PLANE TRANSPORT: Your plane leaves from Quito's airport at 11:00 am. (flight time subject to change). A bilingual host will meet you in the Quito airport and present a short introduction and orientation to the area. The host will help you with passport, baggage, and travel details. You will proceed to Coca, a short 30-minute flight from Quito.
BUS TRANSPORT: A bus from "Trans Esmeraldas" leaves from the bus station in Quito, (which is located at Santa Maria Street and 9 de Octubre), at 9 p.m. (of day before your trip starts). The trip lasts about 9 hours. Your guide would meet you at El Auca hotel in Coca at 12:00 .
ONCE IN COCA: You will be met by an English speaking, naturalist guide and shuttled from the airport to a waiting motorized canoe at the edge of the Napo River. Your jungle experience begins as the guide explains some of the natural history of the area and introduces you to the ecological characteristics of the river. During your float down the Napo River, enjoy a light lunch and the opportunity to observe the unique flora and fauna of the area. We will travel down this river for about 3 hours before arriving to a small stream called Challuayacu where we will transfer to dugout canoes and paddle into our lake, the Challuacocha, and right up to Sani Lodge. This is the only way to access this remote and magical place, there are no roads in the area.
During the past 15 years, members of the Sani Isla community have been working as guides, canoe men, chefs, and others for first class lodges in the Napo Area. About six years ago, a community member, Don Orlando Gualinga, began a dream about a project of their own. Given that the community had such intimate knowledge of the forest and jungle lodges, in addition to 37,000 hectares of pristine forest, he started searching for external help to start building this project. The first step was to hire qualified management and organize the financing.
Funding to start the construction of 4 cabañas, the bar and the dining room, was provided by an oil company who made an agreement with the community, and after things got started, the Lodge reinvested money to build 6 more cabañas and improve services. Nowadays, management has passed to other hands and we are still reinvesting in our lodge to achieve and sustain a first class level.
This ecotourism based project has other advantages besides economic benefits for the community. "Sani Isla" has developed a sense of pride for their forest and their culture. The lowland Kichwa culture is one tied directly to the jungle. Their creation stories, medicinal remedies and sources of food and fun, are all based in living closely with the forest, and loss of the forest will result in the loss of their culture.