Let me tell you a little bit about my Amazon Lodge Experience.
Summer vacation was closing in. I recall my summers back when I was a kid, spending countless days with my neighborhood buddies exploring the entire Cumbaya Valley in the suburbs of Quito. Great memories. When summer arrived we did at least one big trip with my folks. This could be the beach, Cuenca, Loja, Colombia or to the USA. But, I also took part in summer camps in a country club called Jacaranda and with a church group to the Amazon Rainforest.
I recall I used to always look forward to summer so I could make my way to the Jungle. Those trips to the Amazon are still some of my best memories to date. They were truly amazing.
July was coming to a close and my kid asked me before falling asleep:
“When are you going to take your vacation time this year, since I want to spend some of my vacation time with you.”
That really hit me and I made it my mission to take my kid on a cool trip. I mean I work for a travel agency for crying out loud!
So I began thinking about what to do for our vacation time. I thought about this for a while and came to a decision that my kid was old enough and mature enough to have an Amazon Lodge Experience. So I made arrangements with a family friendly lodge called: YARINA LODGE.
On the way to the Yarina Lodge
I took two days off of work and requested to go for a 3-day 2-night tour to the Yarina Lodge located about 1 hour and 30 minutes on a speedboat from the Coca docks.
On the way to Coca by car, you can catch a glimpse of the Rainforest Horizon.
Driving to Coca
I made my way to Coca on Thursday. It was an easy drive, mostly dry all the way there. We made it to Coca from Quito in my car in about 6 hours. We stopped in Baeza for lunch and found a nice restaurant that served business lunches. It was really good and the price was nice $3.50 per meal which included soup, a main dish, and a small dessert. (EL MOTILON). After lunch, we kept on trucking and made it to Coca in the afternoon.
El Coca – Hot and humid
Finally, we had arrived in Coca. Coca has a special place in my heart, I worked there back in 2012-2013 for the Ministry of Public Health. I had to endure the extreme heat and humidity and never got a chance to do a trip to the Rainforest. Coca feels like Purgatory but with Hell´s weather. It’s a hard city to live in, so hot with cement everywhere and the three rivers that surround the small town make it feel as if you opened two pots with boiling water next to your bed.
What to do in El Coca
Not much to see or do in the town of Coca really but I always tried to find something neat or special. I got a bunch of flashbacks as I drove through Coca. We passed by the new Hospital I helped build and organize. Then we drove by the old hospital which I helped modernize and become more functional. I also showed my wife and kid where I spent my Coca afternoons. We drove by the old bridge which has now been taken down and crossed the new bridge which I climbed all the way to the top wearing a Spiderman mask.
My kid was fascinated with this. He doesn’t really believe me yet and thinks that’s Peter Parker on the top!
Where to stay in El Coca
Once in El Coca, I tried looking for accommodation. I asked at La Mision a yesteryear hotel in Coca which has a nice pool but is looking ever so decrepit and they think they are all that and a bag of chips so I didn’t stay there. Another nice hotel (El Auca) is located next to the park in El Coca. It has some regular rooms and some huts. They have a small zoo-like area with some monkeys and parrots. It’s nice, it has a nice restaurant and comfy rooms.
I decided to stay at the OASIS Hotel which is the meeting point to board your speedboat to Yarina so it made sense. The Oasis hotel is even older and more run down then La Mision and it doesn’t have a pool but it was adequate enough for a one night stay. I liked their bathrooms and they brought a TV to our room and the AC actually worked well. It was cheap a room was $16 USD for the night for all three of us.
What to eat when in El Coca
At night we cruised around for a while since it was not that hot and I took the fam to eat at my favorite place in Coca. PIKO RIKO chicken. Great chicken, trust me.
We were leaving at 10-11 am that Friday so we woke up early went to find breakfast in Coca and found a really nice Bakery run by an Italian. Great prices, great bread, good coffee, and a really nice owner make this bakery which is located next to the Mall on the Boardwalk of the Napo River a true find in Coca. The Bakery is called MASSA MADRE and if you find yourself in Coca I really recommend it. Good sourdough bread and for lunch some mini pizzas and calzones.
After breakfast, we went back to the hotel and got ready to board the speedboat.
It takes a little more than 1 hour to get to the Yarina Lodge on a speedboat zooming on the Rio Napo.
We had arrived and were ready for our Amazon lodge experience.
Arrival and Lunch
We got in at around 11 am, got settled into our cabins and were called in for Lunch at noon.
Lunch was a Yucca soup which was very replenishing. Then for our main dish, we had some nice spaghetti a la Bolognese. I wasn’t expecting much but was totally surprised at how yummy the food was at the lodge. The chef is a local Quichua but he has a gift at making really tasty food. Highly recommended!
A siesta and the first trek
After lunch, we went back to our huts to take a short siesta. It really makes no sense to go out on a trek or visit during midday since the heat is out of control and it would be overkill to do so.
We left at 3 pm on our first trek on our Amazon lodge experience. Wilson our guide took us on a 2-hour walk in the primary rainforest where we were able to see three species of monkeys, a bunch of insects like ants (5 types) spiders, and many birds. We even saw some unique parrots fly by screaming. Beautiful just beautiful.
Dinner and night activity
We got back and had some awesome dinner. I don’t know if its the quality of the cooking or how tired and exhausted you are that makes every meal you eat at the Yarina taste like heaven.
My kid and wife were totally spent and I went on a night trek. Actually, the guide took me and another dude to SAPO COCHA which is a small lagoon they have close to the Yarina Lodge. It’s surreal, the darkness helps you hear and experience so much. We got to see caimans, fireflies, bats, and the prehistoric Hoatzin. Ahhh the Hoatzin, as you slither through the lake on a dugout canoe you begin to hear the sound of panting. At first, I thought it was some pervert … jejeje but it was the sound of the stinky turkey – THE HOATZIN.
I really wanted to see this guy and I did once at night and then saw a group of 8 during the day at the same lake. AMAZING!!!
I was mystified by the experience. As we moved down the small tributary river I whistled the Indiana Jones song and felt like Indy in his many journeys.
Day 2 at the Yarina Lodge
The next day had us go to the lake again but during the day. We saw many monkeys, distinct birds, the Hoatzin again and we were taken to a giant tree that had some huge vines where you can Tarzan Swing. I did and so did my boy and wife. Probably one of my favorite things we did at the lodge. Crazy Cool.
We had another hike and trek in the afternoon. It’s crazy how much you sweat here. I was drenched but I’m happy to say that I’m in a great physical condition since even though I was tired and what not I could handle it easily. My kid did get quite tired but he kept on trucking like a champ.
At the end of it all, we didn’t want to leave. In the last minutes we were there we saw wildlife and creepy crawlers.
All in all the tour was fantastic. We loved it and didn’t want to leave. I want to get back there sometime soon but my next visit might be the Yasuni.