Quito to Coca
Our truck-taxi took us back to the Quito airport where we met Paulina from the Anakonda River cruises office and we checked in for our flight to Coca.
We met the other passengers on our cruise, Steve and Darci from Canada and Ken and Beverly from San Diego, in the Departure Gate waiting area. After a bit of trying to understand the Spanish announcements over the PA, we learned that the Coca airport was closed due to heavy rains. Our flight was delayed since our plane was still in Coca. A rather large number of passengers were waiting in the gate area and Tom noticed that they were predominantly male. We took off around 11:30AM which was an hour and a half late. Later we learned that the majority of passengers were oil company workers going back for their next shift.
Arrival on the Anakonda
The flight took only a half hour and we got in to be greeted by a representative of our boat (the Anakonda). Freddy is the director of excursions and walks and he escorted us to a taxi for a short drive to the dock where our covered motorized “canoe” was waiting. Each person was greeted with a hearty handshake by Maurice who introduced himself as the “boat manager”. We later learned he had designed the boat and supervised its construction and was the captain! It was nearly a 2 hour ride from Coca to the boat which was moored along the shore. Our luggage was brought to our rooms which are spacious and have large window, a big bathroom with a fancy shower. We are in the Caiman room (all the rooms are named after wildlife). A lunch (more like a dinner!) was ready at 2:30 and we were off on our first exploration immediately afterward.
Lake Tour & Caiman
We were outfitted with ponchos and life jackets and boarded the motor canoe - a fiberglas twin outboard engine craft capable of carrying a dozen passengers. However we soon discovered that the six of us who had flown together from Quito were the only passengers on this part of the cruise. The boat has a capacity of 40 passengers, just launched in mid 2013, and just getting known around the travel business - now were all beginning to believe this is our “private” cruise. Freddy, our naturalist is a native Kuichwa and is very knowledgable on the Amazon River and its tributaries (we are on the Napo Rver which flows into the Amazon). We drove to lake Limoncocha for our methodical search for shore life and later, after dark for the prehistoric looking Caiman (alligator-like). Both were rewarded with outstanding specimens and an exciting ride.