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“Great place, awesome location”

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Napo Wildlife Centre
Certificate of Excellence
Calgary, Canada
Level 5 Contributor
51 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Great place, awesome location”
Reviewed April 6, 2013

We did a 5 day, 4 night trip to NWC (March 28 – April 1) after our time on the Galapagos. After reading some recent negative reviews about NWC that seemed to be related to guides and staff, I am happy report that our experience was top notch. The guides, staff and accommodations were just great. At the Quito airport we are met by NWC staff who looked after our check in and boarding passes. It’s a 30 minute flight on a 737 (Aerogal) to Coca where we were met by NWC staff and transferred to the dock area where we met our guide Delfin. It’s then a 90 minute ride down the Napo River to the welcome area where we transferred to the paddled canoes for the trip up Anangu Creek. Unfortunately it poured rain the whole 2 hour trip up the creek, but our guides still pointed out 4 species of monkeys a tree boa and other wildlife.

We (wife and 13 year old son) had cabin #16 right down by the lake (on stilts above the water) which had a beautiful view of the lake. The room was very nice and even had a back deck with a Jacuzzi! The shower was nicer than ours at home with lots of on-demand hot water. The beds were very comfortable with a ceiling fan. Sleeping was never a problem. I love the night chorus of frogs and insects.

The food was good but not exceptional as previously described. Remember though that EVERYTHING gets paddled in up the same creek that you do. The bartender Marcello was really friendly and helpful. All of the other staff were pleasant and attentive. We didn’t see any tension among any of the staff.

Our guides, Deflin (bilingual) and Patricio (local) were exceptional. I can’t say enough good things about them. Delfin was also Kitchwa himself and was “raised in a small jungle village” (his words). They both spent a lot of time explaining the local plants, and cultures from their own personal experiences. One time they heard peccaries off the trail and offered to take us “off route” to find them. My son saw several, including a baby very close up. These guys saw stuff that we would never have noticed. On some of the walks and paddles, we saw lots of stuff and on others less. That’s life with nature. The morning and afternoon excursions were never rushed but be prepared for 5 am and 5:30 am wake up calls! In the end, we saw 8 species of monkeys and more types of birds than you can imagine. We also saw some very cool bugs and a kinkajou on our night walk. We’ve been to similar places in Costa Rica (Drake Bay) and Belize (Pooks Hill) and would put this in a similar category (great).

NWC does have its’ idiosyncrasies as others have noted. Chiefly, you always tour and eat with the same guides and group of visitors. For us that was fine since it was just the 3 of us and our guides, but for other groups with mixed interests and physical abilities, it was more of a challenge for them. I’d encourage you to make your interests and abilities clearly known to the NWC when you book your trip so that you can hopefully get paired with a similar group. If you are 2 people and wait until you get there, it might be too late. Bring cash for tips for the guides and the other staff. They deserve it!

Room Tip: Lakefront rooms are great, especially 15/16.
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
3 Thank sdigel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NapoWildlifeCenter, Guest Relations Manager at Napo Wildlife Centre, responded to this review, April 10, 2013
Thank you for your review, we are pleased to hear you had a great time at Napo, as you noted all our staff are attentive and welcoming and always try to help wherever possible. Please feel free to tell your friends about your experience and we hope you always remember your time at Napo fondly
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Melbourne, Australia
Level 4 Contributor
39 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed April 3, 2013 via mobile

