Return to Quito

Wednesday, July 16, 2008: We started a little later today. We checked out the Zigzag Heron again on our way downstream. Pretty soon, we noticed the creek was flowing the wrong way. The Napo is rising and was pushing water into the creek. It started to rain, so we broke out panchos. We also decided it was time to add a fourth paddle. Paul, Steve, and I were variously the third and fourth paddlers.

As we continued down the creek, the water started to change color from blackwater to “whitewater”, meaning that slit-laden Napo water had pushed that far upstream. It stopped raining again by the time we reached the dock at the warehouse.

At the warehouse, we moved to the motor canoe “Zigzag Heron” for our trip back to Coca. Flyover Orange-winged Amazons on the river were the only lifer of the day. It's hard to think of them as life birds because there are many flying around Miami.

My Cabin NWC Map
My Cabin at NWC NWC Map
Preparing to Leave The Lodge
Preparing to Leave Last Views of the Lodge

The Añangu and the Napo Wildlife Center

I was very impressed with the Napo Wildlife Center. It's sometimes described as a luxury jungle lodge, and it is. Obviously, there are limits to the amount of luxury possible when you're in the wilderness, but the NWC combines comfortable accomodations and good food with those little touches that make you feel pampered—such as the hot lunch at the canopy tower or the fruit juice when you return from a morning or afternoon birding trip in the canoe. It was clear we were in professional hands from the moment they met us at the Quito airport. The Añangu community have worked hard to make this lodge a going concern and have succeeded. I understand there is now a year's waiting list to stay at the lodge, and deservedly so.

I'm also impressed by their efforts to maintain their community as they make the transition from the rainforest life to the 21st century. They are working hard to make that happen on their own terms, where they keep the best of their current life (and the beautiful rainforest setting they live in) while taking advantage of what the modern world has to offer. This is not an easy balancing act, but from what I saw, they are handling it well, and the NWC is a key component in this.

Flight to Quito

We arrived in Coca a little before 10am, and went directly to the airport. The Coca airport provided a couple of trip birds (Black-faced Grassquit and Red-breasted Blackbird). The flight to Quito was late, but short once we left. Juan met us at the airport and drove us to the Hotel Sebastian.

From the Plane
Amazon Basin Quito
Amazon Basin near Coca Quito

The other participants are leaving tomorrow. Much of the new group showed up while we were gathering for dinner, and they joined us for dinner at the Hotel Sebastian.

I've been having some computer issues and am still trying to figure them out. At Napo, I was having trouble backing up photos either to the iPod or PhotoSafe. The PhotoSafe is working ok again. It may have been the humidity or may have been induced by the computer. It seems the USB ports on the PowerBook aren't working correctly. This may clear as it dries out. The iPod acquired new problems when I connected it to the computer, but they seem to have been corrected by letting it run down. I'm working around the serial problem by backing up key files to my smallest CF card, which I can access using FireWire. It's clumsy, but it works.

Today's totals were 47 species including 1 lifer, making a grand total of 185 bird species with 111 lifers.

Hotel Sebastian, Quito