaks. It is a challenging trip because we must reach our second campsite, about 25 kilometers downstream. The paddle is great opportunity to observe the Amazon wildlife, including birds, monkeys and mammals. As we travel along the Tiguino, other small tributaries feed the river, which will widen up. Along the way, we will make some short stops to stretch our muscles. We may see tropical flowers, exotic trees and medicinal plants. Expect to arrive at the second campsite late in the day but exhilirated. (B, L, D)
DAY 3: PADDLING AND JUNGLE HIKE EXPLORATION
We keep paddling until we reach our main base camp at Bataburo: a wooden deck with a thatched roof restaurant, bedroom and bathroom facilities. Paddling through the Tiguino will give us opportunities to observe lots of wildlife and understand this unique ecosystem. In the afternoon, we set off into the rainforest in search of local wildlife; we will hike into the hilly rainforest in the company of both our bi-lingual naturalist guide and our local guide, who will introduce us to a wide range of medicinal plants. If we are lucky, we may see footprints along the trail of different rodents and other mammals. We will have the opportunity to learn more about the Huaorani's practical and spiritual relationship with their rainforest environment, learn about traditional plants, their use in the community, medicinal techniques and the very important interaction in nature between insects, animals and plants. We return to base camp for the evening. (B,L, D)
DAY 4: KAYAKING, HIKING AND LAKES EXPLORATION
We will paddle downstream for about 10 kilometers. This 3-4 hour trip is an excellent time to closely watch the coastline for animals and birds. Our goal is to reach a series of small lakes, where we will paddle in our wooden canoes. This enchanting flooded forest is a great spot for fishing. We will have a good chance to spot the Hoatzin, a unique and prehistoric bird, along to the river banks. If we're lucky, we'll also see caimans (a cousin of the alligator) lurking in the vegetation. Once we come back to Bataburo base camp, we will have the chance to learn how to work with chambira, a palm tree fiber used locally for a variety of purposes. At the end of the day, we will relax on hammocks and share our experiences. (B, L, D)
DAY 5: HIKING AND RETURN TO COCA
We make an early start to enjoy the glorious sunrise. We take short wildlife hikes throughout the day to spot some of the common species of monkeys, including the Red Howler Monkey, the Spider Monkey and the Woolly Monkey. We will take a motor canoe back upstream, to where the river is crossed by a road bridge. Here we disembark and head overland in vehicles to the frontier town of Coca where we will arrive at our hotel for a relaxing evening. (B, L, D)
DAY 6: After breakfast we will transfer to the airport of Coca for our flight back to Quito. (B)
2020 Price per person in US$: $2638 for 2 people, $2070 for 3, $1911 for 4, $1320 for 5-9. Single supplement = $329
Can start on any day.
Life zone: Tropical Humid Forest
Distance: About 90 kms south of Coca.
Average temperature: Day 15-34 °C / Night: 12-17 °C
Season: All year
Travel time: 30 minute flight Quito-Coca. 3 hour drive to put in the river.
About the food
We do not add to the pressure on the environment by consuming food that the Huaorani hunt and gather from the forest. The majority of the food for the tourist operation is brought from Quito, including drinking water. During the trip, we offer gourmet and local food cooked fresh by out staff. Normally breakfast will include: granola, fresh fruit, whole wheat bread, fresh coffee or tea, cereal, marmalade, pancakes or French toast, yoghurt and eggs of your choice. For lunch or box lunch, we offer a different variety of sandwiches, fruits, cheese, raisins, peanuts, dried fruits, juices and fresh vegetables. For dinner we prepare delicious soups every day, with main gourmet courses such as spaghetti al pesto, fettuccini, risotto, and local dishes such as rice with beans, plantains and yucca, mixed with a variety of meats or fresh local fish from the river, mashed potatoes and fresh salads and vegetables, all complemented with red or white wine, water or juice.
About this Tour
Our program involves the exploration of both primary and secondary rainforest in the company of the Huaoranis and our own bilingual kayak expedition leaders. Clients will have the possibility of observing Amazon wildlife during the hikes and while paddling the river, and will receive a conservationist interpretation of the ecology and actual situation of the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest.
Your visit will help encourage the Huaorani to support responsible ecotourism as a viable, sustainable alternative, as opposed to surrendering to the destructive appetites of the oil industry. And most of all, your visit will provide an important income which will reinforce and promote the long-term conservation of Huaorani cultural identity and the nurturing of their environment.In sum, this programme is a very special experience which will take you to one of the most ecologically-important areas on the planet, accompanied and guided by specialized rainforest guides. Although we do not provide such city comforts as hot water and private showers, we do provide an intimate encounter with nature at its most exuberant, and the chance to witness life in the rainforest through the eyes of people who have lived there for millennia.
Degree of difficulty: Moderate to Challenging. This specific program runs mostly in a remote and undeveloped area. You must be aware of the possible dangers of this type of travel (e.g. limited medical facilities in the area, mountain and river travel, non-standard accommodation), and that conditions can mean a greater risk of discomfort, sickness, theft, natural disaster, etc.
Note: While it is nice to have a schedule, you will find it more satisfying if we let the forest, the weather and our Huaorani guides lead the way… This itinerary should only serve as a guideline. Possible changes due to weather or river conditions may prevent us from keeping a tight schedule. This itinerary is designed according to our experiences, but conditions can change without prior notice, and therefore guides are entitled to modify or change the itinerary for the best interest and safety of the group. Being flexible in the Amazon will allow you to get the most from your experience.
"The best adventure time ever, thanks to Jim. He fixed everything in a professional and warm fashion, considering all the possibilities and making the smartest recommendations. Local guides were the best, with impressive knowledge of the communities we visited, and the most professional service we´ve ever had in such a difficult environment. They were always ready for anything."