Since there are no set itineraries, Kapawi Lodge offers a multitude of activities, so that with your guides and your group you can design a flexible program to suit your interests and activity level. Activities include bird watching, a choice of forest hikes (from easy to difficult), canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and self-guided hikes. Most itineraries include a visit to an Achuar community.
The Achuar Community.
Most groups are invited into a home to experience Achuar hospitality and taste the famous manioc beer. Depending on your fitness level there are a variety of rainforest hikes to learn about the flora, fauna and Achuar cosmology and culture. Your Achuar guide will delight and amaze you with all the different uses of plants, from food to medicine, to building materials. If you are lucky enough to come across traditional Achuar foods you will have the opportunity to taste lemon ants or palm larvae -- not for the faint-hearted!
Kapawi lodge is a paradise for bird watchers and amateurs alike with more species of birds in the Kapawi area alone than in all of North America. Kapawi has specific Achuar guides who are birding specialists. These guides are not always available so you need to advise us in advance to request one.
Fish, canoe, kayak, swim, or float.
Located on the banks of the Capahuari river, you can fish for piranha, or take a traditional Achuar canoe or kayak to explore sleepy streams, thick with jungle foliage, where you will feel a million miles from western civilization. For those who prefer less effort, slip into a rubber ring or swim and let the current carry you downstream; no need to worry, the only wildlife you’re likely to encounter are the magical pink dolphins.
Dining in the forest.
Don’t miss the alfresco dining experience in the forest: after a beautiful walk your guides will set up a delicious hot lunch in the forest beneath the jungle canopy.
A Typical Day.
6:00AM. Early risers can start their day as early as 6:00AM to catch the animals and birds at their most active. Hot drinks and light snacks are available before heading off for your early morning activities -- nothing too strenuous for first thing in the morning, just relax in the canoe as you’re taken upstream bird watching or downstream to the clay lick where the parrots and macaws gather most mornings. The dawn light and the symphony of insect, bird and animal calls at this time of the morning will be etched into your memory forever. The canoes will return you to the lodge in time for a big breakfast at 8:00 AM.
9:30 AM – 1:00PM. Morning activities. Choose the type of hike that appeals to you:
Easy path: Short hikes in the rainforest (up to 2½ hours) on well-defined trails, visits to the Achuar communities, trips in canoes and excursions on raft and kayaks.
Moderate path: Medium distance hikes in the rain forest (up to 4 hours) which sometimes cross flooded areas.
Difficult path: Demanding hikes of over 4 hours and in some cases all day or more, in poorly defined, hilly, and often flooded trails. Porters will carry food and supplies for longer expeditions. Excellent physical condition is required!
Depending on what you have arranged with your guides you will either return to the lodge at 1:00 for another delectable dining experience or you may stay in the forest and lunch beneath the trees.
3:00PM – 5:00PM afternoon activities
5:00PM. Return to the lodge. Relax in your hammock with a glass of something delicious.
7:00 PM. Guides briefing. Each evening in the bar, the guides give a briefing detailing the activities for the next day.
7:30PM. Dinner. A delicious dinner will be served in the dining room at 7:30pm where you will be once more serenaded by the sounds of the forest and frogs in the lagoon as you dine.
8:30PM. Optional night activities. Take a gentle night hike along the self guided trail, spotting unbelievably stunning insects, frog, reptiles, and with luck a nocturnal monkey. Watch for night Caiman by canoe –a real highlight -- keep your eyes peeled for their orange eyes just above the surface of the water. Alternatively you can sit or by the fire in the hammock hut and hear talks on the rainforest and Achaur life.
GETTING TO KAPAWI LODGE
One of the most unique and attractive things about the Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve is its remoteness. This remoteness both adds complexity and challenges to the travel arrangements to reach Kapawi, and also provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience a unique part of Ecuador and to see the tropical rainforest from the air, flying in small planes, low over a vast expanse of green. We will endeavour to make your journey to Kapawi as easy and rewarding as possible and to embrace you in Achuar hospitality from the moment your journey begins at Quito airport.
From Quito to Kapawi
The standard travel route to Kapawi is to fly from Quito to a small airstrip at Shell, a town located on the frontier of the Amazon, or to Coca or Macas, depending on the number of guests travelling to Kapawi that day. If you fly to Shell, the southerly route from Quito heads down the valley of the volcanoes and on a clear day the view is breathtaking. Even on cloudy days you can often see the snow covered peaks of the volcanoes through the clouds.
Once in Shell (or Coca or Macas) you will be met by a Kapawi representative who will assist you as you change to smaller airplanes for short jog to the airstrip in Achuar territory. In either of the staging towns (Shell, Coca or Macas,) the waiting time is normally 1 to 3 hours. A representative will arrange a variety of activities and snacks or lunch depending on the anticipated waiting time.
The flight from Shell is a 50 minute flight over miles and miles of unbroken pristine rainforest, arriving at the Achuar community of Wachirpas, located on the banks of the Pastaza River. There you will be welcomed by your Kapawi guides who will escort you on the final leg of your journey, a beautiful 30 minute canoe ride into the majesty and tranquility of this remote part of the world. You will travel up the broad expanse of the Pastaza River, then into the smaller Capahuari River, and moments later arrive at your destination, Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve.
Returning to Quito
The travel process is reversed and you will normally leave the lodge mid-morning by canoe, then fly by small plane from Achuar territory to Shell (or Coca or Macas) where you transfer to the larger plane for the flight back to Quito. Please note: Our scheduled travel days to and from Kapawi are each Monday and Friday. If you are unable to travel on these days, we may be able to arrange special charter flights to accommodate you.
Please note: it’s important to schedule a buffer day for the return to Quito. If weather interferes, the flights will not go, and you would arrive in Quito a day late. You shouldn’t schedule any connections out unless you have a buffer day in between.