Kapawi Lodge


Class: Tourist Superior *** | Departure from: Quito + or - Flying Time: 45 min. | Driving Time: 4 hrs. | Canoe Ride: 0 min.


About it

The lodge is located on the Pastaza River, on the most remote area of the Ecuadorian Amazon basin. The Kapawi Lodge is only accessible by small aircraft and it is the most spectacular place in the tropical rainforest. It was built in partnership with the indigenous organization OINAE and the Achuar people and was completed in 1996. As planned, the management of the Lodge was transferred to the Achuar people over the years. Since January 2008, the Achuar people run and manage the Lodge independently. 

The Kapawi project is a ground breaking example of how private tourist companies work together with and indigenous group sharing benefits and respecting the land and traditions of the people. An Achuar can recognize every one of the 5000 species of birds found in Kapawi and it is said that an Achuar is a living encyclopedia. When visiting Kapawi you will be lead by an Achuar guide as well as a naturalist guide and both of them will make your experience unforgettable. Kapawi is the maximum experience and all activities are designed to suit each passenger or group interests and physical condition.

What can you do there?

Kapawi is a place full of multiple choices and is characterized by its flexibility. No fixed programs are offered, but nevertheless, most of the itineraries include visits to the Achuar communities, hikes in the rainforest during the day and night, canoeing in rivers and lakes, fishing as well as bird watching. Activities are divided into 3 categories according to you physical condition: Easy, Moderate, Difficult. See the list of suggested programs below.

Departures

  • 4-day programs leaving every Friday with a minimum of 2 passengers 
  • 5-day programs leaving every Monday with a minimum of 2 passengers 
  • 8-day programs leaving every Monday or Friday with a minimum of 2 passengers

Accommodation

The Lodge was created using the Achuar concept of architecture without a single metal nail. The Lodge can welcome up to 54 passengers that can be accommodated in 18 very comfortable double rooms. Each room has a private bathroom, sun-heated showers and electricity provided by a photovoltaic system. 
Every room is located on the shore of the Kapawi Lake and each has its private terrace with an incredible view. Mosquito nets and fly-screens in the window protect you against the mosquitoes. It is possible to make triple rooms out of the double rooms. Furthermore you have the possibility to camp in the communities. 

Facilities

  • Lounge with view of the Kapawi River 
  • Dining room 
  • Bar 
  • Little shop at the bar 
  • Solar energy 
  • Trash recycling system 
  • Library 
  • Laundry service 
  • Security deposit box 
  • Canoe for the passengers 
  • Internet SI WI FI connection USD 2,30 per min.

Suggested Programs

Easy Programs

Capahuari - Ahuanococha Trail (1E) 

Time: 1 ½ to 2 hours 

This trail begins on the Capahuari River about a five-minute canoe ride upriver from the main dock of Kapawi. It takes a semicircular path following the Capahuari River to a point where the Ahuanococha Lake drains into the river. Here you will be picked up by the motorized canoe again. 

Habitat: This trail follows the Capahuari river and is thus mainly in river edge or riparian habitat. This means partially vegetation that is found along river edges and is thus very light tolerant and very quick growing such as balsa trees, Cecropia sp., dragon’s blood tree and many herbaceous plants such as Heliconia and wild ginger (Costus sp.). Toward the middle of the trail, you begin following a ridge that separates the river from the Ahuanococha oxbow lake. This means that you are higher than the surrounding areas and are on eye level with some of the tree tops on the edges of the lake and river. 



Lalococha Trail (2E) 

Time: 2 hours 

This trail begins at the hotel’s self guided trail and continues northwest more or less following the Capahuari River on terra firma along a lowland swamp on the left. 

This gives you a chance to look at swampy areas without having to delve into them. The trail has a few ups and downs when it crosses stream beds formed by rain runoff but which are normally dry. At the end of the trail, you will cross some muddy portions of the lowland area at the edge of the lake of Lalococha where a boat will be waiting for you. When the water level is low, you will be met by a quilla and will paddle across the oxbow lake in silence to meet the motorized canoe which will be waiting for you on the Capahuari River. Or you may choose to paddle all of the way back to the lodge in silence on the river which will take approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. 

