Manatee Amazon River Cruise in Ecuador
Itinerary 5 Days
(Monday to Friday)
EXPLORE THE AMAZON
The New M/V Manatee Amazon Explorer combines the adventure and comfort that only Ecuadorian Amazon river cruises can deliver. This 27 meter-long (90 feet) river boat was specially built to let explorers and adventurous travelers encounter one of the most fascinating places on earth.
Once on board, our guests will enjoy ample rooms, a comfortable bar and lounge, and a sun terrace. Our double cabins feature ample windows, private balconies, air conditioning, hot baths and private bathrooms in order to ensure a pleasant journey on the Napo River. Join our excursions into the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest to encounter a unique and untamed biodiversity, while our experienced crew or service at all times.
DAY 1 - MONDAY: QUITO – COCA – NAPO RIVER Departure from Quito. A short 30-minute flight takes us to the frontier town of El Coca (Francisco de Orellana) – and transfer to the dock, where we will embark on a motorized canoe and navigate down river about 1 hour, to board The New M/V Manatee Amazon Explorer. Since safety on board is of upmost importance, our navigation will not begin until a safety evacuation drill has been completed. Throughout the journey we have a chance to admire the rainforest landscape and sand banks of the great Napo River.
Immediately after boarding The New M/V Manatee Amazon Explorer, we continue navigating downstream. This will be the first of many opportunities passengers will have to enjoy the exciting features of our cruise ship: the spacious social areas, comfortable suites, and an observation deck that offers spectacular views.
Once you have comfortably settled into The New M/V Manatee Amazon Explorer , we will be joined by local tour/nature guides who will give us a complete and condensed introduction to the Ecuadorian Amazon. Following this Amazonian induction, we will enjoy dinner under the mesmerizing sunset. An evening walk is organized after sunset; giving us the opportunity to discover the forest’s nocturnal activity while listening to the incessant sounds of nature.
DAY 1 - MONDAY: QUITO – COCA – NAPO RIVER
Departure from Quito. A short 30-minute flight takes us to the frontier town of El Coca (Francisco de Orellana) – and transfer to the dock, where we will embark on a motorized canoe and navigate down river about 1 hour, to board The New M/V Manatee Amazon Explorer. Since safety on board is of upmost importance, our navigation will not begin until a safety evacuation drill has been completed. Throughout the journey we have a chance to admire the rainforest landscape and sand banks of the great Napo River.
DAY 2 - TUESDAY: BORDER WITH PERU (THE HEART OF YASUNÍ)
Before disembarking, we will enjoy breakfast atop the cruise ship’s deck, accompanied by the bird’s melody. After this unique gastronomic experience, we disembark on land for our first daylight close-and-personal tropical rainforest experience. It is on this morning adventure, where we will learn about the relationship between plants and animals while closely watching out for samples of Amazonia’s fascinating biodiversity at every turn.
After this extraordinary encounter with the Ecuadorian Amazon, we will enjoy lunch aboard, The New M/V Manatee Amazon Explorer navigates to one of the most pristine and little explored sections of Ecuadorian Amazonia, home to the legendary Pink River dolphin, Black Caiman and Anaconda.
We may also find river turtles and various species of monkeys, as well as the primitive Hoatzin, a one-of-a-kind bird locally known as "the Stinky Turkey". The only way to actually visit this flooded ecosystem is by canoe, a ride that will reveal the beauty of a lush jungle world. Throughout the day, The New M/V Manatee Amazon Explorer will continue navigating alongside the Ecuadorian-Peruvian border. After such an incredible day in the Amazon, we will end the night accompanied by a delicious dinner and by local guides, ready to answer any and all questions pertaining to the Ecuadorian Amazon. For our more adventurous passengers, please inquire about our camping program.
