Leaving Misahualli a small remote dilapidated port at the junction of the Napo and Misahualli Rivers our first stop would have been the Sumaco Napo-Galeras National Park with its Volcano soaring 3723 meters above the dense jungle. (thick fog and rain stopped us)
Next major town is Coca the gateway to Yasuni National Park. Great town to do shopping before heading into the Oriente. Until the 1980s, Coca was a small outpost on the junction of the Coca, Payamino, and Napo Rivers. With the discovery of nearby oil reserves in the 1980s, Coca rapidly grew and population, with the help of hefty investments from foreign oil companies. It now has a population of about 20,000 inhabitants. While oil remains an important industry, city government has been investing in tourism infrastructure and marketing the area to travellers for the past ten years.
The two sectors are often at odds, as oil extraction has caused considerable degradation to the surrounding jungle, reducing potential for tourism. Yasuni National Park south of Coca is Ecuador’s largest mainland National Park. Yasuní is mostly uninhabited, except for several Huaorani indigenous families who have lived within the park boundaries for generations. The Ecuadorian government gave “Conoco,” a U.S. based oil company, the right to begin exploitation within the Park but Maxus Oil Consortium and currently YPF of Argentina later replaced it. Since then, a 110-km road has been built into the area for the use of oil workers, locals, researchers and travellers like us.
The other main attraction is Limoncocha Biological Reserve, on the north shore of the Napo River between the Coca and Aguarico rivers. The Reserve also contains the Laguna Limoncocha where Quichua families live and grow mainly subsistence products along with some cash crops. Petroleum activities during the 1980s and 1990s have negatively impacted this region and its people. Therefore, the community is welcoming tourist. Our next stop was Cuyabeno Reserve and the end of the road.
Enroute we crossed a few times from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere (crossing the Ecuador) travelling from Spring in the southern hemisphere to Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. Only major town in the area is Lake Agrio close to the Colombian Border. In the 1960s, Lake Agrion (Nueva Loja in the 60’s) mushroomed in size and importance, as a base camp for the US oil company Texaco. According to some sources, the city was then called Source Lake, but was later changed to Lago Agrio (sour lake) because foreign oil workers suffered from long workdays and strenuous working conditions.
Others claim the name Lago Agrio comes from Sour Lake, Texas, which is the US headquarters of Texaco. Another 100KM East close to the Colombia and Peru Border is Cuyabeno Reserve. 605000 hectare of tropical rainforest fauna include several species of monkey, birds, caimans, piranhas, turtles, and conga ants. Freshwater dolphins, giant armadillos, anacondas, and manatees are also occasionally spotted.
The main watershed of the Reserve consists of the Aguarico and the San Miguel Rivers, and the Cuyabeno River and its tributaries. Halfway down the Cuyabeno there is a system of 14 spectacular lagoons created by lowland rainforest floods, typical of the wet season. Petroleum extraction and the activities derived from the oil industry such as road building, colonization, and agriculture have negatively impacted the environment. A variety of indigenous groups, including the Cofan, the Siona, and the Secoya have traditionally inhabited the area.
Imuya, a network of lagoon and rivers in the remote south-east corner of the Cuyabeno reserve is home to pink freshwater dolphins, red howler monkeys, scarlet macaws and the myriad of other wildlife species. Although Imuya (which means River of the Howler Monkeys in Paincoca, the language of the Secoya people) is uninhabited, a journey to the Amazon would be incomplete without meeting the indigenous people who live there.
For this reason, find a tour that is led by a Siona, Secoya or Cofan guide. Our guide was superb and with his help we found several Anaconda’s one was 8 metres long and weight over 200KG see video clip at http://www.doubledutchworldsafari.com.au/video-gallery/south-america/ecuador/This entry was posted in Latest Update