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"Puerto Francisco de Orellana"
Coca was found in the sixties by Capuchines and was a missionary post for the fast Christianization of the Huaorani people. Coca isn't an attractive city and there's not very much to visit. But anyway, it's a good starting point for adventure tours in the Ecuadorian Oriente. The city is located very near the dense tropical jungle and from Coca it's easier to get to several jungle lodges and natural reserves (as Yasuní or Yuturi) than from Misahuallí for example.
Tours to the tropical jungle
The number of tour operators in Coca diminished in the past few years. The reason is the bad reputation of the city and consequently the absence of big tourist groups. By now, most of the travelers who visit the jungle come from Lago Agrio or Misahuallí. Nevertheless, there are some agencies that organize tours of several days. The destinations of the excursions are for example Pañacocha, Río Yuturí, Río Shiri
puno, Río Tiputini, Río Tigüino, or the National Parks Yasuní and Cuyabeno.
Excursions around Coca
Limoncocha: Limoncocha Biological Reserve, with an area of 4600ha., lies in the canton of Sushufindi in Sucumbios province. The park covers Limoncocha lake and other nearby areas. It contains vast stretches of jungle vegetation, primary and secondary forests and majestic rivers. Birdlife is one of the park's main assets, with about 350 species, but there are also many reptiles and mammals. It is famous for being the habitat of the black cayman. Access is from Nueva Loja, traveling down the river Napo from Francisco de Orellana.
Pañacocha: Is an other small lagoon where you can observe the vast vegetation of the jungle and the wildlife. The piranha lake is one of the nearest possibilities to get to know the intact jungle. Fishing piranhas, observation of the flora and the fauna are activities that make the stay at the shore of the lagoon an unforgettable adventure experience. Tours to Pañacocha are organized as well from Misahuallí, but the long journey by canoe already takes about one and a half days. The tourists sleep in tents or modest safehouses with mosquito nets. To go back to Quito, the passengers can take the bus in Coca which is much nearer than Misahuallí (only 3 hours). This roundtrip Quito - Misahuallí - Pañacocha - Coca - Quito is an interesting alternative for people with a limited budget and who want to spend about a week in the Oriente.
Yasuní National Park
The Yasuní National Park was found in 1979. With a total area of 544 730ha., Yasuní National Park covers the basins of the Yasuní, Nashino, Cononaco and Tiputini rivers in the Napo province. It contains densely vegetated hills, timber trees and many species of birds. There are also flat areas with extensive marshes. Among the mammals inhabiting the park, the most noteworthy are jaguars, harpy eagles and crocodiles. The average temperature is approximately 30 degrees centigrade. Francisco de Orellana is the starting point to reach the reserve.
Visitors have the possibility to get to know the indigenous people Huaorani, who live in communities in this wild region. Different agencies in Quito can organize expeditions to this region of the jungle (Kempery tours, Nomad Trek).