DAY 3 - WEDNESDAY: MEETING THE COMMUNITY – ACTIVITIES ON BOARD – ISLAND EXPLORATION
The New M/V Manatee Amazon Explorer will continue upstream, en route to the Pañacocha Lake (Piranha Lake, in the native language Quechua). Here we will be marveled by the unique creatures that inhabit the area: Common Squirrel Monkeys, and of course the infamous Piranhas.
The ecosystem of the Pañacocha Lake and its surrounding areas make it the perfect habitat for the Piranha, as well as the Water Monkey Fish, known locally as Arawana and the White Caiman. Later, we will be given the once in a lifetime opportunity to visit an Authentic Indigenous home, belonging to the Oraco family.
After, we return on board the cruise for lunch and take a moment to relax while navigating upstream. After lunch we will offer various cultural lectures, documentary screenings, and hands on experiences regarding topics about: local handcrafts and cuisine. We will offer a lecture and documentary screening, and if time permits, learn about (and make) typical handicrafts of the area. In the afternoon, we explore one of the largest river islands of the Napo River, home to hundreds of Amazonian monkeys.
Unquestionably, after an entire day in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon, you will have more questions than answers about the amazon. Luckily for our passengers, we will host a dinner accompanied by local nature and cultural guides who will make sure everyone on board is an expert on Ecuadorian Amazonia. We visit a school located on the banks of the Napo River, where we will have the opportunity to interact with children of the area and learn about the educational system of a remote jungle community in Ecuador.
DAY 4. THURSDAY: OBSERVATION TOWER – LIMONCOCHA BIOLOGICAL RESERVE
Breakfast on board. We set out to visit one of the most amazing spectacles located on this side of the western Amazonia, known as Parrot Clay Licks, these unique pools of mud are rich in minerals and attract hundreds of parrots, parakeets and amazons every day.
Weather permitting, we will have a chance to visit this astonishing natural phenomenon. Later we will visit the Sani Warmi Kichwa Interpretation Center, where a group of Kichwa women will speak and share about their customs, cuisine and daily life. They have created the center in order to showcase their culture. The visit to the Sani Warmi community is a unique opportunity to learn about Amazonian lifestyles along the Napo River. You will also have the opportunity to buy handmade crafts, local products and souvenirs. We will enjoy lunch on board, as we navigate to Puerto Pedro.
Before sunset, we will visit the Añangu Tower, which offers great photograph opportunities after climbing a ceibo tree and enjoy an astonishing view of the Amazon from its wooden tower. This is a great opportunity to do birdwatching activities. Wether permiting and as an optional excursion, a stop at the Yakukawsay Kichwa Interpretation Centre, and end with an interesting evening walk through the forest (depending on accessibility, river water levels and weather conditions). Our trip into Ecuadorian Amazon, ends here, as we will begin our trip back to _Itaya_. Our last night in the Ecuadorian Amazon, will enjoy a farewell cocktail with all our staff.
DAY 5 FRIDAY: RETURN
In the morning, disembark The New M/V Manatee Amazon Explorer and transfer by motorized canoe to Coca (1-hour ride); flight to Quito.
In the morning we will visit the Amazonian Turtles, followed by a brunch on board the cruise ship. After brunch, we disembark the M/V Anakonda and will be transfer by motorized canoe to Coca (1-hour ride); flight to Quito.
OUR PROGRAMS INCLUDE:
- Transfer In and Out from Coca’s airport to and from the M/V Manatee
- On board Accommodation
- Programmed visits according to itinerary with a certified naturalistic guide
- Unlimited water, coffee and tea
- All meals while on board
OUR PROGRAMS DO NOT INCLUDE:
- Air ticket Quito – Coca – Quito
- Transfers to and from Quito’s airport
- Communities entrances fees
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
- Tips and gratuities
- Internet Wi-Fi
- Personal Expenses
- Any other service not mentioned herein
NOTE: Please note the detailed itinerary specified above is an example of our operation, due to technical and operational factors; Manatee Amazon Explorer reserves the right to change it without previous notice.