Visiting NWC was a truly memorable experience. The staff attempt to group people with similar interests. There were a few groups of passionate bird watchers, for example.
Our objective was to see a broad spectrum of the life forms found in this part of the world. Our guide Daniela, together with Javier and Boliver ( the hard working indigenous paddlers, who transported us on non-motorised canoes for hours each day) helped us see 9 of the possible 13 types of monkeys, together with birds, insects and plants.
We stayed in room 13, which was well worth any extra cost.
While the 5 am wake up calls were a shock to the system, you have to be guided by the staffs ability to know when you will see the wildlife. The food was always tasty and plentiful. The staff were, for the most part, friendly and helpful. Pedro, the manager, was a standout.
There was an element of "don't mention the war", as our guide did not elaborate on the reasons that swimming in the lagoon has been banned (caiman attack, as per other posts).
The visit to the Kichwa cultural centre was interesting and informative, but I was saddened to see the children (aged 1 to 5) being fed on large bags of potato chips and other junk. I feared for the impact of tourism on the indigenous, and the long term impact of the money flowing into the community.
Being Australian, I was uncomfortable with being guided as to how much to tip each staff member. I would much prefer to tip for exceptional service, and not just tip for someone doing their job. In the end, we tipped, but the majority of guests either did not, or else did so privately.
All in all, I highly recommend NWC. Take bug spray, be prepared to get wet (it is the rain forest), and to be woken up early. But also be prepared to experience undisturbed nature at its very best.

Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
3 Thank baileypandn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NapoWildlifeCenter, Director de Relaciones con Clientes at Napo Wildlife Centre, responded to this review, April 5, 2013
Thank you for your review, we are pleased to hear you enjoyed your stay with us. Our guests opinions are always listened to and we have taken on board your comments. We hope you always remember your Amazon holiday
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed April 1, 2013

A great place. It's not luxurious like a 5 star hotel, but it's hard to imagine being kept more comfortable or served better food in the middle of the Amazon. And it's not a zoo – the animals are often up in the trees or skittering away as soon as you see them, but our Kichwa guide, Meliton, was incredible; he would see things that were totally camouflaged to us, and track hidden animals by sound and smell when all I could hear was the rain and all I could smell the forest. We saw 4 kinds of snakes, 7 kinds of monkeys, caiman, giant otters and countless bird and insect species. Our naturalist Diana was also great - cheerful, helpful, knowledgeable. So yes, they do ask you your preferences and then as far as I could tell they take you on what they'd already planned, but it was great, so we didn't mind. And yes, you do get put with a group of people for your entire stay so if you are grouped up with someone obnoxious it might be unpleasant, but mostly if you are into this kind of trip you are probably going to get along fine with others who have the same preference – everyone we met at the lodge was enjoyable and into the spirit of the place. The only negative is the tipping: at the end it is "suggested" that you leave fairly high tips and I think most of the guests would have preferred higher initial fees and lower suggested tips, as your final impression of the place is all the awkwardness and pressure that goes into tipping. On the other hand, service at the lodge was outstanding in all respects, so maybe the system is working just fine.

I appreciated reading before I left the comments by the reviewer on March 4, 2013 regarding items to bring with you; it is advice worth following. I will add 3 things NOT to bring.
1) Hiking boots. Your boots are inadequate for the mud and thorns; the lodge will give you big rubber boots for hikes, and all you need are sneakers or sandals for wearing on the boats and around the lodge.
2) Rain coat. Your raincoat will be less effective then the ponchos that they will give you to wear.
3) Mosquito head nets. Bring thin long sleeves to wear if you are sensitive to bites, but the mosquitoes weren't bad at all, and insect repellant was sufficient.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Joshua60713
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NapoWildlifeCenter, Director de Relaciones con Clientes at Napo Wildlife Centre, responded to this review, April 3, 2013
Hi, thank you for your review, we are really pleased you enjoyed your stay with us and genuinely value your comments as they are not only helpful to us but other travellers can benefit greatly from the constructive comments made. A report has recently been submitted to our management team containing any common comments made by guests in order to improve our service.
Please feel free to share your experiences with your friends or even enter our photo competition on facebook to win a free holiday.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
La Jolla
Level 6 Contributor
132 reviews
51 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
Reviewed March 31, 2013

