In this 6-day trip you will discover the Cofán first community-based ecotourism project in the rainforests of Northern Ecuador since 1978, and they welcome you on this exotic Amazon adventure. This tour exposes you the amazing world of the Amazon rainforest from the Cofán cultural perspective. Your guides are Cofán men and women who have lived in that environment all their lives, and understand it intimately. You become part of the village as you sleep in a comfortable thatched roof huts, travel in long canoes and eat typical foods. The remoteness of Zabalo means that you will spend your time in the deep rainforest and on remote rivers.
Arrival to Zabalo
Arrival to Lago Agrio and drive to Centro Union, the port from which we catch the boats for about a two and half hour trip to Zabalo. (transportation to Zabalo not included)
Waking up at Zabalo village. You should have tons of birds and other wildlife outside your cabin window. 7:30 breakfast, then an orientation walk through the village, and then a trip into the "terra firme" forests. This forest is the "National Geographic" tropical forest- high biodiversity (over 3000 woody plants, over 300 species per hectare!) lots of our medicinal and otherwise useful plants, fairly low and difficult to see wildlife- so we usually concentrate on the ecology and our Cofan vision of this forest as a tremendous source of materials for daily living. IF you're in to heavy duty hiking, we do have some interesting wildlife sites such as a large salt lick farther out. Arrive back in middle of afternoon, time to run down for a swim on the beaches of the river if the river is low.
Zabalo river camp
Camping on the Zabalo River. Amazonian rivers are divided into three main "classes"- the "white water" rivers, carrying heavy loads of silt off the Andes mountains, "clear water rivers" draining much more ancient formations and carrying almost no nutrients, and "black water" rivers, draining swamps. The Aguarico is a "white water" river. The Zabalo is a "black". This stream is totally pristine- no permanent human settlements at all, the waters still uncontaminated, the forest still completely intact. We typically see most of our wildlife here- monkeys, anacondas, caimans, giant otters, macaws, toucans, and much more.... we usually drive up to one of several camp sites that we know won't get flooded out in the middle of the night, and set up with large plastic tarps, then we set up small two man tents under the tarps. We carry along small dug-out or fiberglass canoes (made from molds of the dug-outs, but lighter and tougher, one of our Cofan industries) and visitors are able to go out and explore with Cofan guides this wonderland of waterways, streams, and lagoons. This is where you get a chance to fish for piranhas and other game fish.
Zabalo river camp
We spend this day exploring the Zabalo. Typically we drive up as far as we can go up the river- always logs, weeds, and other obstacles that call the shots as to how far we can go- and then put in with the small canoes for the float back down to the camp.
Floating and driving back down to the village. We usually arrive back middle afternoon, in time for an informal "market" where villagers bring over their craftwork for a chance to pick up gifts and souvenirs, and then a "typical" meal, all dishes which are part of the daily Cofan diet.
Return upriver to Centro Union and then back to Quito (transportation not included)