Habitat: This trail is mainly terra firma but following lowland swamp so the vegetation is a mixture of these two habitat types. Some secondary fast growing trees and herbaceous light loving species mixed with hardwoods and older growth forest plant species. The lake of Lalococha is an oxbow lake. The word Lalo is a Quichua word for the Montrichardia plant. You find this woody tree with elephant leafs on the edge of the lake. 


Kayu - Kusutkau Trail (3E) 

Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour walking, 2 hours in quilla 

This program begins with a canoe ride of about 45 minutes up the Capahuari River. The trail begins by crossing the chacra (fields) of the Kusutkau community. The local plants are used, planted and cared by the women of the community. The trail continues through terra firma forest and crosses from the Capahuari River to the Kusutkau River where a quilla will be waiting for you to take you down the Kusutkau River to where it joins the Capahuari. Here the motorized canoe will be waiting for you to take you back to the Lodge. 

Habitat: The trail begins in an agricultural plot and then enters forest edge habitat which means dense vegetation along the edges of the clearing and is made up of light loving species that are quick growing. It continues through terra firma forest which is a relatively young forest having been historically disturbed by the meandering of both rivers and ends up on the river edge habitat of the Kusutkau River. The Kusutkau River is surrounded mainly by flooded forest which means few large trees, the majority of the trees found here are the light loving Cecropia and balsa trees and the false mangrove (Causopoa trinervia; family Moraceae). 

NOTE: This trail done in reverse can be used as a moderate trail. 


Kusutkau River in quilla (4E) 

Time: varies according to your wishes 

This activity involves paddling up the Kusutkau River in silence for the amount of time that you would like. The motorized canoe will take you, in between 15 to 30 minutes, to the mouth of the Kusutkau River which is a tributary of the Capahuari. After approximately 15 to 30 minutes in motorized canoe, you will arrive at the mouth of the Kusutukau where you will switch into the quillas to continue up the smaller river as long as you wish. In this river we have discovered a population of the giant river otter which is why it is prohibited to enter with the motorized canoe in order not to disturb them. The otters are seen with some regularity but are sometimes busy doing other things. 

Habitat: see Kayu - Kusutkau trail habitat description above for a description of the Kusutkau River habitat. 


Pitzacocha lake (5E) 

Time: 15 minutes walking; as long as you wish in the quilla 

This lake is located up the Pastaza River approximately a 30 minute ride in motorized canoe from the hotel. The lake is situated approximately ½ kilometer inland from the river. It takes you from the river to the lake crossing one muddy area that may be flooded if there has been a lot of rain. The lake is an oxbow lake that was formed by the Pastaza River. Habitat: The trail initially passes through a very dense river edge habitat that is in the process of swampland being converted to forest. This consists mainly of very dense stands of Heliconia. Be aware that this is the favored habitat of a species of very tiny red ants called Candilillas in Spanish and they have a nasty bite so keep your head low!

The trail then opens up into a lowland area that floods periodically and is thus relatively spare of much vegetation and occupied by species such as the false mangrove tree (Causopoa). This passes into more upland forest until it arrives at the lake edge. Pitza is the Achuar word for a plant known as duckweed that is often seen floating on pond and lake surfaces and cocha is the Quichua word for lake. Thus you can imagine that this is a lake covered in duckweed. The lake edges consist of some floating grasses and denser edge type vegetation. 


Patococha lake (6E) 

Time: as long as you wish 

This is an oxbow lake formed by the Pastaza River. It is situated approximately 100 meters from the river on the north side. Thus one must walk a very short distance in order to arrive at the lake itself. 