My wife and I just got back from a 2 week trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos. The first days we stayed in the Napo Wildlife Center and found it to be excellent. The food was great, the lodge was clean and well maintained and the staff were friendly and helpful. Although it was the rainy season in the Amazon we went at this time to get the calm seas in Galapagos making it a tough choice. However the rain was inter-dispersed with good weather enough to see wildlife although we did not visit the clay lick due to rain. One should recognize that seeing wildlife in the rain forest is extremely difficult even under the best conditions. A few tips to those considering a visit that we pulled off trip advisor that were great. First pick rooms 13 or 14 for the most remote "in the forest" location and bigger rooms. Second, if you can pay extra for a private boat and guide so you wont have to be tied to the desires and schedules of the other visitors at the lodge unless you really want to mix with other folks who might have very different interests from yours. There is still time to interact with others at happy hour and dinner!

Room Tip: Rooms 13 & 14 are in the best location and are suites!
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank AnthonyPM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NapoWildlifeCenter, Guest Relations Manager at Napo Wildlife Centre, responded to this review, April 3, 2013
Hi

Thanks so much for you review, we really appreciate your comments and are glad you had a great time, please fell free to tell your friends about us.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Barcelona, Spain
Level 6 Contributor
797 reviews
162 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 428 helpful votes
Reviewed March 19, 2013

Difficult to rate... This is an eco lodge... No aircon; limited facilities; simple accommodation; no swimming pools; comfortable beds etc.... On a lake; 2 hrs by canoe from the landing stage which is in itself 2 hrs by powered longboat from Coca. It is remote. Run by/on behalf of local indigenous people there were some obvious tensions between staff members. Service was good. Food in the lodge was very good and plentiful although picnic food was poor- soggy roll; crisps and a carton of drink. Guide was highly knowledgeable but more of a very experienced amateur who could not really answer questions outside of his own limited area of expertise. All staff very helpful and pleasant despite the tensions in the team. Wildlife viewing was, as on previous Amazon trips, difficult as the lush greenery allows most animals to hide from view. However, lots of monkeys, birds and occasional otters and caiman... As an Amazon experience this rated well against my previous experiences in Brazil. But beware,,, this is not like an African safari! Final billing process is from the 1800's.... needs updating....

Room Tip: Room 5, on the lakeside away from the landing jetty is probably the best position.... Rooms 11 and 1...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank AJCG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NapoWildlifeCenter, Director de Relaciones con Clientes at Napo Wildlife Centre, responded to this review, March 20, 2013
Thank you for your recent review we are pleased to hear you enjoyed your stay at NWC. As you have mentioned we are an eco lodge and therefore facilities such as swimming pools and air conditioning are of course out of the question although we do pride ourselves on cleanliness, comfort and luxury, all within realistic possibilities.

It is true that we have undergone a change in management which of course would involve a period of adjustment, however our service staff are very professional and we feel work together as a team to offer the best service possible. Our guides are well trained and knowledgeable in their field and are subject to strict licensing laws enforced by the environment minister. They are obliged to attend training courses regularly meaning that they are constantly improving their guiding skills and have the support they need to work on areas of weakness if any should exist.

I hope this response been of help to you and thank you again for your valuable comments.
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Blaine, Washington, United States
Level 4 Contributor
36 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
Reviewed March 15, 2013