There is no need to embellish the marvelous reality of Amazonia in terms of birds. With over 580 recorded species, including raucous parrots, glorious eagles, patterned herons, blindingly bright tanagers and cotingas, peculiarly unique hoatzins and umbrellabirds —and everything in between —birds are always a highlight of neotropical rainforests. Ecuadorian Amazonia, as we’ve mentioned before, is quite attractive because of its accessibility… whereas other parts of Amazonian South America may take a day or more to actually reach, here, the wait to find yourself birding in some of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth is much shorter! But one of the great things about birding with us at Manatee, is the fact that we can travel across the gamut of Amazonian ecosystems during a single trip, from the flooded forests of the Peruvian Border, the lake habitats of Limoncocha and Pañacocha, and extremely remote areas near the Peruvian border, to the record-breaking ever-diverse Yasuní, giving you the most complete version possible of bird life in the Ecuadorian Amazon Basin. We walk forests, climb observation towers, hide behind blinds, or silently canoe inside black water streams and out in open blackwater lakes, seeking out as many birds as possible: you’ll be amazed at the variety, beauty and fascinating singularities of hundreds of different species.
A lot goes on on the ground in the rainforest. So much, we couldn’t write enough books about it to describe it all. This realm, the easiest realm to actually explore inside jungle habitats, is so teeming in life not even the most expert scientists could wish to identify it all. Some creatures are perfectly camouflaged, like walking sticks, sphinx moths, dried-leaf katydids, and glass frogs, others are quite the opposite, bright and perky like rainbow katydids, orchid bees, Morpho butterflies or poison-arrow frogs… antbirds closely following army ants, leafcutter ants creating enormous highways from one point of the forest to another, sculptural buttress roots towering above the tallest humans, the most unbelievable colors and shapes of fungi growing on fallen tree trunks… We walk and hike the rainforests under towering trees —as towering as a city full of skyscrapers—, the light trickling down in layers, smelling the aromas of a million different plants, feeling the presence of innumerable creatures filling every corner of the forest. The understory is a world within itself… Every plant holds a universe. Imagine every tree… imagine the entire forest… We program different walks for both inside forest exploration or lounging riverbanks and lakes, on longer, shorter, harder or easier trails, depending on interest or difficulty level, together with guides that enlighten us with their knowledge on life in the forest, the faunal communities that inhabit them, the medicinal plants that grow inside them, and much more…
Observation towers are spectacular vantage points that give us a sense of the forest’s overall scale. We climb several hundred steps (over 50 meters) up one of the enormous emergent trees traveling through the vertical stratification created by the forest’s spectacular height and diversity. We move towards the light, reaching the subcanopy and later the canopy, noticing the different biological realities of each level, and then higher still, above the tree tops to a most spectacular view from where one can spot nesting birds, undulating mountain ridges, or monkeys swinging from trees. There is amazing activity up in this “neck of the woods”. Scientists have explored little of these upper areas of the forest, mainly because of the difficulty of getting to them: which means thousands upon thousands of hectares of undiscovered territory.
Perhaps the closest sensation to penetrating paradise when visiting the Amazon Basin takes place on canoe, inching down a black-water stream with the forest gyrating above you in a million sounds… These waters are full of vitamins and minerals, and like tea, they obtain their color from the vegetation that falls in them. You may suddenly surprise a pair of macaws preening each other, monkeys cackling while they feed or find enormous 2-meter long Giant Otters swimming up a creek with the entire family. The ancient inhabitants of these lands mastered the region’s waterways, surely the most efficient way to transport themselves and their necessities to and from their homes and communes, and you will be able to experience, with them, the inspiring, ageless practice of paddling in the midst of forest life. At night you can seek out caiman and in the day the spectacular Pink River Dolphins or our very emblem, the elusive Manatee… For special, remote exploration, we use motorized canoes to get to and back from the site in time to unwind and dine onboard.