Habitat: Patococha is a blackwater lake. Blackwater is characterized by a relatively low pH (meaning relatively acidic water) and its characteristic black color comes from decaying vegetation, tanins and humic acid. This lake is in the process of growing over and becoming swampland and is thus filled with islands of grasses and Montrichardia (the elephant eared plant which is also found around the Lodge). There are small trees or shrubs which are well adapted to growing on these islands as well. Many species are specialized on these blackwater lake habitats and the islands provide a relatively safe place for many birds to nest or roost. 


Huitococha Trail (7E) 

Time: ½ to 1 hour 

This trail begins across the lake from the lodge and follows the edge of the lake until it arrives to an area that is flooded during high waters and returns following the edge of the lake of Huitococha. Habitat: The trail is on terra firma but follows the edges of the two lakes mentioned. This means that on one side of the trail the habitat is lake edge consisting of denser, light loving vegetation. These are mainly dense patches of vines and lianas and smaller trees because the occasional flooding softens the soil and does not allow the larger trees to maintain their hold. The inside of the area that the trail circles around has larger trees and is not subjected to flooding and therefore consists of older trees. From this trail you have the chance to see birds and animals that are usually hidden by the dense vegetation surrounding the lakes and rivers because you now find yourself on the other side of that wall.


MODERATE PROGRAMS 

Pastaza - Ishpingo Trail (8M) 

Time: 2 to 2 ½ hours 

This trail begins after a canoe ride of approximately 30 to 40 minutes down the Pastaza River. It crosses from the Pastaza River to the Ishpingo River. The trail passes through some swampy areas so please be prepared to cross some log bridges. This trail can also be combined with a motorized canoe trip up the 

Ishpingo River to observe birds and animals along the river edge. 

Habitat: The trail begins in river edge habitat which includes second growth, fast growing plant species and trees such as balsa and Cecropia. It continues through terra firma in areas, crisscrossed by swamps which are all that remains to indicate the ancient path of the Pastaza River. The first swamp is an older swamp that is filled with head high grasses and some false mangrove trees. After passing through more upland forest, you will reach a second swamp known as a moriche (Mauritia) palm swamp. 

The trail continues through terra firma forest until it drops down into lowland swampy habitat and arrives at the Ishpingo River. 


Pastaza - Kusutkau Trail (9M) 

Time: 3 hours 

This trail begins after a canoe ride of approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour up the Pastaza River. It crosses the stretch between the Pastaza River and the Kusutkau River. This trail also has some swampy areas with log bridges to cross, so be prepared. You will be met with lunch at the end of the trail when you arrive at the Kusutkau River. After lunch you may paddle back to the lodge in the quillas down the Capahuari River which takes approximately 2 hours. 

Habitat: The trail starts from the Pastaza River with river edge habitat which means dense vegetation with light loving, quick growing species. 

The rest of the trail is mainly terra firma interspersed with some swampy lowlands. 

The vegetation changes drastically between the terra firma and the swampy regions. The swampy regions consist of quick growing, colonizing plant species and characterized by very dense vegetation and few large trees. The terra firma is characterized by mainly trees some hardwoods and lianas and fewer herbaceous plant species. Upon arrival to the Kusutkau River, the forest in this area is in the process of regrowth from an agricultural plot that belonged to a family that previously lived in this spot. This means that most trees and plants are smaller, second growth species that function as initial colonizers of the area and will eventually be replaced by typical old forest species.


Ahuanococha - Pastaza Trail (10M) 

Time: 3 to 4 hours 

This trail begins at the oxbow lake of Ahuanococha on the Capahuari River (about a 10 minute canoe trip up the Capahuari) and crosses to the Pastaza River. This trail involves some stream and swamp crossings which are in small valleys. There are some hills going down into these stream valleys and back up out of them so be prepared for some ups and downs and log bridges. From the point of arrival on the Pastaza River it is approximately a 30 minute canoe trip back to the Lodge. 