The NAPO WILDLIFE CENTER has just gone through some difficulties with their staff, some of which happened while we were there. Because of that our experience was considerably less than satisfactory.
A significant exception to this was Pedro Andrade, the director, who worked hard when we were there. He went out of his way to take care of me in the face of a brief but intense and disabling jungle disease, and for of all of our group (of 18) after we were stranded by a canceled flight back to Quito.
Our experience was soured by a lackadaisical staff and administrative mis-cues that were due to the staff being burned out.
Our wildlife viewing preferences were asked for as we arrived but then were largely ignored. The schedule was rigid and inflexible (much successful birding, our stated interest and desired focus in response to their inquiries, depends on working around the weather). Our assigned guide, a young woman named Patricia, was woefully inadequate. I’ve been on better managed grade school nature hikes, and I have also been on other outings with locally trained Ecuadorian guides that were superb, both in Mindo and in the Galapagos.
Others who were with different guides seemed satisfied. The birders we met from other groups who seemed happy paid an additional premium (and booked through a birding group back home). I guess we ended up getting the cheap seats after all, but didn’t know this until we got there and began wondering.
The real snafu came when it was time to leave, which involves a 90-minute paddle and a two-hour ride in a powered canoe just to get to Coca, where the airport is. The domestic airline, AeroGal, canceled our half-hour return flight (from Coca to Quito) due to mechanical problems, but evidently Napo Lodge’s Quito staff also had canceled our reservations, expecting that we could find lodging in Coca and continue on the next day. This however would have meant missing connections, so Pedro took it on himself to find us a bus and traveled with us for the 8+ hour bus ride over the twisting mountain road and 13,300 foot pass back over the Andes to Quito.
I’m not sure what the issues were, but he said later to me that “I kept saying we need to get these people back so they can make their connections today and bring our next [group of] people in.” When I asked him how he was going to get back to the lodge, he said “After the way I’ve been treated I’m not going back. I’ve quit.”
Happily, Pedro has since worked out the problems he had and has agreed to continue as lodge manager (other staff have apparently been fired), so given some period of adjustment the place should be back to what it once was.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Jack K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NapoWildlifeCenter, Director de Relaciones con Clientes at Napo Wildlife Centre, responded to this review, March 20, 2013
As always we appreciate any comments from our guests and have recently investigated points raised and produced a report for inspection by our director, here at the Napo office in Quito. We have considered all comments, including those regarding staffing and the organization of groups.

Our staff are highly trained and knowledgeable in their field and are subject to strict licensing laws enforced by the environment minister. The majority also work on a freelance basis meaning that they choose their timetable and are not obliged to work for Napo. There have been no incidents of sacking recently within Napo however it is true that we have undergone a change in management which of course would involve a period of adjustment.

Pedro Andrade is a valued member of the team and been an asset to the lodge, the day in question was of course stressful for all involved with the cancelation of flights. We have received a written apology from the airline Aerogal although we understand that this goes little distance by way of consolation for our guests. We would like to stress that we would never leave our guests stranded with no means of onward travel and neither would we expect guests to stay overnight in Coca. In this particular instance we tried all options available to fly our guests to Quito, including chartering a private flight (unfortunately we were declined permission to land in Quito) and had to resort to transportation by land, which as you have mentioned was chaperoned by Pedro.

We hope this response goes some way in clarification and thank you for your valuable comments.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, Canada
Level 5 Contributor
53 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
Reviewed March 10, 2013

I see a real discrepancy in the experiences reported about Napo, but I’m chiming in on the negative side. A trip into the rain-forest is a life experience, which in itself can reasonably account for a lot of writers‘ enthusiasm, but this was my third trip into the Amazon basin, and alas, I found Napo to be a big disappointment.

The reasons for my disappointment are many. Not the location or the lodgings….both are lovely if not spectacular, as is the lush verdure everywhere. But why on earth Napo asks one to fill out an interest inventory is beyond me….we dutifully put birdwatching at the top of our list, only to find that every person who arrives gets the same general tour, grouped solely by when you land in Coca. Only later did we find that you would have to arrange in advance to get a birding component to your visit – so much for promotional literature touting all the varieties of bird life! Those at the lodge with a specific birding guide had a wondrous experience which we envied, but our days there were totally frustrating , indeed even infuriating. Not only is the program constructed such that you are virtually stuck for the entire time with the other people you arrived with, but the young woman we were stuck with as a guide was decidedly inadequate. Bored and inattentive, she was pretty good at pointing out monkeys, which we could easily see jumping noisily in the trees, but she all but ignored the birdlife…..and us. When we did see critters of any description, either from the canoe or on a walking tour, she’d give a bit of explanation to the people sitting or walking right next to her…….too bad for anybody else! A guide can make or break a trip – and she falls into the latter category.

Food…..only so-so.....unless you consider three days of lunch or snacking on ham and cheese sandwiches to be gourmet fare.....likewise there was not one ounce of variation in three days of buffet breakfasts. Service, except for the manager, likewise so-so. A trip to the native cultural center…..pretty minimal, capped off with a rip-off “gift-shop” where even tourist guilt was not enough to inspire me to buy coarse and clunky crafts for twice the price a better version would have cost at a souvenir shop in Quito. The day is scheduled and inflexible, so unless you elect to bow out of the activities, be aware that trekking muddy trails is part of being in the rain-forest, the alternative being canoe trips that start at a ridiculously early hour in the morning with a guide that doesn't point out much anyway.

All-told, I can’t honestly recommend Napo. And if you are a birder, don’t even think of going there unless you’ve made advance plans at whatever expense for a specific birding guide.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
9 Thank JacQlin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NapoWildlifeCenter, Guest Relations Manager at Napo Wildlife Centre, responded to this review, March 11, 2013
We are very sorry to hear that your stay with Napo was not as you had hoped as we
always try our best to please our guests. It is true that the birding tour needs to be booked
especially, as stated in the programs section of our website and it is unfortunate that
you did not have the opportunity to take to part in this tour as you would have liked. This
being said all of our guides have extensive all round knowledge about the jungle which of
course includes birds. We try to place the groups according to interests, nationality and
age, information we have prior to the travel date. The groups do stay together during the
activities as to avoid any overcrowding of any of our attractions such as the tower or the
streams. We do have a general itinerary for groups however this can be changed according
to the general consensus. Groups are of course able to mingle any time at the lodge and
often do so at the bar before or after meal times.

We are disappointed to hear that the food did not meet your expectations as our chefs
are well qualified with years of experience in high quality food preparation. For the buffet
breakfast we provide a selection of cheeses, meat and fruits, bread, marmalade and butter,
eggs, cereal with yoghurt and milk and tea, coffee or fruit juice. We also have pancakes or
a small Ecuadorian option which rotates daily. Lunch is always a plated meal and dinner
a buffet meal. We also provide fruit and snacks for between mealtimes when out in the
jungle.

Regarding the Interpretation (cultural) center, we usually have a positive response from our
guests who say they find it interesting and informative, this being said we always take any
comments on board regarding room for improvement.

Thank you for your comments
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Napo Wildlife Centre

Property: Napo Wildlife Centre
Address: Yanez Pinzon N26 -131 | la Nina. Edificio Las Carabelas, oficina 101, Yasuni National Park, Ecuador
Phone Number:
Location: Ecuador > Yasuni National Park
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Restaurant Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Yasuni National Park
Number of rooms: 16
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Napo Wildlife Center offers visitors a number of vantage points from which to admire and experience the spectacular, awe-inspiring diversity of the Amazon Basin. Climb the 120-ft. High galvanized-metal stairs to the jungle tower for otherwise impossible eye-to-eye views of canopy dwellers such as monkeys, eagles and macaws...Spy on clay licks teeming with parrots and occasionally visited by jungle cats or a magnificent elephant-muzzled tapir...Experience Man's ageless interaction with the jungle through the native community's perspectiveEnjoy evening walks to witness the astounding nightlife of the dense, entangled understory...Explore the many trails through "terra firme", "varzea" and swamp forest in search of the best that Amazonia has to offerBe it from the ground up, or from the canopy down, from hidden viewing blinds to silent paddling up black-water creeks, we deliver the biggest most intricate picture possible of this wonderful world. Napo Wildlife Center not only provides the educated perspective of bilingual guides but also the hands-on knowledge of the true guardians of Anangu, who live and witness the marvels of their jungle home every day. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Napo Wildlife Centre Hotel Yasuni National Park
Napo Wildlife Centre Ecuador/Yasuni National Park

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