Habitat: This trail passes through a combination of terra firma forest and lowland swamps. The terra firma zones consist of larger tree species and forest interior herbaceous plants and smaller trees. The vegetation found in the swampy regions consists of grasses and other herbaceous plants interspersed with water tolerant tree species. 


Lobococha Trail (11M) 

Time: 3 hours 

This trails starts at the hotel’s self-guided trail and continues on following the general path of the Capahuari River. It ends at the lake of Lobococha which is an oxbow lake of the Capahuari River. This trail is an extension of the Lalococha trail which is described in the easy programs. 

Habitat: The trail alternates between river edge habitat and young terra firma forest. It also occasionally follows the edge of a swamp or flooded forest along a ridge which puts you at eye level with the trees growing in this area 

(see description of Lalococha trail). 


Kusutkau - Sua Trail (12M) 

Time: 2 hours in quilla; 4 to 4 ½ hours walking 

This trail begins from the mouth of the Kusutkau River where you will begin paddling in the quillas up the Kusutkau River. The trail begins on the Kusutkau and crosses over to the Pastaza River where it ends at a small Achuar community made up of one family. This trail has some hills towards the end and also some stream and swamp crossings.


DIFFICULT PROGRAMS 

Kapawi - Wayusentsa Trail (13D) 

Time: 10 hours 

This is an extreme trail for those adventurers who wish to test their stamina. 

The trail connects the communities of Kapawi and Wayusentsa. The trail has many hills and also some medium sized streams or small rivers to cross. 

This is a very difficult trail! 

Habitat: The trail begins in the community of Kapawi and therefore initially passes through some chacras or agricultural plots. The majority of the trail is in upland terra firma forest which has not been impacted by river meandering in recent geologic times and therefore is an older growth forest. Due to the large trees, little light reaches the forest floor and is therefore the most open of the habitats. This upland terra firma forest is interspersed with stream crossings and thus areas of denser vegetation where light is able to reach the forest floor. 


Kapawi - Kusutkau Trail (14 D) 

Time: 5 to 6 hours 

This trail begins in the community of Kapawi and ends in the community of Kusutkau. There are many hills at the beginning of the trail. The trail then passes into lowland forest with many swamps and some medium sized stream crossings. 

Habitat: The beginning of the trail is the same trail as the Kapawi - Wayusentsa Trail and therefore the habitat is described above. The trail veers off from the main trail towards the community of Kusutkau and passes into lowland forest. This part of the trail passes mainly through swampy regions which are inhabited largely by palms and other water tolerant tree species as well as some grasses and herbaceous species. The trail ends in terra firma forest again and enters into some chacras (fields) belonging to the community of Kusutkau. 


Kapawi - Ishpingo Trail (16D) 

Time: 5 to 6 hours 

This trail begins in the community of Kapawi and crosses to the Ishpingo River. It is part of a trail used by the Achuar to travel to the various communities on the Bobonaza River which takes several days walking. When you arrive at the Ishpingo River a canoe will be waiting for you. 

Habitat: The trail begins in the community of Kapawi and therefore crosses some secondary forest and agricultural plots belonging to the community. The majority of the trail passes through hilly upland terra firma forest with some stream crossings. The terra firma forest is old growth forest consisting of large trees and a relatively open understory. There are some stream crossings as well which means denser stream or river edge vegetation such as when you arrive to the Ishpingo River. 


Wayusentsa - Sharamentsa Trail (15D) 

Time: 6 to 7 hours 

This trail begins in the community of Wayusentsa and crosses from the Capahuari River to the community of Sharamentsa on the Pastaza River. There are many hills and a few medium sized stream crossings on this trail. 

Habitat: This beginning of this trail passes through a small cattle pasture belonging to a member of the community. It then passes into terra firma forest that is relatively old which means many large trees and a relatively open understory. This includes the majority of the trail except for the when a stream intersects the trail allowing light to penetrate to the forest floor which means denser understory vegetation. The trail ends in the community of Sharamentsa where you will pass through a chacra (agricultural plot) just before arriving.